Leader of Equals
My last blog post referred to men taking a leadership role in their relationships with the women in their lives. This leadership role is one as a leader of equals and not a dictator. This meaning may get lost in the semantics of the word leader, where today we can easily apply a business or professional definition to the word and consider it more of a dictatorship way of leading. This was not my intent, although I was not clear on this point as even my daughter misunderstood it.
For a moment, let’s consider leadership: As there are many styles, forms, and strategies, I believe they all can be catagorized into two concepts: the leader of equals and the dictator. What is remarkable is the effectiveness of these forms of leadership in today’s applications. When we see a dictator’s style of leadership in business, in professional realms, and even in politics, we see an organization limited by one leader. When we see a leader of equals, we see prosperous organizations, growing businesses, and success in various business models. When the leadership style depends and thrives on a group effort, the limits are not on one person, but can exponentially increase (depending on the variables of the group).
I can give countless examples and supporting case studies to back this up, but the effectiveness of the leadership style is not the focus of this post. The point here is the focus of the leadership: is it to press forward the ideas of one man or a group? Is it to serve one man or a group? A dictator can aways say he is serving the interest of the board, the share holders, and the employees, but who is he serving in his action and style? As Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas-Nelson Publishers) states, “…at the end of the day, everyone is a volunteer. People will only go so far in the performance of a duty. If you want their very best, you have to have their hearts. You can’t demand this or even buy it with a paycheck. You have to earn it.” At the end of the day, who is the dictator serving? At the end of the day, does the dictator have the hearts of those around him?
Now, compare this to a leader of equals. At the end of the day, does he have the hearts of those working for him or with him? Does she have the hearts of those working for her or with her?
With relationships, the focus is leading equals. When I referred to a man being the leader of equals, I was placing more emphasis on the word “equal” than on the word “leader”.
I draw this lesson from my own relationships, but also from Scripture beginning in Ephesians 5:21, where it is written, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” When we view one another as equals (for who is above another in God’s creation?), then our relationships drastically change.
Too often, we see men taking the verses following this one and twisting them into an excuse for a dictatorship in the relationship. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Quite a turn off, isn’t it? If you are a woman reading this post, this is where you will most likely stop reading and click the back or delete button, but please bear with me. Clearly, a dictator here would not have the heart of the equal, but rather fear or bitterness. This understanding is not correct, nor is it ever a good idea to extract one verse out of many within a passage. The entire passage is required to understand the meaning.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
Here, we find a deeper meaning in the role husbands and wives have with one another. When we consider a husband who accepts the responsibility of loving his wife under these directions, we have a man committed to a healthy relationship. That is,
1. “giving himself up for her”, or being selfless, sacrificing and serving his wife;
2. “cleansing her through the word”, or caring for her spiritual needs; and
3. seeing her “…as radiant, without stain, wrinkle, or blemish,” or always focused on the good within her and not the bad. (I actually refer to my wife this way in prayer, ask the Lord to bless “…my beautiful wife, who is without stain, wrinkle, or blemish.” This prayer has changed the way I see my wife, and in turn, the way she sees me.)
What is the reaction of a woman who is treated this way by her husband? Are the feelings reciprocated? Does she respond? And, in what way does she respond? Will he have her heart?
But wait, what about the first verse in the passage? “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Can wives begin this approach in the relationship and hope the husband responds? Will she have his heart? Ah… but if you don’t try, how will you ever know?
Of course, there are extremes in every example, and where there is an emotionally scarred, dominant man or woman forcing their feelings from a position of brokenness or suppressed pain, the relationship is handicapped. Yet even in these relationships, the above pattern is an excellent path for healing.
Is this a new philosophy? Is this like, way out there in left field? Actually, this is the basis for many Christian relationships, teachings, and counseling. If you haven’t watched it yet, check out the movie, “Fireproof”. This movie applies the same philosophies.
Now, there are some who will pooh-pooh this whole concept and idea. I understand. I didn’t believe it either, until I lived it. If your life and relationships are happy and successful without this idea, then please forget what you just read…
…or not. Your choice.
Are you tough enough to be a Christian?
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