Written by Pastor Michael Johnson
A husband’s leadership is a self-sacrificial, benevolent leadership that seeks his wife’s good ahead of his own. A husband’s leadership is not mainly a right and a privilege but a weighty responsibility. Husbands are to love, serve, and lead their wives sacrificially as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). Many Scriptures could be used to support the following expectations, but this sketch focuses on Ephesians 5:25-33.
Expectations of Male Spiritual Leadership: (These aspects of leadership apply to the children as well)
1.) Service (Eph. 5:25): Examples abound. What is most helpful to your wife in your current season of life? Of course, this is far more than action. This is the driving attitude that pervades everything else. That’s why it’s listed first.
2.) Discipleship (Eph. 5:26-27): Basic to this is reading Scripture and praying together. This would also include applying Scripture to your decision-making as a couple, regular encouragement from God’s Word, and leading family worship (esp. if you have kids). How are you helping your wife become more holy?
3.) Provision (Eph. 5:28-29): Part of loving yourself is taking care of your basic needs. Self-sacrifice means putting your wife’s needs before your own. It means taking care of her. This provision is material, but it is also spiritual (see “discipleship” above).
4.) Protection (Eph. 5:25-28): Part of leadership is protection, and that protection is not just physical. The vast majority of enemies our wives face are spiritual and emotional. How can you protect her emotionally? You can do so by living in an understanding way: 1 Pet 3:7. How can you protect her spiritually? You can do so by praying for her regularly.
5.) Leadership Vision (Eph. 5:27): Christ’s sacrificial servant leadership has an ultimate purpose, an end goal. He aims to present us to himself as holy. All that Christ brings into our lives serves this end. This is part of discipleship (expectation #2 above). What is the forward-thinking discipleship plan that you have for your family? What is out of place and needs to be put right spiritually (Gal. 6:1)?
6.) Cherishing (Eph. 5:29): A husband’s leadership is driven not by duty but delight. How can you cherish your wife? How can you make her feel loved and appreciated?
7.) Intimacy (Eph. 5:30-31): Husband and wife are one flesh. The two become one. It is an intimate relationship. How can you maintain intimacy in your marriage? How do you maintain a solid heart connection with your wife? You can do so through romance, dates, and sexual intimacy, all of which are important aspects of male leadership.
8.) Reconciliation (Eph. 5:25-32): Christ died to reconcile all things to Himself (Col. 1:20). Husbands should ordinarily initiate the process of reconciliation: the forgiveness for sins done in the marriage. A husband should lead in repenting (i.e., apologizing) and in moving toward his spouse after a conflict.
9.) Example (Eph. 5:25; 1 Pet. 2:21): Jesus gave us the example. We must live by example for those we lead. Our leadership is “show and tell” (Prov. 4:11). We must lead by example in loving and following Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). We must exemplify godliness in our attitudes, words, deeds, etc.
Lord Jesus, please help us live and lead like you. Amen!
Dr. Michael Johnson serves as a pastor at Gospel Fellowship Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He earned his Masters in Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his Doctorate in Pharmacy from North Dakota State University. Michael and his wife Sarah have been married since 2004 and have four children.
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