Understanding Why Men are Reluctant to Lead Family Devotions–Part 1

How do I get my husband to take the lead training our kids spiritually with family devotions?  This question comes up frequently when I’m teaching at conferences and churches.  There are things that work, and definitely things that don’t.  Trying to “get” a man to lead family devotions by pushing, shaming, or cornering him somehow rarely works for long.  And that won’t be doing the kids any favors.  The key is to help men take the lead. The first step toward helping them is to understand them.

Why are men reluctant to take the lead teaching their kids spiritually?  Generally it isn’t because they’re lazy or don’t care—although it may look that way.  Men tend to avoid leading family devotions for a number of reasons. We’ll take a look at some of these reasons over the next couple of blog posts, then we’ll look at how to effectively help men in this area.

1. Men like to be in CONTROL.

Imagine speaking to a group of people who obviously aren’t listening.  Some look bored to tears.  Others keep talking or messing around—while you try to share something straight from your heart. You have absolutely no control over the crowd.  Sounds like torture, right?

You’d never put yourself in that position again, would you?  Even if someone begged you to come and speak to the same group, you’d turn it down.

That is exactly what many men picture family devotions will be like. If the kids act bored or aren’t paying attention, which is what he expects will happen, he won’t feel like he is control at all.  He feels it will be disastrous.  Since he truly believes he won’t be in control he’d rather do just about anything rather than lead family devotions. 

 2. Many men FEAR they aren’t qualified in some way.

In many cases they don’t feel adequate.  They may fear they’ll be asked a question they can’t answer.  Maybe they fear they don’t know the Bible well enough. 

And for some men, they fear they’ve disqualified themselves somehow because of some personal failure on their part.  It may be something they did long ago, or something they’re involved in now.  But they beat themselves down with it—or the enemy does.  “How can you lead the kids spiritually?  You’ll be a hypocrite.  Remember what you did (are doing)?”

You may feel your man is dragging his feet.  You just can’t see why he won’t try family devotions.  And that is exactly the point.  There are often things you can’t see that are holding him back.  Hidden anchors that keep him from moving forward.

 3. Men don’t want to FAIL.

Who does, right?  But with men this fear of failure runs deep.  Many men truly believe they’ll fail at leading family devotions.  They don’t feel they have what it takes.  They see it as a losing venture. 

And if they don’t feel they can succeed, they won’t want to start.  To start is to take a step toward almost certain failure.  And when they fail, not only will they lose self-respect, but they fear they’ll lose respect from their wife.

 Men like to be in control.

Many men fear they aren’t qualified in some way.

Men don’t want to fail.

 These may be the top three reasons men avoid teaching their kids about God. Next time we’ll look at three more.  As you understand what holds men back, you’ll likely be more successful at helping them get beyond the obstacles.  We’ll show you how to do that, too.




  1. My husband tried doing family devos with us and I’m ashamed to say we were not that enthuiastic. We definitely fall under the “men like to be in control” section. He didn’t ask what night was good and what we wanted to include. Just charged in, and it was disastrous. We haven’t had devos since except for when I read from the Bible on Sunday mornings on the way to church and when I do Christmas morning devotions. I’m sorry about it and have tried talking with him, but he’s unmoveable on the subject. Any suggestions?

    • This is not an unusual story. Many men feel inspired or convicted to lead the family in some sort of devotional–but it often ends in a crash and burn situation. When they realize how badly it went, many simply refuse to try again. Your husband was burned in a way that was very real to him–and like any burn, it isn’t easy to get over. There is hope, and I’ll try to get a better answer to you in the next couple of blogs. I’ve been totally absorbed in the marriage/parenting book I’m working on, and I’m afraid the blog was one of the things I let slide.

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