Why are there qualifications or characteristics for leader’s wives in the New Testament? A man’s wife will dramatically impact his work – for good or evil – and can even make his leadership entirely impotent. If a leader’s wife can affect him that much, then having a capable spouse is one of the qualities of a biblical leader.
In the next article, we’re going to look at some ways women can help or hinder their husbands in leadership roles. Right now, we’re focusing on the men. Guys, let’s get out our Bibles and look at what God is telling us about shepherding our families.
Men, Shepherd Your Family
If you think that you might ever want to be a leader among God’s people, then start shepherding your family now. 1 Timothy 3.4-5 says that man must “manage his household well” before he can be trusted to “care for God’s church.” Many mistakenly think shepherding begins when they have children. While it’s true a man must train and instruct his children, he’s also responsible for the spiritual well-being and growth of his wife. If she isn’t spiritually healthy and growing, then chances are he isn’t leading her well or managing his household properly.
Love Your Wife Like Jesus Loves the Church
Ephesians 5.25 says husbands should “love [their] wives as Christ loved the church” by sacrificing himself for her. Men must be willing to give themselves up for the betterment of their wives; this is biblical leadership and shepherding. If a man does not sacrifice himself for his wife, then he certainly will not properly devote himself to caring for the flock of God.
To love his spouse, a man must seek for her good in everything he does (cf Deuteronomy 6:24). He makes decisions based on what is best for her spiritually, emotionally, and physically – in that precise order. If a woman isn’t spiritually healthy, it doesn’t matter how big her house is. When she isn’t well emotionally, no amount of money will correct the problem. In our culture that focuses on the outward and physical, a godly husband will concentrate on the spiritual and emotional.
Husbands Give Wives What They Need
She Needs Sound Teaching
A good man will ensure his wife gets the proper instruction she needs to grow. First, that teaching has to come from the word of God. Peter promises that God has given us “everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1.3). A man must teach the word and deliver to his wife the sound doctrine she needs to grow (Titus 2.1, 2 Timothy 4.2, 1 Peter 1.25). God’s revelation alone is the source of good and healthy instruction; we must base everything else on what God says.
She Needs Older Women
Second, your spouse will need other women to help teach her things. You have never been a woman, and you’ve never been a wife. While reading through the Bible will give us all the principles we need, women are much better at being women than men. Titus 2.3-5 states older women should be training younger women. Sometimes, men, our job is to get out of the way and let that training commence. Being a leader doesn’t mean doing all the work yourself; it means finding the right person for the job and allowing them to work.
We need to make time for our wives to learn from older women. That means taking on extra responsibilities around the house, rearranging our schedules, and giving things up for her. Turn off the television and put away any video games (just sell them; you don’t need them, cf 1 Cor 13.11). If your golf game, fishing time or hunting trip is more important than your spouse’s spiritual growth, you are failing her as a leader. We need to be willing to sacrifice our entertainment so she has the freedom to get the help and instruction she needs.
The older women are going to teach her how to love you better, how to manage her household, and how to raise and care for children. Why would you not want her to learn these things? This instruction is crucial in helping her become everything God wants her to be as a woman. One of the most important things you can do for your wife is make it possible for her to spend time with spiritual, older women.
She Needs You to Lead Her
Third, step up and be the leader in your family. She needs you to lead her in prayer, guide and help her in her study, and listen to her insights, questions, and concerns. Should that surprise us? Aren’t these all things that we need and want from our Savior, Jesus? Make it a point to set aside time to do all of these things with your wife every day. It’s one of the most important things you will ever do for her.
It’s not that your wife isn’t capable of studying by herself; she can’t read the Bible and pray without your help. You can read the Scriptures all by yourself, too, but that’s a big mistake. The early Christians recognized their need for God’s help. Paul prayed that God would enlighten the eyes of their hearts (Ephesians 1.17-18) and James said saints should pray for wisdom (James 1.5). They wanted God to lead them and guide them through their learning process because they trusted him to do what was best. In marriage, husbands take the role of Jesus. It’s your job to help and guide your family into spiritual maturity. Your wife trusts you to lead her – or she wouldn’t have married you. Take the role that God has given you and fulfill it.
Your wife wants you to lead her. Your wife needs you to lead her. The marriage relationship will not work well if we don’t follow the plan God gives us in the Bible. Your role, husbands, is to lead; let’s be committed to that.
Protect Your Wife
Christians need to be protected from Satan. It’s a mistake to think we can successfully fight the devil with our own wits and will. If we do that, we’re going to lose every time. The Bible tells us to draw near to God, and then we can resist the Devil (James 4.7-8). Satan isn’t scared of us; we have no power over him. Our Father, however, does. If you want to defeat the devil, then we need to find ourselves squarely in the protective custody of God (cf 1 Peter 1.3-5).
Remember, the marriage relationship parallels our relationship with God. It is the husband’s job to protect and keep the wife safe. He is the one tasked with meeting the enemies of the family. She will help and do everything she can to support her husband, but the man is to be the family’s protector.
Protection is more than keeping physical harm away from your wife. It’s also preventing emotional and spiritual damage, too. There are times, as a leader of God’s people, when others will sin against you. Sometimes, the best way to protect your wife’s spiritual well-being is to keep that information away from her. You don’t need to lie to your wife, but she doesn’t need to know everything that happens to you. Your job is to protect her from harm, and if some information would hurt her deeply, then keep it away from her.
Knowing when to keep information away from her is a hard line to walk. Your spouse is an invaluable asset when it comes to your spiritual life, and her insight will often give you a better chance of bringing God the most glory possible. However, if something hurts your wife spiritually, you bring no glory to God by injuring her. Young men should seek the counsel and guidance of older, spiritually mature men in this regard.
Lead Your Family into Spiritual Success
I have heard men complain their children or wives disqualify them from leadership positions. In my experiences, I have never yet met a person where that statement is true. While these are only my experiences, it has happened often enough to seem like a general rule. Sure, there are going to be exceptions, but, generally speaking, if a man’s family “disqualifies him” it’s his fault. His lack of leadership, shepherding, and teaching has likely brought about the state of his family he bemoans.
Shepherds, deacons, and preachers do not need to have perfect families, or there would be no leaders! Sometimes we see the strength of a man’s character because of difficulty and sorrow he endures while holding fast to the faith. We gain wisdom by successfully navigating trying situations with God’s help and wisdom as our guide. We shouldn’t be looking for men who have always avoided difficult circumstance but for leaders who have faithfully led their families through them.
Men, Consider Who You’ve Married
Some women simply should not have husbands who are in leadership roles. She isn’t a bad woman or a failure as a wife; it only means there are certain temptations she should avoid. It is the husband’s job to know whether taking a leadership role will hurt his wife.
If being a leader among the Lord’s people will harm your wife, then you’re not a good shepherd if you choose to become one (and hence disqualified from leading God’s people). A husband’s first obligation is to his wife as her shepherd. If he fails to care for his spouse, then how can he care properly for the flock of God? What position is so important that it justifies harming your wife’s spiritual well-being? No position. Don’t do it. You do not need to be a leader to serve God faithfully; you serve God faithfully by first caring for the wife he has given you. Do that first.
It’s unlikely you will be able to tell how your wife will be impacted by leadership roles when you first meet her. Most people get married while they’re young, and I’ve yet to meet the young man with enough wisdom and experience to know how his young bride will be affected by a leadership role one day.
Through years of loving, learning about, and leading his wife, a man should discover the answer to that question. Since a loving husband will always do what is best for his wife first, if you recognize that leadership would harm your wife, then don’t become a leader.
Husbands, start shepherding now. Get help from the older men, and learn how to be a leader (Titus 2.1-9). Study the word diligently, memorize passages, and put yourself to the work of applying biblical principles to daily decisions (Hebrews 5.14, Psalm 119.11). Guide your family in the way of the Lord, or you will never be ready to help guide a church. In setting our hearts and minds to do these things, we are being taught by God how to love our wives.