The Leader – The Biblical Husband (VII)

Adam and Eve made a religious decision. For Adam, who was standing with Eve throughout the discussion, as Genesis 3:6 makes clear, it involved the decision not to exercise marital leadership, not to step in and interrupt the proceedings.; his wife made the initial decision, and he followed her lead.[1]

We cannot simply blame women for the feminism of our modern era. It has been a logical response to male irresponsibility, but it has not helped women, as it has led them further and further away from their original calling. Furthermore, it has led to the emasculation of men as well. As much as we are able we have to ignore this kind of evil pressure, knowing where it is from, and obey God’s Word as husbands.

In I Timothy 3:4-5 Paul discusses the qualifications for a man who wants to be a leader in the church. The most important area, writes Paul, is the condition of the man’s home. He must be one who “manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.” He is expected to exercise authority and to have his children respectful, obedient and under his control.

The Greek word translated “manage” means literally “to stand in front of.” It contains various related ideas, including “to rule,” “to protect” and “to control.”Essentially the word means that the father stands at the head of his home. He puts himself between his family and all the pressures and dangers of life. He also goes in front of them and sets an example of godly living. [2]

Jesus Christ never permitted Himself to be pressured into an orientation around the needs of people. That wasn’t Father’s plan. Rather, He was oriented around the commands of His Heavenly Father. We see this when He went to the pool at Bethesda (Jn.5:1-15). Though there were a multitude of people there “who were sick, blind, lame and withered” (v.3), Jesus healed just one of them (v.9), and immediately left (v.13).

Some would ask, “didn’t Jesus care about all those needy people who were there?” Jesus cared most about completing the tasks which His Father had given Him, as an obedient Son. He wasn’t need oriented: He was a command oriented man. The needs of people were not paramount in his mind, because Jesus wasn’t a religious social worker.

Jesus said, “the Father Himself who sent Me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me” (Jn.12:49-50). He also said, “I do exactly as the Father commanded Me” (Jn.14:31).

This should teach us something about the nature of godly leadership and the commands of the kingdom of God. God expects fathers as His faithful representatives, to utilise commands in their family structure. He said concerning Abraham, “I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, by doing righteousness and justice…” (Gen.18:19). This is a father’s responsibility before God, and is something we will give an account for.

Does this authorise a father to behave like a parade-ground sergeant-major? No. He must exhibit understanding, tenderness and care. But certainly the word command is a strong one; almost military. But whoever heard of a kingdom, without authority, order and rules? Abraham’s “household” numbered hundreds, perhaps thousands of people (see Gen.14:14). His must have been a household of order, obedience and discipline if he could at short notice, go off with 318 of his men, divide them into groups at night, and rescue Lot. What authorises me, to think that my household should be any different?

Abraham’s leadership can be compared with that of Lot. Lot was a godly man, but where he led his family with its appeal of financial gain but moral corruption, ended up destroying his family. What can we learn from this?

Family leadership must be moral. There must be moral and ethical justification for the choices a father makes.

Some wives and mothers may say, “Are you talking about the man being a dictator?” No. There are some situations, however, in which the man is responsible to say, “in order to please God and have His blessing, this is the way we’re going to do things in our home. We are not going to do this, but we are going to do that.[3]

The New Testament father must ensure he is not a tyrant, abusing those under him. The only valid way to do this is to be in a church, in submission to the leadership of that church. The Bible commands us in the context of the Church to “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph.5:21). To refuse to do this is not only folly; it is also blasphemous. It is refusing to submit to the institution God has ordained to be the most authoritative in the world, whatever its present failings.

No man is fit to be in authority, unless he is under authority as well. To refuse to come under the authority of others is to be a despot.  A man who is under the authority of his church leadership provides his wife and children with an appeals mechanism, so that his decisions can be referred to others. Jesus Christ was and is eternally submissive to His Heavenly Father, and the remarkable paradox of the kingdom of God which we must all observe, is that He now has “all authority…in heaven and on earth” (Mat.28:18). Thus every man should always be willing to submit to godly Church leadership who care for him and his family.

Fathers lead by what they do and say: by example. This is a tremendously important issue in the scriptures. Paul was bold enough to say to the Philippians, “the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil.4:9). He could also say to the Corinthians, “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (I Cor.11:1).

I grew up on a farm in NSW, and my father died when I was fifteen. I have a great deal of respect for what sort of man he was. We had two small orchards on our farm, and every year the fruit-trees were pruned in the winter. One day a few years before he died, I was working with him in the orchard, where we were picking up the many prunings and loading them onto the back of a tractor. It had been wet, and the ground in the orchard was muddy.

Two strangers pulled up in a car, got out, and proceeded to trudge across the orchard to speak to us. They were both wearing blue suits and dress shoes, which didn’t seem to me to be the most suitable attire for that place, but I guess that didn’t matter too much. One of them was carrying a blue folder.

When they got to us, my father said to them, “Are you fellows from an insurance company?” I can’t remember whether they shook their heads, or said “No,” but their response was certainly in the negative. My father then, gently reached across and took the folder out of the hands of the rather sheepish man holding it, turned it around (so that it faced my Dad), and opened it up. At the top of the facing page, was a heading: New Zealand Insurance Company.

My father “suffered fools badly.” He angrily commanded them, “Get off my place,” and pointed to their vehicle. They turned on their muddy heels and trudged away.

I learned from that: a) Don’t mess with Dad, and b), Don’t give liars the time of day.

No father can expect to see the blessing of God in his family, if he will not effectively lead that family, as Abraham did. God give us grace so we can change, and obey.


[1] North, G., “The Dominion Covenant,” 1987, p.102.

[2] Prince, D., “Husbands & Fathers,” 2000, p.86.

[3] Prince, p.89.

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