In my years of working with married couples, two of the most common complaints I hear from wives are:
“My husband just won’t step up and be the leader of the home.”
“My husband always demands his own way.”
On the surface, these two complaints seem contradictory, but they’re not. In fact, they’re two sides of the same coin and they represent two aspects of the same problem: Unhealthy leadership from the husband. This then begs some follow up questions.
If a guy is really being a leader in the home, doesn’t that mean he should be the one expecting or even demanding his own way? Isn’t that what leadership means or is the very notion of male leadership in the home an antiquated and sexist tool used by generations of men to perpetuate mistreatment and misogyny toward women? Should there really be any distinction at all between the responsibilities of a husband versus those of a wife? Shouldn’t we just speak the language of the culture and use the gender-neutral term “partner” to replace the old-fashioned notions of “husband” and “wife.” Is writing a blog on this hot-button (and often politicized) topic going to get me a bunch of haters tweeting cuss words at me?
These are complicated questions, but I’m going to do my best to address them (even if you decide to cuss at me on twitter). I don’t have time to dive deep into all of these questions in this one article, but I want to spend some time talking about the role of husbands as leaders in the home.
We live in a very confusing era for husbands and for wives as well. For men in the modern era, many are confused about what their role should be in the home. They wonder if showing respect to their wife means having to abandon the biblical mandate of male leadership as an outdated command written specifically for a different era and different set of cultural norms.
Many men aren’t sure what being a “husband” really means. They’ve seen a lot of negative PR in the news about men in positions of power misusing their authority and men and boys are tempted to react to the trending stories of sexism by distancing themselves from any form of male power, authority or leadership. We as men are abandoning our responsibilities as leaders because being completely passive seems to be a better option than being a domineering and abusive man like the terrible examples we’ve seen from so many fallen celebrities, politicians and pastors.
As a quick side note here, I fiercely believe we should be outraged by the mistreatment of women and girls in any form. It should sicken and enrage us and prompt us to action. In fact, I’m working on a book right now called “Raising Boys Who Respect Girls” and as a dad of four boys, I take this very seriously. If I raise sons who are outwardly successful in every measurable way, but they are secretly disrespectful to women, then I will have failed as a father. With that being said, I still think healthy leadership from husbands in the home is more important now than ever before.
I believe much of wives’ frustration over their husbands’ unhealthy leadership and much of the widespread male confusion over what we’re actually supposed to be doing as husbands could be solved by a quick refresher course on what the Bible actually says on these matters. Men, I want you to pick up your Bible (or the Bible app on your phone) and spend time studying this on your own. Read the Book of Proverbs. Read the book of Ephesians. Read about the example of Jesus in the Gospels who is the perfect “Bridegroom” of His bride, the Church.
You are not the head of your household. Christ is the head of your household and as you submit to Him and follow in His example, your responsibilities as a husband will come into clearer focus.
As you submit to Christ as the head of your home, you’ll be stepping you’re your God-given responsibility as the primary leader within your home. You might be wondering what “leader” actually means. It does not mean you get to be the boss in a worldly sense. It means you have some unique roles and responsibilities that will help your family thrive.
What you’ll see in Scripture is that God is calling you to be a “Pro.” You might never be a Pro athlete, but you can and must be a “Pro” in your home. I’m fairly short, slow and I have love handles, but I’m still living the dream as a “Pro” and you can too! You don’t have to be rich, or brilliant, or athletic or handsome to pull it off. You just have to be faithful in three specific responsibilities that all happen to begin with “Pro.”