“Let me speak to the manager please?” We hear a lot about management these days… database management, system management, departmental management, governmental management, fiscal management, and so on. But what do we mean by management, really? Simply put management is handling things well. It is the oversight and guidance given to a system or organization that makes it run well and function with all of its parts working together in harmony to meet the collective objective.

So what is family management? First of all, let’s say that because a family is made up of more than one person, it goes without saying that a certain amount of coordination is required if everyone is to live together in harmony and relative peace! And for that to happen a family, like any other organization of more than one person, needs a management system, and a manager. In every organization, there is a person who is responsible for the smooth running of the operation, and for its failures if things go wrong, even when they are not directly his/her fault. When something in the organization breaks down or goes wrong, the managers are responsible for assigning the right people and allocating the right resources to make corrections and to get things back on track.

Want to know what is wrong in America today with the family? Most of the time it’s that no one is willing to take responsibility for family management. Marriage and family in America is more or less a coalescing of several people who attempt to cohabit together without a plan or a purpose and goal. Families are blindly headed out into an unknown future without knowing where the designation is, or what stops will be required along the way. In addition, no one is driving and no one is navigating. It is no wonder that there are so many family wrecks on the highways of life.

Paul addresses this indirectly when he discusses the qualifications for leaders in the church, specifically overseers or what we would call pastors or ministers. Paul sets some minimal standards for leaders. He remarks that the popular saying that to desire a leadership position is a worthy goal, is true, but that those who do desire a leadership role should meet some basic criteria with regard to their lives. This is not legalism, because Paul is not talking about obtaining salvation by works here, he is talking about qualifications for assuming roles of leadership in the church. The leader of the church is a church manager, coordinating, guiding, problem solving, rebuilding, nurturing, maturing the saints, performing administrations, etc. To this role Paul gives the title overseer. The overseer is leading others, providing guidance as well as acting as a role model pointing to Christ. For that reason Paul insists that church leaders be exemplary in their conduct and Christian walk with God. There is no room for seriously flawed or immoral leadership.

At the top of Paul’s list of priorities for leadership qualifications is the relationship a leader has with his wife and family. The NIV says he must be faithful to his wife (1 Tim. 3:2). He must be a man whose exclusive loyalty is to one woman. This is often interpreted sexually in terms of sexual faithfulness, but Paul is alluding to much more by the phrase, ‎μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, a one woman man. More literally, it means ” He must be a man of one woman.” One commentator says Paul is speaking in a more positive sense, not of how many times a man can be married and become a church leader, but of how a man conducts himself within his marriage toward his wife (Towner, Philip H. 1-2 Timothy & Titus, IVPNTC Series, 85)! Paul is speaking of the attitude and intention of a man’s heart, the inner workings of his mind and spirit. In the inner secret place of his personality where only he and God see what is really going on, he must be a one woman man. Paul’s idea is that a man desiring to be a leader in the church, must first demonstrate that he is capable of exclusive and faithful loyalty to his wife, consistently and over time. He must be devoted to her welfare above his own, he must love her deeply, and that as a matter of his conduct and practice in daily life. It is not hard to discover Paul’s rationale for this, because he sees in the relationship between a husband and his wife, an allegory for the relationship between Christ and his church, where there is mutual respect and love, and where Christ was willing to give his whole self as a sacrifice to redeem his church to himself (Eph. 5:22-32). This kind of love, respect and loyalty is what stands behind the phrase, “a one woman man.”

But that is not the end of the matter. Paul also states that a prospective leader must also manage his family well. Towner says that Paul expects a man who desires to lead the church to first of all be a proficient and competent leader at home (88). Now by this Paul obviously means where there are children. The family larger than a husband and wife needs careful management. Someone needs to take responsibility for its direction, guidance, security and success, knowing where it is headed and getting it there. I think there is enough evidence in scripture to demonstrate that the husband and wife are co-executors in the family, sharing equally the responsibilities of managing the family well, but each with distinct roles. There is also evidence, for example when Paul says that the husband is the “head” of the wife (Eph 5:23), that Paul expects husbands to demonstrate leadership in the home. And not just any kind of leadership, but godly, righteous, compassionate, graceful, merciful, faithful and consistent leadership that reflects the leadership of God over his people. It is God’s own role as leader that provides the model for a man’s leadership over his family, and that is by no means tyrannical. It is in this sense that Paul sees a man as a manager in his home. Someone who desires to be a leader in the church must first demonstrate he knows how to manage his home and his family (1 Tim. 3:4-5).

The word Paul uses here means to put oneself at the head of (v. 4). It means to take over the role of leader, to preside over, lead, conduct, manage. Paul intention is to say that someone who would become a leader in the church must first be a leader at home. The point we are making is that Paul assumes that there is leadership at home; that someone has assumed the role of leader and manager at home. In the Bible that is the role of the husband. He and his wife are co-executors of the family, but the husband should assert himself as the leader, modelled after Christ, in true self-sacrifical giving of himself totally in service to his wife and for the benefit of his home. In scripture, leadership is never dictatorial, carrying with it the negative baggage associated with the idea of a man as head of his household attached to it by the modern feminist movement, which malign God’s command . The term Paul uses combines the ideas of ruling and caring for (Stott. BST, The Message of 1 Timothy, IVP, 98). So the idea of household leadership is not merely one of ruling and definitely not of privilege, but rather of managing and caring for. Leadership in the New Testament means to assume the role of servant to the those who are led, tending to the welfare and needs of the family and its members, taking responsibility for the success of the family, and its progress, guiding and protecting it, setting the moral and behavioral tone.

Having said all of this, no family, no church, and no husband is perfect. No family has it ALL together. Families and people are all flawed in some ways. The only unacceptable flaws are those that represent moral failure, rebellion against God, and strongholds that we consistently fail to yield to God for deliverance. As we grow we will encounter things that need to change or be overcome or places where we need to mature in our lives as disciples of Christ. Good family managers are not perfect, they are godly (committed to morality and righteousness), and they are faithful (consistent in their devotion to God, their family loyalty and how they conduct themselves). While no one or no family is perfect, someone had better assume responsibility for the family’s success. That, Paul says is the role of the husband. Family success begins with leadership, and someone stepping up to the plate, if not your husband, then who?

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