Just imagine: It is always sunny, about 76 degrees with a mild breeze. There is always enough money in the bank. My wife and kids are always happy with what I say and do and Florida State wins the national championship every year. Sounds like an ideal to me. Wouldn’t it be great to live in an ideal world? Wouldn’t it be great to have an ideal family? No arguing or yelling; only kind and uplifting words; a peaceful home where each fulfills their own responsibilities and also assists the others; the children are respectful and obedient; everyone knows they are loved and actually experience it. If we want to identify what an ideal family looks like, then we have to model God’s standards for the family.
Something To Talk About:
God’s standard is: Husbands love your wives and be considerate. Wives submit to your husbands; children obey your parents; and fathers, don’t irritate your children. We do these things out of reverence to Christ. It starts with mutual submission and with a question.
- What can I do to help: That is the question that gets to the bedrock of mutual submission. What question could be more central to being a good husband, wife, father, mother or child? If you want to build deeper relationships within the family, you have to know what the family members need. So why not ask them? But the truth is, this question is not asked nearly enough. Some people may struggle with this question because they don’t want to know what the answer is. This simply means: “I’m going to leverage my resources, my time, my talent, etc., for your benefit!” This is one of the most powerful dynamics in any relationship.
- The barrier is fear: Fear is part of the reason we are reluctant to ask: what can I do to help? We are afraid someone is going to take advantage of us. We are afraid that we won’t be the center of the universe, and won’t be first anymore. We are afraid that it will cost us. The reality is those things may come true if you ask the question. Your ordered world may change, in fact it may significantly change. But remember Ephesians 5:21: “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.“ Perhaps Jesus said to the Father, “What can I do to help?” Father said, “It will cost you your life! You’ll have to humble yourself, serve, love, die for everyone else, and You won’t deserve any of it!” And Jesus said, “I’ll do that.” Out of reverence for Christ, open yourself to help others, and yes they may take advantage of you, and yes you’ll have to put someone else first, and yes it will cost you, but not your life.
- This question forces you to lean in rather than pull away. Many in our culture quickly dismiss submission as an outdated concept. The idea of submission to a man or any other authority seems preposterous to modern-day mind. But when you lean in, when you decide to try to meet God’s standards, here is one thing you will discover. Because we are precious in God’s eyes, He set up a system that would guard our lives against the world, our flesh and the Devil.
- What is your first reaction when you hear the word “submit?” What do you think it means to submit? What is the hardest thing about submitting to someone else? What are some negative responses people have to the idea of submission?
- Talk about a time when someone in your family went out of his or her way to help you. How did it affect your relationship with that person?
- What is one thing you can do to improve the way you leverage your power, influence, and resources on behalf of your spouse, your children, or your parents?
- Read John 13:1-5. How is Jesus demonstrating the principle of mutual submission in these verses? How does our submission make us like Jesus? How does our submission demonstrate our relationship with Jesus?
- What is one area of your life that would benefit from a more submissive attitude? What is one obstacle to practicing mutual submission in your family? How can you overcome that obstacle?
- Pray and ask God to give you wisdom in living out the principle of mutual submission.
Take One Thing Home with You
I wonder if each married man had a time machine and could go back in time and correct something in his marriage to make it better, what would they travel back to change. I’m sure the answers would be as diverse as the group of people answering the question. But if we really thought about it, I think the answer is pretty obvious and one that most married men could improve upon. The answer is submission. If we could go back to the beginning and learn the practical application of “submission” before we got married, what a fundamental difference it would make in the family. If we could understand, as Paul tells us, “submit to one another.” What if we rejected the male dominated paradigm of “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22) and realize that we don’t know everything, but God did when He talked about mutual submission.
Imagine if we went into marriage understanding mutual submission. Imagine if we were aligned with both the Godly way to do marriage, as well as the most practical way to do marriage. Imagine if we treated our spouse as equal, that we are in this together and we’re doing this together. Just two whole people just doing their best to walk in the same direction together. This means that sometimes the wife defers to the husband’s leadership in a certain area, sometimes the husband defers to the wife’s leadership in a certain area, but whatever we do, we do together as equals. It means the wife is the equal partner, not a child. We shouldn’t want to lead her, but rather walk beside her. And during those times of conflict, when we are not in lock step, we stop and wait until we catch back up with each other.
We would be well on our way to the real being the ideal.