From the very earliest pages of the Bible, it is clear that God has designated men to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. Several features of the text of Genesis 2 indicate that this was God’s design from before the Fall. For example: the man was created before the woman (Gen 2:7, 15-17; cf. 1 Tim 2:11-13); the woman was made for the man (Gen 2:18; cf. 1 Cor 11:9); the woman was made from the man (Gen 2:21-22; 1 Cor 11:8); and the man named the woman, not once but twice (Gen 2:23, 3:20).
Each of these features of the Genesis 2 narrative reveals a clear difference of role between the man and the woman. From the beginning man was called to bear the responsibility of headship, while the wife was called to be the man’s perfectly suitable helper. Male spiritual leadership in the home is God’s original ideal.
I am so thankful that at Providence Bible Fellowship this theology is accepted as the norm. There are many churches in the world where it is not. Our membership embraces what has been called complementarianism – the view that God has created both men and women in His image, equal in status before God and in importance to the family and church, but distinct in role. Men are to lead in the family and church, and women are to help them. This is widely accepted in our local body.
But there is a big difference between believing the right things and living the right things. It may be the case that we all agree wholeheartedly that God has woven a complementarian structure into the family, but that does not automatically mean that our homes reflect it. In fact, if there is one thing that I hear consistently from men and women in our congregation about their homes, it is that this ideal of male spiritual leadership is not being lived out. I frequently hear from men that they know they are called to lead their families and that they want to but that they are not doing it well. I also frequently hear from women that they long for spiritual leadership from their husbands, but that it simply isn’t happening.
So what is the problem? It may be that in some cases there are men who simply don’t want to lead or for whom it is uncomfortable, but it seems that the most common issue is that they simply don’t know how. Most men have not been raised in homes where this was modeled for them by a father figure. Additionally, it is an area of discipleship that has been all but ignored by the church in recent decades. Consequently, we have several generations of men in the church who have the strong conviction that God calls them to lead but who aren’t leading or who aren’t leading well because they just don’t know what that leadership should look like in everyday life. Typical questions that men wrestle with include:
· What is spiritual leadership? What does it look like?
· Should a man’s leadership in his wife’s life look different than his leadership in his children’s lives?
· Should man’s leadership of his children change as they get older?
· Are there certain tasks or activities associated with spiritual leadership, specific things that a man should be doing on a regular basis?
· Why doesn’t this just come naturally to a Christian man?
· Are there any helpful resources out there, like a “Spiritual Leadership for Dummies”?
· How does God’s Word equip a man for this?
We need to be trained for this. For that reason, we are going to begin what could be thought of as a spiritual leadership boot camp for the men of PBF early next year. Our objective will be to answer the above questions so thoroughly that everyone knows exactly what spiritual leadership is and how to do it, and we’ll be working together to implement these principles in our homes. The training will run for eight consecutive Saturdays beginning on February 7 and going through March 28. We’ll gather together each Saturday morning from 7-8:30.
Men, if you love your families, put this on the calendar now and make a commitment to come. You may already have things squared away in your home – that’s great – you can come and mentor others who have yet to begin the journey. Women, if you love your families, encourage your husbands to make this a priority and do what you can to free them up for those eight Saturdays. These could be the most consequential two months ever for the spiritual health of your home.
There will be more details to come in the next few months. But right now, while you’re thinking about it, get out the calendar. Seriously, right now. Jot down (or type in) “spiritual leadership boot camp” every Saturday AM (7a-8:30a) from Feb 7 to Mar 28. I’m praying for 100% participation. Will you pray, too?