Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who is Responsible?


Dear Reading Friends, 
Please enjoy these posts by my friend and fellow Biblical Counselor, Pastor Bruce Roeder of Missio Dei Fellowship in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I am taking a few days "off" this week! 
Blessings. 

If my wife and I have a favorite restaurant it's probably Applebees. She loves the variety on the menu and I love the steak-shrimp parmesan and order it each time we go and we probably go to Applebees once a month for a treat.

But recently I had surgery and am immobile for six weeks meaning we’d have to skip our monthly visit. However, the last time we were there I noticed they had car side service where you could call ahead and still score your favorite Applebees dish. I thought that since our anniversary was coming up and I'll still be laid up it might be a good idea to use the car side service twice, once to try out and once for our anniversary.

So last Friday we decided to give it a shot and my wife called in our order. She tried something new which is kind of predictable while I went with my only choice of steak-shrimp parmesan. Yes, my wife is the interesting one willing to try new foods while I am the boring one quite content with my steak-shrimp parmesan.

She was told to pick the food up in twenty minutes at 7:00 P.M.. We thought this was great since Applebees is only 10 minutes from our house and we'd be enjoying our order shortly.

At 7:45 I call my wife wondering what in the world has happened and praying she was not in an accident. She picks up her cell phone and tells me she is on her way home and had just left Applebees.

She explains our food order was twice delayed and she had to wait the extra forty-five minutes. She said she almost told them to forget it. I'm glad she didn't since even though it was late I had the craving for my steak-shrimp parmesan! Once she got the food home we noticed the order was slightly wrong and the steak was not cooked as requested. Our favorite restaurant lost something of the A+ rating we had given it.

My wife told me that the young car side server was beside himself making apologies and that she felt sorry for him. He even asked at one point if she would have liked to see the manager but she said no. She then made an interesting observation.

Why did the young server have to ask if she wanted to see the manager when the manager should have been the one out at car side doing what he could making the situation right? After all whose restaurant was it, the manager's or the 17-year-old kid making clumsy but heart-felt apologies?

Some may point out that perhaps it was the young server's fault the food was late because he was the one taking the orders and he underestimated the wait time. Perhaps this was so and if true the young man was guilty of the offense. However, it still was the manager's responsibility for the entire fiasco. Why? Because he is the steward of that particular Applebees and whatever happens at that Applebees reflects his stewardship of the resources he had been entrusted with, including the training of the young man and quality of the food.

The same is true in marriage. The wife or children may be guilty of some sin or bad behavior but it is the husband who is responsible for whatever fiasco results from the sin or bad behavior. Why? Because the husband is the head of home (1 Cor. 11:3) just as the manager is the head of an Applebees restaurant.

I know that this offends many ears. Feminism and other cultural influences have undermined biblical principles and commands to the point where men think their headship is some sort of option when it is not. When a man marries he is the head of the home. The only question is how. Is he the kind of steward of the home who lets the 17-year-old son cover for him or lets his wife stay in her sin or is he the kind of steward who takes responsibility and does what is in his power to make it right?

There are multiple reasons why this is biblically so. One is found in 1 Tim. 3:4-5 where Paul discusses the qualifications for being an elder. Paul writes:

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 1 Tim. 3:4-5. NASB

Paul is telling elder wannabees and teaching the church that an elder must have an exemplary life (not a perfect one). He must be exemplary in his personal life and one of the main ways to observe this is by looking at his family. Is the household managed well? If the answer is no then the apostle says the man has no business managing the church.

If we look at this passage and the headship issue and think, man this is harsh, then it only goes to show just how far we’ve slipped from embracing what God's word clearly teaches. The husband is the head of the home and responsible for what goes on there and for that matter what does go on and should not go on.

The terms "under control" are important. Paul is not saying the steward/manager is controlling. He is saying the household must be under control. There is a difference although some men don't grasp that.

Under control in the Greek has a military connotation. At the time of the apostle's writing the prime example of a disciplined "under control" army was the Roman legion. The smallest maneuver unit in the legion was a century of 80 soldiers. To keep each century under control each century had a centurion and it was his job to make sure the century did what it was supposed to do. If he did not then guess who was responsible? He was!

We get a nice glimpse of what this means in Matthew 8:5-13 where a centurion, commander of 80 seeks Jesus out in order to ask Jesus to heal his servant (probably one of his soldiers). Jesus agrees to come but the centurion says that he knows what it means to be under authority since he is responsible for 80 soldiers who respond to his authority. That's how he keeps order in the century. Jesus is impressed by the centurion's faith saying he has not found such faith in all of Israel and so heals the servant from a distance.

Much could be said about the centurion including the fact the man had compassion on his soldiers just as he had authority over them. The Scripture does not say but I dare say his men probably followed him gladly and with enthusiasm because they knew how serious he took his responsibilities and how he had their best interests at heart.

And so it ought be with the Christian husband. Yes, he has authority but it is a delegated authority from God who declares him head of the home. Like the centurion that headship and authority are not mutually exclusive from compassion and a tender warrior style of leadership in the home.

Titus 1:6 adds a bit more to what the end goal looks like:

 "...namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. " Titus 1:6, NASB

Here the apostle tells us that the cumulative effect of a exemplary personal life is to be above reproach.

This does not mean "mistake proof" nor "sin proof." It means that the above reproach husband-leader-manager takes responsibility for his sins and mistakes and for the order of his family-military unit-restaurant and seeks to make things when right when it is within his power to do so.

This is contrary to many men who either abdicate (very common) their responsibilities or act in an authoritarian jerk mode (less common but common enough).

On the receipt we received from Applebees there was an invitation to go to their website and take part in a customer service survey. Ah, ha I thought, here is the corporate manager seeking to hold his store managers accountable for something. I think I'll speak my mind (in love of course).

The website also said that if you take the survey you might win an Ipad so I thought well that would be a bonus and a fine way for them to make it right.

 I took the survey and related the story of the sorry car side service we received from our local Applebees. I have not heard from them yet apart from knowing I did not win the Ipad. I am hopeful that someone steps up and does what they can to make it right even if that just means an apology from a manager who should have stepped up in the first place and set an example for his restaurant help including a 17-year-old car side server who could not stop apologizing.

Men, our responsibility is before the Lord. Step out in faith like the centurion and lead your family in such a way that all see you are above reproach an follow Christ.


Inspiration for this series comes from the Bible and from Pastor Doug Wilson who wrote Reforming Marriage, Canon Press, 1995. Further inspiration also comes from my own pastor and friend Matt Henry of Missio Dei Fellowship in Kenosha, WI who faithfully and tirelessly preaches the Word every week. http://www.sermonaudio.com/source_detail.asp?sourceid=tbckenosha








No comments: