Husbands are to Be Servant Leaders?

Husbands are to Be Servant Leaders?

Written By Ken

Today’s Church teaches that a Christian husband is to be a “servant leader” to his wife, and on the surface this sounds so wonderfully spiritual. After all, was not Jesus the perfect example of being a servant leader? Unfortunately, the Church has so over-emphasized the servant aspect of a husband’s role that it has all but wiped out any leadership he may be entitled to perform in his home. Most sermons seem to focus far more on what a husband’s leadership is not to be, and what a wife’s submission is not to be, without ever addressing what it means for a husband to be a loving leader and a wife a joyful follower. Church teaching has become so watered down that we now have most Christian wives deciding if they approve of their husband’s leadership and if it is not like Jesus in their minds and feelings, his headship is disqualified.

Lori wrote out a handwritten post on this topic and posted it on Facebook trying to explain that servant leader does not mean the wife gets to use her husband as her servant by telling him regularly what he is do for her. No, she is not to become the leader and decide how the home is run and how he is to push all her right buttons while avoiding all her wrong buttons. God makes it clear that the Christian wife is to follow her husband’s leadership and she should recognize that much of his service to the family is by being a provider, protector, and leader. When the church sets up a wife to decide how a husband is to serve her, she ultimately stops trusting his leadership. It was breaking away from this awful unscriptural thinking that helped free Lori to become the wife that God’s Word asked her to be towards me.

One of the first comments from Lori’s handwritten post: “The husband is supposed to lead his family like Christ leads the church? Didn’t Christ serve the church when he laid down his life for her? Seems like servant leadership to me.”

Here’s my response to him: “The point is that a Christian husband’s approach to serving his family is often not something a wife, or others, judge properly. Christian marriage counseling often fails right at this point with the wife, often supported by the counselor, waiting for the husband to be the loving servant before a wife can follow him. Who is really leading if the one who is supposed to follow refuses to follow because she knows better or best? And hence why so many marriages are in trouble today, and back to the point of the post. A husband cannot even show he is a true servant leader to his wife because she won’t give him the opportunity of time and faithfulness to show it to her. She has set herself up as judge and jury as to what his role should look like, and to her, this does not look like Jesus washing the feet of His disciples.

“Here’s an interesting question and perspective: Besides the washing of the disciples feet and the death of Christ on the cross, can you name one other time that Jesus served his disciples? He did not offer to lower the bucket at the well, nor jump up to help Martha when she complained. I do not think breaking bread at the last supper counts, but go ahead and throw it in and tell me how much of Jesus’ leadership was about teaching, commands, admonitions and requests that he expected his disciples to keep and how much was he physically serving his disciples? By definition, does not the word ‘disciple’ mean follower? As far as we can see from God’s Word, we might find Jesus actively serving his followers five percent of the time and 95 percent serving His God-given role as Messiah and King.

“I think a husband is in a different spot than Jesus and would generally serve his wife much more than five percent, but the point is that if we are to have husbands and wives follow the model of Christ’s leadership, then the post is spot on. The Christian wife is to trust her husband and not second guess everything he does or tells her to do. She is not to assume he is not adequately serving her, especially if he is headed out to work 40-50 hours a week and puts bread and meat on the table and a roof over her head. She is to be his helper as the disciples helped Jesus, not the other way around.

“Take a good look at the life of Jesus and let’s not exaggerate who he was as the Suffering Servant and turn that into some house cleaning husband who is supposed to be like Jesus. Yes, we serve our wife and family and try to please and satisfy our wife, but if she is our follower and our helper, she is to trust the leadership of her loving husband so that true and abiding intimacy can flourish as God has designed and commanded. Unless, of course, the Suffering Servant’s commands are optional for your life. Jesus seems pretty bossy to me in the gospels, even strongly rebuking his disciples at times, yet we love his commands knowing they are best for us. If you want to see your marriage blossom, start emphasizing the leader part of the equation and stop second guessing how your good husband chooses to lead and serve you.

A wise woman wrote under Lori’s handwritten post: “Servant leadership means that he makes decisions that are best for his family. He sacrifices his time/body/finances to provide what they need and nurture them in the Lord. Not that he submits to his wife’s demands.”

I would love to hear of a Christian counselor who has the spiritual insight to say to a wife, ‘I think you could have a great relationship with your husband if you would trust him in his leadership. I know he is asking you to do some things you don’t like, but they are not sinful, and what if he is right that he indeed knows what is best for you and the family? Could it be your arguing is really about who is going to have control in your relationship? And God has already decided that for us. Can you try to joyfully follow him and see if God will bless you in your faith and family?

Be a wife who loves the Lord so much that you will walk in His Spirit trusting your husband instead of allowing your minds to regularly feel hurt that he is not doing things your way. If you are alive in Christ, you can win your husband’s love and service without a word by your godly and loving behavior towards him. This is God’s promise to wives, and that is how you can be most happy when you stop the back-seat driving, instead throwing your lives into harmony with the one you chose to love for a lifetime. Some of you have to stop being your husband’s holy spirit to allow him to show you how Jesus loves and leads. And only then will you find that your every need has been already met in Christ Jesus.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5:22-24

26 thoughts on “Husbands are to Be Servant Leaders?

  1. Both partners should serve each other, in different ways. The wife as nurturer of her family, and supporter of her husband for him to find unconditional support and love, and for him to serve her by providing for his family and protecting them. Men in my family have been taught to cherish, honor and protect the women in their lives. That’s how they serve their wives, mothers, daughters etc…. Now though, the radial feminist movement has only emphasized the “servant” aspect as if he were your personal slave! It’s a-okay to joke about him being your man-servant, but a man talking about any woman even in jest, is declared sexist! Feminism is not about equality anymore, it’s about female supremacy all while ironically demeaning women by making them be identical to men! Women can feel entitled to have men be their lap dogs, but men can’t ask the same of women! Double standards! A marriage is a compromise between both parties, and a mutual sharing of roles, not identical to one another, but complimenting each other. The man protecting and providing, and the woman nurturing the family and making the home a loving place for all.

  2. Very true. Women are trained to want a man for a husband who will entertain them, who will wine them and dine them, who will be selfish and not want her to have children, who will give in to all her whims, and who will let her run the show.

    Then she will be satisfied and let him lead. And as a result, America is DESTROYING ITSELF!

  3. This is a good reminder. One of my favorite marriage books is Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. In it he emphasizes The command in Ephesians 5:33. The husband is to love his wife as himself and the wife is to respect her husband. The husband cannot be responsible for both love and respect. He is charged with being an honorable leader and therefore should be respected for his ordained role and should not have to work to earn respect just as the wife does not have to work to earn love.

    I asked my husband what submitting means to him. He said humility. It means being willing to be wrong, to be corrected, to be taught, and even to be silent. To put marital peace over being right. In other words, if I don’t like a decision my husband makes submission means willingness to let it go instead of admonishing him.

  4. Fortunately in spite of the Church’s poor teaching on this matter, there still are young ladies who want to do things God’s ways. They may be a bit confused on what a marriage should look like, but all those who truly love God and His Word will battle their own misconceptions thrown at them by the world to have a great marriage. My wife just wishes an older godly woman would have explained things better to her earlier in our marriage. Lost years we could have had such great harmony instead of arguing all the time. But fortunately for the Believer, God often takes our misery and turns it into our ministry. We don’t want other Christian couples to suffer the same as we did our first 20 years in an average marriage.

  5. I like to think of my husband as a servant leader for Jesus. In other words by being a leader and protector he is serving Jesus. My husband is not my servant ( except when I need him to get a really huge spider!) nor my slave. Unfortunately this isn’t taught from the pulpit and it really needs to be.

  6. There are two parts to this along with two partners in this servent LEADERSHIP role for men.
    1 . The man (aka husband). The servent LEADER
    2. The woman (aka wife). The servent FOLLOWER.
    If there is no one to follow who is the man to lead? I see way too many couple where the wife was not nor is willing to follow her husband. She was doing her own thing. Thus when he needed her the most she was not there. This has led to a few men wandering off to be with a woman who is there and willing to follow.

    As the servent LEADER, the husband is to make the path better for his wife who is following at his side. This may be doing some things around the house or providing his wife the tools so that she can do what she needs to do. Just look at how God provides us the tools and the gifts we need to perform the tasks He has asked us to do for His Kingdom. Like wise as husbands we are to be like Christ and do likewise.

  7. Soon after we married, my husband and I were in a Bible study group where participants took personality tests to learn about their values, life goals, and strengths, and weaknesses. After they were scored, the teacher said, “This is unusual, we have one couple whose scores match in every area but one–the husband likes to be the leader/goal setter and the wife prefers to be a helpful follower.” We were the couple in question. We both came from a background of broken homes, absent fathers, childhood poverty, and a deep resolve to create a strong family of our own. If you ever look at divorce rates for couples who are both children of divorce, you will realize just how long the odds were that we would still be together more than 2 decades later. I think our shared values and leader/helper marriage style helped us to overcome the many obstacles and difficulties we have experienced over the course of our marriage.

  8. I’ve tried.. tried doing this in my marriage. Loved, prayed for and cared for my husband as best as I could. I was always faithful to him, kept an immaculate house and made the best meals from scratch. Always offered sex to him. Then he decided we “grew apart” and he just didn’t love me anymore. He refused to get help from our pastor or counselors and prerty much kicked me out of our home I had been a part of for fourteen years, with a young daughter to care for. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom and wife, so I got very little education after graduating, and now I am on my feet all day making $11/hour barely making ends meet. Thank God for my parents helping me out or I wouldn’t have anywhere to go. I guess I just feel disappointed at this whole message because it did not work for us, although I wanted it to. I feel like a failure and the pain is unreal. I pray for my husband daily, but he said there’s no chance of us working things out. And he is a deacon in his church. I’m just really, really wishing I would have gotten a degree so I could be taking care of myself and my daughter better. Ladies, if your husband is taking care of you and providing for you, please realize how good you have it. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t end up like me 🙁

  9. I am so sorry that this happened to you, Katrina. We are not promised an easy, comfortable, or happy life. We are promised trials and sufferings BUT we do know that God is good and His plan for us is good even if life makes difficult turns that cause a lot of suffering. You are blessed to have parents to help you! This is a blessing from the Lord. I pray this article encourages you since it speaks to your situation. Our lives here on this earth are about bringing the Lord glory and we do this by living in obedience to Him even if its difficult and doesn’t make sense.

  10. Hi Tiny Timm,

    If its ok, I’d like to ask you for a bit of clarification?

    Obviously, no identifying details are necessary, but what was “their own thing” the wife was doing? What circumstance did the husband “need her most,” and she failed to help him in?

    I am asking because my gentle-hearted, steady man gives me an open field to do/handle most things. And, sometimes, I completely miss things because they are rare and presented as possiblities or suggestions not desires and certainly not directives. My heart is to please the Lord in all things. This includes being an excellent helper to my husband!

    Thanks in advance for your time.

  11. I certainly do not know what Tiny Timm is referring specifically, but I have seen it in my own marriage and in that of many other Christian men that we often are not specific enough as to what we desire our wife do in the home, or for us personally. To have a wife who desires to please her husband and follow is fantastic and it is certainly God’s desire for our homes, but sometimes I see a husband upset with their wife believing her not to be following, yet the wife is certain that she is trying to follow but he is too tough to please. Who is right?

    Each couple will be different and a wife must regularly ask herself am I truly trying to please my husband or am I just trying to get the basics done so I am “not in trouble” from his disappointment. Men know when a wife is just checking off a list and getting the minimum done that they have specifically requested, vs a wife whose mind and mission is truly set on him and the family. Don’t get me wrong. Most husbands are very happy with a wife who checks off the boxes as a way of pleasing him, but he would be thrilled if much more of her focus was thinking about how she can be a true helper to him to make his life easier and more enjoyable.

    The flip side to this is when a husband is hesitant to say anything to his wife as to what he wants. Many men are like me and we feel that it is not really our place to be direct with our wives about what we would like, because after all, we are trying to please her too. So a husband may hint at things five times, but the wife never picks up on it, or finds it to be nothing more than a suggestion, not a request. I think every wife should go to her husband and invite him to be specific with what pleases him so she is not having to guess at it.

    “Honey, I was thinking that sometimes you seem to get upset with me for not doing something you would like and yet you are not being direct and specific about it. It won’t hurt my feelings for you to just tell me how I can best serve and please you. I certainly tell you my desires!”

    Then there is the area of forgetfulness. Husbands are not immune to having their minds make them feel as if a wife is not following or doesn’t really care about them because this is the 5th or 10th time he has had to say the same thing to her. He tries to say it nicely, maybe even jokingly, but he is thinking, “If my wife really cared about me and wanted to follow me she would not be doing the same things we have talked about over and over again.” Certainly this may be in part true, but it is also possible that she is forgetting. She is throwing herself into the children and the rest of a busy day, perhaps spending time on the blogs and with girl friends, then what she was going to do never got done or forgotten.

    These are things to explore with your husband as you both try to please each other and fulfill your God given roles well. Sometimes making a game out of the most frustrating things works well to get both spouses focused on the results they want to achieve. He starts being far more direct in what he would like with his requests, not demands, and she is taking notes, if she must, and looking at them until she has developed new habits. Then talk about it and keep working on being the best spouse each one of yo can be towards the other.

    Getting some men to be direct will be a challenge because we feel uncomfortable in this role with our wife, until we are convinced that this is best and is what she wants from us. We don’t want to be seen as bossy and controlling, or worse yet, we think that if our wife can’t figure it out by our hints, she doesn’t really want to please me. Work together on a great communications style that will be most beneficial for your marriage keeping your God given roles in mind.

  12. “He is a deacon in his church.” This is really, really disturbing to me.
    I have been separated from my husband, Katrina. I understand the pain, it is unbearable at times. My circumstances were very different to yours. But the pain from separation was very real and raw.

    The Bible is very clear on marriage and adultery, divorce and remarriage. How can anyone who is a Bible-believing Christian, let alone a “deacon”, possibly think it is okay to not try to reconcile with his wife? There are very few (if any) circumstances in which God allows divorce and remarriage. Separation is sometimes the only option, but reconciliation should always be the ultimate goal, if possible.

    I would be very wary of any church who allows this kind of behaviour from a deacon or anyone else in any kind of leadership position.

  13. Oh I’m sorry for the confusion Lori!
    My husband and I are now happily married. We have been separated in the past, but we are back together now and doing well 🙂

    My comment was more empathizing with Katrina – I understand the pain of separation because I’ve been there – but also expressing my disappointment that a church would allow one of their deacons to refuse to work things out with his wife. Clearly, Katrina loves her husband dearly, and if he does not want to work to make his marriage successful, he should not be a deacon in any church.

    A regular commenter has often stated how the church is broken and needs to heal and I have never understood that, because there’s nothing broken about the church I attend. But reading Katrina’s circumstances, now I understand.

  14. Are there any Christian services that can help her? I would hope that since she is living a godly life there might be support for her. (I’m
    Asking respectfully )

  15. Thank you for this post. I echo the recommendation on Emerson Eggerich’s material.

    Unfortunately many Christians today find themselves having to unlearn what passes for “wisdom” in the post-biblical church. Cliches and worldly messages have replaced scripture as the basis for how many in the church see things.

    Which brings me to the term “servant leader.” Although the term isn’t wholly without biblical warrant, it has grown far beyond what Jesus taught regarding service to his disciples. The term gives off the picture of an emasculated and weak husband, one who is presumably guilty of upsetting his wife at some point due to his inadequacies.

    When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, this was a direct message to them about the nature of their upcoming work. As Christ’s first witnesses and the leaders of the fledgling church, the disciples weren’t to amass for themselves power and privilege above the flock but to view themselves as lesser for the sake of the kingdom. In short, this example Christ gave to the apostles relates primarily to church matters about the role between pastor and layman, elder and new believer—this really isn’t about a husband and wife. The church is to be a rather flat hierarchy, whereas a marriage is not.

    Ephesians 5 speaks of the husband loving his wife as Christ loves the church, that is sacrificially, but this is different from servanthood. The job of the husband isn’t to fulfill the fickle whims of a princess, it is to give the woman God joined to him what she needs (love). In doing so, he exemplifies what Christ is to the church and therefore glorifies God.

  16. Thank you, sir, for your reply. I appreciate your time & thoughtfulness. I will spend some time over your suggestions with the Lord and my husband.

    Thank you, Lori, for an arena to ask such things and get a clear response!

  17. In light of this, I have seen some messages about “The Spirit of Jezebel” and “The Spirit of Jezebel Creates Eunuchs”…any correlation?

    Physically, the conflict of control and stress of negativity rapidly drains male “t” levels, creating all sorts of physical issues which create more of a burden to the wife than the blessing of supporting the husband’s role by excelling at hers.

    The “joke” who wears the pants, isn’t funny, it is a practice of witchcraft through rebellion in flipping the roles that God created.

    The spiritual remedy?

    Can we get more mature women in the church to speak up or do they need freed from that as well?

    Revival needs to begin at home.

  18. Unfortunately, even the best churches are usually broken when it comes to wanting to clearly stand on God’s Word. Imagine a husband asking to meet with an elder and his wife as his wife is not having regular intimacy with him. They meet and the solution is that the couple should take a two week break from sex. ???? No one mentions “your body is not your own…” etc. The solution is to go against scripture.

    Imagine you go to an elder and wife about your wife’s constant arguing and willingness to submit, and the whole conversation gets turned back on you and how you need to just love and accept her anyway. ???

    These are real live examples of what is happening in church after church today. Few are willing to stand firm on God’s Word. I am OK with reminding a husband about his need to love his wife as Christ loves the church, but why is a wife’s responsibilities regularly ignored in counseling? Fear…

  19. Spot on GW! Both must do their assignment in marriage to have a godly marriage and they cannot be waiting for the other to do their part first, nor stop doing their part when the other does not do theirs. Two different parts that both intersect perfectly by love, God’s love.

  20. I am not sure about the saying or the witchcraft, but indeed we need far more godly women speaking up in the church and to the church on what God asks for women. We find it so discomforting to know that a whole brigade of women teachers are roaming the world and the Internet teaching something, but somehow missing the only things they have been commanded by God to teach… love their husbands, submit to them, be keepers at home and live godly chaste lives.

    How did they miss the most important message they are to deliver… on purpose. For they probably could not do what they are doing if they obeyed it themselves. May the Lord raise up an army of Lori’s in His church. This is what our critics most fear. Many women teachers teaching what God has commended them to teach.

  21. I would love a marriage like that…I am not certain how to be a wife that can follow. I want this more than anything, however, my husband exhibits PTSD symptoms -he was in a car accident 28 years ago which left him with a brain injury and told he could never walk again ( he beat those odds and can walk, he just has a partially paralyzed right arm). A year after his accident he watched his sister-who was also his best friend) drown. We have been married five years and have three children and I watch him go through a cycle. A couple months leading to the accident /death (they both occurred the same month just a year apart) he resorts back to what I think is his 17 year old self. He starts wearing 90 styles clothing, wants to write rap music, etc. this lasts 3 to 6 months. Then he is is 40ish self again only to go into sleep mode when winter hits. Then he comes out of it back to normal again. Before we married, I just thought he had seasonal depression. I also thought he had that because he is a landscaper, so he primarily only works in the summer. However now that we’ve been together five years, I think he really has PTSD, and really should get some counseling. I feel like I am a single mother. I am the breadwinner, and do most things in the house, make sure all the bills get paid, make sure the kids get bathed, fed, educated, to their activities, etc. In a lot of ways, I am both the husband and the wife. I don’t want to be. I don’t know how to change things, I don’t know how to follow in this particular case. I don’t know how to get him help, when he doesn’t even think he needs it. To him this is all normal, and it has been his normal for 28 years. I don’t know how to be his wife.

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