Spiritual Leadership: The Prophet, Priest, and King
For a lot of men, there are few terms as confusing or intimidating as when we’re told to be a “spiritual leader.” What does it even mean or look like on a daily basis? We want to demystify this concept so that you can start leading today!
By the Man in the Mirror Team
If you’re married or have children, no doubt you’ve heard it—often. “Guys, you need to be a spiritual leader in your home.”
If you’re like a lot of men, there are few terms that seem as confusing or intimidating as this call to be the “spiritual leader.” What does it even mean? Are we supposed to have the Bible memorized? Do we always need to have the right answers? Are we making all the spiritual decisions for the family? What does it look like on a practical, day-to-day level?
We want to demystify this concept a bit. The truth is that if God has entrusted a family to you, He wants you to love and lead them well, and we want to help you feel equipped to do that, with the Spirit’s help.
Ephesians 5:25a offers a big call-to-action to married men: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church …”
If Christ is our model to imitate, how did He love the church?
One way to think about this is through the lens of Christ occupying the roles of prophet, priest, and king for His church. This can serve as a template to help you grow into a spiritual leader in your home in a way that honors the Lord.
The Role of a Prophet
At the heart of the life of a prophet is his commitment to listen to God and then share what God is speaking to him with others.
For us as men, if we are to be like a prophet to our family, that means proclaiming and living out the gospel of grace to them. It means prioritizing time to listen to God through Bible study, devotions, sound teaching, and wise counsel from Christian friends.
If you have not intentionally built into your life the opportunities to hear God’s voice through these practices, you can’t possibly be like a prophet to your family. Commit to adjusting your daily routine, starting this week, so that you can make time to listen to God. Only then will you be prepared to have spiritually intimate conversations with your wife or share what God is teaching you with your children.
The Role of a Priest
While a prophet represented God to the people, a priest represented the people to God. In the Old Testament, a priest would turn his back to them and mediate on their behalf before God.
Now, of course, Jesus is our High Priest who mediates between us and the Father, and as Christians we no longer need a human mediator to go to God (Hebrews 4:14-16). It’s incredible!
But we can still use this as a model for spiritually leading our families. Through fervent prayer, we get the sacred opportunity to go to God on behalf of our loved ones—not only on behalf of our wife and children, but our friends and extended family members as well.
Spend time in prayer each day, remembering the needs and concerns of your wife. Pray for the salvation and faith of your children. You may be the only person in the world praying for them on a regular basis.
In order to really pray for them in a meaningful way, you need to be listening intently to them. If you find it difficult to stay actively engaged and connected on a daily basis, we want to challenge you to become a student of your family so that you know their needs and concerns—both spoken and unspoken—and how to pray for them.
The Role of a King
Jesus, from the line of King David, came as a humble servant. What can we learn from Him—the King of kings—in this role?
A king has many roles, but ultimately, he takes responsibility for the welfare of his people by doing three things; he leads, provides, and protects.
1) To Lead
Every one of us is leading our family somewhere. Where are you leading yours currently? Are you leading them toward Christ or away from Him? Are you leading them toward a grace-based relationship with God? Or away from one?
There are several practical things you can begin doing. First, if you aren’t already, be an advocate for you and your family getting connected at a local church through regular attendance. When someone in your family has questions or problems, get in the habit of going to the scriptures together for wisdom. Pray for the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) to be increasingly evident in your life so that you can model integrity and grace in your daily interactions with your wife and children. Leading by example is the most powerful way to lead.
2) To Provide
Are you striving to provide for the needs of your family? On the most basic level, this means working diligently to ensure they have enough food and a safe place to live.
But providing stability goes far beyond meeting physical needs. Do your children know they are loved unconditionally? Do they feel safe and secure around you? Do you administer discipline with fairness?
Do you treat your wife with consideration and respect? Are you quick to forgive and overlook offenses? Do you apologize when needed? This kind of emotional provision is just as important as physical provision.
3) To Protect
There are few men who wouldn’t die for their family in order to protect them if needed. But beyond protecting them from literal death, there are many practical things we can do in our daily lives to protect them from temptation and other kinds of danger.
As a spiritual leader in your home, consider what is on your television, for example. As a father, do you have channels that your children can access that could harm them? Do you know what apps are on your kids’ phones and who they are chatting with in games? Do you know your kids’ friends and where they are when they aren’t home? Do they have clear boundaries?
As a husband, do you watch things that have the potential to hinder your relationship with your wife? Does your wife have access to your phone, if requested, and vice versa? Does she feel protected and cared for, consistently?
When thinking about a king, it’s helpful for us to view our roles through this lens: if Jesus, the King of kings, came as a humble servant, how much more should we devote ourselves to serving our families in humility?
The Key to Becoming a Spiritual Leader
As you’re reading about the roles of prophet, priest, and king, you may recognize immediately that you’re not there yet. That’s okay! You have to start somewhere. What can you begin doing today to head in this direction? Is there something you need to repent from, or something you need to surrender, before you can earnestly begin growing in your role as a spiritual leader?
No matter where you’re starting from today, His grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9). Rely on Him and reach out to other brothers in Christ for counsel and encouragement when needed.
This isn’t something to try to “muscle” your way through in your own effort. Because let’s face it: loving your wife as Christ loved the church is a tall order; we get it!
And yet, the rest of that verse is the very key to spiritual leadership: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
The church meant everything to Jesus, and He sacrificed everything for her. In order to be spiritual leaders, we need to be willing to give ourselves up for our families—our selfish desires, our preferences, our conveniences, our attention, all of it.
THE BIG IDEA: Sacrificial love is our mission, men. It’s what you’ve been called to—with His spirit living within you, leading you every step of the way.