I love this. If you get to lead, it is abusive to use your leadership to give yourself advantage over those who serve you. So many Kings were known to be oppressive. It's why we say things like "Power Corrupts." But a proper leader will always put himself last. If you are the leader and people see that you abuse your power, they will stop following you. But if you put them first, they will give you more power and privilege.
If you haven't read Love and Respect you absolutely have to. I just realized just how much my recent line of thinking about leadership and preferential treatment goes along with this book.
I'll illustrate this with a rather inane example. Maybe I'll replace it later on if I come up with a better one but let's say a couple wants to go to the movies. The guy wants to see a horror movie. The girl can not stand horror movies but there is a great chick flick all of her friends have been raving about. The guy hates hates hates chick flicks though. What to do? What to do?
Let's remove all other variables from the equation and say that they are in a small town where there is nothing to do. The small theater only has two screens. They must see one of these two movies. Okay. The way I believe the couple should handle this is the woman should trust her man's leadership ability to handle the situation fairly. If he cannot come up with a compromise he should go with his girl's choice and see the chick flick. Why? Because he got what he needed: respect. She cared enough about him to respectfully defer to him. So he should show her love enough to give her what she wants.
See? It all goes back to love and respect. A woman who allows her man to lead shows him that she respects him. She trusts his actions. She doesn't just give up and say, "oh forget it. Let's just do what you want." No no no! She lovingly and respectfully gives him the lead. It's not very respectful to say "I give up."
The man should return the favor. She showed him respect. He needs to show love. A man who chooses what the woman wants shows her that he loves her more than he loves himself. He values her as a person.
Doesn't that sound nice? Guys!!!! Learn from this lesson! Give your girl what she wants!!! Not because it will get you points. Not because she will beat you if you don't. Not because she tells you what to do. Do it because she loves and respects you. If you keep proving that you will put her first she will give you the leadership and the respect you need and deserve.
(I still don't believe that respect should be earned. I think that it's a right because men need respect more than they need love. I strongly believe that if women deserve unconditional love men deserve unconditional respect.
However, even though I believe this, I would never tell my girl to respect me. If your girl believes that you have to earn respect, then you are going to have to earn it nonetheless. Earn it without argument. Fighting for respect loses you respect.)
Okay, this is surely going to create controversy so let me begin with a disclaimer. This is just a theory. If you have anything to add that might contradict or support this theory I am eager to hear your comments. Okay. Here we go.
There are two kinds of equality: symmetric equality and asymmetric equality.
Symmetric equality is cooperative. "Where do you want to go eat?" "I don't know. Chinese or Italian." "I had Chinese last night. Let's have Italian." "Ok. Where to?"
That's cooperative or symmetric equality. Both contribute equally to the decision.
Then there is asymmetric equality. And there are two kinds of this... One in which the leader is the person who can guide the decision with skill or desire and one in which neither or all parties involved can guide the decision with skill or desire.
Who gets to lead an asymmetric situation? The answer is usually the person who is better at making the decision and the person who wants to make the decision. If the man in a relationship is good with cars, then he should be allowed to do it. That is the easy type of asymmetric situation of equality. The woman will defer leadership to him because he is good at the task.
But what about the situation that isn't so black and white? What if neither of them is good at working on the car? What if neither wants to work on it? Let's imagine that they can't take it to a shop and let's say that one of them needs to work on the car while the other walks down the road to call the relatives and say they are going to be late. They are in a hurry so they need to do double duty. So who works on the car? Who walks?
Someone needs to own up and take the lead. Who then? Well there should be a default leader.
Before we discuss who should lead let's move on to the flip side. I think one of the reasons why leadership is so controversial is because we so often equate leadership with advantage. But I believe that God intends the leader to give his advantage away. This I call preferential treatment. It is the flip-side of leadership.
If there is a default leader then the other person should have some advantage that matches the advantage that leadership gives. Well that advantage is preferential treatment. If one is allowed to be the default leader, then the other person should receive preferential treatment by default. Guess who has always received preferential treatment in a healthy romantic relationship? The woman naturally, and that is precisely the way it should be. Therefore, the man should be the natural default leader.
Let me be clear in saying that outside of the relationship, both members of the couple are to be considered equal. But within the relationship, the leader should consider the other person to be more important. Yes, I said that right. He is the leader and he considers his girl more important. This is absolutely essential in maintaining true balance within the relationship. It keeps the leader from being selfish. If the leader considers himself to be superior, then she will be his servant. She will have nothing to balance the relationship if he uses his leadership to give himself preferential treatment.
I can hear the crowd screaming, "They are equal!!" I do agree in principle. Men and women are equal, but still we are both distinct and different. The man is a lump of gold worth a million dollars and the woman is a diamond worth a million dollars. Both equal in value, but still different. However, the idea that both can be treated equally in every situation is pretty naive. If you refuse to come to terms with the fact that there are situations in life that do not allow for equality, you are one day going to find yourself putting an 'x' in the box that says "irreconcilable differences." There really are many situations that don't allow for equality. And that is why leadership is balanced out with preferential treatment.
If it wasn't, then the two would have to keep score because you will run into millions of scenarios in your lifetime in which both can not possibly be treated equally. "You took the first life raft last time, so this time I get to jump out of the burning building first." That's completely ridiculous. Keeping score is just not right. Maybe with children, but not with a man and a woman. It's better just to just give preference to the follower. To do otherwise is going to result in strife between them.
A problem with this is becoming obvious. Are they just supposed to do what she wants all the time? Of course not. If that were true then the leader wouldn't have any responsibility at all and leadership would certainly have no advantage. Occasionally the leader will have to contradict what the follower wants. Sometimes he can not go along with the follower's desires. But he needs discernment. This is why we need someone to be the default leader. He must obtain the experience to decide when the follower's desire is the right thing to do and when the right thing to do is something else. He needs the practice to both discover when it's right to contradict her and to keep making her feel loved when he has to go against her desires. He needs a lot of practice to achieve this long term. Because of this, the woman should wait for the man to take the lead. If the Sunday date is getting rather late, then it's the leader's job to decide when the date ends. If the woman just up and takes the lead and says, "Ok, it's getting late. We should go home" then she hasn't given the man the opportunity to practice leadership. AND more importantly, she hasn't given him the opportunity to prove to her that he is capable of being a good leader. And let's face it, women today do not trust men to lead. And yet, they WANT a man who can and will lead. Women want a take charge guy who knows what's right and will fight for it. But she'll never find him if she doesn't ever give a man a chance to show her that he is a natural born leader. Now, if in the Sunday date scenario, the guy is not doing his job and is letting the date continue too long, the woman might be able to offer up her opinion. But she should still allow him the opportunity to practice leadership. Eventually it will become clear whether or not the man will ever learn leadership. If that's the case, then you should probably consider if you even want to be with such a wishy washy non-man.
Please understand that I am not trying to say the woman should never have a choice. She absolutely should. A date scenario is an example of a traditional relationship. The man is wooing the woman, trying to show his mettle and be a good match for her. He is the natural leader on a date. In general though, the context of this blog post is about the 1% of the time in which the leader is not obvious. In 99% of the situations in life the two will either collaborate or one will be an obvious leader. But that one single percent is very important. The Bible tells the man to lead and the woman to submit. The reasons I listed I think support what the Bible tells us.
I see two rights when it comes to men and women. One is the right to lead. The other is the right of preferential treatment. If you are a leader, then your significant other must receive preferential treatment. If you receive preferential treatment, then you must defer leadership to your significant other. To do otherwise (meaning you get leadership AND preferential treatment) would make you the superior and the other person your servant. How can you have equality if you are both the leader and you receive preferential treatment? You can't. It is why some men today really dislike the feminist movement. It is also the reason FOR the feminist movement.
Here is how it happened. Long ago God created man and woman. Men were the leaders and they gave their women preferential treatment. In fact, men used their leadership to give women preferential treatment. If someone else threatened a man's wife's treatment, he would stand up for his wife. I believe that is the way God intended. I believe that if you are outside of a relationship looking in, you should look at the woman and the man equally. Man and woman should be considered equal. But within the relationship, the man should consider his woman to be superior. But she should not think that she should be allowed to lead. The president doesn't open doors does he? He has other people plan his day, right? Sure, he could decide to take control on a whim and run off to vacation. I'm sure he does react when necessary, but I doubt he plans every facet of his life in office. His job is bigger than one man can handle. A woman that badgers her husband is like a president who tries to control every facet of his life.
Ok, back on topic. As men led, because they could, some men began to give themselves preferential treatment. It became more and more the norm and eventually women began to feel like second class citizens. Some women became truly oppressed. I don't think that all men oppressed their women but many women did not feel like they were equal to their husbands. So they rebelled and began to get jobs, demand the right to vote, demanded sexual freedom, taught their children the idea that a woman (even with preferential treatment) should be allowed to lead.
Then the tables started turning. Women became good at living independently. They started to want men instead of needing them. And then they started to dominate their personal relationships because they no longer needed men. And now look at what has happened. The pendulum has swung the other way and men are now the slaves. We have to wait on our women hand and foot and we get no say in any matter. Oh yeah, there are times where our opinion is asked for, but in general, women wear the pants. Scoff all you want, but it's so funny the standup comics make jokes about it all of the time. Standup comics I've found are generally good at distilling the condition of society pretty well. They make their living by observing life and thier naturally clever nature enables them some real insight. They find truth in the idea that women are in charge these days. So I also do. And I don't like it one bit. Not because women are incapable, but because it makes men into slaves.
There are many reasons why we should study our Bible as much as possible. One as I mentioned previously is to remain invigorated in The Spirit. Loving to read your Bible daily does this. But reading your bible and studying does more than this. It prepares us to witness.
Would you want to take a dance class from someone who doesn't look like they know how to dance? It is one reason why a dance studio should employ great dancers to be their instructors (another being that the students should never be able to surpass their instructors). An intermediate level dancer might be able to teach the basics, but he lacks the intimate knowledge of how one evolves through each of the stages to become a truly advanced dancer. So a student who aspires to be an advanced dancer will only be hindered by the teacher who teaches instruction that will have to be unlearned later on. A very advanced teacher will prepare the beginning students to receive advanced instruction later on. An intermediate instructor will not have the knowledge to be able to do this. And it shows. Students are wise enough to understand that a dancer who isn't amazing will only be able to teach them so much. So they will naturally respect a teacher who has gone through the entire evolutionary process to become an advanced dancer. They might like the intermediate teacher, but they will respect the advanced one.
Did you ever see the Seinfeld episode where Jerry buys a tennis racket at the tennis club? A salesman at the tennis club tells Jerry that it was the racket that he uses. Jerry buys the expensive racket solely on that fact. Then Jerry sees him play, badly. The guys is AWFUL! Jerry completely loses faith in the racket he bought. We don't want to be the salesman when we witness to other people. We want to look like we know what we are talking about. We need to have confidence in what we are talking about. Our number one tool is The Holy Spirit. It will guide us. But our secondary tool is our knowledge of The Word.
Someone new in Christ can tell someone that all we need to get into Heaven is written in John 3:16. And he will be right. But he might be tested. Some of the least faithful are the most knowledgeable of The Bible and biblical history. So if you want to be prepared to take on these individuals, you had better be prepared. Study your bible. Learn from other scholars, mentors, and believers. Increase your knowledge. You never know who God is going to put in your path.
Before you read this blog post, read the previous one. This is an extension of that one.
With the previous post in mind, I remembered a particularily important verse that I was alerted to some years ago in a sermon about how to stay zealous. I wanted to remain zealous for the remainder of my life and here was a verse that told you precisely how to do it. It was so meaningful to me that I folded the page in my Bible so I would forever be able to flip right to it. So I wrote on the top of the page "how to Stay Zealous" and it was so important that I even put the date and the time. May 26. 6:00 PM Don't know why I didn't put the year down. But it was 2003.
Here is the verse: Isaiah 33:15-16 (KJV) 15He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
16He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
In short, keep focused and stay away from temptation. Keep your eyes on the prize (Heaven) and don't let anything divert your attention from that prize.
Today I really truly understood the brilliance of God choosing Sunday to be the day on which we go to Church. It is the day before we return to our daily lives. Every time I go to church I become rejuvinated to live life to the fullest and to let Jesus' light shine through me. Although I might not be the best example of this, it is my goal in life.
If there is one prayer I can have answered God it is this: let Jesus' light shine through me so the people around me will say, "Oh! That is what it's like to have Christ in your life. I want that."
My heart was especially rejuvinated in the service today, especially after we took communion. The server who held the bread really touched me. The way he looked at each person in the eyes and with true love and conviction said "Jesus body broken for you." You absolutely KNEW that he really believed and wanted you to understand just how much Jesus' loves us. That really hit me. I hope and pray that it changed me.
If you read my earlier blog post, you'll know just how much I needed to feel God's love today. We all need to be rejuvinated. Constantly really. So that is why it is good to be involved in a church. No, it's not a commandment, but without it, it becomes a real struggle to show Jesus' light. We need reminders. The weight of the world presses down on us too much. So by the end of the week, we might be a bit out of it spiritually. So we go to church before the week begins, but that doesn't do us much good on the weekend.
So it was during service that I wished that I could have an equally strong influence on my spirit and faith before the weekend. Then I was reminded of Hannah's Friday Bible study. A lot of churches have Bible study on Thursday, and generally that seems like a good day to have one since for a lot of us the weekend begins after work on Friday. But I am committed to helping with salsa classes every Thursday. So Friday might be just as good at rejuvinating me before the weekend. And the way in which Hannah's bible study goes, they seem to give the entire Friday to God. And that is so wonderful. I'm sure on Saturday Hannah feels completely recharged.
Plus, she lives in the word daily. And that is equally important. Going to church isn't really enough to keep you charged up all week long. After we attend church (hopefully) we feel completely recharged on Sunday and even Monday. But the rigors of daily life and the struggles the real world puts on us beats that love of mankind down. We need daily reminders. So we are called to live in The Word.
Read your bible daily. Not because you feel that you are commanded to. I don't think any commandment in The Bible is "because I said so." I think every commandment in The Bible is "because it's good for you."
So read your bible daily. It is good for you. And soon you will see just how much you depend on it. Find a church that rejuvinates you. Go to Church, at least on Sunday because it will fill your heart by communing with fellow believers. Listen to wisdom brought to you by someone who has spent time in study of The Word. It can bring fresh eyes and understanding to your life. It will rejuvinate you. And if you find that during the weekend you aren't the best example of Christ's love, then find a Bible Study that will recharge your love of God and of mankind.
Is it enough to just go to a Bible Study? Not really, no. The people who lead the bible study, kind, generous, Godly, wise, and entertaining as they are, they are not likely to study it full time. The pastor who gives a sermon on Sunday does. He studies the bible daily, for hours. He went to school to learn much more than the Bible study leader knows. He has real wisdom and education. Your Bible study leader doesn't. The Bible study leader might have gone to seminary, but probably not. He might be a good Christian (he'd better be) and the spirit can surely use him. But if you have to choose between church on Sunday and a Bible study on Friday, go with the church. Deep inside you really must know that it's the choice that God would want you to make.
Did you ever feel like you are witnessing life rather than living it? Like you are on the outside looking in, just watching and not participating?
Boy how I wish my brain was wired differently. It seems that the people who are most successful, most happy are those who are naturally outgoing and talkative.
Lord, why must I clam up when I am with talkative people? I can contribute too doggonit. I know things. I have opinions. I'm pretty smart. I'm a philosopher by nature. Why must my thoughts and opinions disappear from my mind while I watch others have a conversation? Can't I participate too?
Do all philosophers suffer so? No. I doubt that. Many like to talk. I like to be heard. But I don't like being pushy. I hate it when I am interrupted, so I don't interrupt others myself. The result is that when I am with boisterous and talkative people who walk all over each another, I clam up. Maybe that's why I have this blog. I can write whatever I can't say. But is anyone listening?
I don't want to sound so arrogant. I clearly don't have all the answers, but what good is it to know anything at all if you can't share your wisdom?
I like to say that dance mimics life. That dance is the best metaphor for romantic relationships.
I wrote in my salsa blog that a man's job is to make it possible for a woman to do things that she can't do on her own.
I was going to say the same thing about life and relationships. There is some truth that we are both more capable by working together. But is it biblical to say that a man's job (in life) is to make it possible for a woman to do things that she couldn't do on her own? I'm remembering one of the earliest parts of the Bible. "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helpmeet for him." So, this begs the question, are men meant to help women, or are women meant to help men? Or both? They say that behind a great man is a great woman. But do they say the same thing about great women? Is this an antiquated notion these days? We seem to be so independent these days.
The leader's job is to help the girl dance. It's his job to make it possible for her to do things that she couldn't do on her own. The central responsibility of the leader is the girl.
Some guys forget this and some girls forget this. There are a few girls who allow other leaders to help them, but not me. With me they try to dance on their own. They just happen to be holding me at the time.
Use me girls. It's not like I don't know what I'm doing. I'm here to help.
"I'm here to help you. In fact all of the guys here are here to learn how to help you. But they can't learn to help you if you don't give them a chance to learn. you need to let them help you. Slow down. Wait for them. Let them lead. If they go slower than our count or the music, that's fine. Right now both of you are learning the core of dance: connection with your partner. Don't do the pattern on your own. Don't learn patterns. Learn to follow. After you learn how to follow well, learn to style. But never stop improving your following."