Whether you’re talking about the head of a church, or a civic group, or a major Fortune 500 company, you just know that there are certain characteristics of these people that we can speculate about. Perhaps some are smart. Perhaps some are “natural born leaders.” Perhaps others are organized and highly critical thinkers. Maybe some of these heads of organizations are leaders with impeccable character who operate at the highest levels of morals and ethics. No matter what, none of us attribute low-level characteristics to these people who have risen to their position for one reason or another.
But it’s not always like that with the leaders of the families. Not all leaders of the family are smart. Not all can be considered “natural born leaders.” Some of the most disorganized and simple-minded people lead families. You don’t need to have impeccable character 0r good morals or sound ethics to hold the position of leader of the family. No, not at all. You don’t even have to apply for such a position, and that’s where the problem begins. Many heads of families are the leaders by default, whether they are good leaders or bad leaders. They get married and then they are thrust into that position…qualified or not. The truth is that many people who are in the position of being the head of their home never gave that role much forethought. They wanted to get married, have children, and just live the life.
Imagine an assembly line worker at a General Motors plant who came into work one day and the supervisor came and told him he had to move to Detroit to become the CEO of the corporation. Imagine how ill-equipped he is to handle such a position. Imagine the decisions he’d have to make that would make or break the company. Imagine how he would grasp on to anything anyone would tell him in the way of advice. The likelihood is high that the company would suffer serious setbacks.
But these kinds of things occur everyday with families. Young men are graduating high-school and headed off to college where they get so caught up in the college experience of academics and social life, that they don’t really mature enough to the point of understanding their role in taking on a family in young adulthood. For so many, the idea of getting married after college is done because it’s the “next step” in the natural progression of life. But did they ever consider the responsibilities associated with being a husband and father…doubtful! And did they have adequate opportunity to get prepared…doubtful! And so we’re left with floundering families just treading water to stay afloat. And these ill-equipped men now will be grasping for any source of advice that may help. It is doubtful that even a Christian man in crisis seeks the Bible for answers initially, but let me give you biblical advice about headship today.
Of course the goal for any Christian in any realm of life is to be godly and Christ-like. The God of the Bible is the God of the universe, so He is over all. Closer to home, Christ is the Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). In Ephesians 5:23, God says that we, as men, are the head of the wife (and the rest of family). So what Christ does with respect to the church is what we need to do with respect to our families. For example, Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (vs. 25) and so ought we to do the same. Christ sanctified and cleansed the church (vs. 26) and so ought we to see to it that our homes are as holy as they can be. Christ wants to present a very pure church (vs. 27) and so ought we to want to present our families to God, as blameless as possible, for His use. Christ nourishes His church and cherishes it (vs. 29) and so ought we to provide and care about our family above our own selves. Now, do secular colleges and very liberal Christian colleges teach this to prepare their young men before they have families…doubtful!
The head is responsible for leading the body. If you know even basic anatomy, you’ll be aware that the brain is responsible for commanding the rest of the body to move in some way. Well, guess where the brain is…it’s in the head. Christ is over the church (referred to as the “body” in Colossians 1:18). He is the Head of the body. He leads, guides, and directs the church. We, as husbands and dads, are the heads of our homes and we should lead our families as Christ leads us. After all, in 1st Corinthians 11:3, the Bible sets it all up this way: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” You can’t argue with that. Christ leads us. We lead our families.
Let’s look at the brain for just a minute. In general terms, I just mentioned that the brain is responsible for leading the body. The brain is the control center for ALL information coming into the body. If there’s something wrong somewhere, and there’s pain, the brain becomes aware and instantly goes into action to resolve the crisis. It’s been proven that if your hand touches a hot pan on the stove, your nerve impulses have traveled to the brain, and that information was processed so quickly that the brain told your arm to pull away even before you were able to say “Ouch!” Essentially, the brain sensed the danger and acted upon it even before you realized you were in any danger yourself.
Our kids and spouses in these families may be headed for spiritual danger without them even being aware, but as the head of the household, you really have to be aware and vigilant and highly attuned to the Spirit’s discernment to be able to protect your family before harm comes to them and they get spiritually burned. But if you’re not walking close to God and you’re not even sensitive enough to receive these warnings of impending harm to someone in your family, then these things will happen. In the body, if there is a disconnect between the brain and the rest of the body, and the two can not communicate with each other (such as with a quadriplegic) then the rest of the body is on its own, and the arms and legs that should be helped by the brain to develop and get stronger, now waste away. It’s called atrophy, which is a fancy medical term that means muscles have wasted away to the point where they are no longer useful to the body. Many times this is because of a lack of communication between limb and brain. Brain-impaired families will wither and lack any strength, and will be of very limited use to God and the church. I didn’t say they would be of NO use…just very limited use.
Another point regarding headship is that as the head of your home, your family may be judged by others based solely on people’s perceptions of YOU. Did you know that? This is easy to prove. Just think about an uprising in a country where there is a group of citizens fighting oppression. There is usually one leader among them that rises up and is seen as the spokesman for the whole group. News agencies will often seek out this individual for interviews and for updates on the revolt. Often, in their news commentaries, the leader is referred to as the “face of the revolution.” Now, everyone around the world will begin to believe that everyone in that revolution hold the same core values and beliefs as the one being held up as leader (the “face” of the revolution). What kind of face are we showing and what opinions are people making of the rest of our families because of it?
So if you think that’s enough responsibility, let me let you in on another secret about being the head of the home, which may just send you over the edge. The head is the only part of the body that contains the ability to experience all five senses. The eyes are located in the head, as well as the nose, mouth, and ears. Of course, our heads have the ability to sense touch as well, rounding out the fact that all fives senses occur within the head. How this relates to our families is something I’ll try to explain. Some of these senses will be used by you to process information to help others, and some of these senses you will experience for yourself. I have dug a little bit to find examples from Scripture, so let’s see how we can best explain it.
EYES: In 2nd Chronicles 16:9 it says that “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…” We should be looking for signs of godliness in the members of our homes over which we are the head. We should be recognizing where they lack, and help them. We must be their watchman and see what is going on in their lives. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). In your family, “every place” means your families search history on the personal computer. It also means your children’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. Commend them for the good that they are doing with these devices, but LOOK also, and condemn the wrong that they may be doing with these devices. Nothing escapes God’s eyes and we should strive to not let anything in our homes go unnoticed.
EARS: The Bible says in Psalm 34:15 that God hears the cries of His children. Whether they are in trouble, praising Him, or making petition to Him, God hears the cries of His children. It specifically says that “…His ears are open unto their cry.” God doesn’t listen to us when He’s ready. God listens to us anytime WE are in need of crying out to God for whatever reason. That same sentiment is echoed in 1st Peter 3:12. How are you going to ever understand your children if you don’t take the time to listen to them? If you don’t listen to them, you won’t know what they are in need of. Also, if you don’t listen to them, you won’t learn anything about them, and how then will you be able to sense any trouble they may be in? The Psalmist said, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17). Are you available to listen to your children anytime they need you…and do they know this?
TOUCH: What’s a good way to help someone not feel alone and help them feel secure? By standing behind them and letting them feel the touch of your hand on their shoulder. Imagine a little kid who broke his neighbor’s window and his dad wants him to apologize to the neighbor. The little child may be trembling about how the neighbor might react, but as long as the child knows you are right there behind him in case things get bad, that can give him a ton of courage. God called Jeremiah at an early age to be a voice for Him against the stiff-necked nation of Israel. Jeremiah was concerned and frightened about what to say. You know how God comforted him? “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, ‘Behold I have put my words in thy mouth’” (Jeremiah 1:9). That took the fear right out of Jeremiah and he went on to do great things for God after he felt God’s loving and secure touch. Be sure to be a loving dad by not being afraid to hug your children and let them feel your loving touch.
SMELL: This is slightly more abstract than the other three we just looked at, but it’s still an important concept to look into. Many of the savours that the Bible describes as reaching the Lord have to do with sacrifices. Burnt offerings, Peace offerings, and Meal offerings were all sweet savours unto the Lord. We should be willing to lead by example and sacrifice before our families and teach them to do the same. Burnt offerings signified complete surrender and devotion to God, as the person offering the sacrifice got nothing in the end…their sacrifice was completely used up. The Meal sacrifice was out of a thankfulness to God and consisted of symbolic elements such as flour (moral purity), no leaven (no evil), and oil (filled with the Holy Spirit). The Peace sacrifice was in thankfulness to God for peace and fellowship and the person offering the sacrifice got a measure back that he was able to share with others to promote peace, unity, and fellowship. We, as dads, need to teach our families how to sacrifice to show our devotion to God, to be thankful for what we have, and we need to sacrifice to foster peace and unity between God and between ourselves within our own families. If our children start sacrificing on their own after our example to them, that will end up being a sweet savour to us as dads as well. Leviticus 1:1-17 has a more detailed account of these sacrifices and what they were meant to signify.
TASTE: This one enables us dads to experience the highs and lows of raising and leading a family. John, in the Book of Revelation, gave this account: “And I went unto the angel and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.” John saw the preservation of the saints, and the destruction of the ungodly, and that same vision caused in him gladness and joy for the saints (sweetness as honey) and exceeding sorrow for the fate of the wicked (bitter to the belly). As dads, knowing we are responsible for leading and teaching and training and guiding, etc…we can rejoice when our families make us proud, but we must also experience the bitter taste of seeing our families struggle, especially if it’s because of our lack of leadership.
As the heads of our families, we have a huge responsibility to help them navigate safely through this stormy world. God has given us all the tools necessary to oversee our families and equip them for a safe journey. I would say this. If all is going well, don’t give yourself too much credit, after all, you are leading your family under the guidance of God Himself. However, if things go terribly wrong in your family, be sure to give yourself an honest evaluation of your level of responsibility for the direction your family is headed. Case in point, and think about this honestly…if the Titanic had made it to New York safely, the papers would have said, “Captain and Crew Sail Titanic Safely into New York Harbor.” But it’s only because the ship sank that we even know the name of the captain of the Titanic. And this is true with most nautical disasters…the captain is named and given the lion’s share of the blame.
In William MacDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary, he says this with regards to 1st Timothy 1:19: “Those who had made shipwreck of the faith were true believers, but they simply had not maintained tender consciences. Their Christian life had started out like a gallant ship putting out to sea, but instead of returning to port with banners waiving and a full cargo, they had floundered on the rocks and brought shame on themselves and their testimony” (pg. 2080). God has called us to be the heads of our homes, so therefore He promises to help us: “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it” (1st Thessalonians 5:24).