Marriage: Leadership Submission
Steve Farrar is challenging my idea of manhood and why it's so lost on my current generation. It's refreshing and bold. Very much against The extremism of our day, and emboldening to me. However to speak out these thoughts on a public corner would create divisions and fisticuffs on the street.
The ordained by God principles of leadership within the home that worked in generations before has been assaulted, drug out into the street and vilified as though the lasting meanings of 2000 years are tattered, frayed and fragile strips. Strips hanging like the torn clothing one would exhibit on an adulteress caught by the corner mob who exposed her infidelity. I imagine her faithful loving husband finding her battered and bruised in the town square at 5 in the morning hurt, barely able to move, depressed, and afraid of being punished more by the person that is ready to love her most.
If you were the husband, what would you do? Would you walk away? Would you hold her? Would you call 911? Would you pray with her? Would you shame her more, telling her she is a bad person? Would you file for divorce? Would you lock her out of the home forever and get sole custody of the kids?
These are all crisis points that I find clients to be in, sharing and discussing in my office. I listen, I hear their emotion, I attempt to show compassion through asking what the most loving thing would be to a person who is wounded, hurt, and crying out in need.
When a child comes for help, crying and asking us to teach us how to fly a paper air plane do we respond with harsh words?
But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
I believe this is a directive that I can apply to all that come to me. Honestly my harsh critical thoughts overcome me at moments. I can act like the disciples who in the same passage wanted to keep the children away. I was reading recently in a book by Tim Kimmel, Grace Based Parenting, about the perspective of the children that sat in Jesus lap. He held them. He talked to them. He comforted them with his presence. This picture of grace is having an impact on how I think about my behavior toward others. Why point to this behavior in a writing on leadership, marriage, and submission in the institutions that God has endowed and called us to practice? Well children are the result of such unions, and Jesus blessed the children, calling them to him and asking them not to be hindered. In fact he indicates that anyone who would prevent or cause harm by not allowing a child to come to him would find grave consequence. Were we not all children at one time? Were we not all called to be children of God? Is the concept too hard to fathom that as a child of God I am called to submit to a loving Creator who has blessing and honor prepared because He is gracious, forgiving, and loving? I think it becomes hard to understand with our human psyche because we have known fathers and mothers who modeled fear based parenting rather than grace based parenting.
In a marriage what does fear do? Picking back up with the previous thoughts of a woman scorned, the fear of the husband would be that he would be judged as well if he loved her and helped her heal. In 1 John 4 there is a record of what God loves, how He loves, and what the power of love does.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
1 John 4:18
The verse above is often quoted with the focus on the “perfect love”, but I am so fascinated at this point with the last half of the verse in that it connects deeply with me concerning how powerful fear is in our lives. Fear leads us to focus and believe we are meant to exist as spirits that are punishable. I see this so often when anxiety enters in with a client. The anxiety forces a belief within themselves that increases their lack of self, belief in the shame of who they are, and ultimately thoughts that there is something fundamentally wrong with them drives them to the brink of insanity at times.
My gentle directing, however, frequently brings these clients back to reality, back to the focus of Christ, back to the original heart desires that they are lovable, worthy, and valued by Almighty God. Do you know this too? The photo below shows an excerpt from Steve Farrar’s book on leadership - Pointman. His focus is on how submission has been cheapened in our current culture. The reason for the cheapening is the mis-understanding that authority is equal to authoritarianism. I thank Steve for his work and words to help with perspective.
How did the love of life and clarity of thought, purity of heart, and meaning of life get so muddied. How is a man's calling as a husband and father assaulted and laid bare? What happened to authority in the home.
To me it’s alarming that as men we have been positionally challenged in ways that has never happened. Centuries long understanding is being tossed aside like a banana peel along I-75, a chewed piece of gum ground into the sidewalk, or heat shrink plastic that covered my new music CD. Release, dispose, drain, throw away.
Why am I calling out with alarm? How many of us are using "dictator like" reasons to rule our homes? (authoritarianism) How many of us don’t ask about our wives or children’s input on decisions that effect them? (Understanding) How often do I negate the help of others, think it’s shameful to be vulnerable, or simply move forward with attitudes of anger and resentment, believing that no one understands me and they are not to be trusted because they are all against me? (Dysfunctional Fear and Trust) Like it indicates in the excerpt picture, these patterns breed fear, because they are all actions of a desire to control through force.
Authority in a healthy environment is not any of this. What authority provides is beauty through genuine love. See the bottom characteristics in the picture? Three things that display love are sacrifice, understanding and praise. How do you interpret these things? Let me suggest that sacrifice is not being a door mat. The power of sacrifice is rooted in love. Recently I heard a husband describe sacrifice as being the person that stops the intruder from entering a home by defending or giving himself for his family. A very noble thought indeed. Perhaps this is the ultimate sacrifice as Jesus has already provided for our salvation in a similar fashion, but what about the sacrifice of time, gifts, touch, affirmation, and service. Gary Chapman expounds on this in his work known as the Five Love Languages. Many have used this to increase their marriage and family life to better connect. Paying attention to the way that person’s in our family want to be loved is so important and makes for smoother sailing. When a member whose heart needs to be loved is not fulfilled in the way the would connect, then they often will have adverse effects mentally, emotional, and physically.
What is something of understanding? Does your wife or child want to be heard? Do they desire your eye contact? Do they come to you when they don’t know what to do or are hurting? How do you make yourself approachable when you hold your own pain and resentments from the past?
Try this… nothing at all. Be silent in the presence of your wife or child. See what happens. Purposefully be quiet and understand how the power of silence might draw them to you or push them away. Then try the opposite. Be boisterous and loud. See which draws them close.
Do not perform this as a defense or silent treatment meant to offend. Use it as a tactic to create safety. Sit on the floor or near them on couch and invite them with your body language without using a word to be present with you. Nod, acknowledge, and affirm with your eyes, thinking how much you love them and want to be with them. They will notice.
Praise Jesus first and foremost, knowing Jesus perfection is what met every core need we have. Remember all of the things Jesus would tell you if you sat on his lap? Repeat them to yourself. Tell the truth of how much He loves you, knows you, will find you, wants relationship with you, forgives you, provides mercy, and builds you a safe place to be with him forever.
Jesus Comforts His Disciples
1“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4“And you know the way where I am going.” 5Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
So men, please consider my plea. Lean into the Lord so as to create security, confidence, and know affection. Make space to talk, sing, or laugh with celebration at the abundance God proclaims. Let it spill into you, overflow every nook of you, and give you peace so that the extra He provides will bless all who are near. Ever met an unhappy man who was thankful for all the abundance God provided?