One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?) 1 Timothy 3:4-5
I understand this portion of Paul’s apostolic instruction to be “the” key to church government and incarnational leadership. The way a man is called by God to lead his home provides the insight, understanding and blueprint for how men are called to lead the house of God.
The covenant of marriage between a man and a woman is the sacred representation of Christ and the Church. This covenant relationship contains a divine design as to how we are to bring forth a godly heritage of sons and daughters and how we are to lead them as the family of God.
My wife and I are one. Oneness is the gift of God given in the covenant union of a man and woman, but it takes a lifetime for a couple to express and experience its realities. There is a notable order and honor to the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) as there is to the created order of the human family (Man, Woman, Child). It is the covenant that keeps your love alive.
In our covenant of nearly 30 years we have we have grown and enjoyed working out our oneness in all the varied experiences of life. Although we are one, there is also order. Just as God is one and yet there abides a relational order to the Trinity that creates shared honor and glory. So it is to be in the home and family. In the home I believe it is God’s design for the man to be the first among equals. -Selah- Equals is another way of saying, Oneness.
The man is clearly called out by the scriptures to this place of right and responsibility (not necessarily ability) just as clearly as Christ is the Head of the Church. There cannot be two heads, but only one…but in the words from the wife in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants.
In the marriage covenant with my wife, if I am (like Christ) an understanding, loving, listening, wise, and gracious husband, head, leader then I will learn to seek out, learn from and trust in the counsel, gifts and graces of my wife for the decisions that affect the well-being of our home. As we work through this decision making process by listening to our own hearts, one another, even our children at times, and God then we may gain greater perspective, clarity and resolve to move forward. Then as the man and the first among equals it is my responsibility to the best of my ability to lead my family in a direction that I believe is in the best interests for all of us.
The reality is as the leader in my home even after great deliberation that I will not always make the best decision. In fact, I may go against the counsel of my wife, not in a deliberate attempt to be rebellious or to lord it over her, but just because I think it is what is best at the time. Let me be quick to say, that this practice is rarely the best or wisest, but at times necessary. What is crucial in and through all of this process is that I have her heart in the matter and she knows it and trusts me to lead. Agreement is the place of power in a relationship and what is most important in any decision is not the choice itself, but the RELATIONSHIP!
IF, I am successful in my decision then I will have learned what works, but if I falter then I learn what doesn’t work and hopefully it wasn’t a major decision. My poor judgment will afford me the opportunity to humble myself, because she was probably right and we (our relationship) will get to grow stronger together as we practice mercy and forgiveness with one another. A husband and wife have to practice pastoring our attitudes, spirits, hearts, minds, choices, words, habits, finances, hobbies, activities, relationships, children, etc…and all of this is the crucible where we practice our faith of picking up the cross and dying daily in a covenant relationship of love and where we learn to reign in life so that we may also learn how to rule well in the kingdom.
At the core of being the first among equals in the home or the church is relational integrity. We must value the covenant relationship with the wife of our youth more than any decision. Therefore, I would be a fool not to seek her heart and mind within the process of leading my family. Obviously at times, although I am the leader and visionary, my timing, approach or even my motive may not be right or it could just be that my wife’s intuition kicks in and her counsel is best and we act upon it…as the scriptures record, it seemed good. As we have gotten older and hopefully more mature we are moving ever closer to achieving Philippians 2:1-5, being of the same heart and mind.
to be continued…