Manhood (Part 13) – Man and His Family (Authority)
In our last installment on this topic, we established how critically important the family is for every man. That in the end, his family is his legacy above all else. It would seem that our obligations as men are so high that we will never live up to them.
C. S. Lewis, as always, said it clearly:
It is painful, being a man, to have to assert the privilege, or the burden, which Christianity lays upon my own sex. I am crush?ingly aware of how inadequate most of us are, on our actual and historical individualities, to fill the place prepared for us.
Oh, how right he is. Left to ourselves we are totally inadequate. But ?the place prepared for us? is still there, and it must be occupied. As Christian men, we must throw ourselves at the feet of the King of Kings, and beg His wisdom, insight, grace, and blessing. Still, the mantle must be worn. When a man refuses it, everybody is the loser for it.
Whatever our frustration-a culture that bites us, wives who won?t follow us, kids who won?t cooperate with us-we do not have the option of just tossing up our hands and walking away. God-honoring men don?t quit. God-honoring men don?t abdicate, or try to hide in the baggage from God?s anointing, like the pitiful king-designated Saul.
God-honoring men stay at it. And stay. And stay. And stay. Growing and improving. Taking the hits and pushing on down the field. Moving in one direction over the long haul. Many times it?s two steps forward, one back. But it?s still movement; it?s keeping on keeping on.
Too many of us men, however, are just tossing in the towel. Too many of us run the risk of abdicating to our wives. When we as servant?kings do not assume our responsibilities, probably the most common shift that occurs in the home is that the wife assumes the role of leader. Whether it?s based in her own strong personality as compared to ours, or in our refusal to accept the leadership, she takes over. (Hey, someone has to do it!) As time goes on, this usually kindles resentment on her part because she left alone to make all the tough decisions, and it causes resentment on his part because ?she?s bossy? or ?taking over.? More often than not she is one very frustrated lady, waiting without much hope for her man to be one after God?s design.
Sometimes we abdicate to our children. Disaster! A growing pattern in homes today is for dads and moms both to abdicate their roles in the family to the kids, allowing the children to become their own “leaders.” Too many families are child-centered and child-led.
Questions to ponder? OK?gotta stop right here. Do you agree with this contention? How does this show itself in real life? If you agree with this thought, what is the root cause of this problem? How does this get addressed properly?
Possibly the most common abdication today is our tendency as men to abdicate to our culture. Television, radio, schools, and youth and adult clubs are probably dictating more direction in many homes in America than the God-designated head of the home. There isn’t anything neces?sarily wrong with any of these influential factors in our homes?unless the man is using them as an excuse to abdicate his responsibilities as family leader and head.
But even if you decide to not abdicate?even if you decide to press forward and shoulder the mantle of headship that was given to you by God…..you will still wrestle with questions and doubt. They will be questions both in your own spirit and questions of those around you. Here are the more prominent ones:
1. “What makes you think you are better than anyone else?”
Of course, the question assumes that men who lead do so because they think they are better qualified than anyone else around them. (Just see to it that you don’t give anyone a justifiable excuse to think you really are stuck on yourself!) In reality, the only reason in the world men must act as the heads of homes is because that is what God decided. It has noth?ing to do with being “better,” but rather with being chosen by the One who has the right to choose. Begin to believe that; let the truth of it humble you and keep you on your knees?the most kingly posture of all.
2. “Who do you think you are, anyway?”
Ouch! That stings, doesn’t it? Again, it assumes you are leading because you have somehow ?earned? a right to lead. Not so. You don?t ?deserve? anything-except the wrath of a righteous God, along with the rest of sinful humanity. You were just appointed. Frankly, on your own individ?ual merits, you may not be the best in your home. But you’re the only one God assigned to the job. So you need to get used to it. It’s nothing less than your “calling” from God.
3. “What gives you the right to sit up there in the head seat?”
Nothing. Not one darn thing. But God is not a “thing,” He’s a person. And what He has given you as the head of your home is not so much a “right” as a full-orbed responsibility. The question is not “what” but “who.” And that answer is clear. God determined the chain of command. I may not like it any more than my wife or kids, but that doesn’t change the reality. God seldom determines His design on advice from me or anyone else.
4. “Do you really think you can do this king thing better than someone else?”
Not particularly. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are numbers of others who could do just as well or better at it. But the issue, again, is not ability. It is accountability. I am accountable to the One who is the King of kings. And He told me to do it. Period. I certainly hope to do the best job possible, and I will greatly benefit from the gifts and skills of others around me. But I can’t transfer the accountability! I’m going to answer to God for this. The toughest objections, however, usually don’t come from others. They come from within. How many times have you complained…
5. “But I’m not a natural born leader!”
So, who is? We all sound a lot like the reluctant Moses, don’t we? Yes, some have the opportunity and encouragement to move in that direction sooner and faster than some others, but the most effective leadership is a learned skill, not a “natural” ability. And never forget?the Bible insists God never calls us to what He does not enable us to do. And then there’s that voice in the back of each of our minds, filling us with fear, saying…
6. “Okay. Say I give it my best shot and no one follows?”
Welcome to the club. We’ve all entertained thoughts like that. “This job is way over my head, and I’m going to look pretty foolish when no one accepts my leadership. This is all ready to backfire.” Yes, fear is real. It is also an incredible debilitation. We’ve simply got to push through it by faith, and pursue God’s stated intentions.
Some wag has said, “If you think you are leading and turn around to find no one there, then you’re merely taking a walk.” Sometimes it feels that way. Many men have tried their hand at leading at some point and found no one in the family following. So, the next time they strike out in the lead position, it is awfully easy to do so with some serious hesita?tion in their step. It doesn’t take long before that fear can become para?lyzing. Fear is potent stuff. But if we don’t keep working at it, we will never develop our ability to lead effectively.
Guess what? It’s back to the bottom line again: I lead because God appointed me to do so and will hold me accountable for it. Who follows is another issue. But that which stares me in the face is the responsibility to lead. God didn’t call me to lead only when someone else decides to fol?low. I am to lead, and in the process, to make it as easy as possible for others to follow my lead. But no matter what, come Hades or high water, I am to LEAD.
Questions to ponder? Have you tried to lead before and felt it was pointless and wanted to give up? How do you separate the question of who?s following from the question of whether or not you should be leading?