Saturday, September 28, 2013

Leading and Following

Throughout the past few months Steve has had to lead our family through some chaos and difficulties.  Often we have disagreed about things.  For those of you who know us, this isn't unusual - we are about as different as it gets.  I am pretty strong willed and stubborn - good qualities in any Southern woman, to be sure.  But they can make leading me a little on the difficult side.  I was telling a friend about a recent date where Steve and I discussed, argued, and even cried as we fought through a certain situation... all while we ate our pizza, said hello to friends, and talk with the waiter!  A little weird, I know.  But it was important for me to be heard and for Steve to be able to listen and ask questions.  This led my friend to come up with a list of her own questions.  Here they are:

"How did you know that Steve could lead you? How did you first learn that? What made you begin to trust Steve to do this? You said you are both stubborn, how has this been good for you guys?"

So this is an interesting topic and one that I think should be discussed pretty often.  It gets sticky - so beware!!

First off, I am starting with some basic assumptions that I feel are based on the Word of God.  Steve and I are equal before God.  We are called to submit to each other.  We are called to serve each other.  But Steve is called to lead me and our family.  That is his role.  My role is to submit to his leadership and to help equip him to be a leader who honors God and his family.  But that doesn't make me of lesser value in our relationship.  Our roles are different, but equal.  It took me many, many years to figure this out.  But in my old age I have come to value these differences and enjoy the reflection of God's relationship.  God the Father and Jesus and the Spirit are all equal yet each has a different role in the relationship.

Now, to those questions!  The question of leadership for me went way back to before Steve and I started dating.  Yes, way back in the 80's!  We were friends and I had gotten to know him well.  I knew
that he was a man who loved God more than anything and that he was seeking to honor God as he made decisions - big and small.  I knew this was a man who would strive to honor God as he learned to lead me. I knew this before we dated.  I observed these qualities.  No, he wasn't perfect.  But he was strong enough to let me fight with him and still be confident enough to stand on his beliefs and make decisions.  I was confident of these things before dating even entered the picture.

Trust.  I don't think this happens instantly.  It grew over time.  I saw Steve's desire to value me and love me well.  He was honest and open and willing to let me speak into his decision making process.  He trusted me.  He listened.  He still does.    Being stubborn is part of who I am.  But I do not fight for the right to make decisions for our family, God has given him this role/responsibility.  I fight for the right to be heard.  I need to know that my opinion will be heard and thoughtfully considered.  I need to know that Steve is not too proud to change his mind if I have a better view of something or a more clear vision.  He is humble.  But I have also had to learn to be humble enough to let him step out in disagreement with me when he feels that he is making a good decision.  I need to be gracious.  I need to willingly follow.  Humility on both parts is important (not easy!!), but essential.

How is being stubborn good for both of us? Hmmmm.... being stubborn gives me the drive to fight when I feel that God has clearly spoken.  It gives me the determination to argue for what I feel strongly about.  Again, it has to be tempered with humility (which I definitely need more of - lots more!).  It also has to be tempered with the desire to want Steve's best - to mutually submit to Steve as he makes decisions for us and the family.

The part that makes stubbornness so dangerous is pride.  And trust me, we have walked through lots of fights where my need to be right or in charge or stubbornly assertive way out weighed my need to mutually submit and serve one another.  It is an ugly thing to see a prideful, stubborn husband or wife fighting for their wants instead of what God has called them to want.  That undermines Steve's ability to trust me.  It undermines my ability to be a good wife and mother who seeks to put the needs of my family before my own.  It is an ugly, ugly thing.  I know it well in my own life.

The hope that each of us has is Christ Jesus himself.  Read Philippians 2.  Jesus is the perfect example of humility.  He has the right to want all things.  Yet he chose to purposely humble himself.  "2:1 Since there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, and participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  5 have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

Hope in Him!  Hope in him to grow you as you seek to "let this mind among yourselves" and to "count others more significant than yourselves".  Sound hard?  It is!  Sound scary?  It is!  But the work is His to do - just ask Him to do it!


Kristy said...

this was really good to read, Lauren! I appreciate you sharing authentic thoughts & experiences from your life and marriage...I love how God blesses the church (me & and others) through your marriage. I have been blessed by you & Steve's marriage & love for each other more times than I can count...and I am certain that is true for others as well.

"This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." - Ephesians 5:32

Amen - all glory goes to Him!

Katie Nelson said...

this is so good. thank you!

Lauren said...

Thanks for the kind words - here is a note my friend Sarah sent me. It is definitely worth sharing:

Regarding pride: how will I react if things go badly when (my husband) decides something differently than I would have chosen? Will I be his helper then? If my heart speaks the 'I told you so' whether I say it or not, there is the ugliness of pride on display. And, you are so so right: our Lord is in the business of changing our hearts. Giving us love that reflects Christ for our spouses. Love that seeks our husband's good. That's a straight up miracle for this gal.