When two different things work well together, we say they complementeach other, they fit one another, enhance one another, perfect one another, and complete one another. Like nuts and bolts. They are different but they fit perfectly together without one of them being inferior or superior to the other. They work better together than apart. They are complementary.

When we come to men and women, we clearly see how God made men and women quite different. Sure, we all have eyes, ears, mouths, etc., but we are different in many other ways – physically, emotionally, cognitively, and so on. And these differences are not a problem, they are the solution. The differences are not accidental, but intentional; not coincidental, but providential.

God made men and women different in order that they would complement each other, that they would work better together than apart. They don’t compete with each other, they complete each other. Neither is essentially or spiritually superior nor inferior to the other, and neither is suited to the roles and responsibilities of the other.

But in day-to-day living there has to be a leader, a captain of a team, a manager of a business, and a head of a home. And for that day-to-day family life, God has appointed the husband to be the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23).

Husbands tend to fall into one of two errors. Some are too passive, others are too domineering or controlling. In Ephesians 5, Paul addresses both extremes. To the passive abdicator of responsibility, he says, “Lead your wife.” To the aggressive tyrant, he says, “Love your wife.” In the last video we looked at loving. In this one we focus on Mr. Passive who must step up to the plate and start leading.

Lead as a Head
There’s a huge difference between being a ruler and a head. A head is attached to the body, cannot exist without the body, cares for the body, and provides for the body. A ruler has no such connection, dependence, or relationship to the ruled. A husband’s leadership, then, is a metaphor of protection not of power; of salvation not domination, as Paul’s very next words underline: “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.”

Lead as a Servant
“He is the Savior of the body.” Just as Christ came not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many, so the husband is to demonstrate this kind of unselfish and sacrificial headship.

Lead by Listening
One of the ways a husband leads and serves his wife is by listening to her. He doesn’t assume that he knows everything, that he has all the answers. He sees his wife as wonderful resource, as his chief adviser, as a treasure trove of insight and knowledge. He therefore asks for and listens to her advice and counsel. He also listens to her concerns, fears, and worries.

Lead by Deciding
Yes, the husband puts his wife first, listens carefully to her, takes full account of her views, and weighs them seriously. But ultimately he has to take the final decision, and accept all the responsibility for that. He must not pass the buck (or drop it); the buck stops with him in both spiritual and temporal matters.

Lead by Delegating
A good manager doesn’t do everything himself. He knows how to delegate, and he does so in a way that brings out the best in his wife and helps her to flourish and thrive in her life and gifts.

Real men lead their wives.

 Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways are women equal to men? 
  2. In what areas are women stronger than men?
  3. What are the benefits of delegating, of not doing everything yourself?
  4. What practical difference does it make to think of your leadership as a head rather than a ruler? As a servant rather than a King?


Further Reading

The “S” Word: Three Models of Submission

Submission in Practice: 10 Steps

A Marriage Checklist

How to Make Headship Decisions: A Tutorial for Husbands & Leaders

Resources for Headship and Submission