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  • Writer's pictureJacob Vanover

Leading Our Families: Discovering Where They Are

Lesson One: Learning where they are:

We often speak of leading our families, and we give a variety of destinations we should land with them.

But we often need to catch up on one critical step when explaining the process: Discerning where they are.

You may say, "Well, I am looking right at them." And I get that, but our family members are more than just the physical figure before us. They are the sum of heart, mind, soul, and body.

The body is the easiest to keep up with, for the most part. But discerning where our spouse and children are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, now that's a tall order! And it is a chief part of leading our families.

Let's do a case study on the prodigal son of Luke 15.

We open with a father with two sons, and the youngest comes and asks for his inheritance to pursue his dreams.

The father in the account makes the necessary arrangements and does just that. And the boy leaves home.

My first question is, when did the boy leave?

The base answer is he left once he got his inheritance. But that only answers when he physically leaves his father's house.

Long before the body walked out the drive to head to the far country, the boy had been living in that far country mentally. Spending his daydreams imagining what it would be like to have the experiences and excitement that the far country boasted.

He sat and ate dinner with the father evening after evening, but his mind was not at the table. He was feasting in that far country!

Bedtime would come, and father would see the dim candlelight leaping on the walls of the son's room, and all seemed well, for he was where he should be.

But sadly, that was not the case at all. For in the boy's mind, he was in the far country living it up riotously.

The father knew where the body was but not the mind.

The dreaming would go on, and the body would be at home and the mind in the far country. But somewhere in between these two locations traversed the heart!

Emotionally the boy was on a journey. He lingered at home because he loved his family. He lingered at home because he had anxiety about all the "what ifs" of life. He stayed put until he could work up the courage to make such a request of his father.

So day after day, as the sun rose, the boy's body went to the field, and his mind went to the far country, and his heart struggled in the middle until the fateful day he boldly faced his father, his mind's desire for the far country wins out, and his heart makes its choice.

It's important to note: the boy asked for his inheritance, which would be his when his father passed, and he returned when he had no funds. Yet, once his heart chose the far country, he knew his choices would lead him to live a life from which he could never return home. And still, he chose the far country!

The intentions of the younger boy explain why the father says to the older brother, later on, your brother, which was dead, has returned. The father hoped but knew the odds were slim that he would ever see his boy again.

Until the day the youngest boy left home, no one knew where he was.

If we are to lead our homes, we must discern and discover where our spouse and children are at!

How do we do this:

1.) Listen to what they are saying and what they are not saying:

What are they talking about? What are they not talking about that they should be talking about?

We hope to hear them of their accord, speak of spiritual things, dreams, aspirations, who they think of, and what desires they want to pursue.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. That's what Jesus teaches in the gospel of Luke.

Most will reveal the truth of their heart when they are at ease and comfortable with their audience.

(Note: the older brother knew what, the younger had done with his inheritance in the far country - how? Because the boy spoke of it to his brother before he ever left. Probably in jest at first, a tiny remark, and met with openness, or the least no judgment, he spoke on.)

Leaders must be listeners.

2.) Observe where they are spending their time:

Time spent is a true expression of passion.

The reason is that time spent explains the thought process.

If they are online often, what sites, with whom are they chatting or conversing, and what information are they learning?

If they are spending time with some people more than others: what are they discussing, what is the common bond, what is the potential nature of the relationship, and what influence is this person having on them?

If they spend more time alone: what are they thinking about, writing about, and sharing on social media? What do they wish to keep to themselves?

When we take time to observe, we can learn more about where someone is mentally and emotionally.

Was there a day laborer in the fields with this younger son, someone who was filling his mind with dreams and his heart with appetites of the far country? Can you hear that person now? "When I get enough money, I am going back there! The parties, the women, the fun! Oh, you have the money. You can be a king there!" And the younger boy kept gravitating toward them?

Dreams, ideas, and imaginations get their fuel from sources. Learn what's going on, so you know where they are and develop a plan to lead them to where they need to be.

3.) What are they asking for:

When the appetites of the heart and mind begin to grow, they want to sample.

So a good indicator of what someone is thinking about within will be revealed by what they ask for from you or others. It may begin in jest because they know it wouldn't be approved.

Some may ask to be with someone acceptable because that person is in the company of the one they want to be around, but they know that one would be unacceptable.

A spouse may hint at different ideas in the marriage because of what is on the mind.

They may start dressing a little differently, trying boundaries, etc.

It can be places, people, or experiences, but the tiny little asks and the small little tastes reveal what is happening within the heart and mind.

The mind leaves first, then the heart, and finally the body.

You and I must lead our families, so begin learning to discern and discover where each person is so we can lead them.

We must lead the mind first and direct their thinking.

We must capture the heart and hold it fast so it doesn't stray.

Then we can finally lead the body and ultimately the life to the destination we need to get them for God's glory and their benefit.

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