Just a few years ago my wife and I buckled our little girl into her carseat after a full Christmas morning of presents and peace. We were loading up to visit family in a town a few hours away. Our little vehicle was filled to the brim with Holiday music blaring as we made our way down the highway.
When we arrived at the house, everyone else had already settled in. As the front door opened, we were greeted by smiles, hugs, and hand shakes. The volume of the house was already at a level appropriate for a cheerful gathering of family. Luckily for me, snacks were already available and the football game was playing in the background. A house that normally offered plenty of space felt crammed with people that loved one another.
However, just like any grouping of family members, disagreements sat right beneath the surface. Political tension felt ready to burst at different moments, but everyone seemed determined to have as much fun as possible. Having a cheerful Christmas afternoon seemed to be everyones ambition, but I was having a hard time keeping up.
I remember walking outside toward the alley behind the house to catch my breath. I’m not particularly claustrophobic but the combination of the sound level, children running around, and a democrat becoming flustered with a republican caused me to retreat like someone swimming to the surface after being under water for too long.
My wife noticed that I had slipped out, so she followed me. She asked if I was okay. I said, “Yeah I just needed a breather.” I was in full survival mode and longed for a quiet room to rest my eyes in. My suppressed introversion was starting to uncork. With a large amount of reluctancy, I walked back in with my loving wife. What happened next truly surprised me.
A few seconds after I walked in the door, my father-in-law gathered all the children and got the attention of everyone else in the house. He said something like this, “We are so glad to have everyone here today, and we love each of you so much. I want to remind everyone of the purpose of the day by reading the story of Jesus’ birth.” He then took out his Bible, with the kids looking on in interest, and walked word by word through Luke 2. At the end of the reading, he led the family in a beautiful prayer of devotion to King Jesus.
I’ve missed so many opportunities like this in my life, but that moment inspired me. In a room filled with a myriad of different opinions of what should happen at a family Christmas gathering, my father-in-law led us to the Word of God. At the risk of you thinking he did this for the sake of tradition, I must tell you that he reads from that bible daily, loves Jesus, and longs for all of his family to know the truly amazing grace of his Savior.
It would have been so easy for him to talk about football or how good the cheese dip was. It would have been so easy to tell that funny memory just one more time. It would have been easier to blend in and survive like I was doing. Instead, the spiritual leader of our gathered families chose to take up the mantle given to him and to direct the focus of everyones mind to the birth of the Messiah.
Fathers, you do not have to be perfect to lead. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you must lead with the strength of the Holy Spirit’s filling under the authority of our King. In the midst of a world that hates the truth, point your family’s eyes to the real Reason for the season. Grandfathers, the young men are watching and need to see what it means to love and lead with humility in the name of Christ. Your voice matters!