Good church leadership begins at home, the first speaker of this year's annual pastors conference hosted by the Desiring God ministry at the Minneapolis Convention Center said Monday.
"The apostle Paul considers the fruit of a man's behavior in his home as one of the central qualifications for pastoral office," Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, told those in attendance and an online viewing audience.
"He says that if a man does not know how to manage his household well, then how will he know how to care for the church of God as he says in 1 Timothy 3-5? From this we learn that fatherhood in the home and pastoral care in the church are analogous activities."
Wilson was introduced at the conference, themed "God, Manhood & Ministry – Building Men for the Body of Christ," by prominent evangelical pastor John Piper, who founded Desiring God. Piper had opened the conference with a prayer and a warning that the subject of manhood and fatherhood may be an emotional one for many of the pastors in attendance.
As the featured speaker of the opening night, Wilson said he wanted to talk about the role of a father in his home, how that translates if the father is a pastor, and address what happens when a man neglects that responsibility. His message was based on his study on an upcoming book, Father Hunger.
In a recent video posted on the Desiring God website, Wilson explains that "father hunger" is created "when fathers abdicate; when fathers are not fathers; when fathers don't exhibit the kind of backbone their wives and their children need them to exhibit; there's a natural and built-in Creational need that his wife and his children need him to exhibit that he's not exhibiting."
"When you withhold from your children … they have a deep awareness that something is missing," he said. Later in life, some people may not even be aware that the issue of not having a present father is causing them to seek to fill the void in the wrong places."
"Father hunger … is a hunger that creates an ache that runs deeper than any other kind of ache," said Wilson, who has written a number of books on family issues using the Bible as his main reference, including Reforming Marriage. "And because we do not live our lives in various water-tight compartments, an ache which begins in half the homes in your congregation, although it begins in the home it doesn't end in the home – it's not going to be kept out of your congregational life."
"It will certainly not be kept out of your pastoral counseling. And because of how God calls men to the ministry it will probably not be kept out of your pulpits," he added.
Wilson, who will be talking on the subject again on Tuesday and who will be having a discussion with Piper during a session on Wednesday, said he wanted to make sure his conference topic of discussion began and ended with the hope found in the Bible.
"Because many of us have had poor fathers, or have been poor fathers, or both, our temptation is to place a message like this as a thunderbolt in an angry and irritated Zeus. But the Father that Jesus brings us to is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He is the God of all grace and forgiveness," Wilson emphasized.
"One of the sins he forgives is our tendency to perpetuate fatherlessness. This is not a message of accusation, but rather one of repentance and hope."
Joining Piper and Wilson at this year's conference, will be Crawford Loritts, Darren Patrick, and Ramez Atallah. The remaining two days of the conference (Tuesday and Wednesday) can also be seen during a live webcast for free at www.desiringgod.org.