Headship — The Husband’s Role

Headship:  The Husband’s Role

“You wives must submit to your husbands’ leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord.  For a husband is in charge of his wife in the same way Christ is in charge of his body, the church…So you wives must willingly obey your husbands in everything, just as the church obeys Christ…and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband – obeying, praising, and honoring him.”  (Eph. 5:22-24,33) The Living Bible.  In the NIV, it says that the husband is the head of the wife.

The footnotes in the Full Life Study Bible for the above verses say, “God has established the family as the basic unit in society. Every family must have a leader.  Therefore, God has assigned to the husband the responsibility of being the head of the wife and family.  His headship must be exercised in love, gentleness, and consideration for his wife and family.  The husband’s God-given responsibility of “head of the wife” includes: (1) provision for the family’s spiritual and domestic needs; (2) love, protection and interest in her welfare in the same way that Christ loves the church; (3) honor, understanding, appreciation and thoughtfulness; (4) absolute faithfulness to the marriage relationship.”  I want to focus on number one in this group.  Many times over the years, while attending ladies Bible study groups, I have heard different ladies ask us to pray for their husband.  They would talk about how he wasn’t being the “spiritual leader” of the home.  In looking at the above scriptures, he isn’t called the “spiritual leader of the home,” but he is called the “head” of the wife.

Let’s look a little further into this.  Many women complain that their husbands won’t do family devotions.  As for his “provision for the family’s spiritual needs” (mentioned above), if he is working extra hard so that the wife can be at home with the children, he is entrusting them to the one person whom he should be able to trust the most.  Your children will be indoctrinated by someone, and if we are blessed to be stay-at-home moms, then we have ample opportunity to be training them and instructing them in righteousness.

Gen. 2:18 says, “I will make a companion for him, a helper suited to his needs.”  (Liv. Bible)  As a helper, what better way can you help him than by raising godly children?  If you train them and instruct them to be well-behaved, God-fearing children, then it will be a joy for your precious husband to come home after a hard day at work.  He will surely appreciate your many efforts in raising godly children.

Prov. 31 talks about how the husband is respected at the city gates.  This was where he conducted his business affairs.  One reason why he was respected was because of the noble wife who was at home, doing her husband good and not harm, all the days of her life.  She carefully managed the home, not just in the practical matters like grocery shopping, doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning, but also in the spiritual training of the children.  After all, this whole Proverb is about a mother who is teaching her son.  I doubt that all of the insights which are in this one Proverb were taught to him in a single sitting.  Rather, they were lived out before him, on a daily basis by his godly mother.

I asked a few men what their perception of their role as “head” was.  I got the same answer from every man.  They weren’t looking at it from the standpoint of leading devotions or family prayer time, but they perceived it to be a place where they would discuss things with their wives, but the final decision would be theirs.  If they made the wrong decision, then they had the weight of that wrong decision falling on their shoulders.  They saw this position as one of leadership in more of a practical role, rather than a leader in the sense of leading the family where spiritual things are concerned.  I am not saying whether their views were right or wrong.  My point in asking this was to show us that how women view “head of the wife” and how men view that particular role, are often completely different.

We may be whining and complaining because our husband won’t take the initiative in doing family devotions.  When God is pruning us, he will often use those closest to us to bring about the pruning process.  Too many times I have heard ladies complaining about their husband, asking us to pray for him, but I don’t recall ever hearing a lady say, “Would you pray for me to be content in a situation I am facing until God sees fit to make a change in it?”  You see, it’s too easy to point our fingers at what we perceive to be wrong in our husbands.  It’s much harder to face the fact that maybe Father is wanting to teach us contentment, joy, and peace, regardless of the situation we are facing.

I remember talking with a lady one time who was complaining because her husband didn’t want them attending Wednesday night services.  She was very unhappy with that because church was very important to her.  When she told me that she was praying for God to change his heart on that matter, I suggested that maybe God was trying to teach her to honor his feelings, to stay at home on Wednesday nights, and be happy about doing it!  She had never thought of it that way.  As she began to change her attitude on it, God began to move in BOTH of their lives.  They are both more active in church now.

If honest, we could understand why many husbands would be intimidated by the thought of leading family devotions.  We women have a way with our body language that can speak volumes, even if our mouths are shut.  If we feel that he isn’t doing a good enough job, is he going to be able to perceive that by our body language?  We have the ability to roll our eyes, thinking that he can’t see it, but oops!  He did see, and it makes him feel that he can’t do anything that meets your standards for family devotions.  How many times do we find that we interrupt our husbands in the course of a normal conversation?  Is it really going to be any different if he is leading family devotions?  Won’t we still be tempted to say, “Oh, honey, they can’t understand those big words.”  Or, we might say, “They don’t understand that concept.  You have to tell them like this…”  The key is to give the children a chance to say, “Daddy, what do you mean when you say….?”  We need to remember not to interrupt him.

Another thought on this line is that if you really want family devotions, ask him what he thinks about it.  He may not be interested in doing it at all.  You might suggest that you all come into the room, then YOU be the one to lead that time.  Maybe he could be the one to tell the children that it’s family devotion time.  He could be the one to do the scripture reading, but you would be the one teaching the lesson.  Most of the time it is Mom who spends the most time with the children, so it should fall upon Mom to be the one to find devotions to use that are fun, exciting, and age-appropriate.  (I highly recommend the books Heritage Builders Family Night Tool Chest.)

A word of caution – if you take it upon yourself to do family devotions, and you ask your husband if he would like to join, if he tells you “no” two or three times, then back off and quit asking him.  If you continue to ask, it will come across as nagging.  Let’s look at two approaches.
“It’s time for devotions.  Get in here so we can get started.”  OR “Honey, we are going to do devotions now.  Would you like to join us?”  By which response do you think you can gently persuade him to want to join?  The first one will obviously put up a “wall” between the two of you because you aren’t being respectful at all toward him.

I have heard many women complaining about the lack of “spiritual leadership” in the home.  Your husband isn’t called a spiritual head, but he is called the head.  Your spiritual head is Christ.  If you are looking for family devotion times to fulfill you, give you peace, or to help you grow, you are putting something on your husband that only Father God is able to fulfill in you.  Please don’t misunderstand me on this issue.  I am not negating the husband’s responsibility in helping to train and instruct the children in righteousness.  I am just looking at it from a different point of view – a view that I don’t feel that is looked upon very much.  Keep in mind that by his diligence in going to work and providing a home, along with paying the bills, he IS teaching something to your children.  He is teaching a good work ethic about working as “unto the Lord.”  He is teaching them about providing for their families, for I Tim. 5:8 tells us that if a man doesn’t provide for his own family, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.  If he is loving, caring, and gentle, he is giving them a good example of a loving Father in heaven.  Your children will grow up with a better view of God because they have seen those godly traits portrayed in their own earthly father.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. younggodlywomen
    Feb 11, 2015 @ 14:39:55

    “You see, it’s too easy to point our fingers at what we perceive to be wrong in our husbands. It’s much harder to face the fact that maybe Father is wanting to teach us contentment, joy, and peace, regardless of the situation we are facing”

    This is so helpful. You are a very wise lady and I am sure your children will rise and call you blessed.


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