A primer on how to lead your wife, part 1: leading means following

We get asked how to lead a wife more than anything else. We break it down like this: you lead your wife by following Jesus, requiring her to follow in your tracks, and calling her to do so. This may seem simplistic, but it is a sure foundation. In this series we’ll look at each of these three elements in turn.

A leader isn’t just someone who people follow. He is someone they can trust to take them where they need to go. To lead, you must have a vision of where you’re going; a mission that you’re working towards.

For the Christian, this means following God. It means orienting yourself toward the creation mandate as given to Adam in Genesis 1, and expanded in the Great Commission in Matthew 28. You follow Jesus by living out his design for human life. This is true for everyone, of course, but for you as a husband, it means having a vision of your household as a small part, and indeed a small replica, of God’s household.

Let’s step back slightly to summarize what we mean. In Genesis 1, God created a household. Adam was the son of God, made to represent his Father’s name in the world. He was the first king in a new family God created; a dynasty. This is the kingdom of God, the house of God (Luke 3:38; Ps 52:8; Eph 2:19; Heb 10:21; cf. 1 Tim 3:5, 15).

In the fall, Adam abandoned representing God’s name in favor of his own. This set up the central conflict of redemptive history: man’s subjugation of his kingdom to sin and Satan, and God’s determination to restore it under his own Name, under a new King who would be the exact imprint of his nature, who would do “only what his father gives him to do” (cf. Ex 23:21; John 17:5–6; Heb 1:3; John 3:16; 5:17ff; 12:26–32 etc).

Men are driven to build: Adam’s first son builds a city, and later, a united mankind builds a tower to make their name great (Gen 4:17; 11:4). It’s possible, like Adam and his progeny, to be on mission for your name alone, building for your interests rather than God’s. This can be successful, by worldly standards, but the alternative is far better: to be on mission for the name of God, conforming yourself to the image of his Son. Good Christian leaders do not have to be strong, independent, type-A personalities. It can even be an impediment. The strength of a Christian leader is not of the flesh; it is the weakness of God. The independence of a Christian leader is not self-sufficiency and autonomy, which are really enslavement (John 8:34–38, 44); it is the detachment that comes from resting only in God’s word and provision. A Christian leader does not build for his own name’s sake, but for God’s. He is looking to Jesus, God’s promised king, and for the hope of playing a part in his bringing an end to sin and Satan.

Your house is a microcosm of God’s (Eph 3:15; 5:23). You yourself are a living brick in that house (1 Pet 2:5), and so all those under you are bricks as well. Thus, you must build your house to build God’s. Follow the example of Jesus. Even at the age of 12, when he went missing in Jerusalem, he said to his parents, “Why is it that you were looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be in my father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). Yet barely more than a boy, Jesus was devoted to his father’s house—to raising it up (John 2:19–21) and building it out (Eph 2:19–22; 2 Cor 6:16–18), until “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Anointed” (Rev 11:15).

How did he begin this process, at such a tender age? Just two verses later, Luke tells us:

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52

We must follow in the steps of Jesus. We must increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

We break down the masculine virtues into wisdom, strength, and workmanship. These all work together in the pursuit of exercising dominion; ordering your world in a way that extends God’s name:

A man who has developed these virtues discovers that he has simultaneously acquired another key virtue that many men today lack:

Gravitas

This old word can be translated as weight, seriousness, or importance. It was used by the Romans to describe a man with a sense of responsibility and commitment to a task. It is the same idea behind Mark 1:22, where the people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not like the scribes. At the young age of 30, Jesus had gravitas that far exceeded many much older religious leaders. Why? Because he had developed real wisdom, strength, and workmanship. He didn’t shortcut the process by fabricating a cheap facsimile (cf. Matt 6).

The gospels also illustrate another truth: people naturally follow men with gravitas. Men must develop gravitas if they desire to lead anyone, including a woman.

How?

Gravitas is developed as you discipline yourself in pursuing the mission of God. A man has gravitas to the extent that he reflects God. Think of it in terms of actual gravity, where God is the sun, you are the earth, and your wife is the moon. She must orbit you, but you must both be orbiting the sun—and you are the one who pulls her with you as you do this.

We’ll expand on how to develop gravitas in later articles, but to briefly summarize, there are two main ways:

  1. Self-discipline, where you consciously place yourself in the orbit of God, devoting yourself to his cause—this obviously takes many forms, including the means of grace, physical fitness, working as to the Lord, etc.
  2. Household-discipline, where you consciously bid your family follow your orbit, providing for them to do so and casting a clear vision for the home—this also takes many forms, but includes teaching, prayer, and simple, regular communication.

In short, gravitas comes from the practiced undertaking of the dominion God has given you.

To be continued in part 2…