A few weeks ago, I blogged about my personal revelation and experience with Biblical submission (haven’t read it? –> Subjection: The Curse & The Blessing ). Well, I thought it would be BOMB if I got the flipside of subjection from none other than MY HUSBAND! Yes… you get to hear the thoughts of my co-archer, Emmanuel Gaines as he shares his heart about leading in marriage as the husband/father. So wives, please read this blog but also share it with your husband (just don’t expect him to read it RIGHT when you share/send it; I’m learning :). It could be a great conversation starter and point of prayer for you, your marriage and family. Read. Share. Like. Comment. Now introducing… my boo.
“You lead. I’ll follow.”
Four words that struck terror in the heart of this guy that isn’t moved by much. While most men would be floored with excitement in hearing these words from their wife, the weight of these words floored me in an entirely different way.
As my wife began to grow and share how the Lord was dealing with her about submitting to my leadership, the sobering reality of those words drove me to my knees. Previously, I could just mask my sub-par prayer life and passivity behind “honey, what if we did ____” or “what do you think we should do about ____” and hope I didn’t catch her in an emotional moment. Then, I thought, if something blows up, I could be like my forefather Adam and say, “It was this woman you gave me.” But we know from the book of Genesis, the responsibility of the family before God lays on the shoulders of the husband; a passive, pass-the-blame man will lead his family to ruin every time. Now, my wife is trusting that I am seeking God concerning His will for our family and that I will lead us to spiritual and natural health. This does not mean that I make decisions independent of her (I recognize and honor her prayers and wisdom) but if the Lord says go left and she is unsure, I lead my family humbly left.
Let me make this disclaimer, don’t mistake your value with your role. Your value (men and women) is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ – sinners saved by grace, co-heirs with Christ. Wives, you are not less than by allowing your husband to lead and men, you are not superior by taking your God-ordained role as leader. This quote from Voddie Baucham Jr. helps get this point across:
“We do not have to concede that there is headship only in the midst of inequality. This is patently false. The Bible makes it clear that Christ is equal to the Father in every way, and yet there is headship even in the Trinity.”
I remember one of the first major decisions that I was entrusted to make was when we made the decision to downsize for the purpose of paying off some debt. I found this place I wasn’t looking for, visited the property, found it was in our price range and felt the Lord say this was it. It didn’t fully make sense because it doubled our travel time to church and moved us further away from people we knew, yet this is what God said. I asked Esther if she wanted to go see it and she said “No”! I told her, I believe the Lord said this is it. “You lead, I’ll follow” was her response. I knew she wasn’t happy about everything, but she was trusting God [in me]. It wasn’t always easy as early on she expressed her frustrations with certain things. I often doubted if I heard God right but looking back over the last 2 years, we both know this is where the Lord wanted us to live.
Although terrifying at times, this journey has aided tremendously in my growth as a Christian, husband and father. I’ve seen how prone my heart is towards selfishness, how many initial decisions had to be retracted because I was only thinking about myself and not my family or God’s will. I’ve seen how as a leader, I can be tempted to make decisions based on my preferences or understanding and put God’s name on it but, out of the fear of the Lord, I must resist. Two passages have acted as a plum line on this journey.
Matthew 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Ephesians 5:25-26a “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…”
As a follower of Christ, first, my top priority is to love Him with everything – to allow His word and spirit to transform me into His image which then empowers me to love my neighbor (my wife in this instance). As long as I love the Lord more than I love my wife, I can lead her. However, the moment pleasing her rises above pleasing the Father, I’ve failed as a leader.
Men, it is essential to keep the first thing FIRST. We cannot walk out Ephesians 5 if, in our hearts, our wives are above Christ. But, if by the grace of God, we keep Him first, He’ll empower us to lead our wives and families well. Our wives and children should build their view of Christ and His headship based on our leadership towards them. What picture of Christ are you imprinting upon their hearts? Becoming a Godly leader in your home requires much more prayer. Whatever your prayer life looks like now, it requires more. Intentional prayer. Ugly honest prayer. We desperately need God’s guidance and to face the reality that we’re not smart enough to do it on our own. We must remember that our standard is God, not the culture. By the culture’s standard, I could say I’m a great husband and father. Yet by God’s standard, I fail daily, miserably.
Men, our priority concerning our wives and children is their salvation and sanctification (Ephesians 5&6). In leading your family, pray fervently for both, be a living example of what it looks like to follow Jesus and be open about your failures. They’ll remember more of what you do than what you say. I don’t want my wife or kids to think I’m perfect, so I tell them often where I blow it and apologize to them. Display God’s mercy before them and let them see the grace of God change you. Consider how you can provoke your family towards love and good deeds and lead with humility. Remember – we are all recipients of undeserved mercy and co-heirs with Christ. If, up to this point, you have not been the spiritual leader your family deserves, don’t beat yourself, just make a decision to start today. A book I HIGHLY recommend for believing men is “Family Shepherds; Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes” by Voddie Baucham Jr.
To the wives… A Godly husband’s deepest desire is to be a reflection of Christ to his wife and children and lead as such. It can be just as terrifying taking the lead as it is for you to follow. Here are three ways my wife has tremendously helped me in this process that I hope you can do for your husband:
- Pray for your husband. Often. We need your prayers. There have been seasons where I could feel my wife’s prayers. In times of discouragement, my wife’s prayers have pushed me on. I remember nights in the bed, feeling her place her hand on my head and praying for me, and even times when she just tells me that she’s praying for me. Sometimes we need to hear from God more than we hear from you, so pray for us. My wife can probably share specific things that she prays about.
- Give him grace to fail. On this side of eternity, we are all fallen creatures in need of much grace. We will fail often. There will be times when your husband doesn’t make the right decision, doesn’t lead with grace and fails miserably. More times than not, he knows that he blew it. Your words and response in those times can either paralyze or empower him going forward. Let your words build him up, even in failure. Lamentations 3 tells us that God gives us new mercy every morning. I interpret that as every day, he gives us room to mess up in our pursuit of Him. In our pursuit of leading our family, extend to us much grace.
- Encourage him to lead. Everyone’s love language is different (i.e. Gifts, QT, Physical Touch); one of mine is Words of Affirmation. Encouraging your husband as he leads can breathe life into his heart. There can be found something praiseworthy in every step, even in failures. Small, intentional encouragements can go a long way to help your husband be the leader God has called him to be. Find out what encourages him and be intentional to do it when you see he needs it.
Husbands and wives, as you strive to aim your children towards Christ, remember the influence of your behavior. Husbands, model Christ. Wives, model the church. Let your marriage be a picture of the Gospel that your children want to partake of. I’ll leave you with this final quote from Voddie Baucham:
The greatest source of security our children have in this world is a God-honoring, Christ-centered marriage between their parents.
Grace & Peace
Did this blog encourage you in any way? What have you recently learned about Biblical headship and submission? Share your comments below! 🙂