Q. Do you have any thoughts on how submission works on a day-to-day basis? For example, most of the women I know are more administrative than their husbands, and are more aware of the needs and deficiencies of their families and usually can make more informed decisions on a day to day basis. Even if a woman is bringing things up to her husband in a way that lets the husband make the ultimate decision, if she is the one initiating, then is she the one actually leading (but just in a way that “sounds” submissive)?
A. This is an important question because another way we can misapply submission is by assuming that it means we must wait for our husband to take all the initiative. But in order to understand what submission is (and is not), we must also understand what leadership is.
In an effort to flesh out a biblical definition of leadership, John Piper explains that “Mature masculinity does not have to initiate every action, but feels the responsibility to provide a general pattern of initiative.” He elaborates:
In a family the husband does not do all the thinking and planning. His leadership is to take responsibility in general to initiate and carry through the spiritual and moral planning for family life. I say “in general” because “in specifics” there will be many times and many areas of daily life where the wife will do all kinds of planning and initiating. But there is a general tone and pattern of initiative that should develop which is sustained by the husband.
For example, the leadership pattern would be less than Biblical if the wife in general was having to take the initiative in prayer at mealtime, and get the family out of bed for worship on Sunday morning, and gather the family for devotions, and discuss what moral standards will be required of the children, and confer about financial priorities, and talk over some neighborhood ministry possibilities, etc. A wife may initiate the discussion and planning of any one of these, but if she becomes the one who senses the general responsibility for this pattern of initiative while her husband is passive, something contrary to Biblical masculinity and femininity is in the offing.
Before we consider the “many times and many areas” where the wife will do the initiating we must first ask: Does my manner of relating to my husband encourage him to “provide the general pattern of initiative” or does my initiative taking undermine or usurp his leadership?
If you’re not sure, ask your husband. And if you’re really brave, take this question to a godly friend who will give you an honest answer.
My husband, CJ, received the following email last week, thanking him for his sermon on modesty. May we all be provoked and encouraged by this woman’s example!
Dear Sir, ?
I would like to thank you for sharing the message “The Soul of Modesty”—the Holy Spirit used it to convict me of things that needed to change. ?
If there were a way to attach a photo, I would include a picture of a pile of clothes on my bed that are leaving my house today. Low cut or short items or even things that I have ever received a second, sidelong, lustful glance while wearing are no longer an option for me—my closet is empty by about half.
I am discarding them to avoid temptation to slip back in to bad habits-especially in the light of summer’s dawn and the pressure I imagine will be there to “compete.” I am asking God for His help with this and the fruit of His Spirit in my life. ??
When I heard the message you shared I became aware that it is indeed a soul issue. And though it is no excuse, I feel that my “issue” with this subject has been ‘ignorance’ as you termed it—but not an ignorance of appropriateness but rather an ignorance of the underlying attitude attached to my behavior.
I felt it was important to “hold my own” and especially in regards to my husband to “stay on his radar.” But also, it cannot be denied that there is a spirit of arrogance and pride to my immodesty, a call for ‘undue attention to oneself’ as you said. This particular point was what struck to the heart of me and though it stung, I am grateful for your willingness to wield a lance.
As I struggled with what to do in response to the conviction I felt, I wrestled with “covering up” while my husband would still be surrounded and bombarded by images & women who have not yet heard the call to modesty (I truly love those women also and wish to reach out to them. It is my intent to start by example.) But, without any concrete answers of how to handle those feelings, I came to the conclusion that I would best respond by choosing to glorify God in this matter and do the right thing personally—leaving my fears and self image issues, as well as my husband’s heart, in His hands. I am trusting the Holy Spirit to continue to lead me through this as He has already been doing since I heard your message.
This also affects my children, and I hope to talk to my daughter about the changes I am making and what brought about that conviction. I hope that above all they will SEE a difference in me—not just my clothes but the heart underneath.
I will be praying that many more lives will be touched by this truth you’ve shared. ??
Hey, Nicole here on behalf of Mom. We’re pluggin’ away on the beauty book and we’ve got another question for you. You’ve been super helpful already and your responses are helping to shape the topics Mom covers in the book. So we’re asking for your assistance again.
Today’s question is:
Do you think the Bible’s approach to beauty is primarily positive or negative? Why?
As always, specific stories, examples, and verses are best. If we feature your response in the book you’ll receive a free autographed copy. Send us your thoughts.
(writings and resources on biblical womanhood from around the internet)
In Parenting 001 Kevin DeYoung wonders “Does it seem parenting has gotten more complicated?” I laughed out loud when I read this funny piece, but it concludes with sound advice to all of us as parents.