Interview with

Founder & Teacher,

The following is a transcript of the audio.

Last time, in episode 347, we talked about a theology of vacations. And speaking of family vacations, how can dad lead his family well on vacation, Pastor John? Obviously his leadership is never put on ‘pause.’ There’s something of labor for him in leading on vacations. So what’s his aim each day? What are things for a dad to keep in mind to lead his family well?

Maybe the way I should respond is to say some of the things we did when our kids were little, rather than giving more biblical foundations for dad’s responsibility. So, yes, I am assuming dad’s leadership of the family and that is never put on pause. But we have got to be careful here, because even when I say it is not put on pause, I don’t mean that he takes responsibility for all the decisions. That is he doesn’t make all the decisions. Good leadership never means that. It never means you make all the decisions, not in business, not in church, not in politics, not in families. Leadership is initiative and planning and inside that big picture there are all kinds of delegation and sharing of decision making. And a godly wife, I think, wants leadership, not micro management. She wants him to get off his duff and plan something rather than having to be drug here and there always playing catch up with his wife. That wears her out. But she is happy to bear significant decision making responsibility inside that big picture as she and her husband work all that out in detail.

So when I say his leadership never goes on pause, I don’t mean he is in charge at every minute. So here are 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? So there were about eight years when we had four boys at home and they can do the math to see how many we had for three and two and one. And we took vacations all of those summers with that many kids. And we never had a lot of money so we never did big, expensive vacations where we all get on a plane and go somewhere. I don’t think, I can’t ever remember us all getting on a plane and going somewhere. We borrowed cabins and we visited grandparents and we went with outings and so on, but so just pretty simple. I don’t think we were out classing most people here.

What Noel wanted from me was that I would take the initiative to get things planned. Of course, she wanted to be in on the planning, but she didn’t want to have to start it all, keep it all going, work it all out. She wanted me to say she didn’t want to have to come and on May 31st and say: Uh, do you know our vacation starts tomorrow? Oh, yeah, no, I did. I forgot. That 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 worked it out together. She also wanted time on vacation when she would have some free time from the kids and from cooking. Other-wise it is not a vacation. I mean, sometimes guys think it is a vacation if you leave home. Well, no, not if you are a woman, I mean, and you care about: you know, care for the kids and you have got to cook. She has to do all the same stuff on vacation she did at home. It is not vacation for her. And she knew that I wanted some time free also by myself.

So very typically it worked like this. We go to some cabin or grandma’s house or something and in the morning until lunch I was free to do whatever I wanted and Noel had the kids. So that is like four or five hours, depending on when I got up, which usually meant I read. I holed myself up somewhere and read, took notes, wrote things. Then we ate lunch together and something really simple that either I could fix or get or didn’t require any great preparations, some super simple sandwich or something, fruit. And I took the boys all afternoon till suppertime, so four or five hours for her. And then she could go off and do her crafts. She could go to town. She could do whatever she wanted and she didn’t have any responsibilities at all. And the guys 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. And, of course, it is a challenge. They are all the different ages and so you have to be creative and figure that out. And put a little baby over on the side hopefully enjoy the whiffle ball game a little bit.

Then we ate together in the evening when we were all together doing something that everyone could more or less do, depending on the ages. And then we read our Bible, we had a Bible story, maybe watched a little video of something that would be devotional and then the guys would go to bed about 7:30 or 8:00 and, I mean, of course, as the teenager got older they didn’t have schedules like that, but this is when they were younger. And Noel and I had a couple of hours together just for us. So that is the way my leadership worked it out on vacation which gave everybody some pause time, everybody some down time. And maybe I should say just one other thing. And I could have done better here. I think part of leadership on vacation should be some surprises. If dad doesn’t plan it probably won’t happen, some-thing that they are not expecting and that he has planned and they will remember. It doesn’t have to be many and it doesn’t have to be expensive, but something that is just not his dragging his feet, but he is planning.

So yes, leadership never goes on pause, but shared with his wife and everybody feels like they have had the kind of time that makes for real refreshment.

Thank you Pastor John. Family vacations can be spiritually refreshing just as they are physically refreshing, and interestingly enough, you, Pastor John, were actually saved on a family vacation as a 6-year-old. If you want to hear that story, listen to Ask Pastor John episode #158, “John Piper’s Testimony.” Monday is Memorial Day, but we will be back to talk about adoption, and especially one story of a wonderfully successful adoption that Pastor John has watched up close — very close. Until then, I’m your host Tony Reinke, have a wonderful, extended, and restful weekend. We’ll see you on Monday.