WORKBOOK - Chapter 6
HOW I LEARNED TO LEAD IN COMMUNICATION
The books I read on communication in the family always stressed good things such as how to listen, how not to hold grudges, how not to use the words "you always," etc., but they did not deal with the overall structure of the communication relationship and the roles involved. It took me a long time (over ten years of marriage) to realize that I was approaching Rachel as if she were just as much the head of the house as I was. I was treating her as if she were accountable to God for the same things I was. I was thinking that authority was earned, not delegated from high authority-the Creator, the Supreme Authority. Rachel earned the majority of the money. She was better educated in business. She had earned the right to speak with equal authority in our home. Finally, she was equally accountable to God for what went on. She had her opinion about how things should be decided, and I had my idea on how things should be decided. We shouted and argued and usually got nowhere. The longer I was away from the humanistic schools I had been educated in and the longer I studied the Bible, the more I realized authority was delegated from God and not earned. My approach to communicating with Rachel in my home was all wrong.
As God the Father and Creator of His creatures delegated me as the head of the house since I was the man, I was accountable to Him (not state governments) for what went on in the home. This accountability included the decisions that were made and how they were made. I realized that Rachel's role was different from mine. I realized that my home was like a washing machine that had broken down because it was not used properly. I was trying to repair it without reading the manufacturer's instruction manual. I was following the advice of well-meaning friends who had not read the manufacturer's instruction manual either. Worse yet, I was going by what I had learned in psychology. I began to understand that psychology is a form of humanism that rejects the Creator's manual on how we are made and are to function. Psychologists assume that they know more than He does on how we are to live and behave. Psychology taught me that there was one role in the home and that it was to be shared equally (50/50). The man was to be half man and half woman, and the woman was to be half man and half woman. Each was to share in providing for the family and keeping up the home and doing the housework. I needed to read the manufacturer's (Creator's) manual (the Bible) and follow His instructions for running my home. His manual specified that the woman's role in the home was to manage it for her husband-his "foreman" so to speak. The roles are to be complementary. The woman was to complement the man by taking the pressures inside the home while the man takes the pressures outside the home. 100/100-all man and all woman, separate but complementary roles. (See Scripture verses at end of Chapter 5.)
Eventually, when Rachel came to me about problems in the management of the home, we had a discussion. She needed to tell me all she thought about the matter. Then I, like the president of the United States hearing all that his advisors have to say, had to take that long walk and make the final decision. I had to take full responsibility for all that happened after that. I had not wanted to make decisions alone because my pride said to me, 'What if you are wrong? What if you make a fool out of yourself? Manipulate Rachel into making the decision. If things go wrong, you can blame her."
As I grew in the grace of humility I realized I needed to take responsibility off of Rachel and answer to God for what was happening in our home. I had been up to my old tricks of manipulating women and blaming them for my sin and foolishness. God wanted to break up this sinful pattern in my life and substitute a Biblical pattern of responsibility for the proper role of the man. I needed to ask Rachel what she thought about the matter and then make the decision myself. This cut out our arguing and bickering but created a new problem. Rachel did not trust my judgment and decision-making ability because she had seen years of my foolishness in decision-making. I had to figure out how to get her to accept my decisions. I now had to learn to deal with her resistance. She would try to overcome my foolishness and get her way when she thought that was the wise way to go.
Now I had to face another problem I had: fear. The Bible said "fear no man . . . but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The fear of the Lord in the Bible means not cringing slavish fear but respect, awe, and reverence for Him, a fear of doing wrong and grieving Him. Whomever you fear the most takes top priority and you will obey him or her the most. God wants us to fear Him the most so that He will have top priority in our lives and we will obey Him most of all.
I did not fear man but I had the fear of woman. Rachel knew how to be sharp in her criticism and humiliate my pride. She could make my life miserable if I crossed her. God did not like this. He wanted me to fear Him more than my wife.
I made decisions based on what kept Rachel happy, not the Lord. The Lord had to change this. So He built a fire under me by using financial pressure until I began to fear Him more than I did Rachel. I am not talking about cringing, fawning fear here but respect and awe that helped me obey because I did not want to be spanked. When I was an unbeliever, I broke God's laws and He was my judge and I was a condemned lawbreaker on my way to hell. When I became a Christian, I trusted Christ. He took my punishment on the cross so I could be forgiven and have peace with God. I was adopted into His forever family and He became my Heavenly Father. He now does not punish me as my judge, but He spanks me as a loving father does his son to shape him up and make him do right and not destroy himself. (See scriptures below.)
I have been stubborn and resistive, and God has had to spank me many times. He is so patient with me. He just keeps wearing me down and building me up to shape me to His plan and character for my life. As God dealt with me, I had to keep dealing with Rachel and learn to lead in communicating with my wife. I needed wisdom in how to deal with Rachel and her resistance to my "foolish" leadership. As usual, I learned the hard way by trial and error. When her temper raged, I had to remain calm and not let her shake me loose from my decision. I had to let her wear herself out. When she saw she was going nowhere with her temper, she used the "silent treatment" to show that she did not like my decision. "Now," I thought, "I am getting somewhere. Everything is quiet in the house. I am making progress here."
I was soon to learn, however, that this was miserable pressure also. When I tried to kiss her, her lips did not respond. Her attitude said, "All right. If you want me to be a 'doormat,' I will be one. I will do whatever you say." This meant I had to tell her every little thing to do because she was just passively resistant. She did nothing unless she was told to do it. I finally became desperate enough to pray about this. Then I decided we should pray together. She did not mind my praying, but she did not want to pray. So I led her in prayer by giving her the words I wanted her to repeat after me: "Dear Lord, please forgive me for having such a sinful attitude toward my husband. Please help me obey him with humble, obedient attitude from the heart."
She only prayed this after me because I insisted on it. She used a sarcastic tone to tell the Lord and me that she thought this was ridiculous. She did not mean what she was saying, so I was really not getting my way after all. I figured praying this way was better than nothing, so every time she became silent we would go through this prayer together. This became very humiliating for her to have to go through this time after time. Finally, she began to practice putting on a fake smile and began to obey in a more responsive manner. Now I was really making progress!
As the Lord worked in Rachel's life and heart, she began to develop a sweeter response. After awhile I found myself becoming a "shadow boxer." I expected resistance when I came home, but I began to find cooperation. Now all the pressure of responsibility began to mount on me. That spoiled, irresponsible boy had to grow up and become a man.
I wish I could say that I came into this in a kind and considerate way. Instead, when I came home I was irritable and scolding with Rachel and the kids. I was miserable to live with. And there was more misery to come.
A woman is not bound to obey her husband when he directs her to break one of the Ten Commandments such as lying, stealing, cursing or committing adultery. However, this is usually not the issue. Most of the time, the question becomes one of how and when to obey a husband who is being foolish (or the wife thinks he is foolish). I had a big lesson to learn in dealing with Rachel's resistance. She was not the kind of woman who gave a caricature of true submission by appearing to be humble and submissive when inside her pride was very offended. Since she was afraid of the humiliation of being corrected, she would go to great lengths to protect herself by seeming to be obedient. False submission has brought silent misery to countless women who deceived themselves into thinking this was what God wanted. Rachel did not fall into this trap, however.
She would give me realistic feedback on decisions we had to make and/or tell me what she thought about the matter. Her attitudes were often very poor. This caused me to think that she was not in the spirit but in the flesh when she told me these things. I figured that her advice when given with the wrong attitude must be wrong and paid no attention to what she was saying. Then I learned the hard way that often what she said was right even if said in the wrong way. I foolishly disregarded her advice instead of listening and deciding to follow the good parts. I made a fool out of myself several times by not listening to her.
The Lord began to show me out of His Word that, even when her attitudes were wrong, she still could be telling me things I needed to hear and respond to. In Proverbs we read: "Rebuke a fool and he will hate you, but rebuke a wise man and he will love you for it." (Proverbs 9:8) There is nothing said about how the rebuke is given. The scripture tells us in Galatians 6:1 to correct a brother in a spirit of meekness; but I learned that the correction could be sharp, stinging and humiliating and given with terrible attitudes-and still, it could be true. Possibly I was so stubborn that was the only way someone could get my attention! I began to listen to Rachel when she gave me advice and/or correction. Only the Lord could give me the grace of humility to really listen.
I had to learn like all husbands to weigh what my wife said and value her wisdom but disregard her foolish fears and pettiness at times. I had to make the decision whether or not to follow her advice. We both learned that when she respected my position as the head of the home (although perhaps at the time, she did not respect me as a person) she could be very frank in expressing disagreement and giving criticism. When she was not rebellious but giving correction frankly, I could then be free to listen and weight it out. Her true submission gave her liberty to speak the truth to me in love-tough love if I needed it-and find a fulfillment she had never had before. I had to learn to deal with my pride that would feel humiliated and offended. (How dare she say that to ME? I am too good for that. I don't deserve to be treated that way!) I would become angry. Then I had to learn to deal with my anger. Sometimes I dealt with my offended, prideful anger by giving in to her when I knew she was wrong just to spare myself any more of her humiliation. I had to protect my pride. At other times I would become angry and retaliate with mean, hurtful words to get her to shut up and leave me alone or give in to what I had decided. The Lord convicted me that this was the wrong way to act. I had to learn to deal with my anger the right way-His way.
Psalms 111:5, 10 "He has given meat unto them that fear him; the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
Psalms 128:1, 4 "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his way. Thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord" (KJV).
Proverbs 29:25 "The fear of man bringeth a snare."
Order in the Home:
I Corinthians 11:3-10 ". . . Christ is the head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband . . . For man was not (created) for woman, but woman for man; neither was man created on account of or for the benefit of woman, but woman on account of and for the benefit of man. Therefore she should (be subject to his authority) . . . ." (AB).
Proverbs 15:5 ". . . he that regards reproof is prudent" (KJV).
Ecclesiastes 7:5 "It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools" (KJV).
Proverbs 12:1 "Whoso loves instruction loves knowledge; but he that hates reproof is brutish" (KJV).
Do my feelings and opinions about how the home should operate reflect the current ideas prevalent in my culture, or are they shaped by God's word?
Am I willing to be made willing to accept God's word and obey Him?
Do I fear my spouse more than I fear the Lord?
Do I fear men and their disapproval most so that I am careful to conform to their expectations more than to God's?
Do I assert and/or accept leadership in my home?
Do I throw temper tantrums and/or pout to try to get my way?
Have I learned to really listen to my mate even if their attitude is poor?
Have I learned to humble myself and take correction, or do I foolishly become angry and offended and pay no attention to correction?
Have I learned to obey my husband even when he is foolish?
Preface, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,
Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 5: 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.