FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Best Practices of Headship

with Robert Lewis | January 9, 2015
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Dr. Robert Lewis, founder and pastor of Fellowship Bible Church, encourages men to boldly lead their families. Find out the three best things a man can do to fill the leadership role at home.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dr. Robert Lewis, founder and pastor of Fellowship Bible Church, encourages men to boldly lead their families. Find out the three best things a man can do to fill the leadership role at home.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Dr. Robert Lewis, founder and pastor of Fellowship Bible Church, encourages men to boldly lead their families. Find out the three best things a man can do to fill the leadership role at home.

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The Best Practices of Headship

With Robert Lewis
January 09, 2015
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Bob: Usually, when a culture has lost its way, it’s because the men in that culture have lost their way. Here’s Dr. Robert Lewis.

Robert: It was the great social anthropologist, Margaret Mead, who said this—listen very carefully—as she looked at cultures throughout human history, she made this concluding statement: "The chief responsibility of every society is to define appropriate roles for its men,"—we need direction.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, January 9th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to hear today a very simple, very clear job description for men, as husbands. Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.



I'm just curious—I know you first heard Robert Lewis preach when he came to the church that you had helped start—Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock—and was going to be one of the new pastors; right?

Dennis: Right.

Bob: And over the years, you've heard him preach a number of times on marriage and on family. Of course, you had helped to start FamilyLife—you'd been to Dallas Seminary and heard Howard Hendricks teach on these themes.

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: As you've heard Robert teach on the subject, have there been nuances about your understanding of your role as a husband role and a wife's role that have—that have been new to you?

Dennis: Oh, absolutely. In fact, when Robert was writing his book, Rocking the Roles, which is a perennial bestseller at our Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences, I just remember—as a man, going to their church, but also leading a marriage and family ministry—how helpful that was in the formation of our ministry's message to both husbands and wives.



In fact, Robert helped shape our message to husbands and to wives in helping to hammer out the biblical role of what it means to truly love our wives and also for wives to be able to respect their husbands.

Bob: Yes, when we were sitting down to put together the Stepping Up® video series for me—which has had now more than 100,000 guys go through the material—one of the guys we said has got to be a part of this series was Robert Lewis because he was instrumental in helping to start Men’s Fraternity.

Dennis: Right.

Bob: He did a video series called The Quest for Authentic Manhood. Robert’s done a lot of thinking and a lot of exploration about what the Bible has to say about our responsibilities in marriage / about our assignment, as men. We thought, “We’ve got to include him in the video series—

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: —“along with guys like Tony Dungee, and Bill Bennett, and Matt Chandler, and Crawford Loritts, and Voddie Baucham, and Stu Weber, and the other guys who are a part of this ten-week study for guys.”



In fact, I should just mention here, Dennis—we’re hoping, during the month of January, that we will see 50,000 guys, who would step forward and say: “You know, I’d like to go through this material with a group of guys. I’ll get together with my friends,” or “We’ll do it in our men’s group at church.” Or maybe you’ve got a men’s small group already. It’s a ten-week study—you can go through it together. Anybody can lead the study because you pretty much watch a 30-minute video and then there are discussion questions for you to follow through with.

If folks are interested in finding out more information about the Stepping Up material, and being part of this group of 50,000 guys we hope will engage with this material, starting here in January—go to our website: Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” The information about the Stepping Up series is right there. In fact, there’s a special offer going on, this week, for guys who are interested in helping to lead one of these studies.



Again, the website is

What our listeners are going to hear today—Robert is very clear—and he does a great job of helping to explain what the Scriptures teach around a husband’s responsibility and a wife’s responsibility in the marriage relationship. He’s really teaching through the section in the book of Ephesians, in Chapter 5, where Paul gives instruction to husbands and wives about our responsibilities to one another. What we’ve already heard him say, in Part One of this message, is that a husband's first responsibility is to sacrificially love his wife. That’s where we're going to pick things up, here with Part Two of Robert Lewis’s message. Here is Dr. Robert Lewis.

[Previously Recorded]

Robert: Secondly, a second best practice of a real head is in verses 26 to 28: "Christ sanctified His bride, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word; that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and blameless."



That's what Christ did for His bride. Then it says, "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies, because he who loves his own wife, loves himself."

Now, I used to read that, as a young man. It sounds a bit cryptic—this “washing of water with the Word” / “sanctify”—those are kind of heady terms. I didn't really understand that, but I want to bring it down where you can grasp hold of it very quickly. You know, Jesus, not only redeemed His church, but Jesus also did another thing—He protected His church from sin by washing it with His Word.

In fact, we're here today to have a Word-wash right now—to help protect us and direct us. That's what's really going on, and that's important. But, you know—what's even more important is this—a real head will love his wife in the same way—he will do the same thing.



Like Christ, a husband is charged to keep his wife safe from sin and directed in life by assuming what I call the position of being—listen—a "standard bearer" / a standard bearer—one that, not only shows his wife his heart, but through his life, he holds up the Word to his family to give his family help, and direction, and safety.

It's the exact place where the first husband failed so miserably. I mean, if we turn the clock back to Adam and Eve—there they are in the Garden. The whole focus point is his failure of being a standard bearer. Here is his wife, drifting into sin—tempted to do something she's not supposed to do. In this critical moment, where life and death hangs in the balance, what does Adam do? Does he come in and hold up the Word and go, "No!"?

No, he lowers his standards. He lowers the banner of truth.



He goes flat, and he watches his wife step into this death moment. After it's over, Adam learns what every husband has learned since—he learned the reverse principle of

verse 28—verse 28 says, "He who loves his wife loves himself."  Here is what Adam learned: "He who hurts his wife hurts himself," because when God came, He didn't come to rebuke Eve—He came to rebuke Adam. You know why?—because he wouldn't hold up the Word. A real head is a standard bearer.

Husbands, let me just tell you this—you don’t have to be a theologian. This verse is not asking you to be some scholar of the text—but here’s what it does charge you with, which many young men are missing today.



It says—in your home, you have the responsibility to establish high standards that call your home up to holiness and health, where there’s not going to be these major errors and train wrecks down the road.

It’s you who is charged—that doesn’t mean your wife won’t participate—with making sure the values system of your home, in a godless world, are Christian values. You bear that responsibility. Like I said, you don’t need to be a theologian, but you do need to know the basics of God’s Word enough that you’re able to keep your marriage safe, sound, and protected. When somebody comes to examine it—on track with the eternity that one day you will spend your life in. That’s what a good head does.



Thirdly—here's a third best practice—it's found in verses 28 through 30. Notice it says this—it says, "So husbands are also to love their wives as themselves," and then it says, "for no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it just as Christ also does the church, because we're members of His body."

Now, when you read that, there are two words that jump out—the words "nourish" and "cherish." And what those words do is—they unfold, for a husband, one of his major responsibilities because those words mean to provide for your wife / to care for her in some material fashion. I believe that what a real head is—he is a provider. Like Christ provided for His church, a husband practically provides whatever is necessary for the wife to be the kind of woman that God meant for her to be.

He's charged—hear this—he's charged with providing for her freedom to be whatever God is calling her to be.



In our world, providing for your wife that freedom inevitably involves money—it involves money. So, a real head, not only shows his wife his heart—he not only holds up the Word to her—but he also shows her the money. [Laughter]

Now, having heard that, why would a man want to get married? [Laughter] Why would he leave his father and his mother—they're taking care of stuff! —and go cleave to a wife, as verse 31 says? Why would he do that, knowing that if he did that, as a Christian man, he's going to have to assume these huge responsibilities of being a lover and open up his heart when he doesn't even know how to talk?—and being a standard bearer, when no one has really discipled him in the Word and being a provider—and he's just barely making ends meet as it is—who would want to do that?



I like what it says in verse 32: "The mystery is great." [Laughter] It is a great mystery! You've always wondered why that statement was in there—there it is. [Laughter] Why? “It's a great mystery.”

But verse 33 helps a little bit in solving the mystery—it says, "Let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."  Here is what I've learned, after 35 years of marriage—you see, in a marriage, a man has a unique opportunity to experience something in his heart and his life, whether he knew it or not when he first got married, that, really, he's always longing for.

In many ways, he will find—if it ever happens to him—he will find that, in many ways, this is the crowning achievement of his manhood—it becomes a reward—the ultimate affirmation.



It can only really be given by that one somebody, who has examined his life up-close and personal like no other—the one person who really knows him / the one person who has experienced him in the crucible of a raw and honest life in all kinds of innumerable fronts. She saw him as he really is a lot. And yet, from all those vantage points, there comes a time in their marriage where she is able to reflect back to him what he has longed for all his life—and that is that he's a really good man.



Respect—as it grows in her face through the years—the soul of his masculine heart comes together in happiness, like he's never known, because he did it!—he came through with a woman. That's what every man longs for in his life. Men marry for companionship / men long, in marriage, for respect. And, you know, if you'll note, that respect comes fittingly at verse 33—the very last verse. There's a reason for that—it's not accidental. It comes there because guys/husbands, you can only get this respect after you've assumed the challenging, self-sacrificing, God-given assignments of lover, standard bearer, and provider. That's how this verse works.



I have three applications as we close this morning. Dads, can I encourage you, in a world that is raising children with no vision—and especially sons with completely zero understanding of how to interact with a woman or be married—would you be a faithful farmer and deposit these three seeds into your elementary age and above son's life? 

You can do that. You can speak it into their lives like seeds that will grow for the rest of their lives. You've got a 10-year-old?—you need to remind him, "Son, when you get married one day, you need to be…" and you can tell him. Give him the three seeds of vision: "You need to be a lover. You need to be a standard bearer. You need to be a provider." 

Or you can say: "Hey, did you know Mom's love language is affirming words?



“Hey, when you give her that birthday card—instead, write on the card all the things that she is really good at and tell her you love her for it. You'll light up her life because, you know, loving a woman well is speaking her love language."  You can tell your son that.

But here is what I want you to know—men don't do well without direction. But if you start telling your sons those things early—and keep, in a more sophisticated manner that's age-appropriate / keep telling them all the way through—there will come a day where they'll start making decisions that shape their lives around that vision so they can be that kind of man. Then they can stand tall in American society; and they can say, "This is what a head is—I can tell you." That's for you dads.

For you single guys, I've just got a question for you. You've heard these three responsibilities—I don't know where you are in your life, personally, but here is my question for you: “Will you today receive these three responsibilities as your personal calling, as a man, looking forward to marriage?” 



If you will do that, then you will pursue those three things in some way to shape your life. Maybe you will get into a Bible study and start learning about God's Word. Maybe you will get into some study where you start learning more about the needs of women, like in a Men's Fraternity or whatever. Maybe you will say: "You know, I need to change jobs. I'm not going to earn enough here."  Maybe it will be a spur for you to reach higher in your career. But here is what you're going to do: "He who loves his wife loves himself."  You will never feel more loved, in life, than if you do these three things.

And for us guys, who are already husbands—there are a couple of things I want to just challenge you with as we leave today. One is this—as I listed those three things—lover, standard bearer, provider—which one are you weakest at?—


—you'll probably immediately know. Whichever one it is—I'm not here to discourage you / none of us is perfect—we're all in process / we're all wrestling to get to the next rung—but you can, at least, identify where you're the weakest. I you do that, can I encourage you to just take this week—maybe take 10 minutes in the morning—and just sit down with God and tell God: "This is my weakness. Would You somehow, in some way, start helping me craft a way to build strength into this weakness?"—just be your private prayer to God.

You know, what I can promise you?—because you're praying according to the will of God. The Scripture says, if you pray according to the will of God, He hears you and He will answer your request. God will begin to open some doors to help you get better at one of those things. So, now you know—a head is not a boss—and he's certainly not the superior one.



What a real head is—he's a lover, he's a standard bearer, he's a provider—and that's what every man needs to know.


Bob: Well, again, we've been listening to Dr. Robert Lewis talking to husbands—although, we have to acknowledge their wives were sitting right next to them. That's a little risky, you know, for a man to talk to the husbands when the wives are, right there, holding them accountable. [Laughter]

Dennis: And it got a little quiet; but let me tell you something, Bob, that's the best stuff—for a man to get his marching orders and to know his wife kind of knows them too: “Okay, yes.” Marriage is really one of the highest forms of accountability and one of the greatest privileges a man has because it keeps him accountable and prevents him from escaping.

Bob: Well, I've got two questions for you.

Dennis: A lot of guys would try to escape a message like that.

Bob: That's right, and I've got to accountability questions for you; alright?

Dennis: Yes, alright.



Bob: The first one is: “Do you know Barbara's main love language?”

Dennis: Yes.

Bob: Okay; the second one is: “How long had you been married before you knew?”

Dennis: Too long. [Laughter] That was not a fair question!  I could turn the tables, but I know the answer would be the same for you. [Laughter]

Bob: Amen and amen, right here.

Dennis: But, you know, more important is that I have learned how to truly love my wife. We say, all the time, “We would not go back and swap out what we have today for all the white-hot heat and romantic passion that engulfs a young married couple when they're in their early 20s.” Was that fun back then? Absolutely!—it was a blast.

But there is a side of love—I haven't done it perfectly. There isn't any man who has done what Robert was talking about and the Apostle Paul exhorts us to do—love their wives, be a standard bearer, protect their wives—nobody's done that perfectly. 



But you know what? If you've hung in there, and you're in a growing relationship with your wife, I'm just telling you—it gets better with age / it gets better with each passing year. She's my best friend—I mean, there is nobody else on the planet I would rather spend a day with.

So, whether or not you've got all the words down perfectly—love language / whether you've got all those things nailed down—really, they are important—but the more important thing is: “Are you pressing on for the goal—

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: —“stretched out / fervent in your love for one another?” I think that's what it's all about.

Bob: Yes, and I think the question of whether we are embracing our assignment, as men and as women: “Are we doing what God’s called us to do? When He speaks specifically to men in His Word, are we listening, as men? When God speaks specifically to women in His Word, are women listening to what He is saying to them?” —



—because He created us as male and female. Sometimes, in the Bible, He speaks to men and sometimes He speaks to women. In fact, when we were putting together the Stepping Up® video series for guys, we tried to zero in on those passages in the Bible where God is speaking directly to men—where He is talking about us, as men, in marriage or in relationships about what our assignment is, as His followers.

Robert was a key part of the Stepping Up series, along with guys like Tony Dungee, and Matt Chandler, Voddie Baucham, Crawford Loritts, Stu Weber ,and other guys who all came together to contribute to this ten-part series that we are hoping 50,000 guys will go through it in the spring of 2015.



What we’re asking some of our listeners to do—some of you guys, who are ready to step up—why don’t you get the video series, and some workbooks, and get some guys together? Just plan to get together, once a week or once every other week, watch a video, have some conversation, and see if God doesn’t use this series in a powerful way in your own life. That’s what we’re hearing from guys who have already been through it.

There is a special offer available, this week, for guys who would like to take the initiative and get the resources. Go to our website: Click the link in the upper left-hand corner that says, “GO DEEPER.” Then click the link for Stepping Up. You can find out more about the video series—about all that’s available. You can order resources, online, if you’d like. Again, the website: Or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY if you have any questions or if you’d like to order over the phone: 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”



Let me also add a quick word of thanks to those of you who make FamilyLife Today possible. You know who you are—those of you who partner with us by donating to this ministry—those of you, who are Legacy Partners, helping with monthly support for this ministry. We really appreciate you guys. We could not do what we do without you. You help cover the costs of producing and syndicating this daily radio program and we’re grateful for that.

If you could make a donation right now, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you Dennis and Barbara’s devotional guide for couples called Moments with You—a daily devotional that’s a great tool to use during the new year. It’s our gift to you when you go to and click the link in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I Care,” and make an online donation. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone. Or mail your donation to us, along with your request for the book, Moments with You. Write to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.



And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week—thanks for joining us. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to hear from a self-confessed controlling husband. Ron Welch joins us, along with his wife Jan. They’ll talk about some of the challenges they’ve experienced in their marriage because of his tendency to want to control everything that was going on. We’ll talk about that Monday. I hope you can tune in for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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