There are two lines of men at the gates of heaven. One line is long and winding as far as St. Peter can see. The other line has a lone man in it. The sign above the long line is for men whose wives nagged them. The other one is for men whose wives did not nag them.
“Ever since we started these lines no man as ever stood in this line. You are the first.” St. Peter tells the guy. “Tell me your secret.”
“My wife told me to stand in this line.”
Well now you’re either laughing or spitting but I tell this story to illustrate a point. Men are called to lead in their families. This is not as the world leads though, but as Christ leads, so women don’t get mad or jealous just yet. Christ-like leadership is called servant leadership.
You see, Christ led the disciples and still leads the church today. Not once did he act like a dictator. Not once did he demand his followers to pick up after him. Remember when he fed the thousands of people on at least two occasions. Did he demand that he be fed first or that the disciples handle the crowd? Nope. He took care of business, blessed and multiplied the food and fed everyone.
Remember the last supper? Jesus was the one who washed the feet of his followers.
How about the cross? Jesus didn’t send Peter in his place. He sacrificed himself.
And the resurrection? Again Jesus could have just said enough of these people and gone right up to heaven. But he delayed his return to the glory of heaven to ensure his followers were well-equipped to handle their missions.
Those are some big shoes to fill.
In my years of marriage counseling I have seen many marriages run into trouble because either the man abdicated his responsibility to lead in this way or because the woman refused to let him lead.
Many women have difficulty with submission. This is partly due to the feminist philosophy, partly because of how man lead, and mostly because of the consequences of Eve’s rebellion against God.
Many men have difficulty leading partly due to being trained not to lead, partly because of how women follow, and mostly because of the consequences of Adam’s rebellion of putting Eve above God.
The first two reasons for both men and women stem from the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. I can’t even imagine the perfection of the relationship between Adam and Eve. They were naked together not just physical but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. They were intimate in ways modern men and women cannot fathom.
Then Eve fell from perfection. She was deceived. Then Adam had to make a choice. God or Eve. He chose Eve over God and ate the same fruit she did and suffered the same fate as her.
How many men have to make the same choice today? How many women put their husbands in this position today? Marriages and relationships are tough enough without the strain of accusations of toxic masculinity and our sex driven society. Why would a woman submit to a man when she is taught since childhood not to submit? How can a man lead a family when he is taught since childhood not to lead?
And this is how Jesus saves the day!
Jesus taught us that to lead is not to control or dictate. It is not for my sake that I lead but for the sake of my wife and family. I lead to meet their needs, not my own needs. Jesus also said to do everything with love. Jesus leadership is servant leadership. It is not weakness or abdication though. It is the type of leadership based on encouragement and growth and love.
The Bible says God is love. Paul talks very directly that women are to submit and men are to love. Instead of looking at whether our spouses are doing these things we need to look at ourselves and see if we are doing our part. As a man, I must show my wife that I have her needs and the needs of the family at the center of my leadership. If I don’t than I am nothing more than a self-serving leader.
In the end, servant leadership will get into the shortest line at the Pearly Gates!
Andy Becker is lead of Lighthouse Ministries which brings God’s love and presence to the North Central area of Regina, Canada. He is a writer and public speaker, a retired counselor, and former Executive Director of Langley Hospice.