The Headship God Supports
- 2011 25 Jun
The issue of the man's leadership in the home has been a concern for years. Book after book has been written on this subject, including Passive Men, Wild Women and Husbands Who Won't Lead and Wives Who Won't Follow. We're talking about biblical headship—specifically the authority of the man to lead.
A man's motives for leading a marriage spiritually can sometimes be diluted by personal reasons, but when he allows God to lead him, and when his heart is open to God and His purposes, then his headship receives God's support.
So what does that kind of leadership look like in practical terms?
The authority God gives men to lead is built on service. This is a difficult balancing and juggling act for many. The problem is not with the teaching of male leadership, but with the man who misuses the teaching that he is to lead so that he can serve his own needs and desires. Some men behave like drill sergeants, snapping out orders at their wives and children, which doesn't reflect Scripture, but their own selfishness and insecurity.
The truth is, a husband is called to think of others—particularly his wife—first, ahead of himself. That's not easy for many men. For one thing, the idea of being a servant-leader runs counter to the thinking of our present-day "me" culture. But with some hard work and sacrifice, it can be done.
I've seen both kinds of leadership. I've seen the self-appointed "dictators" who distort scriptural teaching for their own benefit. The result of this kind of leadership is that marriages and families suffer and fragment. But I've also observed men who are servant-leaders whose families flourished as a result.
God's script also calls the husband to be not just a servant-leader but also a lover, meaning that his headship of his family is not to exhibit dominating control but the sacrificial love of Jesus.
And how did Christ love when He was on earth? He was single-minded in His mission of love as He spent time with the disciples where they were weak. He defended the disciples, praised them before others and revealed Himself to them. And why did Jesus do these things? He was concerned about the church's wellbeing and future glory.
That is how a husband is to love his wife. A husband represents Jesus in the home, and his role is to bring out God's glory in his wife and lift her up—for her wellbeing. That is leadership that leaves a wife feeling special, valued and loved.
So how specifically can a husband do that? There are many ways; one of the most important is a husband's putting his wife first over children, parents, siblings, work, TV and hobbies. Doing this will strengthen a marriage. Conversely, not doing it will weaken a marriage.
Another thing a loving husband can do is learn his wife's "love language"—in other words, the ways she tends to hear, express and receive love from others—and package his love in a way that speaks to her and meets her needs.
We are also to love our wives unconditionally, the same way God loves all of us. We're not to love her "because she . . ." but "regardless." When you love your wife sacrificially and unconditionally, she will more fully realize God's love and regard for her, and this in turn brings glory to Him.4
God expects us to care for one another. A husband who neglects or demeans his wife robs her of what God wants for her and robs himself of growth and development as well.
Regarding couples caring for one another, Bryan Chapell wrote:
Because two people who marry are to be one, if either part damages, demoralizes or degrades the other, then neither will be completely whole. Just as a basketball deflated on only one side still cannot fulfill its purposes, so a marriage with one side diminished will deprive both persons of fully being and doing what God desires. God has designed the similarities and differences of a man and woman in marriage to complement and support the spiritual growth of both. Neither part to the marriage can develop fully if either one is denied his or her personal potential.5
What an opportunity you and I have! It's very much like Jesus' redemptive work on behalf of the church in that a husband is not to live for himself, but should live to be used as a channel of God's goodness in his wife's life.
Originally posted July 27, 2010