Craig Smith - God's Word to Wives
Craig Smith: Well, hey, welcome to Mission Hills Church Online for week number two of our “Amiright?!” series where we are leaning into God’s surprising secret for every relationship ever. If you were with us last week, you already know what the secret was. If not, let me catch up real quick. It’s found in the Book of Ephesians in the Bible, Ephesians 5:21. Here’s the secret, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” That is the surprising secret to every relationship ever, and I’m so glad that it’s such an easy secret to understand and such an incredible easy secret to put into practice in our lives. Am I right?
Coletta Smith: Right.
Craig Smith: Am I not right? Yeah, it’s actually pretty hard. We talked last week a little bit about why that is. There’s a couple of things that work against us. One is that we’re sinful, and sin and submission are like oil and water. They just don’t mix. So, we have something in us that works against us when it comes to understanding what God means by this command, to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. I think the other thing we have working against us is we’ve got some really bad models and, in fact, what the world calls submission really has very little to do with what God means by submission, but we’ve got that working against us when it comes to trying to understand it. And I don’t know that there is a relationship that is probably more impacted by those bad understandings of what it means to submit each other than what we’re gonna be leaning into for the next couple of weeks, and that is marriage.
And so, if you don’t know, this is my wife, Coletta. And because we’re gonna be talking about marriage for the next few weeks, I thought it might be really helpful, especially today, to have her join us because what we’re gonna talk about today is not something that we’ve always understood and it’s not something that we just easily implement into our life. We had to wrestle through this, but we’ve seen real power, and change, and transformation coming to our marriage because we did do the wrestling, because we came to understand that. And specifically, we came to understand the power of something that, honestly, I kind of wish I didn’t have to share. This is one of those verses I would prefer to skip over. If it was just up to me, I’m enough of a coward, I would just like, “Let’s just move on.” But at Mission Hills, we’re a Bible driven church. We’re compelled by the powerful truth of God’s Word, not by our ideas and preferences, but by what God has to say, and so, we need to wrestle with and understand it. And this is what he says. This is what I would have skipped if it were all up to me. He says this, this is Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.” Yay. Right? I think that’s one of those verses that probably causes some people some heartache for a whole bunch of reasons. I’m curious, do you remember when you first found out that that was in the Bible?
Coletta Smith: Yeah. I actually do. I was in college and my best friend kind of opened it up to me. And I had never heard of this idea of wives submitting to your husbands in marriage, let alone ever seen a verse that said it. So, this was all new. And I thought of myself as a pretty intelligent, strong, courageous leader, and one who was able to make good decisions. So, the idea that suddenly when I got married, I was gonna throw my intelligence, my decision-making, and my leadership skills out the window, like that did not sit well with me.
Craig Smith: And the truth of the matter is, what I was attracted to in Coletta was all those things she just talked. She’s not just tooting her horn there. Those were all things that they were absolutely true in her and I was attracted to. And the reality is that, if submitting to me as your husband basically meant that you did trash all that stuff, that would have been a disaster. It would have been really bad for our marriage and it would have been hugely bad for our mission together, serving Jesus. And so, I’m really glad that we came to her a understand that it did not mean that. But it does, on the surface, sound a little bit like that, right? It was probably made worse by the fact that he says, not just wives submit to your own husbands, but he says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord,” which really seems to ramp it up, right?
Coletta Smith: Right. Yeah.
Craig Smith: And I think it’s really easy for people to get out of that something that was never intended. So, let’s just be really, really clear, okay? This does not mean your husband is your lord, right? This does not mean your husband… I am not Jesus to you, right? Jesus didn’t tap me in and go, “Why don’t you take over? I’m tired of being the Lord. You’re the master.” You only have one Lord, one Master, and that is Jesus, right? So, this does not mean that your husband is your lord. But there are people who seem to think that. And the reality is that we have been in marriage counseling situations. I remember sitting in my office with a guy who said, “Basically, my wife has to obey me as though I were Jesus. That’s what the Bible says.” Well, no, not really.
Listen, here’s what you need to understand. If you’re a man and you’re tempted at all to lean in that direction… I’m sure none of you are, but just in case it’s out there somewhere. Let me say this to the husbands. Your wife is your partner, not your possession, right? She’s your partner, not your possession, okay? She’s not some peasant that you’re the master over. She’s your partner in marriage. The Bible is really clear that men and women are to be partners together in their marriage. In fact, I love this. This is in 1 Corinthians 7:4, Paul is talking about a marriage relationship, and check this out. He says, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband.” Now, on the surface, that really sounds a lot like, okay, yeah, the man sort of owns the wife, but then, watch this, “And in the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.”
It’s a back and forth, okay? So, husbands, your wife is your partner, not your possession. We’re supposed to be equals in that marriage. Now, the roles are different, and we’ll talk over the next few weeks about how that plays out, but your wife is your partner. She’s not your possession. What’s interesting, though, and we’ve talked about this a little bit before, sometimes, even though most women that I know, at least, would bristle at the idea that their husband is their
lord, sometimes women can actually live in such a way that they back themselves into that perspective accidentally. And so, to wives, I wanna say this, it’s for you understand, your man is not your messiah. You know what I mean by that?
Coletta Smith: Yeah. I do. I do because I think it’s a temptation for anyone, but especially for us as women to take a human relationship and put expectations on it to meet needs that only God was intended to fulfill. So, we talk about having this God-shaped hole inside of us that God created to be filled by only a relationship with him. And when we take a human relationship and expect it to meet those needs, like for value and for identity, especially, that only God was intended to meet, it creates disappointment, and unmet expectations, and discontentment, which is really hard.
Craig Smith: Yeah. And it’s like creates a lot of strife in marriage. If we have a God-shaped hole in us, and that’s true, not just for women, it’s true for men as well, and we look to a human being to fill that hole, it’s just not gonna work, right? They’re gonna fall into that and there’s just gonna constantly be a gaping void, which creates all kinds of strife in a marriage. And so, we don’t wanna accidentally back our way into thinking that this is saying that, you know, your husband is your lord. So to, men, again, listen, your wife is your partner, she’s not your possession. And to wives, your man is not your messiah. Okay? But what does it mean, right? Because he does say, “Submit to your husband or to your own husband as to the Lord.” What’s that as to the Lord business?
Well, I think what we probably need to recognize is that this as Lord business is talking about a motivation. Okay? It’s talking about what it is that motivates us to be willing to set aside self and to submit ourselves to one another because, remember, that’s the governing verse in this whole thing, verse 21, “Submit to one another.” Okay? So how do we find ourselves doing that? Because the motivation to submit to one another isn’t driven by how much we love the other person. It’s not driven by how much we respect the other person, it’s not driven by how much we trust the other person. I mean, if you have those things, that’s great, right? That definitely makes it easier to submit yourself to somebody that you love, and trust, and respect. But it’s icing on the cake. What drives us to submit ourselves to one another, actually, have been verse 21, is submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, right?
It’s our respect for Jesus that drives us to submit to one another. And so, in verse 22, he says, “Submit yourselves to your own husbands as to the Lord.” What he’s basically saying is this is what drives you to be willing to submit yourself to your husband. It is as though you’re doing it to the Lord, not because he is your lord, but because Jesus receives your act of submission as an act of worship. And so, really, what we’re having to understand is that what Paul’s basically saying is that that we need to see the choice to submit to your husbands as an act of worship to Jesus. That’s what he means to submit as to the Lord. See your choice…because it is a choice to submit to me as really as an act of worship to Jesus, to the Lord, right? Because that’s how he receives it.
I think this is so cool. There’s this principle throughout the Bible that basically the things that we do, and especially the sacrificial things that we do for others, Jesus actually receives as worship to him. There was a time in his ministry where Jesus was speaking about his…with his return, right? He would come back the second coming. And he said that when he came back, he’s gonna find some of his followers and he was gonna say to them, “Hey, good job. You did an amazing job. I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was sick and you took care of me.” And some of his followers at that time were gonna go, “What are you talking about, Jesus? When did I see you hungry or thirsty? When did I see you sick?” And Jesus is gonna say this, “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Right? So we sacrifice for others and yet he receives it as worship to himself. And that’s what Paul is getting at here.
And that’s not just true in this relationship with men and women, although it is there, right? So he says, again, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as to the Lord.” Right? But what he’s saying is make sure that you understand that that’s an act of worship, so he was talking about motivation. There’s another interesting thing about this verse, though. There’s another word that I think we skipped over sometimes and I think it’s significant. He says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as to the Lord.” And that’s kind of an odd word, right? Like, I mean, have you ever been tempted to submit yourself to somebody else’s husband?
Coletta Smith: No. No.
Craig Smith: Yeah. And so, here’s probably what’s going on there. What Paul’s getting at here is that often what can happen in the relationship between husband and wife is the wife can find herself in a position where her loyalty is divided. Okay? Now, in the ancient world, this was a particular issue because there was actually sort of a legal thing going on and so, what Paul’s basically saying is this, he’s saying, “A wife’s primary loyalty is to her husband.” And I say that there’s a legal aspect of that because in 1st century Israel, which was under Roman occupation, that they were having to kind of begin to contend with this weird Roman. I don’t know that it was a law exactly, but it was a principle, and it was called sinomonas. Nobody needs to know that. There won’t be a pop quiz later, but here’s the idea behind sinomonas. It was that a woman’s loyalty, her primary earthly loyalty was to her father first and everybody else second, which meant that even after she get married, the dad could tell her to do something and she had to do it even if it went against her husband and even if it harmed her husband because her primary earthly loyalty was to her father. And Paul’s kind of…he’s combating that a little bit. He’s going, “No, no, no, no. That’s not the way it works. When you get married, your primary earthly loyalty is now to your husband.” You know, in the old marriage vows, the more traditional marriage vows, when we say that phrase, “Forsaking all others”?
Coletta Smith: Right.
Craig Smith: And I think we tend to think of that primarily as like sexual faithfulness, but I think there’s more to it than that. It’s actually rooted in something. It goes all the way back in Genesis when it talks about, you know, a man leaving his father and mother. Well, the woman does the same thing and they form this new family unit, and the wife’s primary earthly loyalty at that point is to her husband, not to her father. Right? And I realize that on the surface that might feel like a really kind of irrelevant concept because we don’t have that kind of principle in play today, but I think it still happens. It happens inadvertently. In fact, we struggled with it a little bit earlier on in my marriage. Here’s the way it would happen. So, you know, we would have a big decision to make, and it was not an easy decision. So, there’s a lot of wrestling with it. And I always felt like the way to honor my wife and all the gifts that she brought to the marriage was to involve her in that conversation. And so, we would wrestle together, and we’d go back and forth and pros and cons and what about this? And let’s get information. Let’s try this and seek other counsel. And we do all that. And we’d eventually come to a decision, right? And we would feel good about the decision. And I’d go, “Okay, well, as the leader of the family, I’m gonna begin leading out in the implementation of that decision.” So, I’m leading. And then I look back and I’m like, “Coletta, where did you go? I thought you were following me. What happened?”
Coletta Smith: Yeah. Right. Well, I went and mentioned it to my dad, and my dad had a different opinion about what we should do or how we should move forward. And at that point, I found my loyalty divided because, up to that point, all through my growing up years, I was really a daddy’s girl. His opinion and his opinion of me and my decisions was the opinion that carried the most weight in my life. And now I have his opinions and my husband’s opinions, and there’s this tension between the two. So, I had to learn to transfer my primary loyalty from my dad to my husband.
Craig Smith: And it was a huge change in our marriage because it took me a while to figure out what was going on, and it took me longer. Honestly, it took me longer to respond to it reasonably well because it just bothered me at first and it caused some conflict. But then I realized, yeah, I mean, she spent her whole life up to this point, basically giving her primary earthly loyalty to her father. It’s gonna take some time for that to shift. But she was actually the one who realized what was happening and that she came, and she said, “I realize this is what I’m doing, and I need to make a shift. I need to shift my primary earthly loyalty from my dad to you.” And that was a huge change in even my confidence that I was gonna be able to lead. And it was massive.
And so, that’s part of what Paul’s getting at. He says, “Be loyal to your own husband.” In other words, “Make your husband the primary person that you’re giving your earthly loyalty to.” Right? And I think only when we understand it that way does it really make sense of what he says next. Verse 23 says, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Which is another one of those verses that I think probably causes some people to get a little nervous, right? How did you feel the first time you realized that was in the Bible?
Coletta Smith: Yeah. Well, it was probably a few minutes after I realized the first part about submitting. And whenever I think of someone that’s a head, I think of them having more value and more importance. So, if I’m not the head, I have less value and less importance. And that’s just kind of sad.
Craig Smith: Yeah. And it’s perfectly natural to think that way, I guess, because we hear the word head and we’re like, “Well, it’s the top one, and whatever’s at the top is the greatest privilege,” and so on and so forth. But I do think it’s important we recognize, he says, “The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” And I think that’s really important because Christ saved the church by sacrificing for her. And so, rather than thinking of the head as the one that has the greatest privilege, what if we began to think of the head as the one who has the greatest responsibility to make the greatest sacrifice to move the relationship forward? Right? I think that’s much more in line with what Paul is talking about here.
In fact, here’s the way that I would say it. There’s been a lot of debate about this verse over the years, and some people see head as authority, some people see it as ruler, some people see it as source, actually, another possible translation of that. But I actually think the best way to think about it is leadership. And so, what essentially Paul is saying this, he’s saying that wives are to honor their husbands as the leader of their family as Christ is the leader of the church. I think leadership is a much more helpful way to think about this. Now, I know there’s probably some people out there going, “Oh, my pastor’s wussing out.” Right? You know, “He’s trying to be politically correct and keep all the women happy. Didn’t want to say what clearly God says, which is the husband has authority over the wife.”
I actually don’t have a problem saying that. We both believe that I do have authority over her. The problem is that in our culture, what it means to have authority is twisted. Okay? And, in fact, let me say it this way, in our culture at least, although I think this is true in most cultures, authority suggests privilege. Leadership, on the other hand, recognizes responsibility. See, the word authority, it just tends to be taken as, “Oh, that’s the person who has the power, the privilege of getting their own way of getting what they want done, done.” And so, the word authority tends to suggest privilege. But biblically, from God’s perspective, leadership recognizes responsibility. It recognizes that the leader is the one who’s actually called to make the greatest sacrifices for the sake of whatever it is that he is leading, and that’s why Christ is the head of the church because he gave himself up for us. See, that’s the Gospel, right? That God loved us, but we didn’t love him back.
And we sinned. We rebelled against him. We said, “I refuse to submit to you and we’re gonna do life on our own.” And that led us out of light into darkness. It led us out of life into death and all the bad stuff that came with it. But God continued to love us, so Jesus came looking for us and he found us. The problem was that we were trapped by the bonds of sin. There’s a price to sin. The Bible says there’s a wage to sin, and somebody had to pay it and Jesus was the one who paid it. So, Jesus died for us. He made the sacrifice for us in order to save. He’s only the savior because he was a sacrifice. Now, that’s a very different view of authority. It’s a very different view of power. It’s not privilege, it’s a responsibility to make the greatest sacrifices.
And I believe that’s really, really important as we think through this. And so, the reality is that, yes, the leader of any group does have authority. I’m not avoiding that. But I think it’s important that we recognize that leaders only have authority in order to fulfill their responsibilities, right? God has given us responsibility as husbands. As the leader of this church, he’s given me a responsibility. And there’s some authority that goes along with that, but it’s not to get my way, it’s to get God’s way. In fact, I just had this thought, this is kind of an interesting thought. What if instead of thinking of submission as giving in, what if we thought of submission as substituting God’s mission for mine?
Coletta Smith: I love that.
Craig Smith: Right?
Coletta Smith: I love that. Yes.
Craig Smith: And as the leader, I have to do the same thing. I have to substitute God’s mission for mine. I have to move mine aside to put God’s in. And so, that’s the way that Paul’s talking about this. He says, “The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Now, in Christian circles, what we’re really describing something that we often call servant leadership, right? And in order to like contrast it against the world’s view of leadership, which is about privilege, now the biblical view is about serving, and so, we call it servant leadership. I love, though, that even in the secular world, there’s a movement to recognizing that’s really the only kind of leadership there is. In fact, I love it. One of my favorite leadership gurus is a man named Patrick Lencioni. He wrote an incredible book recently called “The Motive,” which I really believe should be required reading for every husband. It’s a business book, but he unpacks, you know, a lot of the bad motives that people have for getting into leadership and why it is that they ultimately aren’t real leaders at that moment. And I think it’s actually very powerful of a husband, he has this fantastic quote. Here’s what he says… Can we pop this up? He says, “My hope is that someday people won’t talk about servant leadership because that will be the only type of leadership that exists.” How awesome is this? Right? And we’ll just stop talking about servant leadership because we’ll recognize anything else isn’t actually leadership.
That’s what Paul is talking about here. And he says this, he says, “Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” We should probably make sure that everybody understands everything there doesn’t mean anything that goes against God, right?
Coletta Smith: Yes. Right.
Craig Smith: First off, it’s really terrible leadership. If the husband’s asking his wife to do something that goes against God, that’s a terrible husband, and the wife doesn’t have to say yes to that. Right? Because your primary loyalty is to Jesus. Earthly loyalty might be to me, but your primary, your highest loyalty is always gonna be to Jesus. And so, everything doesn’t mean the bad stuff. It means basically this. It means that wives are to honor Jesus by honoring their husbands as the leader of their family. That’s really what all this boils down to, right, is that wives are to honor Jesus, as he receives it as worship, by honoring their husbands as the leaders of their family and as they lead to honor them in that. It’s not only good for the family but it honors Jesus as well, right? So, what does that look like? What does it look like to honor your husband as the leader of your family? Let’s talk about a few practicals, right?
Coletta Smith: Okay.
Craig Smith: One of them, I think, we talked about a little bit is if you’re gonna honor your husband as the leader of your family, and so therefore honor Jesus, you’re gonna have to figure out how to build him up instead of tear him down, right, which is a little bit counter-cultural today, isn’t it?
Coletta Smith: Yes. Because every time you watch a sitcom and there’s a husband involved, he is a total oaf. Like, if the wife isn’t in the picture, the kids are having meltdowns, there’s no food, he can’t get them to school on time, the house is crazy. And when the wife comes back in, she kind of restores order to the chaos, and he really ends up looking pretty stupid.
Craig Smith: Yeah. Which is really interesting because it’s almost a complete reversal of the way it was in the media back in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s. If you’ve ever seen any of those articles that circulate where they have ads from the ’40s or ’50s and, honestly, the women kind of come across looking like bimbos, like airheads. And it’s incredibly demeaning and devaluing to women. And I’m really glad that’s changed. Okay? I’m really glad that’s changed, but it’s interesting that the pendulum has swung the other direction now, right? It’s typically husbands who look stupid. Right? And so, given that, you actually have to work a little bit harder to follow this idea of honoring your husband by building him up rather than tearing him down. What kind of situations do you think women find themselves in where it’s almost easier to tear a husband down than it is to build him up?
Coletta Smith: Right. So, I think it happens most often when wives are in pain, and that happens after they’ve had a fight or argument that’s been pretty bad. And they come to a friend and they’re retelling the story and they’re telling all the awful things he said, the awful things he did, the awful things he is. And it’s one side of what happened, and we don’t take responsibility for our part in it, and that friend ends up having this kind of skewed maybe perspective of who he is and him being torn down. And there’s kind of a second kind of damage that’s done in that situation. He’s not only torn down, but whoever’s hearing the story, whether it’s the friend, or a family, or kids, they have this baggage, this weight to carry around of being angry with him. And like when we come back together and we have this reconciliation that happens and we move toward each other, they don’t have the benefit of that happening. And so, they’re left only with this anger and this diminished view of who he is.
Craig Smith: Right. Which men feel, right?
Coletta Smith: Yeah. So yes.
Craig Smith: I mean, you see that every time I see that friend, she rolls her eyes at everything that I say. And it begins to really to sap a man’s confidence because it becomes clear that, “Okay, you know, my wife doesn’t respect me. She’s telling things to her friends that are negative.” And so, that really saps the husband’s courage, but also, honestly, his capacity to lead. And so, if you’re going to honor Jesus by honoring your husband as a leader of your family, you’re gonna have to figure out how to build him up rather than tear him down. Now, does that mean that you can’t ever share something that you’re struggling with in your marriage with anybody else? Does it mean you have to be completely closed off to everybody else?
Coletta Smith: No, it doesn’t. But it does mean that I have to be more careful about how I share those things, that I’m taking responsibility for the pieces that are mine and that I’m not sharing it in a way that paints him in a really bad light.
Craig Smith: Yeah. By the way, everything that we said so far about women is 100% true of men. Okay? Absolutely, men has to do that, too. The thing is, today, we’re talking mostly about wives. Next week we’re gonna lay into you… I’m sorry, I mean lean into the role of husbands in the relationship. But a lot of these principles follow for everybody as well. Okay? So that’s the first thing. If you wanna honor your husband as leader of your family and therefore honor Jesus, figure out how to build him up rather than tear him down, which is not always an easy thing to do because some men don’t like to be built up. That’s not true. We all like to be built up, but sometimes it takes some creative ways to figure out how to do it. I’m not an easy person to encourage, a negative filter, and so, whatever good thing you say, I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, let’s get to the bad stuff.” But you have figured out some things in our family that really do build me up in a way that I feel. You wanna share one of those?
Coletta Smith: Yeah. So, one of the things that we can do as wives is to be creative and intentional about noticing places that are wins in his life. So, at the dinner table I can say something like, “You know, kids, we have been talking about how important integrity is. Your dad hit it out of the park this week. There was a decision that he had to make it work, that it would have been much easier to make the wrong decision to not be a leader that leads out in the way that God wants him to lead. But instead, he made the right decision even though it was harder.” And that’s what integrity is all about. And really affirming it in front of your kids and when he’s hearing it.
Craig Smith: Yeah. That’s been really powerful in my life and I’m a very difficult person encourage, but… It may look different in your family, but you got to figure how to build him up rather than tear him down. Okay? And in the meantime, if you’re not sure how to build him up, at least stop tearing him down. Right? That’s foundational. Second thing that really, I think, is helpful when women are looking to honor their husbands as the leaders of their family is you got to do the hard work of separating your preferences from your family’s priorities. Separate your preferences from your family’s priorities. And again, all of us tend to do this. We all tend to elevate our preferences to the priorities, but that’s really gonna be a critical process to make that distinction if you’re gonna honor your husband as the leader of your family. This is one of those areas where you knocked it out of the park in a way that I’m never gonna forget. It goes back about 15 years. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Coletta Smith: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Craig Smith: Yeah?
Coletta Smith: Uh-huh. It was back in like 2004, and the kids were about five and two, so little, and you had a full-time job as a youth pastor and a worship pastor at a church, which brought with it a full-time paycheck and there’s some security and some comfort and some safety in that paycheck, but at the same time, God was clearly leading us to start a nonprofit and that meant that we were gonna need to raise support. Now, raising support for anything is difficult.
Craig Smith: So much fun.
Coletta Smith: Yes. There’s great things about it, but it’s difficult. But raising support for a ministry that does not exist yet is even harder because there’s all these fears like, “What if people don’t understand the vision, people don’t come on board? What if we can’t raise enough to support our family and this like worldwide ministry that God is calling us to build?” So, there’s all this fear, and my preference would have been to hold on to the comfort that comes with the security of a paycheck. But what I had to do is separate my preferences for security and comfort from our family’s priorities. And those priorities are following God’s calling on our lives.
Craig Smith: Yeah. And just to be clear, I knew that that was hard because we talked about it. I didn’t just come home one day and say, “Hey, this is what I’m doing now, and you got to get in line, right, because you got to submit to me.” No. We had a lot of conversation around that, and I fully understood what those fears were. And there was a place where we kinda got to where it was just difficult to know how do we move forward because we both agreed this is God’s priority for us, but you were really struggling with the fear that came with that and you were the one who you just…you did it, you basically cut it between…you said, “No. This is my preference, and this is our priority, and we’re gonna go with priorities over my preferences.” And, again, this is something that everybody has to do in a relationship, but specifically in this context, if you wanna honor your husband as a leader, you’re gonna have to do this because, otherwise, your preferences are going to drive the way that you fail ultimately to respond to his leadership. So really important thing.
Third thing you might think about doing is this. Love it when he leads. Love it when he leads. Because almost every woman that I know that we’ve talked to about this, goes, “I want my husband to lead.” And yet, sometimes when they do, right, when they take a step in the direction of leading their family, they’re met with eye-rolling, and they’re met with complaining, and they’re met with just a lot of resistance. And so, yeah, if you wanna honor your husband as a leader, you’re probably gonna have to figure out how to love it when he leads, don’t you think?
Coletta Smith: Yes. And that’s hard because it requires us to set aside our pride and see that moment when he’s deciding to lead and see that as the win and not, “Is it exactly the way I would do it?” No, but that’s okay, and that’s a good thing. And the more important thing is that he’s leading.
Craig Smith: So, principle two and three come together, right? You got to separate your preferences and priorities, and therefore, you’re more able to at least to love it when he does lead. Now, listen, this doesn’t mean that wives shouldn’t be or can’t be involved in that conversation. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have a seat at the table in deciding what that direction is, but it does mean that if you want to have a husband who leads your family, and my guess is most of you do, you’re gonna have to start loving it when he takes steps of leadership. Right? And so, here’s kind of a phrase that you might think about paying attention to. The next time that you hear your husband say something like, “I think that we should…” Right? “I think that we should,” what he’s doing is he’s taking the initiative to lead, and you need to figure, “Okay. What can I celebrate in this?” Again, it doesn’t mean you can’t be part of that conversation, it doesn’t mean you can’t share concerns, but it means you got to stop just putting up resistance and you need to start celebrating it when he says, “I think we…” because that’s kind of a trigger. So, think of that kind of as a new response.
Now, here’s another interesting thing about loving it when he leads. The reality is that sometimes the direction that he leads isn’t gonna be what you wanted, right? It’s not necessarily gonna be what you preferred. And so, there’s a humility required, right? There’s a humility required that says, “You know what? I might not be right. The way I would prefer to do this may not be right. And I think this might not be the best direction, but I might not be right.” And it’s almost, you have to kind of say, “Just because I think he’s wrong doesn’t mean I am right.” Right? But, men, here’s the thing. If you want your wife to do that, and I know there’s some men out there going, “That would be awesome, if my wife did that,” you also have to have some humility because just because you think you’re right doesn’t mean you’re not wrong. Okay? So, your wife should be part of that. And then there’s two. There’s this. Guys, if you want your wife to honor you as a leader of your family, you need to lead. You need to take the initiative to lead in the way that God’s calling you to, right? Don’t get upset if your wife doesn’t honor you as a leader and you never lead. Don’t put it all on her. It’s not all on her. Okay. So, this all boiled down to, wives, you’re supposed to honor Jesus by honoring your husband as a leader of your family.
Just a few questions that might help you kind of get a handle on that. Question number one, what’s one way that my husband is leading that I can love and celebrate? Maybe look around. Find one of those things that he is doing, that he’s taken the initiative, and celebrate that. We become what we celebrate. I say that in church leadership all the time, we become what we celebrate. So, find something your husband is doing that is leadership and celebrate him for it. Okay? Second question is, who else’s opinions infringe on my loyalty to my husband? Remember, our primary earthly loyalty, your primary will loyalty is to be your husband, right? So, wives, whose else’s opinions infringe on your loyalty to your husband? Maybe it’s your parents, maybe it’s your dad, as we’ve talked about, maybe it’s kids, maybe it’s friend, maybe…who knows what it is, but whose is it? Identify that and begin to change that. Then the third question, this one’s for husbands and wives together. What are some of my preferences that I tend to treat like our family’s priorities? What are some of my preferences that I tend to treat like our family’s priorities? Gonna have to do some hard work there or this submitting to one another in the context of marriage is never going to happen. Hey, would you pray with me? Coletta, thanks for being with me today.
Coletta Smith: My pleasure.
Craig Smith: Lord, thank you for a word that is, in fact, simple, even though it’s not simple to put into practice. Lord, we’re not given a huge, long, involved, complicated teaching on what it looks like to bring your power into our relationship. We’re given a very simple statement, submit to one another. We recognize that it’s simple. We thank you for that. We also confess to you that because of our sin and because of the world’s a very poor example, we struggle to put that into practice, and so we ask power from your Holy Spirit to do that. On behalf of the men, Lord, I want to confess that there are many ways that I have used my authority as a privilege rather than seeing my authority as what was necessary to accomplish my responsibility. And so, on behalf of all the men who recognize that, we confess it to you and we ask for your forgiveness.
Coletta Smith: Oh, and Lord, we, as wives, we confess that we often do not honor our husbands as the leaders that you created them to be, and because of that, they are not able to be the leaders we want them to be. God, help us put aside our pride and help us celebrate who you made them to be.
Craig Smith: If you’re a follower of Jesus, would you do something for me right now? Would you start praying for the people all around the world who are watching this, who don’t have a relationship with Jesus? And if that’s you, I’m gonna speak to you for just a moment. It may be that you tuned into this and you’re not even entirely sure why. And a lot of what’s going on here is, honestly, it’s just kind of flying by and you’re not quite sure what to do with it. But maybe for the first time you heard this thing that we call the Gospel in a way that connected. You heard that even though Jesus had all the power and authority, he used that to serve us, that God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die for us to pay the price of our sin. Three days later, he rose from the dead so that he could offer you, he could offer me salvation simply by trusting in him. And if you don’t have a relationship with God, you can forget all the rest of this other stuff. This is icing on the cake. You need to hear that you have a God who loves you. And in spite of the fact that you’ve lived your life out of submission to him as God, he did everything necessary to buy you back, to remove the barriers. And so, if you don’t have that relationship with God, but you’re ready to start it, if you’re ready to say yes to a relationship with Jesus, here’s how you do it.
Wherever you are, you’re just gonna have this conversation with God. I’ll say it. You say it after me to God. “Hey, God, I’ve done wrong and I’m sorry. I have not submitted to you as God. I’ve done my own thing. I’m sorry. Thank you for loving me so much that you sent your own Son as a sacrifice for me. I believe he died on the cross for my sins. I believe he rose from the dead to prove that he’d done it. And I understand that you’re offering me forgiveness and relationship with you, eternal life, entrance into heaven just by trusting in what he did. So, I’m ready to submit. I’m ready to submit to the One who sacrificed himself for me. Jesus, come into my life. I’m gonna follow you. I’m yours for now and forever. Amen.”
If you made that decision for the first time today, we would love, love, love to know about it and celebrate with you. A couple of ways you can do that, if you’re watching on the Online Campus, just click the button below me, and say, “I said yes to Jesus.” Just click that button and let us know. If you’re on another platform, you can text the word Jesus to 888111. Text Jesus to 888111. And either way you do it, you’re not gonna end up on a big list. You’re gonna get back a link to a bunch of truth. We just wanna give you some truth about this God who loves you and what it looks like to walk in that relationship with him. And so, we would love for you to let us know that you made that decision so we can put that truth into your hands.
And hey, as we wrap up, maybe as part of this discussion, you’re finding yourself going, “I think I need to lean into my marriage.” Maybe your marriage is struggling, and you need help or maybe it’s going okay but you’re realizing it could be a whole lot better, and I wanna encourage you to sign up for a Re-Engage experience. Pastor Will talked about it earlier in the service today. We are launching those online during this coronavirus quarantine, so there’s no reason not to do it right now. Go to missionhills.org and look up Re-Engage. Get connected to one of those and see what God can and longs to do in your marriage. God bless. We’ll see you soon.