The Bible says men should love their wives just as Christ loved the church. It also says that the husband is the head of the family, just as Christ is the head of the church.
So as men, our families look to us for leadership.
It’s a funny thing, though. When I look at Jesus, I don’t see someone standing on a pedestal and dictating. I don’t see that at all! When I look at Jesus, I see Him leading by becoming a servant. He served us, and He serves us still. We respond by following Him. We made Jesus our leader because we wanted to.
I didn’t always understand this. I used to come home and insist that my family follow my rules. My attitude was, “Hey, I’m the Dad here, so I should lead. It’s important that I lead.” So I would go to my family and say, “Listen up! I’m the head of the family, so you will do what I say.” In other words, I put my family under me. That was my legalism. And it stressed me out! It stressed me out for years, always trying to make my family be a certain way and act a certain way.
You know what? Do that to your family, and you will get resistance. They will shut you down, they will quit listening to you, and they will rebel against you. That’s what happens when you force them under you.
Then where will you be? You’ll be out in the emotional cold.
Your family doesn’t want a dictatorship. They can’t thrive in a dictatorship. Trying to control them is like pushing them down. They cannot grow if you’re pushing them down. My job as a husband and a father is to nurture each member of my family into becoming the fullness of who they are, and I can only do this by living with them in grace. I have to let them be free, and to deal with situations as they arise.
So I no longer tell my family, “I’m the head of the family, so do what I say.” In fact, I don’t want to be in control of everything! It’s so much better to co-lead my family with my wife. My wife and I are co-leaders, as Eve and Adam were intended to be.
How do we do this? We co-lead in grace. If my wife needs me, my first question is, “How can I help?” I ask, “How can I be available? What can I do?” I don’t judge her. I don’t tell her how I would do things, or tell her how to act. I just ask, “How can I help?” And since my wife doesn’t feel judged, she can tell me. She can express herself to me, and I get to just love on her. Man, it is amazing how free and happy my wife is now.
It’s the same thing with my kids. They’re just happy! They don’t have to worry that I’ll judge them. They don’t have to fear that I’ll get angry. You should see how they are growing! Free from judgment and fear, they are thriving. There is so much freedom in grace! It is absolutely amazing to me.
Our families need us to lead as Jesus led. They need us to be servant leaders. When we lead with an attitude of servant leadership, our families will look to us. They will trust us. We won’t have to put them under us. When we serve them, they will respond by following us.
I love my family, and I am learning more every day to serve them as Jesus served us. I am learning to love them in grace, and to love them with understanding. If, as men, we can learn to lead our families with an attitude of servant leadership, then we’ll experience something wonderful. Our families will trust us, and draw near.