August 1, 2016
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Previously, we’ve seen how Jesus’ model of servant leadership contrasts with the military and corporate models. We’ve also seen that servant leadership makes better fathers and produces happier children. Now let’s look at how this model affects a marriage.
In the corporate and military, or “top down” models, decisions are made at the top and filtered down through the structure. Those who are lower on the corporate pyramid carry out the dictates of the people who are higher up in the structure. While this may work in the military and to a lesser degree in corporate America, it does not work very well in a marriage. When a husband barks orders to his wife (command and control), the wife often feels that she is not an equal partner in the relationship and that her voice is not heard. In fact, she may even feel abused.
The elements of abuse are power and control. Elements of the corporate or military leadership model are command and control. The power is definitely implied. When this is experienced in a marriage the result is, by definition, an abusive relationship.
Jesus’ leadership model calls for the leader to be the servant of all. The servant listens to the voice of those he or she serves, listens to their needs and desires, and then endeavors to meet those needs and desires.
There is a level of vulnerability in Jesus’ leadership model that is not found in other models. Military and corporate leaders often maintain an “image” that projects certainty, control, and invulnerability. But marriage requires openness, collaboration and vulnerability. Defensiveness is the enemy of intimacy and must therefore be replaced with mutual vulnerability and trust.
When the elements of servant leadership are modeled in a marriage, the “servant” becomes the “leader.” This happens, not because anyone has declared himself to be the leader, but because the family – having witnessed the consistent display of servant-leadership qualities – collectively rise up and declare this person to be the leader. They name this person the head of household.
Husbands who choose the servant-leader model of Jesus will discover that their wives are thrilled to be married to them. It has been my observation that this model produces the happiest of homes.
Next week we will examine the servant-leader model as it relates to the Church.
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