Last time, in episode 347, we talked about a theology of vacations. Speaking of family vacations, how can Dad lead his family well on vacation? Obviously, his leadership is never put on pause. It is labor for him to lead on vacations. What is his aim each day? What things can a dad keep in mind to lead his family well?
Maybe I should respond by sharing some of the things we did when our kids were little instead of giving biblical foundations for Dad’s responsibility. I am assuming Dad’s leadership of the family, which is never put on pause. But we must be careful here. When I say his leadership is not put on pause, I don’t mean he makes all the decisions. Good leadership never means that. You never make all the decisions — not in business, church, politics, or family. Leadership is initiative and planning. Inside that big picture exist all kinds of delegation and decision-sharing.
“Leaders never make all the decisions — not in business, church, politics, or family. Leadership is initiative and planning.”
I think a godly wife wants leadership, not micromanagement. She wants him to get off his duff and plan something. She does not want to drag him here and there so that he always plays catch-up with her. That wears her out. But she is happy to bear significant decision-making responsibility inside that big picture as she and her husband work out the details. So, when I say his leadership never goes on pause, I don’t mean he is in charge at every minute.
Let me share some examples from the Piper family history. We had one son. Three years later we had two sons. Three years later we had three sons. And three years later we had four sons. Pretty good planning for college, right? There were about eight years when we had four boys at home, and you can do the math to find out how many years we had three, two, and one. We took vacations every summer with however many kids we had. We never had a lot of money, so we never did big, expensive vacations where we all got on a plane and went somewhere. I can’t ever remember us all getting on a plane and going somewhere. We borrowed cabins, visited grandparents, went on outings, and so on. We kept it pretty simple. I don’t think we were out-classing most people.
Noël wanted me to take the initiative to get things planned. Of course, she wanted to be in on the planning, but she did not want to have to start it all, keep it all going, and work it all out. She did not want to get to May 31 and say, “Do you know our vacation starts tomorrow?” and hear me say, “Oh yeah — no, I didn’t. I forgot.” It is terrible for a husband to act like that. He should be thinking ahead and planning.
So, I would start a conversation with her in the early spring, and we would plan together. She wanted time on vacation when she could be free from the kids and from cooking. Otherwise, it was not a vacation. Sometimes guys think it is a vacation if you leave home. Not if you are a woman and you must care for the kids and cook. If she had to do all the same stuff on vacation she did at home, it would not be vacation for her. And my wife knew that I also wanted some free time by myself.
Time Together, Time Apart
It typically worked like this: We would go to some cabin or Grandma’s house or something. Before lunch I was free to do whatever I wanted, and Noël had the kids. That gave me four or five hours (depending on when I got up), which usually meant I read. I holed up somewhere and read, took notes, and wrote. Then we ate lunch together. Lunch was something really simple that did not require any great preparations, like sandwiches and fruit.
“A godly wife wants leadership, not micromanagement.”
After lunch, I took the boys till suppertime, which gave her four or five hours. She could go off and do crafts. She could go to town. She could do whatever she wanted, and she didn’t have any responsibilities at all. And the boys and I would play. We would go to the lake. We would ride bikes. I just thought of all kinds of different things that they could all do. Of course, it was a challenge. They were all different ages and so I had to be creative and figure that out.
In the evening, we ate together and did something that everyone could do, more or less, depending on the ages. We read our Bibles, had a Bible story, maybe watched a little video of something devotional, and then the boys would go to bed about 7:30 or 8:00. Of course, as the teenagers got older, they didn’t have schedules like that. But this was when they were younger. Then Noël and I had a couple of hours together just for us. That is how my leadership worked on vacation. It gave everybody some pause time, some downtime.
Something Worth Remembering
Maybe I should say just one more thing (and I could have done this better). I think leadership on vacation should mean some surprises. If Dad does not plan it, it probably won’t happen. Dad should plan something they are not expecting and will remember. It need not be many things, nor need it be expensive, but there ought to be something he plans for his family.
Leadership never goes on pause, but a husband shares it with his wife. That way, everybody feels like they have had the kind of time that makes for real refreshment.