Leadership books, seminars, articles and posts abound in every realm of life. Sales companies want to lead their teams to more sales. Company executives want to motivate employees to loyalty and greater profits. Ministry leaders want to inspire more involvement and greater commitment to the church and its purposes.
Some lead through manipulation. Some through strength of character or charismatic personality. Some try leading through force, fear, or intimidation. But Jesus’ explanation of leadership contained none of those things. It might seem counter-intuitive to many. It surprised, even, His disciples.
Jesus’ instructions about leadership could be characterized by three words: love, sacrifice and servant-hood.
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Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 12 “The Husband’s Role: Loving Leadership”
We’re in a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. Today’s post is on the husband’s role, that of loving leadership.
Ephesians 5 says:
23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
He may default on his role. One of the complaints I hear from wives is, “My husband won’t lead. He leaves everything to me.”
Wives may refuse to submit to their husband’s leadership making it very difficult for him to lead effectively. In fact, some husbands simply throw up their hands and quit trying to lead, believing it’s not worth the battle.
In some marriages husbands and wives fight constantly over who will have their way. Their children live in a minefield where an explosion can happen at any moment.
Others divide responsibilities and assets and proceed to lead two separate lives. There’s my money and your money. I do my thing; you do yours.
Some husbands try to maintain control with their fists or some other manifestation of anger. Some by being harsh or treating their wives and children like their employees.
But what does God have to say? Lets look at the rest of Ephesians 5:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Three Key Words
We could sum up Christ’s teaching on the husband’s role in three words: love, sacrifice, and servant-hood. God has called husbands to loving leadership.
What’s Love Got to Do with It?
But love should color and inform everything we do in marriage and all of life, including leadership (1 Cor. 13.1-3).
One of my favorite definitions of love is: “A sacrificial action for the benefit of another and the glory of God without expecting anything in return.”
Feelings are real and they can be powerful. Warm, fuzzy, loving feelings are nice when they come and feelings are, certainly, a part of a loving marriage. But love is not, primarily, a feeling. Love is action. One of the most precise explanations of love in Scripture is in 1 Corinthians 13. 4-8:
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.
Love doesn’t act impatiently. It is kind. It doesn’t act out of jealousy or pride. It isn’t rude or selfish. It doesn’t respond in anger or bitterness. It bears up under all circumstances, it endures to the end, and it hopes for the best in every situation. It doesn’t fail, quit or give up.
Philippians 2.3-4 says:
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
It’s been said that husbands should be willing to die for their wives. That’s true, but much of the dying all of us are called to, is dying to our own selfish desires and perceived rights (Lk. 9.23-24).
This is true in the way husbands are to lead their families. If you missed Mike’s video on the 4-Way Stop & Decision Making, I encourage you to go watch it now. His explanation of how this applies to marriage is invaluable.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
This wasn’t the first time Jesus had addressed the subject. Earlier, after a power grab by two of the disciples and their mother, He said:
25 … “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20.25-28).
Loving leadership is unselfish, servant leadership.
How Important Is Loving Leadership?
Peter had this to say about the husband’s role in marriage:
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Pet. 3.7).
Part of loving is seeking to understand. Husbands should be lifelong students of their wives. They should seek to understand their wives’ hopes, dreams, and fears.
A husband’s love for his wife should be protective. He should treat her like a delicate vase (“weaker vessel”), rather than an old mug.
Husbands and wives are equal in value and worth, “equal heirs together of the grace of life.” But God has given them each distinct roles and responsibilities.
All of this is so important that our relationships with God are affected. Disharmony in our marriages can, even, hinder our prayers, according to Peter.
It’s, also, important because God’s glory is at stake:
31 As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” 32 This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. 33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Eph. 5.31-33).
When people look at our marriages, they should she a glimpse of Christ’s relationship with His church.
Spirit Led Leadership
When Paul explained that marriage is to be a picture of Christ’s relationship with the church (Eph. 5.31-33), he was calling all of us to a challenging task. Wives don’t submit naturally. Our sin nature causes us to want to take control, not willingly lay it down (Gen. 3.16). Yet, God expects us to submit to our husbands just as believers are to submit to Christ.
But the husband’s role in that picture isn’t just challenging, it’s impossible. Husbands are to love their wives the way Christ loves His church. And He loves us … perfectly.
His servant-nature, demonstrated by His willingness to wash the disciples’ dirty feet (including the feet of the one He knew would betray Him) was perfect.
His sacrifice was, also, perfect and complete (2 Cor. 5.21; Jn. 19.30).
A husband’s only hope is to rely on the power and wisdom of God by asking Christ to do through him what only He can do. It must start with his submitting his own life to Christ (Gal. 2.20) and by a willingness to seek God’s wisdom continually (Ps. 111.10; Jas. 1.5-8).
Husbands should be leading their wives and children spiritually. They should be growing in their knowledge and understanding of the Word. They should be willing to seek godly counsel when needed. And they should be encouraging their wives and children to develop and grow in the same ways. In short, they should be setting a Christ-like example.
If you’re a husband or hope to be one some day, may God help you to be the man God has called you to be. And ladies, let’s pray for our husbands and fathers and brothers that they might be able to say with Paul:
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Cor. 11.1).
I hope you’ll share your thoughts about this subject or marriage, in general, in the comments section below.
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