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Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. – Ephesians 5:25-27

The model for the husband’s role is Jesus Christ and his relationship to the church. Jesus’ example is that of sacrificial love and service. There is not a more perfect example of servant leadership than that! Was Jesus head of the church? Yes. But He also gave Himself up for her.

As husbands, we have to ask ourselves, “To what lengths am I willing to go to be a servant leader in my marriage?” I sometimes hear men joke, “I’d die for my wife, but I draw the line at taking out the trash!” Jesus showed us that there are no limits to servanthood; He gave His life for us. Speaking of Himself, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Jesus came to serve. We miss the mark when we expect our spouses to serve us.

When Scripture says “husband is the head” in the marriage, don’t take it out of context. If you want to lead your wife and be the head of your family, it means you are the chief servant in the relationship. That’s what it takes to love your wife as Christ loved the church.

I get the opportunity to teach this principle to military men through our ministry. Ironically, even with a military divorce rate of over 80 percent, this servant leadership model makes sense to them. I sometimes explain it like this. Imagine you’re in an infantry platoon in Afghanistan, and as you’re establishing an objective rally point to conduct your mission, the officer in charge issues some orders and then kicks his feet up while everyone else is digging defensive positions. Would you follow this guy? No. We all follow the leader who stands with us shoulder to shoulder, busting rocks and pulling his weight, getting dirty and leading by example. That’s the kind of leader troops will follow and for whom they would die…

The process starts with a husband taking on his role as a servant leader, humbling himself, and accepting responsibility for everyone under his authority, including himself. I have seen families restored when husbands took the lead in filling their biblical role in a marriage covenant. I have witnessed wives who found joy and relief when they no longer had to carry the burden they were never meant to carry. I have seen children grow in their faith as biblical roles of godly leadership were modeled in their homes.

When a man of God humbles himself, takes responsibility, and fully submits to God’s leadership, the Lord restores his family, and his wife and children trust and follow his leadership.

Servant leadership is based on the principle that others come before you, your spouse comes before you, and nobody comes before God in your life.

This is a beautiful image of how our marriages should be — with God on the throne of our hearts!

The pedestal principle is an image of marriage that consists of three parts. The first leg of the pedestal represents the husband, an imperfect man stained with sin but clothed with mercy and sustained with grace. The second leg represents the wife, a woman who has surrendered to her Lord, loves her husband, and seeks to honor God above all else. But these two legs alone can’t fully support the pedestal; they need a third. The third leg represents the presence of the Holy Spirit. His presence is what stabilizes and strengthens marriages.

The seat on top of the three legs is reserved for God, who must be Lord of our marriages in order for us to overcome the challenges we face. Each leg is necessary, and the pedestal only stands strong when all three legs function together, and we glorify God above ourselves. One of the challenges in marriage comes when we, husbands and wives, end up fighting for what we think is our spot on the seat of that pedestal. However, the only one with a rightful claim to that seat is Jesus. Now and always. When we fight to lift Him high, when we fight to place His principles and His ways above our own, the pedestal of our marriage is strong and stable.

The character of God is a pure and selfless love that is truly unconditional. And when we read Scripture that says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church,” it can be confusing. A lot of men are willing to die for their wives, just like a lot of Christians say they are willing to die for their faith. But I don’t think it’s really about our willingness to die physically as much as it is about our willingness to die to self and live selflessly. When we invite Jesus into our hearts to become our Lord and Savior, it means we die to our own ways and surrender to His way.

Many have heard a popular teaching about “dying daily.” Jesus said,

Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. — Luke 9:23

So when the apostle Paul mentioned dying to the flesh, he wasn’t only referring to the hazards and threats he encountered in his travels as a missionary. When we make a decision to follow Jesus and take up our crosses, we make a decision to die to our old desires that do not align with His Word. Dying daily means, more specifically, putting God before ourselves and loving others selflessly. By God’s grace and through Jesus we are a new creation (Colossians 3:10), ever growing, ever learning, and ever experiencing a renewed mind through the study of God’s Word (Romans 12:2). We serve best when we serve with hearts full of Jesus and do not surrender to our flesh or to the power of sin.

True fulfillment in marriage comes when we place a higher priority on honoring God, abiding in His Word, and serving our spouses, than we do on getting our own way.

That’s it. Any other pursuits leave us empty. And when husbands try to “lead” using an authoritarian or dictatorial approach, it fractures the beauty of intimacy God intended for married couples to experience. Serve God, and the best place to start doing that is by serving your spouse in love.

Excerpted with permission from Fight for Us by Chad Robichaux, copyright Chad Robichaux.

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Your Turn

When we follow Christ’s example of serving, we honor Him, we glorify Him, and we bless those we serve. In marriage, this is key! Jesus is our role model. Let’s keep our eyes on Him and do as He did and lovingly serve! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily