Alec D. Brooks
Headship of Husband and His Servanthood
A husband is not given headship over his wife so that he can get her to serve him. He is given the responsibility of headship so that he can serve her.
Soon after a young man was married, he handed his wife his trousers and said, “Put them on.” When the incredulous bride responded, “They’re too big for me!” the foolish groom proudly replied, “Never forget it.” What that young man failed to understand, and what I hope he has since learned, is that the sign of leadership in marriage is not who wears the trousers, but who wears the towel. A husband is to be to his wife the kind of leader Christ is to the church-a servant leader (Eph. 5:25-27):
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
What Happens in a Christian Marriage?
In a Christian marriage, God the Father gives one of His sons to one of His daughters to serve Him by serving each other, and, together, to serve with Him in the serving of others. That is what headship and submission in marriage are really about. A husband is not given headship over his wife so that he can get her to serve him. He is given the responsibility of headship so that he can serve her. It is his God-given privilege and responsibility to love his wife by serving her as the leader of the family so that she can become the person God intends her to be.
Authority Flows from Commitment
A husband’s authority, therefore, does not reside simply in his position as a husband. Rather, it flows from his commitment to his wife’s highest well-being, a commitment that calls for sacrificial, self-giving love. His success in life will not be measured by his status in society, or the size of his salary, but by the degree to which his wife achieves her God-ordained potential as a result of his leadership.
The call to headship and submission in marriage comes to a husband and wife who stand before God as equals and who, having committed themselves to Him and to each other, accept and seek to fulfill their different but complementary roles.
Husband’s Acceptance of God’s Call
The husband accepts God’s call to take Christ-like primary responsibility for his wife and her wellbeing. That includes protecting her from all that would harm her.
The wife yields in submission to her husband’s authority and chooses to follow his leadership.
It is a relationship that is rooted and reflected in the Godhead itself. It is demonstrated clearly for us in the life of our Lord Jesus, who was equal in every way to the Father and yet submitted to Him without reservation. He is the head of the church yet He gladly sacrificed himself for it. He is the model for both husbands and wives of what authority and submission are all about.
And What about Parents and Children?
The message is the same.
God commits children to the care of parents who are to ” …bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Children do not belong to their parents. They are given to them by God so that they can learn from them who God is, what He is like, and how He wants them to live.
Safety of Children
The primary concern of some parents seems to be for the safety of their children. They try to protect their children from the evil influences or forces in society.
Others raise their children” to be successful.” They give them a good education so they can get what society calls a “good job” and enjoy what society calls a “good life.” God certainly has more than that in mind for Christian parents.
He wants parents to teach their children that He is their Father and that He loves them. He wants them to know that Jesus died for them, and that it is their greatest privilege and joy to give their lives to Him and to serve Him with all they have, for all of their lives. Parents are to raise their children to know that they are God’s sons and daughters and that they are servants of Jesus.
How do parents do that? Model the Christian Life!
It’s not so much by what they say, but by how they live. Children catch their parents’ values by example more than by rhetoric.
Because this is true, it is more important for parents to model the Christian life before their children, than it is to be absolutely faithful to a schedule of family devotions.
My father is an example of how a parent can influence a child without necessarily intending to. He did not get very much involved in the raising of his children. I don’t recall much of what he said to me, but I did learn from him because I observed him closely.
We were a working-class family, and my father worked at what was considered a menial job. Yet he never went to work looking untidy or unkempt. He wouldn’t think of leaving the house with unpolished shoes or without his tie and collar in place. When he came home at night, he would immediately take his dress clothes off and put on something more suited to sitting around the house. My father never talked to me about how to dress or why I should take care of my clothes. But his example was indelibly stamped upon my life.
The Power of Example
Jesus was well aware of the power of example. That is why we read:
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord-and you are right, for that is what I am. So if 1, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’ (John 13:12-15).
Who Wears the Towel Is the Sign!
As we have already stated, the sign of leadership in marriage is not who wears the trousers, but who wears the towel. A husband is to be to his wife the kind of leader Christ is to the church-a servant leader.