But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. - Nehemiah 9:17

Bible Study: [Series for Christian Fathers] Servant-Leadership in the Family - Part 1 [Leader's Guide]

Pastor Steven Lange

This is the leader's guide to the first in a series of three Bible studies for fathers. In this series, we will examine what God says in His Word about a father's role in the family, how a father can fulfill his role, and how he can talk to his children about the difficult, yet important, topic of sex. While these Bible studies are directed primarily toward fathers, others will benefit from them as well. The principles of loving leadership and submission to one another that we will study apply to all Christians in one way or another.


Which of the following adjectives and phrases would you use to describe the perfect leader? Why did you choose the adjectives or phrases that you did? Why did you reject the rest?

A. strong

B. willing to listen

C. opinionated

D. submissive

E. indecisive

F. willing to sacrifice his own interests to the interests of others

G. loving

H. doesn't need to consult with others before making a decision

(Answers will vary. This introduction is meant to help ascertain the class's attitudes toward leadership.)

In the family, God has given the husband the role of leader. But God's idea of the perfect leader may be different from our idea of the perfect leader. It certainly is different from the world's idea of the perfect leader. So, what kind of leader does God want a husband to be?

Christ, the Perfect Servant-Leader

Jesus is the perfect example of the kind of leader that God wants husbands and fathers to be. His kind of leadership is very different from what we may normally think of when we think of leadership. Read Matthew 20:2028.

1. What was the disciples' definition of leadership?

  • For the disciples, leadership meant having a position of authority. It meant lording over others. In this world, these positions of authority were to be eagerly sought and jealously guarded.

2. What was Jesus' definition of leadership?

  • Jesus' definition of leadership was humble service to others - just as he came to serve others by giving his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus put His money where His mouth was when it came to practicing servant-leadership. Read Philippians 2:58.

3. What rights did Jesus have as God?

  • As God, Jesus had all power and authority in heaven and on earth. He had the right to do whatever He wished. He owed no one anything.

4. How did Jesus regard His rights as God?

  • Jesus did not regard His rights as God something that He possessed for personal selfadvancement and glory. The path of humility in saving us from our sins was His foremost thought.

5. How did Jesus demonstrate that He regarded His rights as God in this way?

  • Jesus laid aside His rights as God and humbled Himself, even to the point of suffering death on the cross.

Read Matthew 26:3646.

6. Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him. He knew that in the next twentyfour hours, He would suffer not only the torture of crucifixion but also the torments of hell. As Jesus looked forward to these painful events, what emotions did He have?

  • Jesus was a true human being. He did not enjoy pain any more than we do. He was not looking forward to having to be crucified and suffer hell. He even asked His heavenly Father three times to take these sufferings away from Him.

7. Although Jesus felt this way about His impending sufferings, what was He still willing to do?

  • Jesus still was willing to go through with it. His needs and interests were not as important to Him as the needs and interests of others.

Read 1 John 4:7-12.

8. What motivated Jesus to set aside His own rights and interests in such a selfless way and sacrifice Himself for the needs and interests of others?

  • Jesus' incredible love for us drove Him to do it. In fact, God's love for us in Jesus shows us what true love is.

9. Using Jesus' love for us as the perfect example, define what true love is.
Love is always doing what is best for someone else, regardless of what the personal consequences are. Jesus always did what was best for us, regardless of the pain and suffering he had to endure personally.

In Jesus' perfect example of servantleadership, we can see four important applications of Biblical principles that apply to Christian leaders.

  1. A leader does not lord over others. He serves others selflessly.
  2. A leader does not always insist on his rights. The rights of others are more important.
  3. A leader is willing to sacrifice himself and his interests for the benefit of others.
  4. A leaders does all things out of love for God and for his neighbor. He will always seek what is best for others, regardless of the personal consequences.

Let's now apply what we have learned from Jesus to husbands and fathers.

The Servant-Leadership of a Husband and Father

God provides very clear direction on servantleadership to husbands and fathers in Ephesians 5:21-33.

1. Reread verse 21. To whom is this verse addressed? How does this truth fit in with what we already have learned about servantleadership?

  • Paul addresses verse 21 to all Christians. All Christians are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. This is important to keep in mind. Even as he carries out his role as the leader in the family, the husband and father must submit to his wife and children.

2. In verse 25, Paul tells husbands to love their wives "just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Those last words say a lot about how the husband is to exercise his leadership role. Think back to Christ's example of servantleadership that we studied in the first part of this Bible study and answer the following questions.

a. How will the husband and father view his position of leadership as being able to keep things under control or as an opportunity to serve?

  • The husband and father will view his position of leadership as an opportunity to serve, just as Christ Himself came to serve.

b. How is the husband and father to view his own rights when compared to the rights of others?

  • A father will not always insist on his own rights. In love he will lay aside his rights for the benefit of his family, just as Christ laid aside his rights for us.

c. Whose interests and needs are most important for the husband and father?

  • The needs of his family take precedence over his own needs, just as Christ placed our needs and interest above His own.

d. What will be the husband and father's motivation in everything he does for his family?

  • Everything a husband and father does for his family will be motivated by love. He will always want what is best for them, regardless of the personal consequences he may face. That, after all, is how Christ showed His love for us.

e. Read Colossians 3:6 and Psalm 119:105. When a father looks out for the best interests of his family, how does he determine what is best for his family?

  • "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church." Lead your wives just as Christ leads the church. Do it lovingly. Do it selflessly. Realize that being the leader does not mean that you will always get your way. But also realize that when you lead as Christ led and love as Christ loved, you will have God's blessing upon your family. Think of the blessings that you have already received through Christ's selfless, loving servantleadership. Imagine what other blessings God can pour out on your as He leads your family through you in the same loving and selfless way!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in love You set aside Your rights as God and suffered the torments of hell to rescue me from my sins. I thank and praise You for Your loving servantleadership. Help me to follow Your example as I lead my family. Help me to serve them as You have served me. Help me to place their needs above my own. Help me to do all things out of love for You, so that I also may show my family my love for them. Amen.

In our next Bible study, we will continue applying what we have learned from the servant leadership of Christ and apply it to specific situations in family life and see how we can put what we learn into practice.

Servant-Leadership in the Family Series:

Article Shortcut: http://www.christianliferesources.com?5326

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