Friday, February 21, 2014

Why I Submit to My Husband

I'm still trying to figure out a lot of things about my role as a Christian woman leader, but one thing I know for sure. I know that I am called to submit to my husband.

The complementarians see the husband as the head of the household and believe that the wife is to submit to her husband as her authority in Christ.

The egalitarians believe that the husband and wife are called to shared authority, so they submit to one another as brother and sister in Christ.

So, you see, for married women, submission is part of the deal no matter how you slice it. God asks me to submit whether or not I believe my husband is called to do the same.

And I do submit to David. I've gotten rather good at it. I dare say I even like it. But it wasn't always so.

Early in our young marriage, I remember praying something like this, "Lord, if you want me to submit to David you are going to have to teach him how to lead."

Immediately, the Lord responded to my prayer. He said, "Jenn, David is leading just fine. You need to learn how to follow."

Truer words were never spoken.

The problem is that the leader streak in me runs really deep, and though I always knew I was meant to submit, leading just came easier. I didn't deliberately rebel against David's leadership, I just struggled to recognize it because it looks so different than mine.

I lead by direction. David leads by influence.
I lead with verbal cues. David leads by example.
I lead quickly. David leads slowly.
I lead intentionally. David leads intuitively.
I lead eagerly. David leads reluctantly.

It all became very clear to me when I was offered a full-time grant writing job and I was trying to decide if I should accept it or not. At the time I was working from home as a contracted grant-writer, which enabled me to be the primary caretaker for our young boys. But I was excited about getting a "real" job. The wages and benefits were great, I was capable to do the work, and I felt a bit proud of having been chosen for the position over several other candidates.

David did not tell me what to do. Instead, he gently lead me to make the right decision by asking me simple questions. "Who would care for the boys when school is out?" "How would you feel about not being able to volunteer as much at church?" "Do you think you would miss the autonomy that contract work provides?"

My husband never told me not to take the job. But as I listened to his questions, I realized that he did not think I should take the job. He didn't want me to take it because he knew I wouldn't thrive and that our boys might suffer. I was seeing dollar signs, but he was seeing a huge deficit for our family. Still, he never said, "No!"

The minute I realized what David wanted, I had the responsibility to submit. I could have refused, stubbornly insisting that I was not, in fact, rebelling because David never actually asked me not to take the job. But David was leading in his own way, and the only question left for me was this: Would I follow?

I not only chose to submit to my husband's careful leadership, I learned two very important lessons. First, I quickly realized that David had saved me from serious stress and disappointment. He was absolutely right in his assessment that I would have hated a full-time, nine to five job at that season of my life. I was blinded by the flattery of having been chosen, but I really did not want that job. David led me to make the decision that was best for me--not best for him!

Second, I became profoundly grateful for David's leadership style, aware that if he led me the way I thought I wanted to be led, I would hate it! His style is so deeply respectful of who I am and what I need that I am eager to follow him. In addition, if David tried to lead in the way that most leadership books and Christian marriage book propose, he would become a different person. By leading out of who he is, David blesses his family and glorifies God. I have greatly benefited by learning to follow a leader who leads differently than I do.

So I submit to my husband's wise leadership, and I believe that I am not only called to do so, I am blessed by it. But for the record, my husband, who is quite capable of being the head of our household, believes in the strength and beauty of mutual submission. He in no way shirks his responsibility to lead our family; however, he leads with such love and and respect for me, that we often find ourselves yielding to each other.

The truth is, David and I both live in submission to the Father, and as we follow him, we rarely come to an impasse.

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