I have frequently heard the saying, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”. I do agree and align with the statement to the extent that it refers to leadership as an activity and not a position. But it does appear that the reference to leadership in the above statement, for most individuals relates to those occupying positions of authority, who are commonly referred to as “leaders”. Our focus remains expounding on the art of leadership and seeking to understand its practice. Leadership is neither a position nor authority. It is not who you are but what you do. It is defined more in terms of work done than a station to be occupied. It is for this reason that we seldom use the word “leader” on this platform, because we are keen to shift focus from the individual who occupies a position of authority to what is done with it to solve problems.
This past weekend, I was involved in officiating a wedding, and also had the privilege to share with the couple and guests in a brief exhortation after they had taken their vows. But whilst the exchange of vows were going on, it dawned on me that it spoke more to the practice of leadership expected of the couple in marriage than the positions they occupied. I therefore could not resist the temptation, to tailor my exhortation to examine the concept of leadership and authority in marriage.
There are several variants of a typical marriage vow, but essentially most convey a similar message. In my Local Assembly the portion asking the groom the all-important question goes thus:
“Daniel, do you take Dami as your wife, as your own flesh, to love her even as Christ loves the church, to protect her and care for her for the rest of your lives”?
The expected response from the groom is (Yes I do). (Remember leadership is what you do, not who you are).
And to the bride the question goes.
“Dami, do you take Daniel as your husband submitting yourself to him as unto the Lord, showing reverence to him as the head of this union for the rest of your lives”?
The bride is expected to answer (Yes I do).
The exchange of marital vows seems to place greater commitment on doing rather than being. It speaks more to the practice of leadership rather than the authority bestowed.
This thought is also well captured in Ephesians 5:22-25
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
In verse 22, wives are told to submit to their own husbands.
The concept of submission presupposes the presence of an authority figure, for there cannot be submission in a vacuum. Her submission entails authorizing her husband with grants of power to render a service. She willingly does it, because she trusts that he would with his authority love, protect and care for her.
Verse 23 establishes that the husband is the head of the wife. In other words, he is the captain of the domestic boat, the go to person, the authority figure in the relationship. Authorities no doubt are important in our social living. It was an important concept introduced thousands of years ago, when creatures first began to live in communities, presenting with it the design challenge of creating order for peaceful co- existence. Having authority is one thing, but what you do with it is most critical if progress and success will be achieved.
Some husbands like to quote verses 22&23 very much in an attempt to assert authority over their wives, but they fail to realize that whilst the verses speak to their authority position, which is not in dispute, what is much more critical is verse 25, which speaks to what you do with your authority.
Verse 25 admonishes the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church. The word love is an action word. It relates to the doing of something. What will sustain any marriage is not authority but the leadership activities and actions carried on by the husband and wife.
It is important to acknowledge the authority figures in our lives and to respect them, whether in a marriage, our communities or nation. But more importantly it must be understood that authority is granted to render a service. That is where leadership comes in. The challenge is when authority figures do not exercise much or any leadership, to confront the daunting challenges constantly faced.
To ensure the health and well being of marriages in this generation, it is required that husbands take on the responsibility to love their wives as Christ loved the church. This love speaks about being patient, kind, not jealous, proud, rude or boastful. It does not demand or insist on its own way, not irritable, keeps no record of being wrong, forgiving, does not give up, never loses faith and endures through every circumstance. And just as we can grow in our capacities to exercise leadership, so also the husband and wife can increase their capacity to love each other.
The success of any marriage is therefore not measured on the basis of authority or influence, but on the leadership activities carried on to solve problems and to make progress on challenging situations.
kindly read and do well to share with others.