I was young and single. The conversations I had with my young, single friends often revolved around the topic of what kind of guy we wanted to marry. Inevitably, at the top of the list of qualities we were looking for was the most important quality:
He had to be a godly leader!
We were looking for our godly leader to come sweep us off our feet and lead us through life. We wouldn't settle for anything less. And of course, we were ready to be led.
Or so we thought.
Oh, we meant well. It all sounded good. But the truth of the matter is that none of us really had a clue what biblical leadership really meant and none of us really wanted to be led. We thought we did, but if we had taken a closer look at the scriptures we would have seen the sobering reality that lies within every female heart : Our desire is to rule over men.
“...you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” Gen. 3:16 NLT
“...your desire shall be against your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Gen. 3:16 ESV
I remember clearly the day that my husband and I sat in our pastor's office. We had been married for less than a year and my husband was failing miserably as a leader...at least in my estimation he was. Discouraged and defeated, my husband willingly agreed to go with me to talk with our pastor about the problem.
After we (I!) stated our case, my pastor paused for a few seconds, looked at both of us, then directed his full attention to me and said very kindly yet sternly, "Gina, do you realize that there is more than one style of leadership? Brian has a particular personality and will lead you in his own way. He is growing in his leadership abilities and you need to allow him to do that."
I was completely humbled and ashamed at how I had been treating my precious husband. I had been so busy holding him to an ideal of what I thought leadership should look like, that I had missed all that my husband was already doing and what a kind, gentle, grace filled leader he had already been growing in to!
We have been married for 26 years now and I have seen this scenario with young dating and married couples more times than I can count. I often feel sorry for the men I have seen who are carrying the burden that their girlfriends or wives unknowingly heap on their shoulders in the way I did my own husband all those years ago. I often remind my son that if he dates a girl who is constantly reminding him to "be a leader" and then proceeds to tell him how it should be done, she is never pleased by his efforts, or doesn't give him room to be learning, then he needs to be aware that there is a good chance that he is dating a "nag in training"!
Ask yourself some questions:
- Did your husband grow up in an atmosphere where he was taught what his God ordained role is?
- Has your husband had any good examples or mentors in his life who have lived out an authentic (not perfect) leadership model?
- Is he growing in his understanding of what godly leadership is?
- Does your church teach about a husband's leadership role?
- Are you a wife who truly wants to be led?
- Do you allow him to lead or do you challenge him for the leadership of the home and tell him what a bad job he is doing?
- Are you able to see his efforts at leading?
Look for his efforts to:
Lead in love - Does he show love? How does he show his love to you? Does he make effort to spend time with you? Is he striving to be a loving husband/leader?
Lead by initiating - Is he making even the smallest efforts to initiate leadership? Does he try to lead, but it is not what you think it should "look like"? Try to see his efforts, even if it not your ideal. Don't nag. Don't expect perfection.
Lead spiritually - Is he in the Word regularly? Do you see him making effort to pray, be a part of a church community, or encourage those around him?
Lead in conflict resolution - Does he make effort to work through problems and deal with conflicts. Do you see his efforts, even if they aren't what you would like them to be? Can you appreciate the efforts he does make?
Lead in being an authentic (not perfect) example - Is he working at being a good example and trying to walk in faith? (Authentic! not perfect!) Is he striving to be godly in his speech, patience, purity, faith, pursuit of God, personal discipline, and commitment to moral principles?
Lead in humility - When he fails to be the example, does he humbly acknowledgement his failure? Does he acknowledge his weaknesses? Is he desiring to grow and victory in his battle? Is he a man who strives to practice what he preaches?
Lead in serving - Does he serve you, your family, and others in any way? Does he help around the house, help your neighbor, in your church or community? Does he come home from a long day at work and help you with the kids, clean up dinner, or take the time to hear about your day?
Lead in decision making - Does he include you in the decision making? Does he take time to wisely make decisions? Does he try to make good decisions? Does he consider the best interest of you and your family? Does he try to find middle ground? Ultimately, are you willing to go with his decision, even if you don't agree with it?
What about YOU? - Do you see that he is open and learning to be a leader? Do you see his efforts? Do you really believe God has called him to be the leader of your home? Do you want God to speak through your husband and use him as a godly man to lead your family?
Ask God to speak to your heart and help you to be your husbands biggest encourager and cheerleader in his calling. Only then will he be able to continue to grow in this calling, and learn his calling fully.
6 Things to Remember:
- The man you marry will never be a perfect leader and you need to give him room for that.
- The man you marry will be in a process of growth and learning until he dies (like you are!).
- The man you marry has a unique, God given personality and temperament, and you need to give him room to be who God made him to be and allow leadership to show itself in the way he is meant to lead.
- You need to be sure that you understand what true biblical leadership is, and work hard to not impose your interpretation of what we think it should look like.
- The best thing you can do for the man you marry is pray for him, asking God to help him to grow in his understanding of what biblical leadership is and how he is to live that out.
- Pray that God would help you see any little effort that your husband makes to be a leader, and then be sure to tell him how much you appreciate it!
I am so thankful for the lesson God taught me over 25 years ago. I pray that God will enable my son to learn well his calling in the same way he continues to enable my husband.