But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
(1 Corinthians 11:3, ESV)
I chose to start of with this verse from Paul, because it’s important to understand & address how God establishes structure and leadership from the beginning. God’s intent was that man would lead… that he would lead his wife; that he would lead his kids; and that he would lead his household. Now, let me be clear, this doesn’t mean that men have been called to dominate their wife, kids or household. There is a distinct difference between leading and dictating, so in no-way-shape-or-form am I suggesting that men are to rule with an iron fist. Rather, my hope is that by the end of this article you would see specific attributes and characteristics that God desires men to adopt, in order to effectively lead his home and church.
As I taught through this at a men’s community group, one of the first statements I made was; the moment a man is born, is the moment a leader is born. A man should never be asked the question, are you leading in your house and church? Rather, the question that needs to be asked of him is , how well are you leading? Because it has always been God’s intent that man would lead, which means that we are always leading, and the question is just, how well?
To support this idea let me take you back to Genesis 3, to the fall of mankind.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
As we read through this passage, you can clearly see that the female was responsible for taking the first bite. But something very interesting to note, God did not address the female and her action first, instead God addressed Adam. God addressed Adam because it was man’s job to lead and direct his wife well, it was man’s job to protect his wife from danger and harm, yet we see him leading very ineffectively by standing beside her, not saying a word, and even choosing to eat the fruit when she handed it to him. (One might argue that the first sin was not the disobedience of Eve, rather the first sin was Adam not leading his wife as God intended him to [Romans 5:12, could perhaps provide evidence for that theory] ).
This is obviously a controversial statement that may not be 1o0% accurate, but the point I’m trying to make is that whether the first sin was Adam’s poor leading or Eve’s disobedience, Adam was still held accountable because he was considered the head of that household.
Men, even though those in our families may fall into sin, God holds us accountable, because we have been called to lead them well, to love and care for them effectively – it is our job to direct them away from sin and towards the gospel of Jesus.
So what does it look like for a godly man to lead his family and church well?
This question must be contemplated by every man at some point in life.
What does it look like to roll up our sleeves,
put our big boy pants on, and assume the responsibilities that God has given us?
Now it’s worth noting that the bible doesn’t specifically address this question, but what it does do is give us specific guidelines and qualifications for elders in the church.
Although all men will not be elders, all men are leaders (and all men are leading in some capacity in their churches too), either effectively or ineffectively. Therefore godly men should not have an issue aspiring to attain these qualifications, they should not have an issue in pursuing godliness. This list should be the standard that all men are aiming for, elder or not.
Found in 1 Timothy 3
Elders are to be above reproach
These are men that welcome accountability, men that are above question. Obviously being on mission for Jesus can place us in tough/questionable situations sometimes. For example, I may be ministering to a group of people in a bar, and if I’m seen in there every other, people could start talking and the sincerity of my faith could be questioned.
Men above reproach are men that welcome accountability in situations such as those.
That plays out practically by making your mission field known to others, so that if and when your testimony is questioned, you are not blindsided, but rather you have a number of people that can support the reasons for your actions. Being a man above reproach in the household means that your wife is the one to hold you accountable, means you have complete transparency with her. If she has to question your actions or thoughts, I would suggest that you might want to spend some time explaining them to her. A wife should have confidence that her husbands actions are pure and pursuing holiness.
Elders are to be the husband of one wife
This simply means, a one women man. Godly men are committed & faithful to one women and one women only. Godly men are not men that emotionally or physically involve themselves with other women. It’s important to note the words “emotionally involved”, because even though men might not be physically involved with another women, they can often check themselves out of a relationship emotionally and find another female that they “talk to” on the side about their issues. This is not godly behavior! Godly men are emotionally and physically involved with one women.
Elders are to be sober-minded and self controlled
These are men that make smart, thought out decisions. Men who are disciplined enough to control their emotions in tough circumstances. Men, who when faced with hard situations, do not retreat back to a sinful habit, but prayerfully consider the right way to proceed, that will ultimately bring God glory.
Elders are respectable
Respect is something that is earned, it’s not something that is given freely. Respect comes from consistently being above reproach; from being the husband of one wife; from being sober-minded and self-controlled. Respect is earn, within their sphere of influence, when men are seen to be honestly pursuing these qualities.
Elders are hospitable
This is just another way of saying that godly men are selfless. They are not only concerned about the needs of others, but their concern leads them to invest in the problem and be a part of the solution. Godly men are hospitable enough to share their assists (house, wallet, vehicles, time, energy) with others in order to lead them to Jesus and ultimately bring God glory.
Elders are able to teach
It’s important that we acknowledge that, yes, Paul is talking specifically about the ability to teach the bible here (which I think godly men should be able to do). But I would also suggest that if we were to attempt to generalize this list to accommodate all men in their pursuit of godliness, then it would be worth broadening the horizons of this point (without detracting from it’s original meaning). Godly men are men that are not only able to teach from the bible, but they are men that are able to teach through the actions of their life too. People are watching how “godly men” respond to the circumstances of life. I believe that God has provided us a platform, through our responses to daily life, that will either point people to, or from himself.
I think this is especially true within our families. Our kids need to be taught accurately about Jesus through how we live, not just what we say. I believe a huge reason why kids are turning their backs on Christianity, is because they have witnessed the unrepentant hypocrisy from their dad. Men need to be able to authentically teach with both their mouths and their life’s.
Elders are not addicted
These are men that have recognized that their identity is found in Jesus and nothing else. Godly men will not be controlled by any substance or artificial high. They do not need those things to figure out their sin or any of life’s issues, because Jesus has already done that for them.
Elders are not violent but gentle
Mark Driscoll uses the words, tough and tender. It’s vitally important that godly men are able to find a biblically balance between these two. We need to be able to do what is hard sometimes, but we also need to approach every situation with caution and discernment. Often times men can unemotionally trample over a situation and make them 10 times worse than before.
Elders are not quarrelsome
Godly men don’t pick fights for the sake of picking fights. Too many times men have been found to be arrogant, closed minded and very quick tempered… These are not godly characteristics. Godly men have a control over their desire to want to fight by proving their point; or have their voice heard; because godly men step a-side knowing that it’s not about them, it’s about Jesus.
Elders are not a lover of money
Godly men are not motivated by finances, they do not do things simply for financial gain. Instead they lead selflessly, putting themselves and their wallets a-side and focussing on sacrificially giving, reaching, teaching and leading their families and others towards Jesus.
Elders manage their household well, care for God’s church, keep their children submissive & are thought well of by outsiders
Because we have covered a lot of points so far, I bundled the last few together, because I believe that none of them are achieved without observing and pursuing all of the previous points.
Remember, godly men don’t lead with an iron fist, rather with strong, loving, dependable hand. They lead with a life that their children will look at and respect/trust greatly. They will, very seldom, question the motives and heart of their father, instead they will always know that he loves them unconditionally and that sometimes the tough decisions he makes are for their best interest.
This kind of behavior produces confidence and favor in those around. People will look in at a man that is certainly not perfect, but a man who has humbly been saved from his own sin by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. And they will see a man who, with every inch of himself, pursues godliness by aspiring towards this list because that is least that he can do out of appreciation and love for His savor. Godly men are genuine in their love for Jesus and others.