Men, as fathers and husbands God has called us to lead our wives and children. This is a high and holy calling, one in which we need God’s tremendous grace, wisdom, and courage to do effectively.
I would like to offer you some of the wisdom and insights God has given to me over the years that were a great help to me in leading my wife and children. I also offer you advice as a Pastor who has helped many husbands and fathers in difficult marital and family situations.
I pray these will be a genuine benefit to you.
1. Know exactly what it is you are trying to accomplish with your marriage and family or you will not be able to effectively lead them where you want to take them.
2. Make sure you regularly communicate with your wife and your children about why you are doing what you are doing. Explain to them the whys. Help them understand your reasonings for the directions you are giving them or the actions you are taking. Make sure you communicate in a meaningful way they can understand. This will need to happen over and over again throughout your marriage and family life.
3. I am assuming that those of you reading this article are Christians, with a Biblical understanding of your God-given marriage roles. With that in mind men, strive always to excel in your role. You will make mistakes. Own them, apologize for them, and make wise adjustments, then keep moving forward. Even if you continue to make a mistake again, and again, own it, seek forgiveness, and never give up in your pursuit of excellence in leadership.
4. The goal of my godly leadership was not just to get my wife and children to do what I wanted, or to do what I say, or to follow my lead. The goal of my leadership was, how do I help them succeed in their lives, their roles, their gifts, and their talents. This was always at the forefront of my mind. For example, I made sure Kathy had all the tools she needed to succeed in homeschooling. I did everything I could to serve her in practical ways, ensuring she had the time and energy she needed to effectively teach the kids, without being run ragged because she also had to run all the errands, or clean every single thing in the house. I saw myself as the servant of my wife and my children. How could I best serve them to ensure their success? With my children, as their interests and gifts began to emerge, I did everything I could to help them succeed, get them the things they needed for that success, and always encouraged them along in their journey.
5. I did everything I could to make sure we had good boundaries around our family and our time commitments. I have seen so many families and marriages run ragged because they did not or would not say, no. I did not let us get overcommitted.
6. I did everything I could to live in such a way that it inspired those who were following me, whether in my church leadership or my family leadership. I wanted my life to make them thirsty for what I had. I wanted my love for them, my commitment to them, to inspire their followership. Serve with love, love those you serve.
Read this, as it was one of my greatest life ambitions!
1 Timothy 4:12 LB
Don’t let anyone think little of you because you are young. Be their ideal; let them follow the way you teach and live; be a pattern for them in your love, your faith, and your clean thoughts and holy life.
7. Always strive to be a man worthy of their respect, their admiration, and their affection. Use your words to build them up and encourage them often, and you will find them following you more easily and more eagerly. Frequently praise and commend them for the good things you see them doing. Show genuine and generous appreciation for their efforts and their work. Notice their progress and commend them for it. Thank them often for their efforts. Always lead them with much grace, mercy and great compassion. Never forget how much of these God has shown to you! Men, deeply appreciate and value your wife’s work as wife, mother and homemaker. Most wives and mothers feel very unappreciated and undervalued. Praise them often. Rise and bless her, and treat her with generosity.
8. Humility must be a defining quality of your life and leadership. The humility to know you need God’s help and demonstrate that by seeking him earnestly in prayer every day of your life. The humility to know you need God’s direction, wisdom, insights, and advice, by a rigorous devotion to God’s Word. The humility to acknowledge your wrongs, mistakes, or sin, and ask your wife, or children’s forgiveness. The humility to serve in the simplest ways possible, with a very good attitude. Such as changing a diaper, sweeping the floor, vacuuming the carpet, carrying in the groceries, washing a child’s face, or making a bed. Never forget that humility also serves our wives emotionally, and carries the burdens of their more frail, fragile, and hormonal nature.
9. The effective leader prays daily over the lives of his wife and children knowing that God alone answers prayers and God can move in powerful ways in their soul and spirit to transform and change them.
10. The single most important leadership asset is WISDOM! Get it at all costs! The second most important is good judgment. Most men and leaders fail right here.
Proverbs 4:4-7 NLT
My father told me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my instructions and you will live. Learn to be wise, and develop good judgment. Don’t forget or turn away from my words. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgment.”
In closing today I offer this. There are some marital situations that are incredibly difficult because of a wife who has simply chosen to be contentious, obstinate, and unleadable. As Proverbs says, “It is better to live in the corner of an attic, or a desert than with this kind of woman.” Of course, we can’t just leave, as our love for God, our vows and our children constrain us to stay. But those verses illustrate just how difficult it really is to live with this kind of woman. What do you do when you have tried to reason with them, and they shut you down? What do you do when you try to get help and they just won’t listen or change? What do you do when they struggle with a food addiction, overspending addiction, or phone addiction and just won’t listen, follow or change?
I want to tenderly offer this. You try to manage it the very best you can. For example, that might mean with an overspending habit that is severe, you open a new bank account, take away their access to any credit cards, or the bank account and give them cash once a week to buy groceries, keeping the account in your name only. I have known those over the years who had no choice but to do this.
As a leader, there are times you simply try to make the best of a very bad, or difficult situation. All the while crying out to God to change your spouse, whatever it takes. There are some things only God can fix!
There are women and wives I have known over the years who are incredibly destructive and foolish, who as Proverbs 14:1 says, “Tear down their homes with their own hands.” I have known and observed many “Amber Heards” over the course of my ministry life. They come across extremely charming, but are very destructive, and make life incredibly difficult for their spouse. Often they use their charm and their tears to manipulate and deceive but seldom repent. They mislead others even as they are misleading themselves. They tell others they are being emotionally abused when all along they are the ones inflicting great emotional turmoil and pain on their husbands, with their cruel words, and degrading treatment.
Those of you who are Pastors reading this I urge you to be very careful not to misjudge the husbands in these situations, or to quickly discount or disregard their description of their day-to-day realities. I have seen men deeply hurt because a Pastor, friend, or counselor offered them some pithy, oft-repeated advice, and completely missed or dismissed the tormenting reality of what this man is living through. Telling them to just go home and do this or that better, is not going to help that husband keep going under such a stressful, trying ordeal. I have known wives for whom nothing the husband ever did made them happy. They just kept demanding more and more. Nothing was ever good enough. Truthfully, in my experience over 40+ years, it was often women who were the most cruel, mean and vicious people I have ever known.
If I can ever be of service or help to any of you men reading this today, in any aspect of your marriage or family leadership, please don’t hesitate to write to me. It would be my joy to serve you in any way I can.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling