Husbands: Proactive Leadership, Through Sacrifice, With Understanding

As I posted yesterday, the good male leadership not only benefits our American culture, but it also helps people to understand what God’s perfect love is like. Because of all the misconceptions about male leadership, I thought we should know what a husband is NOT.

A HUSBAND IS NOT A(N) 

  • Parent: In this relationship, the man functions like a parent that must be obeyed and depended on for everything.
  • Child: The man acts like a child who must obey his wife. He is helpless without her.
  • King: “I’m the king of this castle.” This husband expects the world to revolve around him and serve him.
  • Napoleon: A Napoleon controls everything in his wife’s life. Sometimes, this control is dictated by some form of inferiority complex.
  • Abuser: An abuser controls through beatings, verbal lashings, or sexual abuse. All of the errors on this list are bad, but this one is especially heinous and harmful. If anyone is abusing someone or being abused by someone, contact us for help.
  • Employer/Boss: With this kind of man, everything is earned. He gives love if someone earns it. He gives gifts if someone works for it. This is not love, but work.
  • Roommate: As long as neither spouse gets in the way of the other’s life, goals, or aspirations, they will continue to live together.
  • Homer: “Anything you want to say before football season starts?” This husband is lazy, disinterested, and uninvolved. Through his stubborn laziness, he has broken his wife’s spirit and her hope that he will ever get better.

Generally speaking, being a good husband can be summed up by this phrase: PROACTIVE LEADERSHIP, THROUGH SACRIFICE, WITH UNDERSTANDING. 

PROACTIVE LEADERSHIP, through sacrifice, with understanding.

Ephesians 5:25-27, 29 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. … For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,

In this passage, we are told to love our wives “as” Christ loved the church. Christ’s love was proactive. He did not wait for “the church” to ask for his help. He did not pursue his own interests until he was badgered into helping her. Instead, he took the responsibility to save his church and proactively pursued her good.

We need to take proactive responsibility for our wives physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

  • Physically: Chauvinism is not dead. One of the most basic instincts of men is to protect his wife and family from harm. This is a good instinct. Taking responsibility for her physically may involve protection, but it also may involve making sure she gets enough sleep and giving her some time to rest physically.
  • Emotionally: We are there for her emotionally, understanding and affirming her—after time, this will also develop an ability to understand her emotions. We should not be cold or distant, but seek to enter into her life and walk beside her like a true friend.
  • Intellectually: We challenge her intellectually, or rather, she challenges us intellectually. In one sense, we need to work together make wise decisions, which will involve stretching conversations. These discussion serve as the philosophical bedrock on which our relationships are built, which means we must proactively take responsibility to engage important topics with one another. (This is always true, but this is especially true for stay-at-home-moms. These mothers have made the decision to stay at home, not because they cannot work, but because they choose not to. This often means they have not been intellectually engaged by anything more than the alphabet and counting for awhile. Engage your wife in intellectual discussions in which she is interested.)
  • Spiritually: Spiritually, we cannot make her love God more, but we can set the example of love for God, tell her how we are growing, and develop spiritual companionship and accountability with her.

Proactive leadership, THROUGH SACRIFICE, with understanding.

If we stopped after the first point, it would seem like men have the right to use and abuse their leadership to get what they want. But, Leadership is not the right to control or to abuse or to neglect. Leadership is service and sacrifice. 

This is the beauty of the way God set up relationships to work. Entire systems of checks and balances are in place to make sure that no one gains too much control or is able to manipulate to get what they want.

In the end, the way that we should proactively lead involves sacrifice. The road of proactive leadership always involves forgoing our interests. If we decide to walk on this path of leadership, we must let go of our interests and pursuing some else’s good. This is exactly what Christ did for us. He let go of the comforts of heaven in order to become a man. He ignored his interests to the point of death. He let go of comforts, rights, and pleasures in order to sacrifice for us. When Paul tells us to lead as Christ did, he means that our path of leadership involves sacrifice. Love is sacrificial concern and action for someone else’s best. 

I firmly believe there is something in everyone, and especially men, that draws them to be this kind of hero. Every great story involves a great hero who is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save someone. This basic theme plays on our heart strings and calls us to be something more.

But we don’t need a hero who will sacrifice his life to save the world; we need a hero who will sacrifice his free time to save his wife from being burnt out. We don’t need a hero who will take the place of the heroine on the railroad tracks, we need a hero who will take the place of the heroine on the midnight shift with a crying baby. We don’t need a hero who will take charge in a bunker with the enemy closing in; we need a hero who will take charge in his home and when temptations to selfishness and apathy surround him.

We need men who stop trying to vicariously live through video games and professionally athletes, and instead live their own lives, level up their sacrificial ability, and come through in clutch situations for their wives.

Proactive leadership, through sacrifice, WITH UNDERSTANDING.

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

How can we sacrifice if we do not know what our wife needs? How can we care for her physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually if we fall back on the tired cliché that “it’s impossible to understand women.”

Men and women are wired differently. Communication easily breaks down and misunderstandings are frequent. Both genders are responsible for this. Understanding our wives involves a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of listening, a lot of questions, a lot of sacrifice, and a lot of openness.

Think about it like an adventure. Like all good love stories, in order to love our wives, we will need grit, determination, intellectual prowess, and sword-fighting ability—actually, one of those is not necessary. We are men. We are not boys. We do not quit easily. We fight to understand our wives, their needs, and their preferences.

LET’S GET PRACTICAL

  • A good leader knows the thoughts and desires of the ones he leads. Especially in big decisions, we need ask questions and understand our wives Ask questions like, “What do you want to happen? How do you see this ideally playing out? What is your preference? What do you think should happen?”
  • We need to choose one thing a day that sacrifices for our wives. We can do the dishes, babysit the kids so she can shop, give her a shoulder massage, or simply turn off the TV and pay full attention while she is talking. After a few weeks, we can try to do two things a day that sacrifices for her. As we continue this, a pattern of sacrificial love for her forms. That pattern becomes a habit. That habit becomes an attitude. That attitude becomes a character quality. That character quality makes a good husband.
  • Experiencing Christ’s love for us each day is the best way to cultivate a loving, sacrificial attitude. We need to rest in his love and forgiveness until we are transformed into more loving, patient, forgiving, and gentle men.