Follow the Leader

Interestingly, in my discussions with young women, one of the biggest concerns that I hear about is that their boyfriends (and later, husbands) are not being the spiritual leaders that they desire them to be. I remember thinking the same thing when I was their age, wondering where all the "real" men were. Deep inside, I think that God has planted that desire. It is not that we are the "weaker sex" and need to be told what to do. Rather, I think that it is a reflection of a longing for Eden, a return to the way that things were supposed to be. God designed men to be the leaders, the initiators. Women come alongside them as support and as a complement. Both of us together work in our unique capacities to carry on the work that God has intended for humankind. Different, but both very important.

However, with the Fall, things have changed. Even though Eve did fall for the serpent's temptation and lies, God holds Adam responsible. He looks for the man first (Gen. 1:9). Apparently, he was present at the time of the temptation (verse 6 says he was "there with her"), but did not step in and exercise his leadership.

Unfortunately, it seems like that is the way things have continued to go through the ages. Our culture seems to continue to elevate women and picture men as stupid, bumbling idiots who need a strong woman to lead them. With examples like that, it is not hard to miss.

In my own home, I have had to deal with this issue. I, too, wanted my husband to be the leader in our family. But if I had to be honest, I know that I like to run the roost in our home. The fact is, I wanted him to be the leader but didn't want to relinquish control. So, being the person he is, my husband just let me have my way. Why fight?

Finally, things came to a head in our home. In a time of heated, ahem, discussion, he just asked me point blank: "Are you willing to let me lead our family? Are you willing to trust my judgment? Are you willing to go where I go?" Hmmmm...I had to really think about that. He nailed me on the head with that one. I wanted him to lead, but I didn't really want to follow.

I thought about it and came to this conclusion: in order for my husband to be the leader God wanted him to be, I needed to let him take that place. I needed to step back and let him take control and make the decisions for our family. Until I was willing to trust God to lead our family through him, to take seriously his opinions and to let go of my own desires, Dan was never going to be the husband I wanted him to be. All kinds of arguments rose in my mind, the key one being: does this mean I have to be a doormat? Does this mean that I can't have a different opinion or viewpoint? I was afraid that by yielding the reins to my husband, I would consent to his every whim and decision.

That was where I realized that this line of thinking reflected very little trust in my husband and in God. I had to cry out to the Lord to change my heart first. It was not that my husband didn't want to lead. It was because I didn't want to let him. Before he could become that leader, I needed to change first. (Isn't that the way it always is?)

And so, I had to humbly change my ways. I began to stop correcting everything he did or questioning it. I began listening to his opinion and learned to ask questions so I could better understand his rationale. Instead of insisting on "my way or the highway" I had to learn how to take a step of faith and trust that the Lord was working in my husband and that He knew how to lead him.

Dealing with this issue was just one of the many things we have had to work on over the past few years. It may even be the hardest, since we had spent so many years building up negative patterns. To my husband's credit, I must say that he has not treated me like a doormat. I still have freedom to share my opinions. The difference is I need to learn to say my piece and then let him have the final decision, knowing that the Lord is leading through him. That may be the hardest part of all.

Fortunately, as we grow more in unity (we'll talk about that in another post), our desires are more in line with one another. We begin to want the same things. It doesn't mean we are losing our individuality, but we are becoming more of the team that we are meant to be. As Jesus says, a "household divided against itself cannot stand." (Matt. 12:25) If we desire for our homes to be salt and light in this world, we need to start with ourselves and learn to let our husbands lead. The next generation is looking to us for examples. Will we step up and follow?