Spend about .03 seconds around me and you figure out I am a leader, I have a dominant personality, and I am not afraid to step up and try, even if that means I might fail. You also will realize that while these are definitely defining characteristics of me, I am also just as happy to follow someone else’s lead as long as I have no moral objections… With that being said, one of the biggest challenges with being a natural born leader is following someone who makes poor decisions or makes decisions that you do not understand the reasoning behind.There is a vastly different approach taken by great leaders and poor leaders (which really tend to just be managers). You see, great leaders inspire us, they teach us, encourage us, educate us, and in doing these things, they also motivate us to action. To simply obey someone because of their position is not effective nor do I think it is what we are supposed to do (**please note I realize there are certain situations such as war/military that require obeying, but since I am not in these situations I am referring merely to my own life/situation).
Except for my Lord or told to by Him, I see no reason to obey someone, let alone obey them blindly. To obey someone takes away the choice because it is understood that you were commanded, were informed of what your actions will be; much like a child is told to go brush their teeth and get into bed. While being commanded is not something I respond to kindly, I will gladly choose to follow someone, there are even times that I choose to follow without having all of the details, namely because I trust the person and their judgement.
Now that I have established in possibly the broadest sense my view on leadership and obeying in general, I think leadership, obeying, and marriage are an entirely different ballgame than any other type of leading/following. I also realize that I am about to launch myself into a conversation of sorts that I have no experience in due to my status as “single, never married,” however, while my thoughts may change at some point in the future (near or far), this is where I currently stand on the idea of marriage as it pertains to leading, following, obeying, submitting and God…
I firmly believe that regardless of the natural ability for a wife to lead (i.e. my natural tendency), it is the God designed role of the husband to lead their marriage, which is not to be confused for making all the decisions. I think the type of leadership required in a marriage more resembles a couple dancing than anything else. In order for the leadership of the husband to work well and effectively, it requires the husband to ask the wife to “dance,” move, and follow his plan and guidance, but in no way can he accomplish it without truly asking and her choosing to accept each and every move he purposes. When a couple is dancing, the man has no hope of effectively or gracefully completing the dance if his approach is to lead with force or abrupt decisions, instead the most graceful and successful dances require the guy to know what he wants to do, and gently yet clearly asking his partner if she will follow. The success is contingent upon the signal from the guy being clear, and then the girl choosing to follow or not. Once she has chosen to follow, she has the freedom to add flair, additional footwork or change up the speed at which she completes the moves (sometimes, not always is there this opportunity to change footwork and speed..). But, her freedom to change the small things as she follows the guy creates a dance which is both more graceful and more beautiful than he alone could have ever hoped for, and it could never have taken place had he tried forcing her to move. However, the effectiveness, grace, possible style and speed that the whole dance takes on is completely dependent on the guy to know where he’s going and how, as well as the trust he has cultivated with his partner. The more familiar she is with him and his style, the more likely she is to follow without knowing where she will end up. Sometimes, she will recognize the pattern and other times she will be completely lost in the love and joy of the dance.
So, back to my view of what it means to lead and follow in a marriage. While I think it is the role of the husband to lead, I do not think that equates making all the decisions, nor do I think it means deciding on his own, I think it has much more to do with spiritual leadership, which is also not to be confused with him taking the place of God for the wife. I think she is still just as responsible for pursuing and putting God first in her life as he is. However, men and women have dramatically different views of the world, and I think that fact is not only interesting, but essential and on purpose. Viewing the world differently with varying approaches allows couples to not only make the “correct choice” but also to use the best possible tactic in the situation. I think the best marriages are when everything is tackled as a team… Which does not mean everything is equal or fair, but that the expectation is that each person is in it with the other person’s (or entire family’s) best interest at heart. I think to lead AND to follow is hard, but hard for different reasons. Once married if the wife suddenly just starts “obeying” her husband, she stops being the woman he fell in love with because while they were dating she is not commanded to submit, that only takes effect once she becomes his wife. Sure there are steps and processes towards “two becoming one,” and I have no doubt part of this process includes the girlfriend learning to be a fiance, learning to be a wife… but she cannot merely switch to obeying him, nor should that be what he wants, and if that is, then there is either a lot of fighting in his future or a mere shadow of the marriage he could have had.
So, I 100% agree with the Bible that husbands should “love their wives” and wives should “submit to their husbands”… but, let’s not forget we are also told to ” Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)…
And, in order for a husband to lead his wife, he is told to love her:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13
I think it is important to point out, it is not the job of the wife to make her husband love her, and it is not the job of the husband to make his wife submit. Both commands are between the person and God alone. I do however think it looks slightly different for every couple due to the different strengths, abilities, skills, weaknesses, etc.. No two marriages will look the same, which means the leadership/teamwork styles cannot look identical either. Leading me will look dramatically different than leading any other woman because of my strengths and weaknesses, as well as my (possibly) future husband’s.
From my entirely naive of personal experience view of marriage, I think it is one of the most difficult, challenging, frustrating, but entirely worth it choices two people can make. And, I challenge you to re-evaluate your view of leadership, obeying, and marriage once more after viewing this video about Ian and Larissa‘s marriage.
Talk about a true authentic loving marriage.