Our calendar reminds us one day each year to show love to our spouses. Although the reminder (more so the chocolate) is nice, the stakes are high. You and I both know the importance of putting our family before our leadership responsibilities, but actually doing it feels more complicated than common core math. Why is it so difficult to lead at home? I recently read these words from Carey Nieuwhof and felt as though he was speaking directly to me - as if he could see into my life as well as if we were sitting across the table from one another in a quaint coffee shop. Maybe you will feel the same.

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How’s it going at home?


Here’s what I’ve come to believe.

Ultimately, everything rides on how you lead at home.

The stakes are high.

Lead well at home, and you will inevitably become a better leader in your ministry or organization.

The difficult issues you work through in your marriage and parenting will make you a wiser, stronger leader organizationally. My wife Toni and I tell how we worked through some very hard seasons here.

The discipline of loving someone for a life-time will help you love the people you serve and work with through their ups and downs. Working through the issues at home actually makes the issues at work easier.

Leadership at home is more difficult than leadership organizationally for most people. Because respect is earned at home, and no one is interested in your title or corner office, you have to lead with love. It’s the only thing that works long term.

Lead poorly at home, and the consequences will play out in several ways in your leadership:

You may win in ministry but lose the heart and affection of your family. Most of us have met leaders whose family is still together but deeply resents the leader’s organization.

Your leadership in ministry might be permanently stunted as unresolved character issues leak from home into your organizational leadership. Your flaws tend to eventually impact everything you lead and touch.

You might lose it all – the collapse of your family might lead to the collapse of your ministry and leadership. How many times have we seen an affair, an addiction, or other moral failures take out a leader whose gifting outweighed his character?

See what’s at stake?

Even though so much ultimately rides on how you lead at home, you will be tempted (as I am) to resist leading well at home.

In fact, many people pour all their skill development into leading at work and will let the home front slide.

I know in seasons I’ve done that.


Here are three reasons I think many leaders naturally resist leading well at home:

1. Respect is often easier to get at work than it is at home. Men, in particular, crave respect. So it’s easy to skip home, work harder and become even more ‘celebrated’ in your field. Respect at work often comes from your accomplishments and sometimes your position. At home, it comes from your character. No one at home is impressed by your resume, your sales, your growth or your war stories.

2. At home, there is no escape from who you really are. People at home see you as you really are — in your weaknesses, in your most vulnerable moments. They see you uncut. Many leaders prefer the edited version of themselves, but our families never get that. Because at home there is no escape from who you really are, some leaders are attempted to escape from home (back to the office, to friends or to some time-consuming hobby).

3. The wins are long term. You can get quick fixes to problems at work. At home, you are primarily working on things that take a life time to achieve. Great marriages are measured in decades and ultimately in fractions of a century. The relationship with our kids last throughout our lives. God is working on our character over a life time, not just in Q3. You can change your job. You can get a promotion. But our family relationships are forever. That makes them much harder, but so much more worthwhile.

I realize this post doesn’t resolve the tension. It raises it.

But maybe for some of us, that’s where we need to leave it for now.

Sometimes when I think about what’s at stake and why I resist, it ups my motivation to change. My marriage almost didn't make it, read how we fought to survive the pressure.

But in the meantime, let’s leave it there.

And let’s think and pray about what’s at stake.

What’s been hardest for you at home?

With 1168 years of combined ministry experience, Church Community Builder creates software designed by church leaders for church leaders.

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Find the original article "Why Almost Everything Rides on How You Lead at Home" by Carey Nieuwhof.