How to Handle a Passive Husband

We love to tease out the implications of certain verses or Bible passages for fatherhood. And there’s one that always really has been kind of helpful to me. Jeff and I just had some conversations with some moms who were like, “Ah, what do we do when our husbands are passive, or literally exploiting this sort of leadership role that you guys are saying the Bible advocates for in the home?” So you have a team, and you have a coach and of course it’s important that that person step up and have some level of authority in the home. So they can really coach the team. But what do you do when basically the coach takes that authority to… Sometimes I picture this, try to picture this in an actual team setting, where a coach is like, “Sweet. I want all the players to serve me.”

Yeah, exactly.

What team ever does that. But families do that all the time. Men do that all the time. Women and children are deeply injured by men who are doing this to their own teams constantly. And so the verse that always comes to mind when I think about this is Hebrews 13:17. I want to read this to you guys. It says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning for that would be of no advantage to you.” So one of the things that this is saying is that, people who have authority have to give an account. And what I think of when I see men, or hear about men who are basically taking the position of authority, in order to exploit it for their own selfish ends, which there’s almost nothing more unbiblical than that when it comes to fatherhood or being a husband.

When you have verses like in Ephesians five that say, “We have this authority to lay it down, to serve our wives.” But the real reality guys, is that you have to give an account. Men are accountable to God. They are leaders in the home and leaders, like it says in Hebrews 13:17, must give an account. And what’s really great in a household where this really is healthy, is when a father feels the weight of that responsibility on his shoulders and says, “Oh man, I am accountable to God for how I lead my family.” And then his wife has compassion for him because of the heavy load that he’s bearing on behalf of the family. And she can see that he is doing everything he can to bear up under that load. And through her compassion, because of the accountability that he has before God, she decides to follow him.

And to help encourage the children to follow him. Because look, it’s not us who’s going to be standing in front of the Lord. It’s dad. Dad’s the one who is going to be held into account. So we need to make sure that he’s got the responsibility. And the really basic way to say this, you guys, is responsibility and authority always need to be in sync in every single leadership role, anywhere. If you have the responsibility, you must have the authority. And in the home, the father has the responsibility. They will be held accountable before God. And of course his wife and his children, they’re going to be held accountable for different things. But I believe that the father is the most responsible. He’s the one who’s going to be ultimately held accountable for the health of his family. And so he needs to be given authority that syncs up with that heavy responsibility.

And then his family comes around him and helps him bear that load. But he has to take the load on first. He has to say, “It’s mine to take on. I must absorb this.” And so when I hear about these men who are exploiting their authority, which is given to them because they have a responsibility they’re exploiting that authority in order to get their own personal selfish needs met. That really boils my blood. And Jeff and I were like, so big part of what we’re trying to do, you guys with this whole podcast, is we want to help you. We have a lot of empathy for the position you’re in, because we know that you’re going to be held accountable. And we want you to stand underneath that responsibility and bless your family. But you have to realize that you bear that responsibility and that accountability is a part of what God’s going to require of you ultimately. But Jeff, yeah, what does that stir up for you?

Yeah, no, I totally agree. And I think that just has to be… The nail has to be hit on that head. And I think, yeah that’s where we’re doing everything with family teams, guys, is so that we can actually, hopefully help encourage shape, mold, facilitate fathers that lean into God’s design. Which is the model of Jesus, which is the authority is actually subverted, turned upside down in a sacrificial way. Authority and leadership means sacrifice, means love, means washing feet.


Means going to be at the bottom rung of the ladder, willfully. And that is the model that is beautiful. That is rich, that creates change. That changes people’s lives. And that changes the world. And the other model of the more abusive type power, et cetera, that is just, yeah, it’s a parody. It’s wrong. It’s sinful, it’s wicked. There will be judgment.

And then to a wife listening, if you are listening, I think, because you get this question enough. I would say just use all the resources at your disposal. I think don’t think you need to bear under that weight, but go talk to the elders of the church, there needs to be an absolute disciplinary situation. If a husband is kind of abusing his power. So go talk to the elders, go talk to family that maybe can get involved in regards to stepping into the situation and helping him if he’s just kind of more domineering, and unhelpful, and not loving. And there’s other avenues as well I could think of too.

So I think just, there needs to be a confrontation when there’s abuse of authority. That’s what you see in scripture. When there’s abuse of authority, whether it’s Caesar, whether it’s Pharaoh, they get confronted. They get confronted because their power is a parody and it’s wicked. So I think just understand that live in that. And don’t think you have to bear under the weight of it, but that God actually has a plan for you too. That is for your flourishing, that is to step into his design. And that is to repent and believe because it’s good news and it really changes lives. And so yeah, this one could go a lot longer, but we hope it was a good starter for food for thought.

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