Paul (and The Godfather) on Leading at Home

The Godfather trilogy gives us a glimpse of two very different husbands and fathers from the same family. Don (Vito) Corleone was married to the same woman and had children that adored him. Michael, his son, struggled in his marriage and with his family. His wife would rather have an abortion than bring another “one of his sons into the world.” Two telling scenes from The Godfather stand in contrast to one another.

The First Scene

When Johnny Fontane comes to visit the Don, the Don asks intentionally and instructively in front of his son Sonny (a wandering husband) if Johnny spends time with his family. When Johnny responds that he does, Don Corleone responds with “Good, because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

The Second Scene

Later in The Godfather: Part II, when Michael is now the Godfather, he has a conversation with his mother and asks if “Papa, while being strong for his family, ever thought he could lose his family?” Mama Corleone answers, “But you can never lose your family,” to which Michael responds, “Times are changing.” Michael doesn’t enjoy the sense of security in his family that Mama Corleone has enjoyed.

Michael has been a very different father and husband from his father, and the insecurity in his family is the painful result. As the story unfolds, we see that his lack of loving and investing in his family has devastating effects on his family and on the trajectory of his life.

When giving the requirements for church leadership, the apostle Paul asks a poignant and rhetorical question—“If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5). The point is clear. If we can’t lead well at home, we can’t lead well anywhere. We must first love, cultivate, and shepherd the most important people in our lives.

  • The most important interaction you have this week isn’t the interaction with a client or a business partner. It is the interaction with your family, when they sense your love and presence.
  • The most important conversation you will have this week isn’t the conversation with your staff team. It is the conversation with your son or daughter, when you shepherd his/her heart.
  • The most important meeting you will have this week isn’t in the conference room. It is around the table with your family.
  • The small group in your church that needs your most focused energy and attention is the group in your own house.

DL Moody said, “A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian…and most of all, his family ought to know.” Leaders—it would be a deep tragedy for us to love and serve others without first loving and serving our own families.

Before others know of our faith, our families should know. Before others benefit from our serving, our families should benefit. Before others profit from our wisdom, our families should profit. Before others are blessed from our leadership, our families should be blessed.