In two previous posts, I looked at Richard Baxter’s directives for the holy governance of families through authority and skillfulness, taken from The Godly Home. The third aspect of how to lead one’s family biblically is through “holiness and readiness of will” (p. 103). This section spells out in detail what Baxter has mentioned several times before: that to be holy governors, one must be holy persons.
Baxter’s drives this point home by writing, “Men’s actions follow the bent of their dispositions. They will do as they are. An enemy of God will not govern a family for God; nor will an enemy or stranger of holiness set up a holy order in his house.” This section was the most challenging for me of the three, providing a swift kick in the pants. To these ends, Baxter gives six directives for how governors can lead in holiness, outlined and quoted directly:
- Be sure that your own souls are entirely subjected unto God and that you more accurately obey his laws than you expect any inferior [once again, not inferior in value or importance] should obey your commands. Are you greater and better than God is?
- Be sure that you lay up your treasures in heaven, and make the enjoyment of God in glory to be the ultimate commanding end, both of the affairs and government of your family and of all things else with which you are entrusted.
- Maintain God’s authority in your family more carefully than your own. Your own is but for his. More sharply rebuke or correct those who wrong and dishonor God than those who wrong and dishonor you. God’s honor must be greatest in your family.
- Let spiritual love to your family be predominant, and let your care be greatest for the saving of their souls, and your compassion greatest in their spiritual miseries. Never prefer transitory riches before their everlasting riches.
- Let your family neither be kept in idleness and flesh-pleasing, nor yet overwhelmed with such multitude of business as shall take up and distract their minds, diverting them from and unfitting them for holy things.
- As much as possible, settle a constant order for all your businesses, that every work may know its time, and confusion may not shut out godliness. Distraction in your business causes a distraction in your minds in holy duty.