How To Practice Christlike Headship And Why We Must

Gerald White
Gerald White

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Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.
– John Piper

John Piper has been such a model to me in leading the family and the church and is spot-on in the above quote.

Leading the family is not easy and has been something God has broken me over, because it’s that important.

Leading Your Family

If you’re a young man reading this, then just take stock quickly now on how you are leading your family. Is it centered in the gospel? Is it loving, sacrificial, protective and providing?

No, I’m not giving you a new law to follow or trying to guilt trip you, but what I am hoping to portray is the sacrificial, loving, protective and providing, one-way, gracious love of the gospel and to encourage you to live out of that gospel work of grace. (Rom 12:1, Eph 5:25)

So lads, let’s chat: Do you spend more time on your Xbox, PlayStation, iPad, iPhone, down at the gym, or reading theological books than you do servant-leading your family, changing your child’s nappies, doing the washing up, spending quality time with your wife, tidying the house, cooking, taking the kids out, getting up in the night to settle your child, getting the groceries, encouraging your family in the word and reminding them of His grace, etc., etc., etc.?

Just in case your going to fib right now and tell me you do all those things perfectly, I’ll make it easy for you: I  struggle at this; it’s not natural for me.

I want to have “me time” and chill reading. I want to get on my iPad and write articles like this, and go to the gym in spite of the fact my wife is tired of running around the place like Wonder Woman with two kids under each arm and with lots of work that needs doing.

Gents, this love for our wives is no ordinary love.

Paul, in Ephesians 5:25, has used Christ as our example; we are His image bearers. Calvin states that, “We are honoured to bear His image, and to be, in some measure, His representatives. We ought to resemble Him also in the discharge of duty.”

This is an honour, a divine calling and duty; it’s not a throw away fad, but a covenant call to lead your family in humility and trembling before the master of grace, for your joy and delight and His glory.

Created To Work

We have been created to work, brothers. (Gen. 3:19)

My pastor mentor and friend, David Craig, once said to me as a young married man that “our working day does not finish when we come in from work, but when our head hits the pillow late at night,” and he’s right!

For years I used to think that when I came home from work that’s when my work day finished, but it doesn’t.

Work finishes, by the Spirit’s sanctifying power and work in me, after I have sacrificially served and loved on my family.

Christ, the King of glory, came to serve and give His life for us. (Mark 10:45) We are called to be servant-leaders of our family, to build them up in the faith, and to point to Christ with our lives.

Gospel Impact From Godly Headship

Now, any man without a focus on the gospel will find this difficult. Naturally, we are selfish, lazy chaps that seek our ultimate joy in ourselves and other created things, rather than Christ and His model of servant-leadership.

So in the words of Dizzy Rascal, let’s “fix up, look sharp,” by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be servant-leaders.

Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Christ perfectly died for the church, His bride. He sacrificially did the work, took the hit, the spit and jeers for her. May that be our example, gents.

He perfectly put to death temptation when He was shattered, hungry, alone and then pinned to a cross. May that be our example, gents.

He perfectly pursued holiness. May that be our example, gents.

He perfectly taught gospel truth and sound doctrine throughout His life. May that be our example, gents.

He perfectly modeled the love of the Father and obeyed His will. May that be our example, gents.

He perfectly loved his bride, and provided for her. May that be our example, gents.

He perfectly forgives. May that be our example, gents, as we forgive and are quick to admit our own wrong doing.

Living a Christlike life is not easy, it takes the gospel, the holy spirits sanctifying power, discipline, repentance and daily coming to the throne of grace to lead and love your family just as Christ gave Himself up for the church, His bride.

How can I leave you encouraged and not beaten up? Well, my encouragement is to tell you: look to the cross!

Lord, I am prone to wonder and sin! But, Christ loves ragamuffins like you and I with a jealous love.

He worked for you. He pursued you like a blood-hound sent from heaven for sinners, and then he died for you. That’s sacrificial, no-points-scoring love. It’s a love that sees no blemish or wrinkle. It’s a love that doesn’t look for a repayment. It’s Christlike, gracious love.

What an example to us men in the faith, and what a reminder of grace when we fall short.

When we practice christlike headship well, what a reminder and example of these truths for the world!


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