We saw last week that God has given every husband the authority to lead his family. He listens to all input from his wife and children (if his wife is smarter and more insightful than he is, he would be a fool not to listen to her), but, in the final analysis, he must decide if the input is followed or not. He must make the final decision.
“What a great idea!’ We’ll do that!“ is not a lack of leadership, but often a sign of good leadership—looking at all options before deciding what to do. However, in the human species, the man has been uniquely built by God, physically and emotionally, to make final decisions. This does not mean that women can’t do so in a pinch, but, in the crunch time of daily life, men are much more equipped for and comfortable in that role.
When we don’t know God’s design for family life, or simply don’t want to follow it, there are, eventually and inevitably, big problems that arise. Witness the first family in the Garden of Eden.
Eve was deceived by Satan, while Adam was not; he ate the fruit with his eyes wide open, as Paul clearly teaches us (1 Timothy 2:14). Yet, in reflecting on the gravity of that incident, Paul relates that God held Adam solely responsible, even though Eve was the obvious initiator and instigator (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Why so? Eve was given to Adam to be his “helper,” (Genesis 2:18). Side by side with him as his completer in all he would do, Eve would supply qualities he lacked as she lived her life, assisting him in his task of ruling over God’s creation. God gave the job to Adam, explained to him what was involved, and told him not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—all before Eve was created. After God presented her to him, Adam was then solely responsible for training his help-mate in the tasks before them.
Thus, the Fall was all on him! He was accountable for the conduct of his wife. He was where “the buck stopped” in his family. When Eve brought to him the tasty snack she had just picked off of the Tree, he should have said to her, immediately, “Eve, I want you to put that back, right now. We are not eating that fruit.”
Instead, he followed the path of least resistance. Sparing an unpleasant confrontation with his duped wife, who was enthusiastically committed to what he knew would be a very unfruitful course of action, he said, “Yes, Dear; whatever you say, Dear,” and joined her in eating the fruit. It was directly contrary to God’s command. His complete failure in leading his family, because of fear of what his wife might do or say, led to the Fall of all mankind!
Men, we are classic sons of Adam. We, too, check out of our leadership responsibilities so readily. In today’s culture, that is very easy to do. Cultural Marxism teaches that men are oppressors and women are the oppressed, who need to throw off the shackles of traditional male leadership and become the leaders themselves. If men resist surrendering that role to their wives, that is iron-clad proof to the “woke;” men indeed are patriarchal tyrants.
Also, in God’s unfathomable, inscrutable, counter-intuitive way, He made it so easy for us to continue, down through the ages, to live this way! A part of God’s curse on all women, pronounced upon Eve after the Fall in Genesis 3:16, was “Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” While most interpreters believe that this desire God gave, through Eve, to all women for their husbands, described in this verse, to be sexual in nature, most husbands would say that they see little evidence of that being true. The meaning that Moses gave the same Hebrew word, teshuqa, in the very next chapter, makes more sense. The only other time Moses uses the word in the Pentateuch is in this sentence where God is addressing Cain: “…Sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).
The word means to “stretch out in desire” to control. In other words, this part of God’s curse on women is that they will naturally want their husbands to come under their influence—to control them, just as “sin” wanted to control Cain. Men, on the other hand, would either do as Adam did in the Garden and abdicate, or, because of God’s curse, become the tyrannical, oppressive despot toward his wife he has become in some situations today. Wherever the Christian message does not hold sway, these two results occur.
So, it seems God has made marriage impossible, with both husband and wife naturally spring-loaded to be at war with one another. In fact, He has, and He did so on purpose!
“Speak softly, and carry a big stick,” is the mantra of a husband and father who understands how to rule in his family the way Jesus demonstrated for us.
First, the foundation for leadership is laid by the impossible, unconditional love that we addressed last week. It always “speaks softly,” as nothing that ever comes out of a kingdom leader’s mouth is ever angry, demeaning, or negative, but, always, positive and encouraging. This is not leniency, with which love is often confused, for the standard of the law of God is never lowered, but, always, forms the basis for the leader’s decisions. There is simply grace and forgiveness for the failure to keep that law by those he leads.
Second, after love, comes the firm, decisive, demanding, leadership (the “big stick”) that is always also encouraging, forgiving, and keeping the big picture of what God is doing ever before those he leads. This effective leader is one who does not tell his followers what they should do, but demonstrates what to do by his own actions. He never tells them to repent, but walks in the light himself, showing them how to repent as they watch him do so!
Finally, leadership is not for the leader to be served, honored, exalted or even recognized. True biblical leadership is laying down one’s life for those he leads; it is always “servant leadership.” It was the perfect leader who said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Every decision, every action, even every thought, is for the growth, progress and ultimate welfare of those he leads.
Therefore, in summary, an ultimate kingdom leader is a transparent, repentant, imperfect servant, with an unconditional love for those he leads, as he does so by making strong, firm decisions. May we men face, head-on, our failure to lead in this way, repent to God and to those we have failed by not doing so, and trust God, who loves us anyway, to unconsciously produce that leadership in us. He promises us He will do just that, even for those of us who, like me, cannot lead in silent prayer!