Monday, July 21, 2014
Men, Manage Your Household Well
It is long overdue that the Church takes a closer look at what it means to be a husband and father. We have decried the devaluation of men. We have lamented the dearth of leadership on this subject. We have moaned and complained, but no one seems to be doing much about it.
One major issue is that we too often take our visions for manhood, husband-hood, and fatherhood from the culture, particularly the popular culture, and not from the Scriptures. Martin Luther started us off on the right track when he filled his Table of Duties in the Small Catechism with Scriptural references that concern our various vocations. It would be fitting for us to expand on that work, to consider what the Scriptures say concerning the roles, duties, and vocations, of husband, father, and man.
The importance of all this was highlighted to me this past year when preparing to teach a lesson on I Timothy 3. In 7th and 8th grade religion class we were marching through Paul's first letter to Timothy after we had finished walking through the Small Catechism toward the end of the school year.
In I Timothy 3 Paul gives Timothy a list of qualifications for men who desire to be "overseers". In other words, Paul tells Timothy what it takes to be a pastor. While there is a long list of things, the one that stands out the most, the one that receives more than a brief mention, is the management of the household.
"An overseer is to be above reproach, the husband of one wife...he must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?" (I Timothy 3:2-5)
It is essential that a pastor manage his household well. But pastors are not an exception. It is not as if God only wants the men leading his churches to be good husbands and fathers. The pastors are to set an example for the other men of the congregation, but all men are to manage their households well.
This pulled me back to a stop as a pastor. It shook me to realize that something I had treated as peripheral to pastoral ministry was really essential. Men are called by God to be the managers of their households.
This will work itself out in different ways for different men in different situations. Every man will have a different management style, as well as distinct responsibilities. Yet this cannot change that fact that he is responsible for the things that go on in his own home.
Notice that this is precisely the opposite of the way we think about "traditional" household responsibilities. In the traditional modern scheme the man is responsible for the things that go on outside of the home: working 40 hours at a "job", mowing the lawn, changing the oil in the car, re-roofing the house, etc.
The women of the traditional modern scheme are supposed to be responsible for what goes on inside the home: cooking, cleaning, child-rearing. She is the overseer of hearth and home. But according to the Scriptures this is not so.
While the division of labor inside and outside the house may fall along these lines at times, it certainly does not have to. And either way, the man is the one responsible for what goes on inside and outside the home.
There is no walking out the front door and forgetting the home front during the day, no telling your overwhelmed wife to "suck it up". The man of the house is just that: "of the house", even if he cannot do it all himself. The Lord provides him with help, indeed a "help meet", but it remains his responsibility.
This is our calling Christ who manages his household, the Church, as a loving bridegroom, a gentle husband, and a gracious father.
[This is the first in a series of posts that will focus on the callings of men in the world. Tune back in each Monday to explore our callings as husbands, fathers, sons, uncles, and more.]