Last week, a non-Christian friend of ours gave his rendition of what the Bible says about a man’s leadership in his home and marriage. “The Bible says the man is in charge!” he said emphatically. We were in a secular group of people.
Many probably didn’t know what the Bible really says, and we felt we needed to say something. “Actually, the Bible says that a man should love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” (Ephesians 5:25) we corrected. “Oh,” he smiled. “Well, I’m going to leave that one alone.”
The Bible does give leadership of the home to the husband—but what does “leadership” mean? The world thinks of leadership as exercising power over others. Tell someone you want to lead, and they may think you want power. Jesus gives a different understanding. Jesus told us to follow Him. Notice what He did. He gave up His glory as God, became a man, and lived unknown for thirty years. The night before He died, He washed His disciples’ feet. The next day he was beaten and then tortured to death on a Roman cross. Doesn’t exactly sound like putting your foot down, does it? Who else would define greatness or leadership by that example? Yet this is the kind of leadership husbands are told to exhibit.
Jesus said that anyone who wants to be great must be the servant of all. Jesus taught a different concept of leadership and greatness than the world. (See Matthew 20: 25-28, Mark 10:42-45, Luke 22:25-27, and John 13:13-15.) This kind of leadership is beautiful and inspiring—not arrogant and heavy-handed.
In dance, male leadership isn’t controversial. Someone must decide what the next step will be. A dance couple cannot negotiate every step before it occurs. If two different people are going to dance together in close proximity as one unit, without stepping on each other, someone has to decide what to do and make it happen. When a man leads well—gently, knowledgeably, and with great consideration for his partner—his partner wants to follow him. And, the better a man leads, the more beautifully his partner is able to dance.
Many women have been hurt by fathers or other men who led poorly. They may react to the bad leadership they have seen and resist male leadership in general. A common reaction is for a wife to take over the leadership herself. But if men abdicate leadership in their homes instead of learning to lead well, there is no dance.
Solomon passed this wisdom on to his son: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 would be a good place for any man to start.