But let’s back up and look at the big picture. In a Christian home, the husband and father sets the tone. We lead by example, whether we want to or not. So here’s that list again:
Now, imagine if our wives and children exhibited all these characteristics, one hundred percent of the time. What if our wives were always loving and kind, and never angry or frustrated? And our children were always gentle and in full control of their emotions, never yelling or screaming or crying?
Of course, this will never happen in them for the same reason it never happens in us; we’re all sinners.
But what if we as leaders of our family unit led our families toward that goal – to always exhibit these fruits of the spirit, all the time? Wouldn’t our homes be more inviting and welcoming for everyone? Wouldn’t it make our relationships with our wives and kids richer, deeper, and more enjoyable?
Here’s What My Daughter Is Learning from Me
I have a tendency to call inanimate objects like corporations and smart devices “dumb”:
“Why is my iPad being so dumb?”
And when I do that, especially in front of our two-year-old, my wife reminds me that our little girl will probably start calling things “dumb” since she hears it so frequently from her daddy.
She isn’t wrong.
The lack of joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control that lead me to ascribe such adjectives to objects that aren’t working the way I want them to, or to corporations whose decisions don’t line up with my ideals, will overflow into the behavior of my daughter.
So we know that we want our wives and children to have the Fruit of the Spirit. We want them to be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
And we know that we need to have those same qualities, and that we set the tone in our families in that regard.
Where do We Start?
So how do we “get” the Fruit of the Spirit so that we can lead by example?
The first thing to know is that while the Fruit of the Spirit sounds like a list of learned behaviors that we need to “do,” it really isn’t. That may be how we may have learned it as kids, but the intent is not to just conform our words and actions to be “good.”
The Fruit of the Spirit is really more a list of products, or produce – pun intended – than it is a set of required behaviors. And produce is naturally occurring, right?
This can only mean one thing: We can’t “behave” our way into being better husbands or fathers, nor can we ask our family members to behave their way into being better.
It’s going to take a deep change. It’s going to take some jackhammers to the very foundations of our beings.
And once we let God change who we are, then we can start exemplifying his qualities for our wives and kids.
It’s going to be a long process. Are you with me?