The foundation of a building determines the longevity of the entire structure. So it is with building a strong life. As men of God we must ensure that we are rooted in faith and can sustain the weight of the responsibility of leading our families. Much like any skyscraper, the foundation of our spiritual lives is where our strength derives from, and it must be built with intention and purpose.
A strong spiritual foundation is impossible without first pursuing a relationship with God.
Salvation is essential, but once we accept salvation, we must implement and develop key habits in our lives in order to build something that will last. Here are five pillars of infrastructure that can help focus your intentions as you break ground for God.
1. Develop a Discipline of Daily Devotion
We need to establish a daily habit of reading the word of God. The word is so transformative, even the process of forming this habit will greatly benefit you on your walk with the Lord. By working towards this goal you will develop characteristics like faithfulness. In other words, being faithful to set time aside to read the Word, will result in an increase in your faithfulness in other areas. This small commitment is vital; the bible says that when we are faithful with a little, God sees that we can be trusted with bigger things.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 16:10 NIV
Another benefit of daily devotion is that it puts us in an environment to hear the voice of God. God speaks and reveals himself to us through His Word. By building this habit, we ensure that we have a daily opportunity to hear the voice of God in our lives. Once we learn to listen we can then be faithful to obey that voice and become doers of the Word.
Modeling this practice for our families is being obedient to guide them to the things of God, and will impress upon them the importance of this daily habit.
It is not enough to flit about the surface of His word. You must read scripture as though it is a personal conversation between you and the Lord God, every time. With genuine thanks and praise, bring your concerns to Him in prayer, and when you read the bible and go about your day, expect to hear a word back. Expect revelation.
2. Develop a Lifestyle of Stewardship
Men, as believers, we must operate with the understanding that we are not owners of anything but simply stewards. Even our wives and our children are not truly “ours”, but God’s, and He has blessed us by their presence in our lives. We must steward these blessings, and all blessings, as the Lord commands. This is an important truth that will rearrange your priorities and determine how you spend your time, talent and treasure.
“Each of you should use whatever you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV
God gifts each one of us with time, talent, and treasure. These gifts do not define who we are, but rather they define how we are to do the Lord’s work. If you are blessed with a powerful speaking presence, then use it to speak the gospel. If people love your singing, your writing, or your party planning skills, do all this in pursuit of Godly goals. If you have been entrusted with a vast fortune, do not let it sit useless in a bank account, but invest it in the Lord’s work. If the creator has blessed you with a career that affords you the luxury of abundant free time, get involved in ministry work that speaks to your talents and your heart. No gift is frivolous when used to further the kingdom.
Dr. Edwin Louis Cole said that if you show him a man’s day planner and checkbook, he could tell you where the heart of that man is. How we spend our time and our money, reveals what is really important to us.
By developing ourselves into stewards, we begin to transform our selfish nature into a Christ-like, self- less nature. We need this in order to begin to be image bearers of Christ in our families, our work places and our churches.
3. Develop Consistent Communication
Communication is key to life and as men, sometimes we are not the best communicators. We must be intentional in developing our communication skills with our wives and our children. It is imperative to create an environment where open communication is not only tolerated, but encouraged.
That sounds easy to do, but believe me it takes a real intentionality. It takes a lot of self-control to create an environment where we don’t jump to conclusions when our kids try to tell us something they are struggling with. But if we control our emotions and assure our children they can come to us with anything, it will create a strong child-parent relationship that will benefit our children, and our children’s children, and every generation to come.
After all—children learn what they live. We can tell them all day long to be honest with us and to open up, but if we react in anger or shut down when they come to us, they are living without the blessing of true communication.
Dr. Cole said when communication stops, abnormality sets in. Abnormality is an open a door for the enemy to run through, and should be fought against at all times.
4. Be Present
Where ever you are….be there. In this era overloaded with technology, it’s so easy to physically be at dinner with your family, but be somewhere else on your phone. Even church services are not immune; the distractions of social media and the convenience of helpful apps sometimes tear your focus away from the message, and from the community experience of worship.
Your job as the head of the home, is to make being intentionally be engaged in the moment a visible priority in your life. Let the children see that you leave your phone at home when you take your wife out for a date. When you come home from work, go to each member of the family and say hello—connect
with them and let them see that you are available for them. If your wife starts to leave her bible at home during service, choosing instead to use the app on her phone, carry it for her next week, just to be of service and show that you value her presence.
Make a conscious effort to actively listen and make eye contact. You’ll start seeing God in so many overlooked places and situations. Your relationship with Him will grow, and your testimony will build on itself.
5. Be Accountable
Every man needs someone to be accountable to. I always tell men to pick that person themselves, so when they use the authority you gave them to speak into your life, you can’t complain because you picked them. Allow yourself to submit in this way. Accountability is sometimes looked at negatively but it can be a great tool that enables us to grow. When men allow themselves to be held accountable, their wives and children then have an example to follow, and many times it becomes easier to submit to their leadership.
Dr. Cole said, mediocre men want authority without accountability. Is mediocre your goal? Do you wake up and shoot for average? Let’s assume not. But, too many of our brothers have fallen prey to worldly views, and the misguided belief that being accountable to someone is uncool, unmanly, and unnecessary.
I think it’s time to up our game, men.
So how is this done? Pastor G.F. Watkins passionately recommends seeking out the bond between spiritual father and son, and considers it essential for strong men of God.
“I think every Christian who truly strives for spiritual maturity comes to a place in life where we ask, ‘What does everyday Christianity look like? We want to be taught and led to see the invisible so we can do the seemingly impossible. We have questions, but we are not sure whom to ask. We’re entangled in a certain sin but we don’t know whom we can confide in without being judged. We feel confused, but we are not sure who to call for direction.” (G.F. Watkins, Take Your Place)
A spiritual father fills this void, and so can a man of God with whom you share a particularly strong mutual trust and respect.
Find someone that you can visit with periodically but consistently, and begin just meeting to build a relationship. Let the depth of the relationship happen organically. As you build that relationship, you will find that the accountability actually works both ways.
The strength of a building lies in its foundation, and the same is true of man, of the family, and of the community. Foundations hold the structure above, and keep it upright. They bear the weight of the structure, and anchor it against calamity. That is the purpose of building our spiritual infrastructure—to shore us up and give us proper grounding to lead in our homes and communities. Our heavenly father provides for us a living foundation, and it requires daily attention and the highest priority.