Mar 01

What Does Leading Look Like?


Today I was talking with Linda, and we were trying to make a decision about whether it would be ok for our 10 year old son to be at home alone for an hour and a half this evening.  We talked about all the angles and then moved on to another topic.  Linda came back and said “what did you decide about Joel tonight?  You haven’t made a decision.”  It was sort of an aha moment, I backed away and thought through the situation.  I looked at my responses to her questions, and I realized that I was trying to get her to make the decision.

It is important to listen to her point of view and consider it, but I was going beyond that.  She was actually on the fence about whether or not we should do it and she wanted me to make the decision.  In this case it would have relieved her, if after we had talked through the options I would have said something like “I think it will be fine this evening if we give him some good directions.”

It revealed that I was afraid to make the wrong decision, and I didn’t want to be responsible is something unforeseen should happen.  There are times our wives want us to take the decision “load” off their shoulders, there are other times when we need to closely listen to them and consider their point of view.  True leadership learns to read their partner and and dance the leadership dance.

My usual pattern of “leading”, was to let Linda struggle with the decision, come to no conclusion and force her to make the call or to simply shoot down all her ideas.  Both of these scenarios reveal that my main concern was protecting myself.  If I didn’t make the decision I could always point a finger at Linda.  If I had disagreed with her and then things went amuck I could always say “I told you so, you wouldn’t listen to me.”  And to my chagrin I have said that on to many occasions.

These attitudes reveal in me some character flaws.  First I want to cover my butt at all costs, not very selfless.  Second I often don’t act in grace.  Grace doesn’t  point the finger after a decision is made, grace would join the fight to resolve the situation.  Third I am often not willing to put myself in the line of fire for my wife and family.  When I choose to put myself on the line for Linda, it really blesses her and gives her a sense of security.  Let me give another example from our life togather.

We have been in the process of changing family dentists.  We had a situation where our old dentist became quite angry with Linda over some questions she was asking.  The end result is that he treated her in very brusk and condescending ways.  The office staff seemed to mirror these responses and we are uncomfortable returning.  We were interviewing a new dentist and I decided that I would be the one to ask the questions of concern, knowing that some of them had the potential to elicit a response from the dentist.  It was an intentional move on my part to protect Linda.  I decided to ask the questions that I knew Linda wanted answered, this would make me the dummy instead of her.  It is crazy but it seems when I ask the questions they are given more consideration, because they aren’t coming from a “emotional woman”.  To often in the past I have let Linda ask the questions, and she would get the label that came with the questions.  It seems that persons in the medical and dental profession don’t like being probed and especially by a woman.  So when I do the talking it protects Linda and we get better responses from the doctor/dentist.

Leadership is not bossing people around, and it is not acquesing and letting our partner make the hard choices.  It truly is a dance where you take each situation and evaluate what is going on and help move the process forward in a positive way.  If someone in the family is in a foul mood, can I through my interactions, bring them to a place of resolution.  Am I willing in the process to take some hits and still respond in Love.  Those are the true tests of leadership.  Isn’t that what Jesus did, and still does for us?


1 comment

  1. Carol

    Ahhhhhh………….you get it!

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