How to be Meek from a Position of Authority

The role of the husband is one of a number of important leadership positions in human society. It exists alongside positions such as heads of government, employers, and parents. Like any other authority, it is drawn from God’s authority and established by Him. It draws its basic patterns and legitimacy from His being. Society has any number of other designated authorities, including teachers, and a variety of assistants or supervisors. A dangerous tendency in evaluating leadership is to pit leadership against humility, as if these are two opposing things; one could either be a leader or be meek. One can be meek, but one must eschew leadership. If a leader is anything but the very soft kind, he must somehow be prideful and mistaken. This human thinking creates nonsensical distortions. Leadership itself does not require any kind of false pride, and biblically should be rooted in meekness. The order established by the leader, as well as his judgments, can come from a place of meekness, with a view of the good of others. Being rooted in a meek heart is attainable for the husband as for any other established head in society. I wish to go over some of characteristics of the meek leader, and provide a bit of a recipe with biblical models and instructions.

There are principles that apply to every human being regarding humility. Much of what I say reaches beyond the scope of being a husband, or even holding authority. However, those principles may be applied uniquely in marriage, since no authority position is exactly the same. I want to look at the main points in how to be meek as a leader, despite any differences in application. It should not be difficult to see how this reflects upon marriage. 

I first have to note, that meekness is not by nature always soft, nor is it weak. King David was one of the greatest kings of Israel, a man who led soldiers into battle, and he says — “I am poor and needy.” (Psalm 40:17) David called over and over to God for help in His need. He knew he had no strength to save himself. King David knew he was a sinner, and sought forgiveness from God and repentance. Psalm 51 presents what any man of any position ought to be able to say in confession of sin. The Psalm recognizes the severity of sin, and imagines all the good he will do when he is forgiven and washed clean. He rejoices in the thought of being pleasing to God, and in all his nation being pleasing to God. Repentance isn’t for the sake of getting out of trouble, but becoming clean and being a fit vessel to serve the Lord.

Meekness is characterized by a reliance on God in all matters. It is found in drawing from God’s strength and not our own. It means our force and authority comes down to establishing what is good in the eyes of the Lord, rather than just what is pleasing to us. It means we know we don’t have to fight every battle ourselves, but have God to fight for us. It means our aim is to represent God’s purpose for the world, and that’s it. Something is not right or wrong because it offends us, but because it offends God. Psalm 37, while not specifically mentioning leadership, gives us a good idea of what meekness is, and it is this Psalm that Jesus cites in His Sermon on the Mount — “the meek shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) The Psalmist, who sees such evil men in the world, does not fret, because He knows God will triumph over evil. He is not greatly threatened, because he knows the wicked will soon be removed from the way, and seen no more. (vss. 2, 9, 10) “But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in the time of trouble.” (vs. 39) His meekness is one of enduring faithfulness, commitment to righteousness, and trust in God rather than himself. 

A meek leader knows that he is a sinner. Paul the apostle is plain in the fact that he led a life of terrible wickedness before becoming a Christian (Acts 22:4-5), and describes his ongoing battles with sin at length in Romans 7. Paul calls himself the chief of sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15-16) Yet his recognition of his own sin did not prevent him from doing what the highest leaders in the church, the apostles do — provide new revelation, write authoritative documents, give commands, and rebuke sinners and false teachers. He has some very harsh rebukes of false teachers, whose words could not be any stronger. His awareness of his own sin did not make Paul less able to be a leader, but rather made him humble. He still fulfilled his role, led, and passed judgments.

A husband should be aware of what knowledge of his own sin means. He should apply it to his leadership. I know the first thought that comes to mind is that we gain an understanding of our wife’s weaknesses and her sins, and we know not to judge TOO harshly or without patience. It means we know we are working with a human soul who is not immediately bent toward the good with a simple punishment, but who requires spiritual refreshment and renewal. This is true. On the other end, however, knowledge of our own sin helps us understand that correction is needed. We have needed correction before. We’ve had to face the seriousness of our own wrongs before. Having gone through that ourselves we can understand the need for our wife to deal with the seriousness of her infraction, and the benefit in guiding her that an unpleasant penalty has. We know there is a time to be harsh, because it’s needed, and we may have benefited from tough consequences in our own lives. Knowing we are a sinner makes us more understanding and patient, but also willing to be firm with her because correction often demands we are firm.

The leader should use consistent standards, and not put himself above the law. Being consistent in standards is a universal teaching (Matthew 7:2, Romans 2:1-3, 21-23), but it applies especially to leaders, since they will be making many judgments, ones which will affect others greatly. Notice how kings in the Torah were commanded by God to write down the entire law themselves, and to be righteous men. The bar of behavior we set for others should not be one we could not attain ourselves. It must be one we seek to live up to in our own lives. Nor do we set generally impossible or nearly impossible goals. They should be good standards that a responsible wife can live up to. The point is not to establish totalitarianism, or to be in charge of every breath of our wife’s mouth, as the Almighty gives her breath. It just amounts to reasonable governmental standards of ethics and the harmonious running of the home. Being inconsistent in standards or having too high standards will be a stumbling block.

A meek leader is modeled on the humility of Christ. This humility does not deny that Christ rules, and has all authority. (Matthew 28:18) It simply establishes His character. That character, according to Philippians 2, is one who was willing to sacrifice and suffer for others. It is one that placed the salvation of His beloved above his own good feelings. This observation about the Son of God comes merely as part of describing how the brothers in the Church ought to behave towards one another — we ought to think of the other’s needs highly, and put others before ourselves. “Let nothing be done by selfish ambition or conceit.” (vs. 3) All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus Christ, yet Jesus Christ puts the needs of others before His own.

Applied to a husband’s leadership, this does not mean he fails to lead, or that he is mealy mouthed in how he does lead. It means his purpose is not in his own personal happiness and exaltation. His purpose is in the good of his wife and family, and he even gives up comfort and public esteem to be a righteous leader and provide what they need. It’s important to note that does not mean a husband provides all that they feel like, or every comfort and amenity. That would be spoiling them and it would be selfish on their part to expect it. Rather, it means he cares for their needs — physical needs, spiritual needs, their growth in virtue. He is not a genie there to make them happy. He is a leader there for their good. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” Of course, Christ does not make His people all millionaires. On the physical level, He provides for their daily needs, and occasionally lifts up a person to become wealthy, so they may glorify Him through it. Yet on the greater level, Christ sacrifice himself for the Church to become saved and holy. That is the attitude the husband should have. That is the real goal, both for wife and children.

Paul says of the work of himself and other leaders: “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15). He deeply wants to see a holy and beautiful Church one day, so he gives his labor, sweat, and tears to the ministry. He suffers whatever persecution comes with being a recognized leader of this new and hated faith. He prays for them to remain strong in the faith. His goal is a holy Bride of Christ. So too does a husband work for his wife to be cleansed of impurity, and filled with spiritual beauty.

The leader, as a Christian, is calm and gentle as a default setting. (Ephesians 4:2, Philippians 4:5, 1 Timothy 6:11) He answers others with love. (Colossians 4:6, 1 Corinthians 16:14) However, the leader certainly is able to use harsh methods when necessary. Apostle Paul even threatens to be harsh with a church at the end of 1 Corinthians 4, as a possible alternative to being gentle if they will not listen. Harsh methods such as excommunication are taught in 1 Corinthians 5 and elsewhere, and both Jesus and the apostles give warnings of hellfire, earthly suffering, and death. Christ will rule with a rod of iron. (Psalm 2, Revelation 2, 19) Yet the norm is to be gentle daily. (Titus 3:2, James 3:17) Even with the sinner, we seek to restore them in gentleness and peace. (Galatians 6:1) Similarly, the husband manages his wife in calm and loving fashion, yet maintains the right to give her a punishment when her behavior demands it.

That is not a complete picture of the leader. Nor does it give you every element that motivates or expresses humility. It is something I ask husbands to keep in mind as they govern their wife and their home. There is a clear and objective path in learning to lead. There are eternal principles that guide the man straight, though his thoughts or reactions might lean him towards the right or the left. That clear path will help him know how to speak. It will help him know when to be merciful, and when to use the rod. If he is a Christian, he has the Spirit of God to keep him in that path, and to lessen his resistance to being Christlike. The husband, being meek and trusting in God, works faithfully for the good of his home. He gives his time, energy, and resources for it. He loves to see his wife grow in virtue and in godliness. His aims are not his own.


9 responses to “How to be Meek from a Position of Authority”

  1. Wondering Avatar

    I was just talking about this to my master today. I see this in him and I’m not sure he even realizes it. He’s exactly what this article is saying a man should be like. I know he can fail, but maaan…. For the most part, this is exactly how I see him. I’m thankful for him. Just this morning, I was actually saying “I see Jesus in you.” And it’s true. Think about it… He is King of kings and Lord of lords and He made Himself of no reputation, but took upon Himself the form of a servant. … It’s just easier to follow someone who has humility instead of arrogance and pride. And no, he is in no way “weak” in my mind. I look up to and respect him more than I can say.

    1. That’s really great to hear. You are very blessed to belong to such a Christlike man. Thank you, Wondering.

  2. rickmorganhoh Avatar

    This is great. I sent to the guys in my Bible study. It’s going to be our guide for our sat morning study. May take a few!Thanks!

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    1. I am very honored. I hope the group finds useful guidance in it.

  3. ThatWifeLife Avatar

    I’m so glad you wrote this article! I think sometimes Christian society can forget that the gentleness and meekness found in the fruit of the spirit is not exclusive to women.

    This describes my husband so well! He is so wise in when to offer grace and when to lay down the law, but even when I’m in trouble, he never yells or loses control of himself. Even when I’m about to be spanked, he gently but firmly reiterates that he’s looking out for the good of me, our children, our marriage, our home, and our witness to others. It’s never for his own selfish pleasure. He’s much more patient and gentle with the children than I am as well, and strives to lead by example. I absolutely love this about him, though sometimes I feel a little frustrated when he’s not coming down hard on them after I’ve had a rough day on the home front. I know from being raised in a harsh environment with very little grace from my father, that my husband is being very wise in his patience with the children and I.

    1. Thank you. I’m very glad your husband knows how to lead with meekness and use correction wisely.

  4. This is an absolutely important article Aron.
    It especially significant how we as men have to aim for the clarity and acknowledgement that we are flawed and we make mistakes and without that consciousness one could be flirting with the ways of tyranny potentially harm the ones that matter the most, our families.
    As of lately I’ve reading a few Bible passages and some other articles that talk specifically about the balance that is needed to rule and to implement order. To raise strong men, one need to teach body, mind and spirit balance and that can’t only through harshness nor only through softness. And to aid, correct and guide women one needs to be able to recognize her vulnerable and fragile soul as well as her rebellious and daring nature.
    Very enlightening and important article once again Aron as it gives pace for deep and meaningful discussions and it is very instructive.

    1. Thank you. It’s a topic that has been on my mind for a while.

  5. Elsie Avatar

    I agree that self-confidence isn’t the enemy of meekness. And I’m super thankful for how easily and quickly Marty apologises when he thinks he may have offended me. There is something so powerful about him giving me an example to follow. Teaching me how to be quick with humility and to put each other ahead of our pride. I think it’s easier for women to be teachable when we need correcting when our men have taught us what humility looks like themselves.

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