Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Leadership and Preferential Treatment

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.

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