“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).
Jesus talked several times about death. He talked about His own, certainly, but He also talked about the death of His followers. In order to follow Jesus, we must die. Take up our crosses. This is fundamentally what it means to follow Him. And here in this verse, we see what happens next. Sure, there is the death, but there is also something that happens after it. There is life.
In other words, something has to die in order for something else to live.
Of course, we know that this is most importantly seen in the death of Jesus: Jesus died so that all who believe in Him might live. But it occurs to me that this principle is applicable in all areas of leadership. If you want the people you are leading to flourish, it means you have to bear the cost. If you want those around you to feel the victory, then you have to be willing to feel the pain. This is the burden – and the responsibility – of a leader in any context. That is, of course, if you are a leader that wants to see those around you built up.
And while we might apply that principle in many contexts, I’d love to direct us to the home today, as we are still in the aftermath of Father’s Day. Because fathers are meant to lead – it’s in our DNA. And that means this principle is particularly applicable to us today.
If we want to see life in our families, then it means we will have to take on death in ourselves. Dads, that means we are dead men walking.
That’s part of the responsibility of leading a family, and it works itself out in all kinds of ways:
- Dads, you wake up earlier than anyone else in the house so that you can have the family devotion ready at the breakfast table. You die to your desire for sleep so that the kids might have life through the Word of God.
- Dads, you choose to learn all you can about basketball even though you don’t enjoy playing so that you can help coach your son or daughter’s team. You die to your desire for your children to be interested in the same things you are so they might have life in their own God-given talents.
- Dads, you choose to get up day after day and go to work even though you think you might want to quit your job. You die to your desire to see your own dreams fulfilled in order that your family might live and thrive in security.
In short, fathers, you are dead men walking.
This is yet another way that we, as the leaders of our home, are also the ones who are the most willing to step to the front of line to take the hit.
Dying is more than just being willing to give up our lives for the sake of those we love. It’s fleshed out in a thousand little choices day after day whereby we take the sacrifice joyfully into ourselves for the sake of another.
Death, in this sense, isn’t just one big choice. It’s something continually done. And because it is, the only real way we are able to take the tiny pin pricks of death over and over again is by remembering that Jesus has done so for us.
He died. We live. And now He has entrusted the work of dying to us.