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What Does it Mean to be the Head of the Household?

Jeff:
What does it mean to be the head of the household? That’s a phrase that’s tossed around a lot sometimes in evangelical circles. Sometimes I think that’s actually a phrase that has a lot of baggage to it. But there is something there that’s really, really important and I want to speak specifically, I think Jeremy’s going to answer this one, to the guys who, I think this answer, that hopefully we’re about to give, is best for the guys who feel a little like they’re homeless in their identity, meaning they don’t have a place to put their fatherly-ness or what they’ve been learning or having.

And basically what I’m saying is I want to encourage the guys listening that this is not something that is meant to be some huge conflict point with you and your spouse, but actually in the right marriages and rights situations can be the thing that enables the guy, and it’s something the guy needs to hear, to then allow everything to just come alive. Right?

There is of course guys who dominate and domineer and that’s sin. That’s wicked. Jesus judges them, et cetera. But in general, I actually know more of these situations where the guy has not stepped into being the head of the household and what that means in very different situations for different marriages and different places, but who hasn’t done that, and that’s the key almost that can unlock the secret of the family to a lot of marriages. And so, yeah, Jeremy expound on that. What does that mean? How can a father do that? Because I do think, again, they feel like they have no place to rest and no place to put their identity and this is a really good place for that.

Jeremy:
That’s right. Yeah. The way that we have thought about the modern household have left, like you’re saying, many fathers feeling unemployed, basically. They’ve lost their primary job. And for most of human history, fathers have really, within their own households, sat at the head of almost what was a complex set of organizations that they were leading along with their wife, who was assisting. And it’s very different today. I really like the way that C.R. Wiley, who wrote a great book about just the household and really looked at this historically, said to describe what the Bible means by household, imagine a world without business, corporations, or social welfare agencies, or factories, or daycare centers. Where do you suppose people made a living or found help when they needed it? In their households naturally. Household economies were based on some productive enterprise.

They produced food, clothing, and nearly everything else worth having. And on top of that, they were social welfare agencies, educating the young and caring for the elderly. Today. We largely think of our home as recreation centers. That’s because in the industrial revolution, most of the productive economy moved out of the house.

Because of this, some people have wondered just what is a father for? But in the first century, a father’s authority was unquestioned. People just depended on him for so much that life without him was hard to imagine. So, this is where so much the tension is, you guys, in the way he’s describing it, is when you go back to Genesis 1 and God had this problem to solve, he didn’t start a 501(c)3 or a social welfare agency or corporation. He created a family. He made a husband and a wife.

he brought them together as a team, told them to have children and to fill the earth and subdue it.

To subdue is really that word, to rule. To really make sure that the will of the Lord-

Jeff:
Yeah, this big enterprise.

Jeremy:
This is why the father was, in every household, was like this complex end of enterprises. Educating children and providing goods for the community. They were working together in this way. And so a lot of times we think we’re doing people a service by taking those responsibilities off of the family and putting them into some other agency, into some kind of other organization.

But when you do that, you guys, you’re increasing some other organization and you’re really reducing the scope of the family. And so what he’s saying in this quote is that the family has been reduced to essentially a recreation center. That is really scary to think about.

So, if you’re a really good father today, it means that you’re really good at crafting an environment that’s really fun and enjoyable for your family as they all go off to other agencies and to other corporations and to other things where they’re led and they’re participating in things outside the home constantly. And the household’s just been emptied of all of its meaning and significance.

And the reason why we’re talking about this to you guys is that this is the reason why so many fathers are looking around for, “Where do I belong? What do I build? How do I find significance in this world?” And they’re looking around. Very few fathers think, “Oh, of course, it’s by building a household. Building a multigenerational team. By leading that, I’m going to find really the reason why God’s built me the way I’m built and given me the gifts that he’s given me.”

And so, so much of this has happened because of the redefinition of what a household has become to mean post the industrial revolution. And so we just wanted to continue to tease out the implications of that for you guys and really talk about how challenging it is and how important it is, you guys, to bring a lot of those things back into the household if you feel called to do that. And don’t try to do it all at once.

A lot of times what people do is they bring in one at a time. Is there some kind of enterprise that you could bring back into the household? In other words, is there some kind of way of producing income that can be owned and managed in and through the household? Is there faith based activities that you can begin to initiate in and through your household? Is there educational activities? Is there caring for aging parents? Is there caring for your community? Is there outreach opportunities and caring for the poor that you can do and through your household?

And you guys, again, don’t take on all that responsibility. All that has been stripped away from the household and we are now living in the after effects that having been done a long time ago. And so a lot of us don’t even remember what it was like to lead a household that did all those things. And so, oftentimes what families today are doing that are really embracing this idea is just take it on a one at a time and figure out what you can handle and what can be really done in a way that will help you experience much more of the fullness of your fatherhood, but also lead your family as a team. But it’s going to require you to bring some amount of responsibility back into the household in order to really have something for your team to productively accomplish.

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