To the sources with pastor and writer Paul Carter

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Street Level Headship

Wed. Mar. 09, 2016By: Paul Carter

In a leadership class I run for women in our church, several ladies asked me a question I’ve been asked a time or two before:  “What does it look like for a man to lead in the home?” 

The question wasn’t theological – we had wrestled with the passages in the Bible that addressed the issue from that perspective – it was more practical.  In essence these ladies were asking what headship looks like at street level.  My answer ran along these lines:

1.         Wake up first  

As I read the Bible it seems to me that leadership is first and foremost about prayer and study of the Word.  While the early church was very engaged in organizing mercy ministries for the poor, the Apostles understood that if they were to provide leadership to this ministry they would need to be people of prayer.  They asked the church to nominate a group of leaders who could organize the food ministry saying:

“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4 ESV)

I don’t think the point of the story is that the Apostles were above being involved in the food ministry, I think the point is that leaders need to be in a position to receive instructions and guidance that can benefit the entire group. 

I feel that it is important for me as a husband and father to be the first person out of bed 6 days out of 7.  I wake up first and I sit in my study and read the Word and then I get down on my knees and I pray.  I set aside 1 hour each morning to do this.  This isn’t “work time” – I am a pastor but I don’t do this at church and I don’t do this “on the clock”.  I do this as a man who wants to speak to God about his family and to his family about his God.

2.         Pay yourself last

As I contemplate the example of Jesus it seems to me that leadership is about sacrifice on behalf of others.  Jesus said:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45 ESV)

A leader serves others at great cost to himself. 

As a husband and father I feel like it is my responsibility to ensure that my wife and children are well taken care of.  Practically speaking this means that my wife’s car is far nicer and more expensive than mine. For us it meant making sacrifices so that she could stay home with the children – something she was very eager to do.  It also means saving for our children’s education.  We took out an RESP when my youngest was just a baby and we have continued to put money away every month ever since for 18 years.  It often means going without toys or luxuries.  I don’t golf or own a snowmobile and I had to sell my motorcycle to a friend, but that’s what it means to be a man.  A man pays himself last. 

3.         Teach the Word of God always

The Bible tells parents to hide the Word of God in their hearts and to teach it to their children diligently, in the house, as you walk, when you go to bed and when you rise.  (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)  Leadership in the home, means leadership in the Word.

For me this involves taking responsibility for family worship.  We try and read the Bible with our children 5 times a week.  We do this after dinner around the supper table.  The children get their Bibles and we read a chapter or sometimes less and I try to help them understand what they are reading.  Afterwards I ask them questions from our church catechism booklet and give out candies for correct answers.  At the end we pray around the circle for our friends and loved ones before reciting the Lord’s Prayer. 

This seems intimidating to some folks, but the truth is that you only need to be one chapter smarter than your kids.  Read to your kids what you read that morning.  There are lots of resources that can help you understand the Bible so that you can teach it effectively to your children.  I produce something for our parents that you can find here: or you can check out

May God Alone Be Glorified,

Paul Carter


N.B. This article was written for "Seven" magazine and will appear in the May/June issue.



Category: General, CLRA, Must Read, Top Ten

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