Honor and Support Husband-Wife Leadership

New Year Greetings and Prayers for 2020

Banking Blessings Ministry welcomes you to 2020. We pray for husband-wife interactions and relationships based on understanding God’s intentions for husband-wife leadership. We discuss our understanding based on biblical accounts of family interactions, with more detail regarding the Shunammite couple that illustrate honor and support of family leadership. The Shunammites illustrate effective management of family affairs based on seeking solutions instead of fault, apportioning responsibilities instead of blame, and establishing methods instead of guilt. This approach helped the Shunammites’ union to be harmonious and effective and will work equally well for any modern-day husband-wife union.

Jesus teaching
Come, Learn, and Be Blessed
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For the year 2020 and beyond, we pray for husband-wife interactions and relationships based on deeper understanding of God’s intentions for family leadership. Therefore, we begin our studies this year with a discussion of leadership of husband-wife union: to share understanding and inspire positive husband-wife interactions. We use examples from the bible to explain that God created marriage to combine man and woman in a union of seamless complements, channels overall leadership of the union through the husband, and often assigns the wife leader and custodian of critical information in specific matters. We focus on accounts from the Shunammite couple to illustrate that a husband-wife union will be harmonious and effective if it honors and supports (1) husband’s overall leadership of the union and (2) wife’s potential leadership and custodianship of critical information in specific matters. In contrast, the union will be disharmonious and ineffective when honor or support for family leadership is lacking.

Union of Seamless Complements

Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh
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We learn from the creation of Adam and Eve that God created marriage to unite a man and woman to work together seamlessly toward accomplishing the objectives of representing him among other creation in every situation. As we discuss under Union of Seamless Complements, he created the man first but found him inadequate alone for the mission [Genesis 2:18]: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” He created the woman thereafter to cure the inadequacy. The short biblical account of the creation of woman indicates the following.

  1. God did not find a suitable helper for the man from among existing creations. He examined all other creations but found none suitable to fill the man’s inadequacy (Genesis 2:19–20).
  2. The woman was created entirely from a component taken out of the man, thus emphasizing the man and woman are complements. The woman has something the man lacks and the man something the woman lacks. Together, they have everything they need to work on their mission (Genesis 2:21–23).
  3. The man and woman connect seamlessly because the woman was formed entirely out of a component taken from the man (Genesis 2:23–24).
  4. The man and woman are comparable in several ways.

Seamlessness of husband-wife connectivity and husband’s leadership of the union are indicated by the account of Adam-Eve creation. However, the accounts of Abraham-Sarah interactions with God illustrate the relationship more clearly.

Overall Leadership
With Seamless Connectivity

Accounts of Abraham-Sarah expand our understanding of God’s design for husband-wife relationships. He interacted with Abraham on behalf of Abraham-Sarah and relied on seamless communication among the couple to guide their relationship.

Receives instruction and promise
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Though Sarah did not participate physically in the interactions, she was expected to understand and fulfill her responsibilities regarding God’s instructions and promises spoken to Abraham. For example, as we discuss under Husband-Wife Leadership from Abraham-Sarah, interactions at the call of Abraham illustrate God considers Abraham leader of the union and relied on seamless Abraham-Sarah communication to guide their common understanding of his instructions and promise. Thus, his promise spoken to Abraham was a promise to the union and commitment from Abraham was a commitment from the union. He did not remind Abraham to tell his wife or ask him to bring his wife but he expected them to work together to implement his instructions and receive fulfillment of his promise.

Wife as Leader and Information Custodian
for Specific Matters

In addition to recognizing the husband as overall leader of the husband-wife union, God often may assign the wife leader or custodian of critical information in specific matters. We illustrate using four examples.

First, as we discuss in Abraham-Sarah in the Challenge of Ishmael, God alerted Sarah to the need to separate Isaac from Ishmael, thereby assigning custodianship of the information to her. She passed the information to Abraham through a demand. Abraham was initially troubled because the demand created an internal conflict for him. However, God guided him to a quick and permanent resolution of the conflict by instructing him to honor the demand and assuring him that Ishmael will have his own inheritance.

Jacob disguised as Esau receives blessing
Jacob disguised as Esau receives blessing
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In a second example, we recall that God informed Rebekah of a special relationship between Jacob and Esau regarding family inheritance. As we discuss under Bridging Over Potential Dispute—Lessons from Isaac-Rebekah, Rebekah apparently feared her husband might not accept the information and redirected him to implement the instruction by taking advantage of his failing sight. Isaac-Rebekah interactions regarding this matter illustrate God assigning to a wife custodianship of critical information and responsibility to ensure implementation of the information. The interactions also may indicate potential consequences of inadequate communication in a husband-wife union. Both Isaac and Rebekah accepted Isaac’s leadership of the family in all matters. However, their interactions suggest he might have adopted an unyielding leadership style, maybe in keeping with customary practice. He apparently did not provide sufficient opportunity for his wife to contribute to directing family affairs. Such stiff-handed leadership could explain Rebekah’s apparent habit of concealing potential disagreement with her husband while seeking resolution of a family issue.

In a third example, we recall that God informed the Shunammite woman of the need to accommodate Prophet Elisha in their home. We discuss this example in more detail subsequently in this message.

Flight to Egypt for baby Jesus
Flight to Egypt for baby Jesus
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As a fourth example, we recall previous discussion of family leadership in Mary and Joseph Unity in Parenting, where we rely on their interactions to understand parenting as a husband-wife ministry. God called Mary and Joseph to the ministry of parenting the Messiah. Initially, Mary was the leader and Joseph the supporter. Mary’s responsibility at the initial stage was to carry the pregnancy and Joseph’s was to support her wholeheartedly so together they nurtured the unborn child through birth. However, their roles switched after the child was born. God recognized Joseph as the leader, communicated child care instructions to him, and thereby charged him with leading the husband-wife union to implement the instructions. They honored and supported the family leadership at all times and implemented the instructions successfully. Their interactions illustrate the value of honor and support for family leadership, which we discuss in more detail next using interactions from Shunammite couple.

Honor and Support Family Leadership
Example from Shunammite Couple

Several events in the life of the Shunammite couple illustrate honor and support for family leadership. During the period, the couple developed lasting close relationship with Prophet Elisha and their family was blessed abundantly through the relationship. We discuss their interactions to illustrate the husband-wife union honored and supported wife’s leadership in specific matters while honoring and supporting husband’s overall leadership. The three events are (1) meeting Elisha, (2) providing long-term shelter for Elisha, and (3) an “SOS” (emergency call for help) interaction with Elisha regarding their son’s death and restoration to life.

Meeting Elisha

Sharing meal with Elisha
Sharing meal with Elisha
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The Shunammite woman met an interesting stranger, maybe at a public event, and brought him home to have a meal with her and her husband. The stranger shared a meal with them and was so pleased with the experience that, subsequently, he visited their home to share a meal whenever he was in the area. The woman and her husband did not know that the stranger was Prophet Elisha.

As we discuss under Respect Honor and Trust—Interactions Among Shunammite Couple, the man accepted the stranger into their home and interacted well with him based only on his wife’s information. This suggests the man had a habit of honoring ideas from his wife. His wife, in turn, expected understanding from her husband. Therefore, she felt encouraged to follow her heart when she suspected the stranger might benefit from sharing a meal with them at home. Inviting the stranger for a meal was an act of compassion, for which the woman provided leadership on behalf of their union and her husband honored and supported her leadership. Her husband’s support contributed to making the visit a pleasant experience for Elisha, such that he returned to interact with them again whenever he was in the area.

Long-Term Shelter for Elisha

After sharing meal at their home several times with the stranger, the woman realized that he was a holy man of God. She also recognized there was more they could do to assist him. She believed they could provide him long-term shelter, a place he could turn in for extended rest and maybe spend the night if he so desired. They did not have such a place, but she believed they could provide one through a modification of their house. She recognized her husband’s leadership in such matters and tabled a proposal with him [2 Kings 4:9–10]: “And she said to her husband, ‘Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.’”

Vision and blueprint for Upper Room
Vision and blueprint for Upper Room
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HUMILITY She showed honor and support for her husband’s leadership by asking with humility. She expected her husband will consider the proposal in good faith and likely approve but did not take his approval for granted. Her presentation conveyed a promise of obedience—that she would accept an approval or disapproval, but expected and will appreciate an approval (See previous discussion of Promise of Obedience under Value of Humility): The phrase “Please, let us …” helped convey her promise of obedience.

VISION AND BLUEPRINT She might have succeeded in doing the project all by herself without seeking her husband’s approval. She had reason to believe God had placed it in her heart to provide long-term shelter for the prophet and had given her the blueprint (down to the details of required furnishing). Also, she had access to resources (recall she was well-to-do) and could believe based on previous experience that her husband would approve. However, she honored and supported her husband’s leadership and tabled the proposal before him with a promise of obedience.

Her husband, in turn, honored and supported her leadership in the act of compassion and built the upper-room on the wall according to her vision. A call to compassion could come to a husband-wife union through the husband or wife as leader. God calls the other spouse at the same time to support the leader by virtue of membership in the husband-wife union. The Shunammite husband honored and supported his wife’s leadership in the call to compassion, while his wife honored and supported his overall leadership.

“SOS” (Emergency Call for Help) to Elisha

On one occasion, their son complained of headache while in the field with his father. The man sent him home to his wife immediately. Sending the child home to his mother indicates a recognition that the family would be better off with the man focusing on farm work and management while his wife focused on caring for the sick child. He was satisfied that his wife was available to care for the child and could assess the need and respond appropriately. This implicit recognition of his wife’s leadership in such matters worked well because she quickly stepped into her role of spiritual gateway when the child died suddenly. Her faith drove her to seek to persuade Elisha to come and pray the child back to life.

Map showing Shunem and Mt Carmel
Map showing Shunem and Mt Carmel
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TRANSPORTATION REQUEST Elisha was far away at Mount Carmel when the child died in his mother’s arms in Shunem. The woman placed the dead child in the “sanctuary” they setup at their home for Elisha. Thereafter, she requested transportation from her husband to travel to Elisha at Mount Carmel. She did not explain the purpose of her trip. Instead, when her husband showed concern about her going to the man of God at an unusual time, she assured him that all is well. The woman accomplished two things through the request for transportation: (1) she informed her husband of her intention to travel to Mount Carmel to meet the man of God and (2) showed honor and support for her husband’s authority to manage family resources such as means of transportation. In his response, the husband showed honor and support for his wife’s leadership as spiritual gateway for the family, such that a simple “It is well” served as sufficient explanation for what appeared to him initially as an unusual request.

No Fault or Blame or Guilt

In all family interactions, the Shunammite couple focused on action: understanding “who should do what needed to be done.” They did not fall to the temptation of finding fault, apportioning blame, or establishing guilt. They honored and supported family leadership based on seeking solutions instead of fault, apportioning responsibilities instead of blame, and establishing methods instead of guilt. This approach helped the Shunammites’ union to be harmonious and effective and will work equally well for any modern-day husband-wife union.

More Information

You can also download a PDF copy of the PowerPoint presentation of this bible study from PDF_LINK.

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