Before beginning this latest installment in our series on spiritual headship, I want to apologize for how long it has been since my last post. Without getting into details, I have had a number of health related “challenges.” Thanks be to God that I am doing much better and I rejoice in the opportunity to move forward with this series. The topic and issue at hand could not be more important or timely. In fact, you may want to reread the previous articles as a review of what has already been covered. See the “Related Posts” section in the right sidebar while reading this post to see all four articles.
We have been talking about spiritual headship in the home and have already aired our great concern and dismay over the prevailing situation in many households regarding the same. How is it with you in your home? What is distressing is that one great manual and guide for establishing and carrying out spiritual headship is already RIGHT THERE IN MANY HOMES! It is Luther’s Small Catechism.
I say this with a little bit of trepidation knowing that there may be some who will say “That old thing? That’s the best you can do or suggest? Give me something that is new and fresh!” My retort would be to ask what “age” has to do with anything, especially when what is contained therein are timeless truths and unfading treasures? And as for always wanting something new and novel, you have my sympathy! The latest isn’t always the best… not by a long shot.
Luther’s Small Catechism has stood the test of time in regard to providing a simple, tried and true way for spiritual heads of households to carry out their God-given role. Take a look in this book at the recurring preface to the chief parts of our faith contained in the catechism. It reads, “As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.”
Indeed, the Small Catechism is still widely used in homes and in churches not because there is nothing else to use, but because there is NOTHING BETTER to use. The Small Catechism is used not because we are simply nostalgic or stuck in our ways, but rather because we stick with something that works… something that has proven to be a faithful companion throughout our earthly journey.
The Small Catechism has shown itself over and over again to be an indispensable tool for the head of the household to use in carrying out their God-given role. And by the way, this sacred role and responsibility is not “self proclaimed.” It does not come about and it is not carried out by you asserting the same, imposing the same, declaring the same. It does not come about by you taking a stand or making a power play. There are countless guys who have in many and various ways tried to do just that and they wonder why they crashed and burned. Duh!
Rather, the role of spiritual head of the household is undertaken in all humbleness and humility… in all selflessness and sacrificial living where Christ is our guide and He, the perfect example. Again, it is not a matter of asserting one’s self, but giving of one’s self. It is not a matter of stating (talk is cheap!) but of DOING.
It is all about you doing the work of a spiritual head which, interestingly enough, is primarily one of TEACHING. Now before you start freaking out over the aspect of being a “teacher,” this simply means you taking the time to share what you know, what you have learned. Think about it. You do that anyway as a husband with your wife… as a father with your children on a myriad of subjects.
“Ya Pastor, but you are talking about me teaching “religion”, teaching my family about God, His Word and His ways.” Well, if all of this evokes feelings of inadequacy, join the crowd! We all have that to some degree, but it does not mean we can shirk this responsibility. What it means is that you and I have to do something about it. To teach, we need to know. To know, we need to learn and keep on learning. We need to come to a better and greater understanding of God’s Word and of our Christian faith. And this requires us to be in the Word… to read it, study it on our own and with others in Bible class. It means reviewing again and again the fundamentals of our Christian faith and Lutheran doctrine.
At St Paul’s Lockport, I am always pleased by the number of men and women who attend Bible class. I am always pleased to see some of our long time members taking our Adult Information Class as a review and refresher course regarding what we believe as Lutherans. I am also pleased with the men who attend our monthly Brothers of John the Steadfast breakfast meetings where we study our Lutheran Confessions. All of these things help equip us to truly be spiritual heads of our households.
Getting back to Luther’s Small Catechism… guys… it is all there for you… the chief parts of our faith for you to simply read and review with your wife, with your family and others in your household. If the town and village folk of Luther’s time could teach the faith via the Small Catechism, so can you. Just take a short section each day, or several times a week at designated times. If you can schedule other things on a regular basis, you can schedule devotional time as well. If there is a will, there is a way! You will find a way. You will find the time, make the time.
Yes, reviewing the catechism with your family might be a little awkward at first because it may be new for you and for them. But that will be short lived as you get into a routine… as you “spiritually structure” your time at home with your family. In fact, we will discuss just that in my next post as I share with you another wonderful tool and resource for the head of the household. It is called the Treasury of Daily Prayer. We will talk about that and then the importance of Christian husbands and fathers “leading by example.” Stay tuned.
The Rev. Mark H. Hein
Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church