What does it mean to be a good husband and father? How does the Bible define the role of a Husband and a father? As a man who has been married nearly ten years now, and with three kids, these questions are extremely important to me. I’ve spent the last nine and a half years trying to become the man that my wife deserves and the husband that would honor our marriage, and the last six years trying to be the godly father my children deserve. I have failed many times but I have also learned a lot along the way. I’ve known several men who have demonstrated what it means to be a godly husband and father and for their example, I am very thankful. While watching others live it out is important, nothing can replace knowing the Biblical roots for the calling of a husband and father and choosing to live them out ourselves. At some point, we ourselves need to become an example for others.
I think the Bible lays things out pretty neatly for men. The calling on husbands and fathers is to lead, to love, and to lay down our lives. Looking back through history, men as a whole (the church included) have not followed God’s design for being a husband and father very well. The male dominant societies throughout the centuries demonstrate a real misguided view of the value of women and children and men’s role in the lives. While there are clear passages in the Bible that address the role of husbands and fathers, it seems they get lost in translation a lot. This is not an indictment, it’s a rallying cry for me and my brothers out there to step it up and show this world what God designed us to be. We can’t rely on media or even the pulpit to show us the way. God has already done that. The rest of this post is about what I’ve learned along the way and the standard I want to be held accountable to.
The Bible sets the man up as the head of the household. The head is the one who takes the lead. So what exactly does it mean to lead? Leadership is not domineering. While the husband/father is the Biblical head of the family, he is not the dictator. The best leaders in life are those who lead by example. They never ask of others what they are not willing to do themselves. Every value they hope to cultivate in those they lead, they first cultivate in themselves. A leader listens to the voices of those they lead. They seek what is best for those they lead. And a leader never views themselves as any more important than anyone else. A true leader is humble. As husbands, we must involve our spouses and children. We must invest our time, more in them than in any job or career. As husbands, our highest calling is in our homes.
A husband/father is not just a provider for the family, they are a nurturer as well. I know a lot of men who believe that their job is 9 to 5 and then check out the rest of the time. Male chauvinistic societies have unfortunately bread generation after generation of men who view life this way. All of a sudden fictitious gender roles are created. The wife takes care of the home and the children and the husband brings home the paycheck right? False. That is not the Biblical design. The home and the children belong to both the husband and the wife. They are jointly responsible for their wellbeing. While some women are geared more towards gentleness and nurturing, it is no less the man’s responsibility to be tender and kind and invest quality time in his children. Our wives should also get more of our energy and affection than our hobbies or careers. If we went to our jobs and sat around in a lounge chair and watched tv or scrolled our phones all day, we’d get fired. So why do we think it’s a good idea to do that when we walk in the door of our homes? Our wives and our children deserve our best, not our leftovers.
Back to the concept of fictitious gender roles…whoever said it was the wife’s job to cook, clean, and do the “dirty work” of taking care of our kids? It certainly wasn’t God. The best leaders are willing and able to do the hard stuff. They don’t delegate it. Just look at the greatest leader of all time: Jesus. He came to Earth to serve. From day one, He laid down His life, all the way to His last breath. If Jesus can stoop to wash the feet of sinful men, then we can stoop to do any task that can help ensure the success of our homes. If Jesus could lay down His life, and bear our sin on the cross, then we can lay down our pride to wash the dishes, take out the trash, cook dinner, clean up the kitchen, change the diapers, vacuum the floors, and on and on. These are the responsibilities of a parent, not a wife. As the head of the house, it is our charge to share the load, in whatever form that may take. If we want to be a great leader then we need to look for ways to take the burdens off of our wives’ shoulders. If we want to lead the way Jesus did, then our lives need to be far less about ourselves, and far more about those God has placed in our care.
There is no one who can ever take the place of dad. More than anyone else, they are the ones who will give their children their first and greatest impression of what God is like. More than anyone else, they are the ones who can impress value and worth on their daughters and sons. To be a dad is to carry a heavy responsibility but it is a role to be cherished. Men, don’t find your fulfillment in your work. That’s empty compared to your role as a father. Our children need us to step up. Our children need to see us love their mom deeply. Our children need us to be there for them and with them. They couldn’t care less about how much we make. They want us. Our time and our affection. They need to hear us say “I love you” often. More than that, they need us to show them we love them often. We cannot abdicate our role to anyone else.
Men, our wives need to know that they are a priority. We should never stop pursuing them and showing them they are our greatest treasure. Chivalry is not dead. Honor is not dead. When we get married we should do more to win over our wives than we ever did when dating or during the engagement. We cannot let our vows be empty promises. They are a promissory note stamped on our hearts sealed for life. Our love must endure the hardest of times. A fragile love is not real love. They need to know we are in it for the long haul, not to simply make it, but to thrive and to love greatly. Men, let’s love greatly.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB