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Monday, December 9, 2013

Strength and goodness are independent variables in the equation of a husband's biblical leadership.

Welcome to my revamped and renamed series for husbands. If you are a long-time reader, you'll note the name change from "Man Up Monday" to "Men only Monday."

There are two basic reasons for the change. First, the term "man-up," intended as a slightly tongue-in-cheek expression, was misinterpreted by some as an accusation or indictment against men in general. I don't want to come across as husband-bashing.

Second, I use "Wives only Wednesdays" for my occasional mid-week posts directed at wives. That title rightly indicates a broader focus than just the role of wives in a biblical marriage. The Men Only title will also clarify that the occasional series for men is similarly broad in scope.

One of my goals for 2014 is to more regularly address husbands and wives separately through Men Only Monday and Wife Only Wednesday posts.

Enough with that, on to today's post.

Real Headship

The degree of misunderstanding and consequent outrage over what it means for a husband to be the "head" of his wife is a continual source of frustration for me. It's also a source of motivation for me to work diligently to educate and inform about this contentious issue with clarity and biblical backing.

I'm not going to spend any time in this post revisiting the arguments over the Greek lexicon or whether kephale actually means head. I've read and researched extensively on both sides and can only interpret Ephesians 5 to mean the husband is intended by God to have a kind of authority in marriage. Call it authority, call it leadership, call it headship, call it whatever you will, but whatever term you use, just make Jesus your definition of it.

Charting Biblical Headship

So the question to me is not so much whether  or not you, as a husband, have a God-ordained headship role in your marriage, but rather what that should look like.

I came across something on another blog recently that got me thinking about the attributes of strength and goodness and how these are really independent variables from each other in framing a husband's authority.

Confusing or equating these two attributes of your leadership can lead to a lot of confusion and mistaken understanding. To lend some clarity to this concept, I've put together the chart below:

What the chart clearly depicts is that there is only one quadrant that fits the biblical description of  how you should walk out your authority: with significant degrees of both strength and goodness.

In my next Monday post I'll go a little deeper into what biblical headship is not, by digging into the other three quadrants. But today I want to focus on the "Christ-like" quadrant.

A Strong Husband

The strength axis is a measure of your degree of leadership in your marriage (and family). Rather than being measured by how many decisions you make or rules you set forth, it's measured by your degree of emotional and physical presence. Yes, decisiveness is necessary and often helpful, but it's not the primary measure of leadership.

Demonstrate your leadership strength through your engagement with and involvement in the day to day life of your family. Be vigilantly aware of what's going on and how what's going on affects your wife and family. Be a proactive leader by stepping in and taking action when things start to go off track before crisis sets in.

Christlike leadership also looks like reliable provision, consistent protection, clear direction and unwavering trustworthiness.

A Good Husband

Goodness in a husband, to me, relates most directly to how he loves and serves his wife.

The tricky part of goodness is that "goodness" looks different for different women. Do you know what words and actions best say "I love you" to your wife? Do you do them on a consistent (daily) basis?

For many wives, love needs to be expressed in the form of feeling emotionally connected and knowing that her needs are understood and important to you. These require a significant degree of communication through conversation with your wife, not something all men are skilled at or comfortable with. Then it requires that you act in a manner consistent with your understanding.

Goodness means expressing your leadership with the heart of a servant. Self-serving leadership is what gives biblical marriage a bad rap, and it will cause your wife to resist your leadership and withhold her submission. Selfless leadership is what Jesus models for us. Learn from His example.

What do you think of the way I've charted biblical headship? Did I miss anything significant in the chart above? Share your thoughts in a comment.

Next: What Headship is Not


Faith said...

This is right on! God bless your work!

Scott said...

Thanks, Faith!

Lori @ said...

Scott, I'm just blown away by your concise and strong explanation of a complicated issue. (I'm reading this post after reading the companion for women only Wednesday)

Thank you. Simple, yet powerful trumps everything - and these companion posts are winners. I'm in awe.

Jeremy said...

I wish I had read this post about three years ago. My wife and I are separated right now and I'm confident that a large reason why is that I was acting out the bottom-right quadrant (strong and bad). If I had the opportunity to do it over again, I would certainly strive to be like Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for this explanation. I really appreciate it and pray that I will have another opportunity to live it out!

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