To rightly image Christ in your home, you must reflect the Munus Triplex: the three-fold office of prophet, priest, and king.
We know that Jesus is the King of Kings, ushering in the Kingdom of Heaven, where He rules and reigns forever. As fathers, we, too, are kings. Imaging King Jesus, we serve as kings of our homes. Luther said it best, “the home is a mini-kingdom, and father is the king of his home.”
To understand your role as king, you must understand your role as a man. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, and by God’s design, men and women have equal value but different roles and responsibilities. Understanding this is the basis for complementarianism, a systematic view of gender and roles according to Scripture. Articulated best by the Danvers Statement, complementarianism understands that;
“Both Adam and Eve created in God’s image, equal before God as persons but distinct in their manhood and womanhood (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18). Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart (Gen 2:18, 21-24; 1 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Tim 2:12-14).”
In these equal but different roles, Scripture teaches that the man is the head of the woman, much like Christ is the head of every man:
“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 Cor. 11:3).
Being a God of order, God has established a chain of command, a line of responsibility: God, Christ, Man, and Woman. Again, this does not mean men are superior to women, just as God the Father is not superior to God the Son. It does mean a man is responsible for his woman and his family, accountable before God for their well-being.
God has given men the mantle and mandate of leadership; a man is to lead his wife and family well. Theologically, this command is called male headship. Male headship is the same as Godly leadership, something every man is called to. And this is key: Godly leadership is never portrayed in Scripture as a means for self-satisfaction or self-exaltation. Godly leadership is always other-focused. For example, husbands are never commanded to rule their wives but to love them (Eph. 5:25). Godly leadership is more a responsibility than a right—Godly leadership is the authority to serve.
Many today have forgotten that leadership is beneficial. Authority is not toxic. The culture around us is so focused on the abuse of leadership that it has forgotten the value of leadership. We’ve forgotten that order is essential to a flourishing society.
I love the story in 1 Kings Chapter 10. The Queen of Sheba visits Solomon to see if all she has heard is true. The Queen is blown away by Solomon’s wisdom and riches upon meeting Solomon and seeing Solomon’s kingdom. So great is Solomon’s reign and authority that the Queen proclaims, “Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom” (vs. 8)
With all the riches and accomplishments in view, we can miss the extraordinary value in what the Queen says: “Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom” (vs. 8). Solomon is a leader of leaders, and more so, those Solomon leads are happy. Everyone living under Solomon’s wise rule and reign is experiencing shalom.
There is a great lesson here: when you lead your wife and home well, the byproduct is joy. The byproduct is peace, light, and love. The Bible says good leadership is like the morning dawn. Good leadership is like the sun shining, like new growth on the earth. When men lead well, things grow, and things thrive. Where men lead well, there is life;
“When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth” (2 Sam. 23:3-4)
Authority and power in and of themselves are good. Authority rightly employed is a pathway to joy. I often hear men complain that “my wife is unhappy… my kids are unruly, my life is a mess…” I want to look at them and say, “your wife’s unhappy, and your home is in disarray because you’re a terrible leader.” When you lead well, and things go well!
A good king leads well those under his command, resulting in shalom. The result is a flourishing life, a life lived to the full. As king of your home, you want those in your house to flourish, and you want shalom. Shalom happens when people feel safe, loved, and heard. As king, you are called to provide this kingly protection. Though it may take many forms, kingly protection is manifested through physical, spiritual, and emotional safeguarding.
Kingly safeguarding begins with protecting those in your home. As king, the physical well-being of those under your care is paramount. When Paul calls a man to love his wife (and subsequently his family) like Jesus loves the church (Eph. 5), he means many things, but he undoubtedly means that a man should protect those in his household at all costs.
Men are to protect their families from physical danger and threats. As a man, you never put your family in harm’s way. Harm’s way is your position. A good king is willing and ready to take it on the chin; your call is to protect your family at all costs. Your wife and children are a gift from God, and their safety is in your hands.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, who wrote Tarzan of the Apes, sensed this protective spirit in a man deep down. Burroughs wrote, “He (Tarzan) knew that she (Jane) was created to be protected and that he was created to protect her…” Protecting those you love, those under your care, is natural and intuitive, almost like out was written in your DNA (that’s because it was).
This “protective” sentiment will strike many today as quaint, if not outright sexist. But it’s not— it’s natural. Real men know that women and children should be protected, not exploited. Real men know that women and children should be defended, not demeaned. Real men know that women and children should be treated with special honor, respect, and love.
A king spiritually protects those in his home. The spiritual dangers confronting marriages and families are innumerable and often rooted in evil spiritual powers. A good king is watchful, pushing back against these powers wherever he sees them. This includes protecting your family from many spiritual dangers…
“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” (Acts 20:29-31)
As men, we are called to be alert, watching over our families and stewarding what they see, hear, and read.
The world is full of wolves in sheep’s clothing. The world’s largest library is at our fingertips, stocked with awful literature, lies, and destruction. As king, you serve as the filter for your family’s intake. We must never forget to “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mk. 14:38). As men, we must watch for worldly influences in our own life and the lives of those under our care. Television, social media, and worldly friends can be emotionally and spiritually devastating; our duty as kings is to protect our families from these things and people.
These wolves want to dismantle your family. Philosophically, theologically, and emotionally, wolves want to devour your family. As king, you must be the loudest and most consistent voice in your home regarding the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of those you love. You do this by building rapport with your “subjects.” A good king is loved and TRUSTED by those he leads. Building trust is key. The more trusted you are, the more influence you have over those you lead. As men, we build trust by telling our families to BRING it on:
B – We set clear boundaries. A kingdom has rules, and rules must be followed. Rules are established to protect, not to oppress. We set boundaries and hold to them.
R – As kings, we are reliable. We do what we say we are going to do. We never overpromise and underdeliver. We know our strengths and weaknesses and strive always to give those we love our best.
I – As kings, we value integrity. We always choose what’s right over what convenient and easy. We live a virtuous life and have convictions. We not only preach our beliefs, but we practice them as well. We are whole men— who we are in the day is the same as who we are at night.
N – As kings, we are non-judgmental. The world is broken; things are falling apart, and people need help. This does not surprise us; we are not caught off guard. People can come to us and ask for help, advice, and assistance free from the fear of being judged.
G – As kings, we are generous. Generous with our time, words, and actions. We mean what we say, and we say what we mean, but we are never mean when we say it. We assume the best in people, generously interpreting people’s words, behaviors, and intentions.
By telling your family to “BRING it on,” you’ll be a king they can trust, one that they will listen to and seek counsel from for years to come.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
As kings, we must protect our families from the evil one. The devil is looking to devour us and those we love. The most effective way to keep Satan at bay is to forgive, apologize, and be quick to reconcile.
God instructs us, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). As kings, it is crucial to remember that unresolved anger gives the devil an open door. It provides a greater chance for the evil one to speak lies and accusations. Unresolved anger gives Satan room to plant seeds of contempt as he seeks to nurture an attitude of bitterness and division in our hearts. To protect those we love from this attack is to take the lead in quick reconciliation. Conflict avoided is conflict escalated. When things are out of order at your house, you must take the lead in reconciliation. Often, it is you that needs correction and rebuke. If so, receive it with open hands and a humble spirit. If it is not you, be quick but gentle in your attempts to rectify the situation. Whatever you do, do not let the sun go down on your anger, do not leave a window open, if you do Satan will indeed crawl through.
A good king protects his family from emotional harm. We must be aware and on the lookout for emotionally harmful people. The world (and particularly America) is full of emotionally unhealthy people. Good kings recognize those people and shield their families from them. This may include confronting family members, friends, and fellow believers.
What is more important is to protect your family from yourself. The Bible is clear, as men, we are not to be harsh with those we love;
“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:19-21)
It is no coincidence that Paul emphasizes harshness. Paul is telling us something about the disposition and temperament of too many men. Rather than being harsh, we men must be gentle when dealing with and serving our families. Gentleness is a very important but often undervalued attribute of effective leadership – particularly in a husband. Gentleness is so essential to the Christian experience that Jonathon Edwards suggested it may very well be called “the Christian spirit. It is the distinguishing disposition in the hearts of Christians … All who are truly godly and are real disciples of Christ have a gentle spirit in them” (Religious Affections, 144).
“Gentleness” can be defined as mildness in dealing with others arising from a sensitive regard for their worth and dignity. This virtue of gentleness is rooted in the fact that every person bears the image of God, regardless of disagreements or conflicts. Jerry Bridges proclaimed, “Gentleness is illustrated by the way we would handle a carton of exquisite crystal glasses; it is the recognition that the human personality is valuable but fragile, and must be handled with care.” (The Practice of Godliness, 220).
As kings, our job is not to break the crystal! Your wife and children bear the image of God, and they are His before they are yours, treat them with the gentleness they deserve! Max Lucado said it well, “I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”
As kings, we have mini-kingdoms to protect. A good king remains alert and watchful. As king of your home, those under your care are gifts from a most glorious and good God. Treat them as such. Serve them well, love them generously, and lead them courageously—may it be said of your kingdom, “Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom.”
Chris Harper is the Executive Director of BetterMan.