Before I was married, the conversations I had with my 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
One by one my friends and I got married. We went off into the sunset with our men. It didn’t take long for us to see that we hadn’t married the leaders we had dreamed of. They weren’t doing it right. They weren’t doing it right at all. So, we decided it was our job to instruct them and we began to point out the ways in which they needed to grow in their leadership abilities. And if they tried to make any major decisions, we questioned them because they really didn’t measure up to what we had decided was a “godly leader”.
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 28 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!”
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 effort that your husband makes to be a leader, and then be sure to tell him how much you appreciate it!
As I wrote this post, my grown son and his girlfriend walked through the living room. Bible in hand, my son was getting ready to spend time leading her in some Bible reading. He is learning to be a leader. He is not perfect and never will be, but he knows his calling and is making efforts. He has already begun his journey of learning his calling to lead. He has joined my husband in one of the hardest callings on this earth. My goal is to encourage him in his efforts as much as I can. He’s had a great example in his father.
I am so thankful for the lessons God has been teaching me over 28 years of marriage. I pray that God will enable my son to learn well his calling in the same way he continues to enable my husband.