The Five Priorities of a Godly Husband
- Jay Sklar, Ph.D. Two Becoming One
- 2007 25 Jun
I meet very few husbands today who feel like they do not have enough to do. It is quite the opposite! Between work, home, wives, children, and church, we husbands sometimes feel overwhelmed by the tasks and obligations that we are responsible for. There is a subtle danger here: In the midst of the busyness of life, it is easy to lose sight of the priorities that should guide us in our responsibilities to our wives, children and the Lord.
Five Priorities of Being a Godly Husband
First Priority: Love God (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Once a week I lead a group of nine seminary students who come together to talk and pray about being godly husbands. At our first meeting, we established that being a godly husband is not first and foremost about technique and it is not first and foremost about learning the latest relational skills. No, being a godly husband begins with being a godly man, and being a godly man begins with loving God above all else.
Our Lord Jesus himself said that the greatest commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30; see Deuteronomy 6:5). This is the greatest commandment because God has created us first and foremost to be in a relationship with himself. This is the foundation of life and foundation for our marriage. If God is not our greatest priority, we have no foundation upon which to build our lives or our marriages.
So what does this look like for husbands? First, it means obedience. Loving God above all else is not first and foremost a feeling, it is first and foremost obedience to his Word. Notice how Jesus defines what it means to love him: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (John 14:21a). Loving God above all else will mean repenting of any known sin in our lives and surrendering the control of our lives to God.
Loving God above all else will also mean that we seek to cultivate our relationship with him. This is done primarily through reading his Word, prayer, and fellowshipping with other believers through church and through spending time together. It is important for us to be committed to these things but also to be realistic about what stage of life we are in – be flexible according to your time constraints and set your expectations accordingly.
Second Priority: Love Your Wife (Ephesians 5:25-29)
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her …” (Ephesians 5:25). This is a sobering command! Consider the implications carefully: The way that you love your wife should be a reflection of how Jesus loves the church. To put it a bit more practically still: Your wife should know what Jesus’ love is like simply by the way that you love her.
So what was Jesus’ love for the church like? Above all else it was self-sacrificing. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her …” (Ephesians 5:25). Husbands will love their wives the way that Jesus loved the church when they live self-sacrificing lives in marriage and put their wives’ good ahead of their own.
Perhaps one of the most practical steps we could take is simply to ask our wives: “Honey, are there any areas in our marriage where you do not feel like I am loving you? Are there any areas where you feel like I am putting myself ahead of you and your good?” These are bold questions to ask! Moreover, we should not ask them if we are not willing to hear the suggestions that might come! But if we are serious about loving our wives as Christ loved the church, we will probably need our wife’s help in order to understand how better to love her.
Consider seeking out a brother whose marriage you respect and meet together on a regular basis to pray about being a godly husband. God consistently tells us in his Word that relationships and accountability are powerful tools for growth (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Hebrews 10:24-25). How can you make use of these tools to love your wife better?
Third Priority: Manage Your Family (
Parents are exhorted to bring up their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. In Deuteronomy 6:6-7a the Lord commands: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children.” Fathers, in particular, are commanded to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
This last verse contains an important contrast: exasperating children vs. bringing them up in the instruction of the Lord. Yes, children are supposed to obey their parents (vv. 1-3). “But fathers,” Paul says, “do not make this difficult for them!” (v. 4). Godly fathers are not dictators who need to prove their authority by constantly giving orders and commands and making new rules. Instead, godly fathers focus on helping their children to understand who the Lord is – they want their children to know that God’s ways are good ways and that his commands are for their good.
1. Since God is the perfect Father, one of the most practical things we can do is get to know God better. What is his character like? How does he respond to us as his children? As we grow in our understanding of who God is and how he relates to us, we will grow in our understanding of how we are to relate to our children.
2. A second step to take is to seek out the counsel of those who have gone before us. Søren Kierkegaard once said, “We have to live life forwards, but can only understand life backward.” The trick, then, is to find someone whose “backward” is your “forwards”! Seeking out a godly father for wisdom and advice is invaluable.
Fourth Priority: Provide for Your Family (
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
The importance of providing for our families should not be missed: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat’” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Paul is not talking here of those who earnestly desire work and have been laid off or are struggling to find a job. He is talking about those who are lazy. Thus he continues: “We hear that some among you are idle ... Such people, we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat” (vv. 11-12).
Providing for our families presents at least two different challenges. On the one hand, some of us find that our jobs can be unenjoyable and frustrating. On the other hand, some of us choose to let our jobs take a higher priority than our wives, families or even God himself.
1. The first thing we need to do is recognize that we are called to be faithful servants of Christ in whatever job we have. When Paul writes to Christians who are slaves he gives this advice: “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does” (Ephesians 6:7-8). Even if we don’t enjoy it, we need to be faithful to God in the work that he has provided.
2. If we are letting our jobs take a higher priority than our families and God, we need to repent. Of course, there will always be times when our jobs demand more of us than at other times, but many men make the mistake of feeding their egos and ambition through their accomplishments at work at the expense of their wife, children, and relationship with God.
Fifth Priority: Be Involved in a Local Church (
My wife, Carolyn, and I have some good friends who live in England. For a while, things were a real struggle in their married life. The turnaround began with two things. First, the husband began to cultivate his relationship with God. He is a corporate lawyer, and very busy, but loving God was so important to him that he began meeting on a weekly basis with another brother to pray. Second, he and his family got involved in a good, Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. This was very instrumental in his growth as a husband and in the growth of his entire family in the Lord.
The practical step to take here is quite obvious: get involved in a good local church that believes in the Bible and teaches it well! Involvement in a local church is not an option for the Christian: it is a command. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). This is absolutely essential to the spiritual well-being of your family.
2003 Christian Family Life
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