Men, Marriage, and Leading.

The following is a guest post by Tyler Recker.

I have never felt qualified to talk about marriage. Even now, I’m only 2 and a half years in. However, I am confident that if I had to be perfect on everything I talked about, then I wouldn’t have much to talk about. (Meaning… maybe I could talk about how to tie my shoes.) I still am not especially qualified, which is why this is a discussion more than a teaching.

Lately, I’ve been studying and reading some pretty convicting stuff on marriage that I wanted to pass along entirely as a fellow sojourner, and entirely NOT as someone who is an expert. (Most of this stuff is a review of stuff we heard in the last marriage series, but I’m a little slow sometimes.)

Let me just leave you with a few snippets from “Reforming Marriage” by Douglas Wilson.

“Because the husband is the head of the wife, he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to abdicate in some way, he may, through his rebellion, lead poorly. But no matter what he does, or where he goes, he does so as the head of the wife.” pg. 24

Ouch. All of the above is grounded in the indicative statement of Ephesians 5:23 that “the husband is head of the wife”. Wilson points out that the verse is not the imperative, as if to say “Husbands, be the head of the wife”, but rather the indicative noting that this is the reality that needs to be lived out. For better or worse, I am the leader of my home. I may hit or I may strike out, but I am the one that has to step up to the plate all the same.

“One of the central difficulties we face in our culture today is the general ‘wimping out’ of the Christian men. Men have abdicated their God-given strength, leadership, and authority. They do not want to take the masculine role; they do not want to take the initiative because they have taken the easy way out.”

Ouch. (I read this whole book aloud with my wife…can you imagine how humbling that was?!)

So, having shared just a couple of quotes with you, let me begin a discussion on fleshing this out. The truth is that husbands are to be the leaders, but we will all lead with different styles. I think we would benefit from sharing ideas. In venturing to this, let us shy away from the foolishness of thinking that there’s one exact way that this should be done. Let us not venture down the road of legalism wherein we take our methods and impose them on our brothers as THE only way.

What do you do to lead your family spiritually? What are your best practices?

I’ll offer my two cents. (Which is really worth about that.)

-I found that reading a good book together at night before we went to bed was a great way to get the ball rolling of having more spiritual conversation in our home. This could be a book of the Bible, but at times it could also be solid books on particular issues.

-I have always resisted scheduled “date nights”, because a) it seemed too cutesy (What’s next? matching sweaters?) and b) I thought I shouldn’t have to schedule to do things that I really wanted to do, I should just do them. But with the busyness of graduating college, ministry, and her having to work full-time, I realized that sometimes you have to plan to do things that you want to do, or the things that you DON’T want to or only KIND OF wan to do will choke out the things you REALLY want to do. Besides, it’s great to have those on the calendar so that when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, you can reply “I have plans that night.” (I jest.)

Men, what about you? What are your wrestlings with how to live out the truth that you are the head of your family?  What have you done that is been helpful in this area?

Women, what does your husband do as an effective leader in your family?


8 thoughts on “Men, Marriage, and Leading.

  1. One of the most important parts of my spiritual leadership in the home is serving my wife. Paul said we are to “love our wife as Christ loved the church”, and Jesus died for the church, so my primary posture before my wife needs to be one of a servant…sacrificing myself to meet her needs (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).

    When I’m doing this well, she finds my leadership much easier to follow. When I’m not doing this well, following my leadership is more of a struggle for her.

    • This is awkward to say without seeming self-congratulatory, but bear in mind that I get these right about 5% of the time….but I’m trusting in God to continue his work of transforming me into a more servant-hearted husband.

      Practically serving my wife – An example from yesterday:

      Susan called me yesterday and was concerned about her dad who was up at the hospital alone. I discerned that she was sensing the need to be with her dad, so I came home early and set aside my calendar and to-do list to homeschool the kids, take them to the library, make dinner, and drive to ball practice.

      Serving my wife means sacrificing my self, my time, and my plans, but never compromising what God wants for us. Being a servant requires the kind of humility Jesus exhibited…..

      (Phil 2:6-8)
      Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

      Other practical servant postures:
      – by lifting the burden of stress in her life when it gets too chaotic (either by taking on some of the burden myself, or by helping her unload the stressors and de-cluttering her life of superfluous activities)

      – by protecting her (i.e. financially by accepting ultimate responsibility for financial oversight – even though she handles the day to day book-keeping)

      – by showing her she is special to me and more valuable to me than my own comfort (in little things like opening doors, pulling out chair at dinner table, giving her the first slice of meatloaf 🙂

  2. In the beginning of our marriage, I kept trying to “fix” Shawna. (I know, I know, I can hear you all laughing). After many arguments I discovered that the best thing I can do is to pray for her. It is NOT my job to fix her, anymore than it is her job to fix me. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. So when I see a need in her life, I take it to God and He leads her to the place where the change is made.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t share things with her that I think are spiritual issues that need to be addressed. She does the same for me as well, but when I do it is because the Holy Spirit has prompted me to do so and her heart is ready to receive and so is mine.

    Often times, I find that when I am praying for something to change in her, the Holy Spirit changes me instead and I discover that I was the one with the issue all along. Funny how that works.

  3. I learned a truth a long time ago, and am still learning it: Marriage is about God.

    My dependence on Jesus reflects the leadership in my home. If I try to lead on my own, I find that things don’t go well. I find that when I am actively pursuing God and He is working through me, leadership is not that hard. I am more patient and humble. I’m a better listener, and my family wants to actually follow me.

    So the answer to your question: “How do I wrestle with the truth of male headship?”

    Answer: Keep myself in the gospel and as close to Jesus as I can. Trust in Jesus, not in myself. Read the bible and feast on the Word. Read other books that give God glory and tell the truth. Receive encouragement and loving correction from men who love God.

  4. It also shouldn’t go without saying that consistency in praying for and with my wife is critical. It reinforces that we are both dependent on Christ for everything, and is a constant reminder to her that I am not leading the family on my own…but in full reliance on Christ for wisdom, strength, grace, etc.

  5. I’d REALLY like to see the matching sweater thing! Can y’all do that on Easter Sunday? 🙂

    Thanks for sharing what you are learning. All men, even those married over 20 years, need to reconsider these things from time to time. Unlike old dogs, we aren’t too old to learn and more importantly, change.

  6. I would like to add to what my husband has said. He has also actively discipled me throughout our years together. He has challenged me to know God more and exampled a life of discipline in the Word and study. He has led by example and not bluster. He has hoped in the Glory of Christ to be revealed in me, not the “Least annoying to Joseph” version by his own hand. For this I am eternally grateful. It has sheltered me in a life where I feel completely accepted not only by God but also by my husband, because he knows that I do not ultimately belong to him.

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