A Leadership Challenge to Married Men
If your family is in disarray with poor vision, values, direction, and relationships, Married Man, you are responsible.
Before you protest and pass the blame on to women, society, your upbringing, or your job, let’s consider the leadership role of a married man. Let me share with you a few thoughts that I hope will give you pause and offer you encouragement, but ultimately issue you a challenge.
By the standards of most societies’ traditions and definitely by the Christian faith, the man is the head of the household. He has the position of authority.
But what we forget is he also has the responsibility.
What responsibility? To provide, to defend, to protect? Those all sound good, but these are not a man’s primary responsibility. If you work hard, come home and exercise your authority by telling people what to do and that is the extent of your leadership, you are misguided. Let me explain.
Proper leadership has very little to do with authority. It has very little to do with providing (after all many women provide for their families). And it has very little to do with protection (most of us live in safe communities these days). Proper leadership has everything to do with another set of responsibilities.
I liken the married man to the CEO of the company. And the wife I liken to the COO of the company. Both crucial. And when a company is run well, the roles many times may be shared. In my view there should be a third person that the CEO reports to – The Chairman of the Board: God.
The Chairman (God) hires the CEO (man) to build his company (family) and asks him to hire his team starting with the COO (wife). Under the Chairman’s ultimate guidance the CEO is to run the company as a good leader. And when the company is doing poorly, yes many can be at fault, but ultimately the responsibility falls to the man: the CEO.
Dear Married Man: Don’t let God judge you for failing His company.
The good news is you can succeed! Under the direction of the Ultimate Chairman you are able to lead, you are encouraged to lead. You must lead. Your family needs you to lead. Just decide to. And go forth!
Five Steps To Excellent Leadership At Home
What are your responsibilities as the leader?
- Figure it out. It should be your lifelong mission to improve your leadership at home, define your responsibilities, and excel at them. The few pointers I give you here are just to whet your appetite and come from my personal perspective. Refine this list and make it your own. Make leadership of your family (not providing or protecting your family) your life’s legacy. Regardless what you build and what you make at your job, do not fail at this job. Success at work will never compensate for failure at home. This is your gig. Your mission. Your responsibility. I challenge you today to take it on!
- Grow yourself. We men excel at work which is certainly important. However, we are often sophomoric in our spiritual life, our relational life, and our life of personal development. No leader excels externally if they don’t follow an intentional life of growth internally. Without this step I promise you mediocrity at best and utter failure at worst. Are you growing yourself spiritually? Then how do you expect to lead your family in this area? Are you growing yourself emotionally, physically, or cognitively? It is said that most CEO’s of fortune 500 companies read approximately five books per month. When was the last time you read a book on parenting or on relationships? When was the last time your read the Bible? What are you doing to grow?
- Be the protector of the vision. When I say “set the vision,” I do not mean marching in one day and saying, “This is our vision, and you must come along.” A good leader brings people along by inspiring them to scale the mountain and by travelling the course ahead of them. Whether it’s a corporation or a family, the principle is the same. While everyone should participate in shaping the vision, the CEO (with consultation of the COO and the guidance and approval of the chairman) sets the vision. And when the vision is in danger of veering off course, the CEO will firmly stand in the gap and say no. That’s where strength and depth must be shown and exercised. The great Jewish leader Joshua said in the Bible during a time of challenge, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We will. He was the protector of the vision! What is the vision for your family?
- Be the defender of the right values. What major principles should govern your house? Do you know these? And do you model these? When there is failure in these values, defend these from yourself, others in your family, and outside forces. Make sure that courtesy is commonplace, love is unconditional, forgiveness is unwavering, and sacrifice is practiced. Set the example in these areas. It saddens me when I see a man who exercises his authority by stomping and yelling and pushing his way around. He is preaching the wrong values by his actions. Many cross into abuse and misuse of their authority and are unaware they are doing it. Even worse it gives them a sick pleasure to do it. Be careful. Your Chairman is aware and will judge you. Lead your family with reverence and gentleness. Lead them with the strength of your character and the depth of your values.
- Build relationships. There is no successful leadership without successful relationships. And this is the responsibility of the leader. It is not enough that we work in the same company or live under the same roof. Relationships have to be cultivated and nurtured, and this needs to be modeled ultimately by the top leadership. As a CEO I will not have a good company if my relationship with my COO is anything other than perfect. And it is my responsibility to make that happen. Husbands, fathers… fix and build amazing relationships at home…relationships that go deep and wide. Relationships that pierce through to the inner-workings of the human core. Relationships that communicate gently, and encourage beautifully.
I may have been a little more forceful than usual in this “leadership challenge” – but that’s okay. As a man, I know we like to be challenged. We were created to be strong, to defend, and to protect.
Will we protect and defend what really matters?