Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Mat.11:28-30).
We Christians know that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world, but He is much more than that. He is the greatest example of leadership in history, and godly husbands can and must apply His example in caring for their wife and family.
And let us be warned about this: His lessons are not just academic, for they will require that we change. Why is that?
Paul warns each of us “…not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think…” (Ro.12:3). The human heart since Adam, has an infinite capacity for pride, arrogance, vanity and self-deception. Because of the sin of the human heart, all of us are susceptible to these traits.
And let’s face it: there is nothing more Satanic than pride. God said that,
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate (Prov.8:13).
The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people, is really (among other things) His unceasing war against pride in our hearts. In us husbands, His war against our pride manifests in our relationship with our wife. And this gets messy and painful if we don’t respond to the work of the Holy Spirit.
A husband’s authority over his wife is not a licence to do as he wishes; that quickly becomes a form of tyranny. Rather, we are to “…through love serve one another” (Gal.5:13).
When Rehoboam became king of Israel after his father Solomon, he sought advice from the elders who had served his father, concerning how he should rule. Their advice should ring down through the ages, for every wise leader:
If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever (I Kings 12:7).
But Rehoboam refused to do so. He preferred the arrogant advice of the young men who had grown up with him. Consequently, he lost most of his kingdom (v.16-19), all because of a flawed attitude towards his leadership.
But Rehoboam’s grandfather David, was different. When his wife Michal realised her father Saul wanted to kill him, she said to him,
…If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be put to death (I Sam.19:11).
Did he argue with her? No, he got the message. She let him out through a window, and he escaped (v.12).
If a husband is serious about this, he should ensure that his wife has the freedom to say what she wants to him, regardless of whether it conflicts with his attitudes and decisions. Yes, he’s in charge all right, but the Captain on the bridge needs to know exactly how the stokers down in the boiler-room are going, and what they are really thinking and why, otherwise he might be about to lose command of his boat.
She needs to be able to say what she wants, with No Holds Barred. Could that be rough on his pride and ego? Absolutely, because that’s where God’s sanctification process, His war on this man’s pride, is going to manifest.
This might lead to a lot of things coming out of the wood-work. Suppressed resentment and ill-feeling over decisions that might have been there for decades, all of a sudden spilling out and seeing the light of day.
That could be embarrassing and humbling for a husband, but that’s all part of him loving and caring for his wife, and providing an opportunity for her to say what she wants, without there being recriminations on his part towards her. It’s not destructive, just challenging to his ego and attitude.
And if she decides, “This is my chance to really give him a piece of my mind for all those stupid decisions he’s made…” and turns on him, and it goes on for an hour before she decides she’s said enough, this might be the best thing he’s done, and an opportunity for this couple to begin again, on a proper and honest foundation.
When there is a lot of dirty, rusty water in the bottom of the boiler, the wise engine driver had better open the tap and let it all come out. It won’t do any good in there. Then he can replace it with the fresh.
The facts of life are not always easy or comfortable; truth can be painful, but it is still necessary that we face it, whether we like it or not. And husbands must lead the way in this. As the family member with the most authority and responsibility, we must be the first in the family to face the painful truth from those we lead, especially if it is unappealing to us.
All of us make mistakes, but not all of us will admit to those mistakes, and if we hide behind a position of authority, saying to our wife, “You can’t tell me that, because you’re only my wife, and you’re supposed to submit to me,” we only make ourselves look fearful, insecure and pathetic. And nothing of that is remotely Christian or God-honouring.
For the Bible has all the answers for us:
Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon my head; do not let my head refuse it… (Ps.141:5).
Jesus Christ shows us that good leadership is essentially another aspect of godly service. It can be accomplished best by those who are “…gentle and humble of heart…”
If they are wise, husbands will learn from Jesus Christ, giving those under their authority (especially their wife), the freedom and opportunity to speak their mind on any subject. This is not evil on her part, for it provides her with the opportunity to get some things off her chest, which he probably needs to pay careful attention to. It is an aspect of loving, serving and caring for her. It might just save his marriage-even his life.
Fellow husband, is that what you want, too?
The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honour and life (Prov.22:4).