Marriage…and leadership…Tuesday

marriage 2this is kind of a “marriage tuesday” post…but it’s more than that.

i was having a conversation with a friend recently.  he and his wife have been having a long-term (well over a year) disagreement over a really important issue in their marriage…and lately, she has been responding by taking a super passive position.   she doesn’t want to do what he wants, but now she won’t even express what she wants.

so they do nothing…and it is slowly eroding their relationship.

i have a lot of well-intentioned friends who would recommend that he start acting like the head of his household,  make the decision, and tell her that’s what they are going to do.  after all, he’s the leader of his marriage and the leader of his home.

that was not the advice that i gave him.

you know, it’s amazing to me how infatuated our culture is with the concept of leadership.  from the moment we can line up for picking kickball teams at recess, we start pigeon-holing kids into two camps:  leaders and followers.

leaders are most often seen as…

  • independent
  • courageous
  • smart
  • determined
  • not easily influenced
  • driven
  • sacrificial
  • visionary
  • sacrificial
  • daring
  • trustworthy
  • integrated
  • skill communicators
  • educated
  • strong
  • motivating
  • influential
  • dependable
  • decisive
  • and a host of other characteristics…

we expect leaders on the team…in the office…in our organizations…in the community…in politics…in the church…in our marriages…even in our relationships.

i have dozens of books on leadership.  some of them i bought.  most of them were given as gifts.  are people trying to tell me something??

people go to coaches conferences and management conferences and sales conferences and motivational thinking conferences and critical thinking conferences and pastor conferences…and all of them share at least one thing in common:  organizations rise and fall with leadership.

here’s the deal, though.  and it’s not new…i’ve said it before.  there is a world of difference between be a great leader and be like jesus.  

books and speakers that try to point out the greatness of jesus’ leadership need to be careful.  we have this tendency to project the modern, american, corporate model of leadership  onto jesus…and onto relationships like marriage and shepherding.  we need to be careful.

we don’t look at leadership characteristics (like the ones listed above),  ascribe them to jesus,  and then point out what a great leader he was.  that’s backwards.

what we need to do is see and understand the character of jesus for who he really is…and let those characteristics define the scope and magnitude of our “leadership” in the home and beyond.

to put it simply:  if it’s what jesus would do…if it’s how jesus would react…if it’s how jesus would treat people…if it’s how jesus would make a decision…if it’s the kind of confidence jesus would have…if it’s the form of motivation jesus would use…then that is how my “leadership” will be defined.   no more and no less.

i will be a husband (or wife) the way jesus would.

i will be a coach the way jesus would.

i will be a teacher the way jesus would.

i will be a manager the way jesus would.

i will be a boss the way jesus would.

i will be a team leader the way jesus would.

i will be a ___________the way jesus would.

don’t sucker yourself into believing that certain characteristics of jesus wouldn’t be successful in your line of work or in the relationships you find yourself in.  if that’s true, get out of that ghetto.

back to marriage.  here’s a final thought:  men, if you want to call yourself the “leader” in your marriage,  go ahead (though i don’t personally see it that way).   but you better make sure your “leadership” never…and i mean never… looks anything less than the character of christ.



4 thoughts on “Marriage…and leadership…Tuesday

  1. Very good post.

    I spend a big portion of my relationship with my sons trying to make them leaders and teach them to make decisions on their own and be an example at whatever they are doing.

    This post is a very good reminder that while all that is a great lesson it must ALWAYS be based on the foundation that there is only one true leader and all our choices and decisions need to be based off following Him.

  2. Could your friend obey what he thinks Jesus would have him do as an example to his wife without hurting his marriage further? Maybe his wife needs to see his obedience. If the wife would misinterpret this as him being a bully leader he would need to rethink, of course, but maybe he needs to call her bluff. Could it be possible she is bullying him? Maybe he shows his love for her more by doing what’s best for him and ultimately what’s best for her in the most respectful way possible.

    Love and respect and looking out for the best interest of the other person has worked better in my marriage than jockeying for leadership position. Not that I have a perfect marriage, but hey, we celebrate 34 years next month. Something’s working right.

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