Is the Husband Supposed to be the Leader?

A few years ago, I attended the wedding of a dear friend of mine. Before the actual ceremony the minister took time to give a powerful bit of counsel to everyone who had gathered. His words affected me so deeply that they have prompted me to change not only how I approach my marriage, but also my relationships with family and friends.

From what I can remember, the minister* said this:

In scripture, husbands have been called the head (or leader) of the household. The world scoffs at such an idea, but that is because the world has a perverted sense of leadership. The world thinks of a leader as the person in charge—a person who makes all of the decisions, forces everyone to do what he wants, and then takes all of the glory for himself. But the world’s way of leadership is not God’s way of leadership. Leadership, the way God intended it, is a call to service. God’s leadership, simply put, is the rendering of humble service to those you love and giving the glory to God.

Too often, men seek solitude from or power over those they claim to love. This is perverted leadership. God calls men to a road that brings them in harmony with their wives and children. Yes, you will make decisions, but you will make them with the intent to serve your family—not yourself. Remember, the God who calls others to lead is the same God who washed the feet of His disciples. There is no unrighteous pride in God’s form of leadership—only perfect love.

Marriage Holding Hands
“God calls men to a road that brings them in harmony with their wives and children.”

Some may question the wisdom of this minister, but I have tested his words and found them be true. I have put his advice into practice in my own life, and I’ve realized that some of the most difficult times in my marriage have been the times when I myself have exercised a perverted sense of leadership—made demands, ignored my wife’s needs in favor of my own, or withheld forgiveness. In contrast, the happiest times in my marriage have been those where I’ve “taken charge,” and more fully devoted myself to my wife—recommitting to serve her and see her needs as equal to my own.

That minister’s counsel has blessed not only my marriage, but nearly all of my relationships. As I’ve applied these principles to my life, I’ve come to realize that every relationship in life presents us with “leadership opportunities”—moments in which we are called to serve, guide, protect, and love one another. Recognizing these calls to leadership (and acting on them) has made me a better husband, friend, brother, and son.

I would like to extend this minister’s message to you: Start today and consider ways that you are being called to lead in love. While there are many types of relationships with different dynamics, I can promise you that as you sincerely recognize and meet the needs of those you care about, you will feel a greater sense of love and appreciation for those you serve.

*Update: I’ve had a number of people ask me for the name of this minister. After a couple of weeks and a few phone calls, I was able to track him down. We talked on the phone for about an hour. He expressed appreciation for the blogpost but wishes to remain anonymous. He then generously gave me two or three ideas for future blogposts. Great guy!

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My Wife Doesn’t Give Me The Love I Deserve!

My wife doesn’t give me the the love I deserve.

About a year and a half into our marriage, I was struggling with an intense feeling of bitterness. Marriage wasn’t what I had anticipated. It wasn’t anything like the pretty photographs and romantic movies I had seen—it was hard work.

Engagement PhotoI felt resentful, robbed of romance. This resentment fueled my depression, and in my bitterness I foolishly blamed Kim.

My wife doesn’t give me the love I deserve! I thought to myself.

Within a few short months, my bitterness had had grown to such an intensity, that it poisoned our relationship and threatened to destroy our marriage. Then, after the pressure had built up to where neither of us could stand it, emotions erupted. I was callous and resentful.

But instead of reciprocating my bitterness, Kim showed me an outpouring of love. Even though I had caused her tremendous pain, she laid her hands on my face and told me that she loved me.

I looked at Kim, unable to understand the love I was receiving. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. My heart melted, and I hung my head down low.

My wife doesn’t give me the love I deserve, I thought to myself.

It was the same phrase I had thought to myself before, but this time it meant something completely different.

Here I was, blaming my wife for my pain, anguish, and depression, and yet she refused to echo that resentment. Instead, she opened her heart and hands and offered me love and forgiveness that I frankly didn’t deserve.

While I fully believe that each of us is a person of divine, inestimable worth—worthy of love—I don’t believe we ever “deserve” someone else’s love. In fact, the feeling of entitlement—the belief that we deserve something from someone else—often works as a detonator to the bomb that destroys our relationships.

The spirit of entitlement smothers love, but the spirit of gratitude lets love soar. It’s the difference between taking and receiving.

Deserving LoveWhen Kim and I were married, our minister advised us to receive each other in marriage—not to take each other in marriage. In taking, you assume that something belongs to you—that you have a right to demand it. In contrast, with receiving, you recognize that the thing belongs to someone else, but is being given to you out of the goodness of that person’s heart. In the case of marriage, you recognize that your spouse is a person with a life as real as yours, and that being with them—and receiving love from them—is a gift they choose to give.

How many relationships would be improved if we received our companion in a spirit gratitude? How many abusive relationships would be healed if the abuser realized that his/her spouse is a person of inestimable worth, that love and affection is a precious gift that person chooses to give?

I am certainly not perfect at being grateful in marriage—far from it. Yet I have learned that gratitude is the great multiplier in life. The more we express gratitude for things in life, the more life we receive.

Rid yourselves of the need to ‘deserve’ love. Instead, focus on giving it. Because the more we express sincere gratitude and love for our spouse (the more we truly receive them) the more they blossom, grow, and reciprocate that love.

And as you practice more gratitude in life, you will get so much more love than you ever imagined that you ‘deserved.’