Spiritual Leadership for Homeschool Dads
By Allen Kvalvik
Homeschool dad, are you married to a super heroine?
You know the type. On the outside, she’s disguised as a mild-mannered homeschool mom. But behind that quiet exterior she’s really Wonder Woman. If you looked closely in her closet, you might find a fancy, star-studded, blue and red costume. And a cool gold tiara.
My wife is one such woman. In the early years, there were many times when I felt that I was living in the shadow of her homeschooling prowess and leadership. Nine years ago, when we decided to educate our kids at home, it was mainly her idea. She drove the whole process, from selecting curricula to planning field trips to buying school supplies. She set the schedule and cast vision for the future. I, on the other hand, mainly sat on the sidelines and watched. She was Wonder Woman, and I was just, well . . . wondering. Wondering if I could contribute and what my role might be.
I knew that I was supposed to be the leader of my home. After all, the Bible paints a very clear picture of a man’s role in his household. He is the head of his wife and is to provide loving leadership for her (Ephesians 5:22–29). He is in authority over his children and should graciously bring them up to follow the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). So I knew I needed to be involved, especially in an area as important as my kids’ education. But I didn’t know if I could bring real leadership value to the table.
Homeschool dad, maybe you can identify with me on this one. If so, I want to offer you some ways that you can make a real and indispensable contribution to your kids’ education. And here’s how: I submit to you that God wants you to be the spiritual leader of your home and homeschool. And it isn’t as hard as you might think.
The first and most important step in becoming a spiritual leader is to make sure that you have a living and growing relationship with God. There’s an old saying that goes like this: “Speed of the leader, speed of the team.” A leader cannot take his team anywhere that he has not been himself.
The simple truth of the matter is that you can’t lead spiritually unless you are alive spiritually! One of the central themes of the Bible is that before we come to know Jesus as Savior, our spirits are dead. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1, NKJV) Apart from God, we are spiritually lifeless. And the only way for us to be revived is to let the Lord breathe life into us.
A person who has lost consciousness and lies at the bottom of a swimming pool cannot save himself. He needs someone else to jump in, pull him out, and pump air back into his lungs. In the same way, every human being lies lifeless in the deepest part of the spiritual swimming pool. And Jesus Christ is the only one who can pull us out and administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or should I say “spirit-to-spirit” resuscitation. “But if the Spirit of [God] who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11, NKJV)
The best way to provide spiritual leadership for your family is to kick your own spiritual life into gear. The Bible says the first step in that process is admitting that you’re sinful and in need of forgiveness. You need to understand that Jesus died to pay for your sin, and then you need to accept God’s free gift of eternal life. You have to let Jesus be the boss, and you also must do your best to turn away from sin.
So if you’re having a hard time getting motivated to lead your family spiritually, it may be because you haven’t really gotten serious about your relationship with God. So how about it, Dad? Have you once and for all decided to follow Jesus Christ? Have you handed over the keys and let him be your boss? That will get you on the path to becoming the spiritual leader you were meant to be.
Once you’re sure you are alive spiritually, it’s time to settle in for the long process of spiritual growth. In theological circles, this process is called sanctification or discipleship. It’s the slow transformation that all genuine followers of Christ go through. Their relationship with God and their understanding of the Bible deepen. They lean into friendships with other Christians and learn how to reject sin. They learn how to share their faith and lead others to trust in Jesus too.
Does that sound like a long-term project? It is. As you and your family develop a loving relationship with an infinite God, you’ll find it is literally an endless process. And this calls for patience on the part of the spiritual leader. Hey, it takes a long time to grow anything of value! Internet companies that spring up overnight hardly ever make it to Fortune 500 status. So you need to allow plenty of time for a quality education with a strong spiritual core.
When I started to look at homeschool as discipleship, it helped me settle in for the long haul. Home education provides a perfect opportunity for parents and kids to grow over a long period of time. Deuteronomy 6:6–7 (NKJV) paints a picture of an intentional but patient approach to discipleship: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
One of the most common mistakes homeschool dads make is that of expecting radical change overnight. They think that a daughter should have her multiplication tables mastered before she starts first grade or that second grade isn’t too early to memorize Leviticus. And when his expectations aren’t met, Dad sometimes tries to seize control of the process, making all kinds of unrealistic and legalistic demands. That’s not the right leadership move.
Good spiritual leaders let discipleship take time. So be gentle and patient as you work with your kids. Extend grace to your wife as she experiments to find the right curricula and methods. Encourage and support; don’t demand and criticize. You and your family will be happier for it.
Another thing you can do to provide spiritual leadership for your family’s homeschool is to focus on using your strengths. Put your time and energy into those areas where you can do the most good. And that means using your spiritual gifts.
A spiritual gift is “a special attribute given by the Holy Spirit to every member of the Body of Christ according to God’s grace for use within the context of the Body.”1 It’s a skill or ability that God has given you that you can use to serve others. The Bible lists a whole bunch of spiritual gifts, including teaching and leadership and mercy. Everyone has at least one spiritual gift. And that means you, Dad.
So build your role in your homeschool around the things you do well. If your gift is encouragement, then pull up alongside your wife and kids every day and tell them you are proud of the job they are doing. If your gift is administration, jump in and help organize the calendar for the year. If your gift is service, offer to run to the store for supplies or clean up after a party or event.
God has called you and your wife to homeschool your kids, and he has equipped you with different gifts to get the job done. Romans 12:6 (NKJV) says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them.” Be sure to communicate clearly and often with your wife, making sure that the most important things are getting done.
To be the leader, you don’t have to teach every subject or make every decision. Don’t be one of those controlling, insecure dads who have to take the credit for everything. Lead side by side with your wife, with both of you leaning into your spiritual gifts.
Homeschool provides an incredible opportunity for spiritual leadership in your household. And you are just the man for the job, even if you are married to one of those super-hero-homeschool-mom types. Cultivate your relationship with God, be patient, and stick to your strengths. You will become every bit the leader God has called you to be.
Allen Kvalvik has been happily married to Joyce for twenty-three years. Together they have four awesome kids and have been homeschooling for nine years. Both he and Joyce are members of the Executive Board of First Class Homeschool Ministries (www.fchm.org). Allen has been a pastor for twenty years and currently serves in Vancouver, Washington.
1. Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1994), p. 34.
Copyright 2010. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, Fall 2010. Used with permission. Visit them at Schoolhouse Store, where shipping is always free!