by Julie Bruce
In 1938 Abbott and Costello performed on a radio show a comedy skit entitled, “Who’s on First?” Most of us have seen or at least heard the skit and chuckled along with it. However, in our homes, it isn’t quite so funny when we don’t know our roles and where we belong. God ordained order within the home to ensure healthy functioning of the family unit. Rather than asking “Who’s on First,” in our homes the question might be more like, “Who’s in Charge?”
We’ve all seen those homes where the kids rule the nest. They are loud, defiant, rude, stubborn and disobedient. They talk back, stick their tongue out, cross their arms and dig in their heels and refuse to budge. The parents have no control whatsoever.
Then there are homes where mom is in control. Dad works all day then comes home to pick up the paper or watch television or play a video game leaving mom to deal with the kids, clean the house, cook, do the laundry and whatever else might be going on. She makes all the major decisions for the family and dad just goes along with the plan. The kids might be more in line (sometimes), but it still is not a home that honors and glorifies God.
Another type of home finds the husband in control, but the wrong kind of control. He’s the one the wife and kids are scared of. He rules with an iron fist and you go along his way or pay the consequences. He’s controlling, manipulating, abusive physically, emotionally and maybe even sexually.
However, not every husband who takes the lead role in his family is abusive. He may be morally good and protective of his family. He provides for them and helps parent the children. He’s a good husband and father. Yet even this home is not honoring God.
Who then should be in charge in the home? I’m glad you asked. 1 Corinthians 11:3 has the answer. Paul writes to the church at Corinth these words:
“I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”
The principle behind Paul’s words is submission. Everyone submits to someone, except God. God ordained submission so that the homes would run smoothly. Otherwise, we’d have nothing but chaos, anger, bitterness, competiveness, and arguing. If you notice the chain in Paul’s writing, the woman seems to be at the bottom of the chain of command so let me say that submission is NOT surrender, withdrawal, or apathy. It does not mean that we girls are inferior. When God created men and women, he made us in his image and that makes males and females on equal ground. One is not better than the other. Both have equal value in God’s eyes. Instead, submission is more about a mutual commitment and cooperation. There is no need for women to compete with men or men to compete with women. God expects men and women to submit as equals. We submit by choice as we willingly serve God in the roles he designed for us. However, for a home to function, someone has to be in charge and when the man does not fulfill his God-given responsibility, many times wives must step in and serve her role and his. So then, what is the husband’s role?
Husbands are to lead their families through sacrificial love. Ephesians 5:33 says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. How did Christ demonstrate His love? He gave his life. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.(Romans 5:8) Even when we were still covered in sin, at our absolute worst, vile, repulsive, Christ loved us enough to die for us. (Ladies, you should not love your husbands any less…just saying!) If you are to love your wives as Christ loved the church, then you need to make sure you have experienced that love for yourself. You can’t give away what you have not yet received.
Husbands should also lead their families to Christ. Guys, you have the responsibility to be a spiritual leader in your home. After all, God’s purpose for marriage is to make us more like Christ. Christ often referred to the Church as is bride. So as Christians, our marriage should be a picture of Christ and the Church. As such, the head of the husband is Christ and he should be your #1 priority. Your 2nd priority should be your wife and your marriage. Your third priority should be your children. Then your job and providing for your family. There is no way you can lead you family the way God has called you to if you do not have an intimate, thriving, growing relationship with Christ. Do a self-examination right now. Where are your priorities? What do you give them most time and attention to? What do you nurture, develop, and look forward to everyday? If your priorities are out of order, what do you need to do to get them where they belong? What commitments do you need to make? Do you have any idols that you need to get rid of? You can’t lead your family to Christ if you’re still trying to get there yourself.
Take a moment to imagine what a home would look like if it operated in the way God designed it. How does that look different than what your family looks like now? What changes need to happen? What would it take for your wife to trust you enough that she could willingly step back and trust you to lead your family?
Here is what she needs:
- She needs to know that you are daily seeking wisdom from God in every decision you make.
- She needs to know that you are opening discussing decision with her, listening to her input and genuinely considering her opinions.
- She needs to know that the decisions you make are for the good of the family and not for your own good.
- She needs to know that she can rely on you, depend on you and that you would not do anything that would knowingly bring harm to the family.
- She needs to know that God is the first priority in your life and she is second.
- She needs to know that you are loyal and committed to her.
But gals…you are not off the hook either. In order for men to stand up and lead they need something from us:
- Your guy needs to know that your first priority is Christ and he is your second.
- He needs to know you trust him in the decisions he makes
- He needs your encouragement
- He needs you to pray for him
- If he does make a mistake, remember he’s human and we all make mistakes. Don’t bring him down or wag your finger with all the “I told you so” comments. Instead, hug him and tell him you love him then dig in and fix it together.
- He needs your support
- He needs your respect
Take some time ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the ways you are living outside your God-given roles. Ladies, do you need to willingly and cooperatively submit as an equal to your husband? Men, do you need to submit to Christ? What can you do right now that will help you submit to who’s in charge?