Husbands Lead By Serving Their Wives?

Husbands Lead By Serving Their Wives?

Recently, I heard a very well known preacher teach that husbands lead their wives by serving them. He spoke nothing about the submission of a wife to her husband, only that a husband should serve his wife. Is this what the leadership of a husband means? Lindsay Harold wrote up a great article about this so I am sharing it with you!

A lot of times, even in complementarian circles where people agree that husbands are to be the leaders of their homes, they then eviscerate that belief by saying that a man leads by serving his wife.

While serving one another is an important part of marriage, it is not correct to say that a husband should lead by serving his wife. That’s just a back door to have the wife in charge. If you tell a man to lead by serving his wife, what you’re telling him is that he has to make his wife happy as his first priority. When she wants or needs something, he should serve her, and then call that leadership. But in saying this, you’ve made the desires of the wife the gold standard of what needs to be done. In order to be a “leader,” he has to do things for her that she wants. So she’s really in charge. She’s setting the goals.

Saying a man leads by serving has it all backwards. The truth is, a man serves his wife by leading her. He may serve her in other ways too, but leadership (real leadership) is a service to his wife that she needs him to perform. Every relationship needs leadership, and being the leader of a marriage is good for a man and good for a woman. The wife needs her husband to lead in order to be happy, fulfilled, protected, and in proper relationship with her husband. That’s the way God designed it.

So let’s do away with this silly nonsense of leading by serving. Leadership means setting goals and then pursuing those goals and giving instructions to those under that authority, even if those under that leadership do not like or agree with them. Ideally, that leadership will be kind and gentle rather than harsh. Ideally, the wife will agree with the goals of her husband. But the goals are set by the leader. Whoever is setting the goals is the leader.

We need men to step up and lead – really lead – in their homes and families. To do that, we have to stop telling them they lead by doing what their wife wants or what she is comfortable with. Instead, we need to be telling them that leading is serving their wives. She needs him to actually lead, and so do our families, our churches, and our society.

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 saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Ephesians 5:22-24

9 thoughts on “Husbands Lead By Serving Their Wives?

  1. This is very, very true. And of course Christian women can build up their men by submitting to their husbands leadership cheerfully. On the other hand, I think one of the obstacles to men, even Christian men, setting and following their own agendas is the fact that if a woman doesn’t like it she can make his life miserable or even leave him. One thing that has to change is no-fault divorce laws before men can really be men.

  2. Lori, I read that too about husbands serving their wives but for the life of me, I can’t remember where. Anyway, I think it’s silly for us wives to think that we should be served by our husbands. Now I see nothing wrong with husbands wanting to give their wives ” a day off” like on Mother’s Day. My husband won’t let me do anything on Mother’s Day and he and our daughters take over meal prep and all my other mom jobs. Anyway, thank you Lori. Have a blessed Mother’s Day.

  3. This was a very insightful post with Lindsay’s contribution. Thank you, Lori and Lindsay. Happy Mother’s Day!??

  4. Where are these people getting this silliness from? Jesus is the example and while we do see him washing his disciples feet we also see him saying, “14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). Jesus didn’t let the disciples choose his agenda. He didn’t even hold pow wows with them to decide who should be healed and who should be avoided. He was not dependent on his disciples at all, they were dependent on him. It would have been an honor to serve God in flesh. We can have that honor now by serving our own husbands as God set them up as head in our relationships to reflect His relationship with us.

  5. Our hubbies serve us every day when they go to work and work hard to house us all, feed us, clothe us, care for us and the list could go on and on…

    I thank God for a precious Man who has lovingly served me and our children for 38 years and counting. He is now retired and is home all the time ─ something I love dearly. He still serves but in a different way. Jesus was the greatest server of all and we are all told to measure up to His stature (if that is possible). I have never had to ask my precious Antony to serve me ─ he has always worked hard for me and the children; now it is his time to relax and enjoy the fruit of his hard, hard work!

    If women think that nagging their husbands into serving them is a way to get them to serve, they are wrong because that does not come from the heart; it is not the same service as Jesus did because He did all He did without having to be asked. Only when we serve each other with NO expectation of getting anything in return is when we serve as Jesus serves.

    Serving one’s spouse comes from loving them no matter what; whether they deserve it or not – not because we think they have in some way earnt it!

    Our husbands are not some kind of waiter that we just call and say ‘serve, please’. They are there as God’s head over us and God’s precious gift to us to love, serve and cherish, just to mention a few!

    I understand some people feeling that if the man is to treat his wife as Jesus treats His Bride (the church) then yes, he should serve us. However, as I said before, he does that by working hard and protecting us with prayer and speaking the Word of God over us daily; NOT by waiting on us hand and foot, and running around making sure he is treating us like princesses! I hate that way of seeing things and sadly see it a lot in women nowadays!

    Tonight, I watched my Hubby sit with our son and watch cartoons with him, even though Antony is so tired and recovering from 6-bypass heart surgery only done 4 weeks ago – to me that is serving our son with love. Service is not always giving the other person what they want every time they choose to want something; to me it is loving even when it costs us to give that much needed love – even if it is as simple as watching Looney Tunes!
    ? ? ? ? ?

  6. Lindsay Harold has nailed one of the most pernicious and widespread fallacies of how Ephesians 5 is taught in church. Thanks so much for this. I am a husband who has been guilty for most of our marriage of being a “happy wife happy life” kind of guy. I can tell you that this is a difficult habit to break and there have been several times where it has been almost impossible to just say “no” to my wife. We have had a lot of fights over sex, money, and parenting and it has never been easy to go against her since I tend to be a very accommodating person and she was an only child growing up and used to getting her way.

    If we husbands had more support from other men in leadership in the church instead of constantly hearing about “servant leadership”, it would be easier. Likewise, if women like Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer spent more time teaching women how to love and submit to their husbands, maybe guys like me would have a better chance of being the leaders God has called us to be.

    Restoring the model God designed for marriage and family requires that everyone do their part. That also includes me. I have to be willing to be unpopular with my wife and focus solely on being obedient to God. This means I need to be in prayer and in the Word constantly. My biggest ally is the Holy Spirit.

  7. The text calls for the husbands headship to be as Christ headship is. Headship here is the picture of a head on the body. The head on a body controls the body. The idea is it leads the body, or controls the body. So if man’s headship is to be as Christ’s headship then the question becomes, “how did Christ lead”? Matthew 20:24-28. This defines for the believer how Christ lead. The idea of leadership is by “not to be served but to serve.” Service is then defined by Paul pertaining to the husband as sacrificing on behalf of the wife. This is the example of love for the husband as well as an example of leadership for him. If one would read the text contextually you can’t miss this. The apostle Paul is changing the cultural paradigm of marriage in Ephesus. The model he is asking the men and women to follow is Christ, Church paradigm. The wife represents the church and the husband represents the Christ in the paradigm. So servant leadership is what Christ practiced and that is what the husband should practice as well. Maybe if people would practice it Christian divorce rate would not be so high. Everyone want to practice their methods of leadership and not the biblical example of leadership. It’s been proven to work. Psycharist even agree.
    Pastor “Q”

  8. I am so confused. I was always taught that Jesus showed servant leadership. He led by laying himself down for his people. How is this different for husbands?

  9. He wasn’t constantly serving people. He was leading and teaching them. They followed. He wasn’t serving every single desire of theirs and meeting all of their needs as women have made it out to be and expect their husbands to do likewise. This is a recipe for disaster.

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