The family unit is where the strength of the church is maintained. When there are breakdowns at the family level, there is a breakdown in the church.
There is a sickness that has become so common in our families it is an accepted epidemic. It is an unseen and unnoticed plague that is destroying the very strength of the church. It is a vast and ever spreading plague in our modern society. This sickness infects the husbands, the wives, and the children. The worst part is the traditional church system offers a false remedy for this disease and allows it to go unhealed and largely unnoticed in our families. Therefore this virus continues to infect and to spread, potentially sweeping into every household in every city and every village on this planet.
What is this epidemic that has taken so many captive? What is this debilitating disease that cripples most households among us?
It is men not being men.
It is women not respecting their husbands.
It is children not respecting and trusting their fathers.
And the traditional religious system offers its counterfeit replacement.
The counterfeit intensifies the infection at the family level. The counterfeit legitimizes the disease and allows it to continue, undealt with and unhealed among us.
The apostle Paul told the Corinthians in I Cor.11 to follow in his example as he followed Christ. Immediately after he spoke this however, he said
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ, (I Cor.11:3)
In other words, even though Paul was encouraging people to follow his example, every man is accountable to and ultimately must follow Christ and only Christ.
This scripture in I Cor.11 shows us the proper order of things. Paul was not any mans head. Paul was not any womans head, (Eph 5:33, I Tim. 3:4-5 1 Cor.16:13, Eph 5:22,23).
Every man is to provide leadership and shepherding for his own household. Every man is to teach his family the Bible, pull them together for prayer, and actively speak into the lives of his wife and children. Every man is to provide shepherding and leadership in every way to his family, both physically and spiritually. Every man in the church is to be living an honorable and respectable life. If not, he should be held accountable by the brothers. Men are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and the women are commanded to respect their husbands.
When you live with someone, you get to know them. You get to see all of their weaknesses. Women in the church dont live with the pastor and dont tend to see his weaknesses like they do their own husbands. When a wife sees her husbands weaknesses, she is tempted to not respect him. Not so with the pastor. He speaks into the lives of families without confessing his sin to them on a regular basis. He doesnt get irritated at the family, throw a temper tantrum, and then get to humble himself and apologize. The distance he has, allows him to better uphold his image of holiness. He is thought of as an extra-righteous man and he is respected as so. Why are families on their best behavior when the pastor comes over to their house? Because people believe he is in a different class than everyone else, and sometimes these men enjoy playing the part.
Many times women respect the pastor more than they do their own husbands. This is not healthy. Many times, subtly and sometimes even overtly, the woman leads the household. She also can lead the husband and the children into being enamored by the pastor. The pastor begins to have a place in the household that only the father should have. This is a subtle thing in the hearts of the women, in the hearts of the men and in the hearts of the children.
Often the men lack confidence, are too passive to lead, and would much rather have another man do it for them. They are quite content to let another man stand up before their wives week after week and provide the ladies with instruction and answers for their lives. The pastor is speaking more into the lives and hearts of the women than their husbands are. The women take it right in. Men can be so docile and so passive that they follow another man and allow him to lead their wives.
Weve exchanged the authority structure found in the scripture of:
For the more common authority structure of:
Or even the erroneous:
Pastors / Husbands
The father of a household is not to share his authority with another man.
Understood, people are crying out and begging for leadership. But it is the man of every household who is to provide this leadership.
When one man stands before you, week after week, and speaks with authority into your life, it does something inside you. It affects your heart. Our hearts were made to follow. Our hearts were created to trust. When you spend time listening to one man speak, teach, and instruct, over and over again, he gets in you. You begin to trust him a little, and then a little more. This is another reason why many brothers should be speaking and teaching when we gather together.
I am well aware that many of you have your concepts all straight. I dont worship my pastor. Or, I would never follow a man. But I am telling you that the pastors have an unhealthy power over many, many lives.
There is a place we can give others in our hearts that has authority in us and over us. When we give this authority to people, we really listen to what they have to say. This is not ordinary listening. But listening that allows what they say to go deep into our hearts. When we give this place of authority over to people, we listen to them without their words running past our healthy filter of weighing it out to see if its truth or not. We must remember that all men are very fallible and weak. Sometimes even quality, faithful, good men are deceitful, manipulative and selfish without them even knowing they are doing so. The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jer 17:9) We should never give men this place of authority in our hearts.
Only Jesus should have this place in us! Only scripture should have this place in us!
When a man speaks to us, ANY MAN, we must have the attitude of maybe so. It must be weighed out with scripture.
If the Lord is using someone to do some shepherding in your life, you should acknowledge the Lord in this and be an imitator of their faith as Paul directed in I Cor. 11, but remember, The head of every man is Christ. (This passage is not to be used for a fleshly independence among men in the church; Brothers are not to have it as their practice of just doing their own thing without an attempt to be of one mind and without an attempt to move together in unity, I Cor.1:10).
Again, there is a proper function of someone doing the work of a pastor, which the word really means shepherd. But if someone is doing this work and speaking into the life of a member of a family, it should be weighed out by the father of that household. The father of the household is always the gatekeeper and shepherd of the family.
Women without Husbands
What if a woman does not have a husband? What if there is someone who is not her husband, who is doing some true shepherding in her life? This is good and beneficial, as long as:
It takes place where there is a healthy expression of the church where many are active and functioning.
All things spoken are in the light with others.
Those who are operating in their shepherding gifts are accountable and on a totally equal playing field as everyone else (as with any gifting).
If all of the above were true, there would be a healthy atmosphere for what is spoken and shared with the singles, widows, and those without a husband or a father to be received. Ive seen very healthy situations in which there was a widow or a single for whom many brothers and families provided covering and shepherding as well.
But more commonly, we have very subtly, at a heart level, substituted the place that only King Jesus should have and given that place to the traditional pastors. Because wed rather have a man who we can see with our eyes lead us, rather than be of faith and trust in God, whom we cant see. Wed rather have someone just tell us what is and what to do, rather than seek, rather than wait on the Spirit of God. We would rather give our respect to a man who week after week proclaims Gods truth to our lives from a pulpit, while we are unaware of what he does, says, and thinks during the trials of everyday life.
We want men to remain as icons in our minds, so they can remain qualified for us to follow and to trust them to provide leadership for our lives and families. If we knew all about mens real dirt, which is common to all, we might not be so impressed with what the pastors have to say. Again, if it is scripture, then be impressed. Those who lead should lead us to scripture and to Christ, not to themselves.
All men of rank should be viewed as being at the bottom with the rest of us. Those who are lowly and are of no account should be raised up. There is equality at the foot of the cross.
Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar,..
men of rank are a lie.
This epidemic is so pervasive and so ingrained in our culture that most will not come out of this pattern by just hearing about it or studying it. Just hearing about it and studying it will only produce limited results. As with most things, it takes living it out and learning in the reality of everyday life to really have it. It must be learned and lived with those who are already living it. Church life quickly grows the disciple. Books and articles give us concepts only. We are a concept society in a concept church. Books, articles, and newsletters flood our homes. But the reality of living the experience of church life together is rare and only for those who are sick and tired and are ready to choose more of Christ.
by Terry Stanley