The Dominant Husband vs. the Servant Husband

The Dominant Husband vs. the Servant Husband March 1, 2019

At the Last Supper, one of the last things Jesus did with his disciples was to wash their feet. He then commanded them to do the same to one another. “I have set you an example,” Jesus said, “that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13: 15).

In other words, their role in leadership was to remain humble and serve one another.

Jesus gave his disciples a similar teaching after the mother of James and John asked if they might have powerful places in the coming kingdom. This request made the other disciples quite angry

To them, Jesus responded, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave…” (Matthew 20:26-27).

Husbands have choices to make when it comes to leadership of the family. They can choose the way of pride or the way of humility. They can lead from the front or push from behind. They can serve with compassion or they can make selfish demands.

I once counseled a couple who were on the verge of separating. Individually they were two of the nicest people I’d ever met. As a couple, though, they were angry and miserable.

After much stonewalling and defensiveness, the wife finally opened up to me when I asked “What does he do that makes you feel this way?”

She began to recite her grievances, one by one. She had no idea how much money they had or where it was, because her husband wouldn’t tell her. She had no access to their finances. He was stingy and suspicious when she asked for money. She felt like a pauper under the control of a harsh master.

Moreover, he controlled everything else about their lives. Everything they ate, everything they did, everywhere they went, and every person with whom they had contact was decided by him.

She was living with a dominant husband. He thought he was doing a great job managing their family and taking care of her. “I don’t think she’s got it so bad,” he told me.

She disagreed. “I’m ready to get out of this prison and start living!” she said.

Still, he refused to acknowledge any error at all. The wife eventually moved out. Today they are back together, but it was a long, difficult reconciliation—and it only happened after the husband became willing to repent and change.

Leadership by domination is an exceedingly poor way to lead. It just doesn’t work—not in government, not in business, not as a father, and definitely not as a husband.

God doesn’t want men to be petty tyrants. He wants them to be benevolent, sacrificial, humble leaders. A servant’s heart is the most important quality in leadership.

A great marriage will be one marked by a husband willing to lead by following Christ’s example of servanthood.

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