Monthly Archives: March 2016

Beware the yeast of the mother-in-law: Unless she compliments your leadership

mother-in-law

Recently my malevolent mother-in-law uttered a profundity that surprised me. She was spending a couple days at our house (what sin have I committed to displease you, oh Lord?) and I was vacuuming the floor of all the dog hair shed by our fell beasts when I overheard her say to my wife: “It must be nice to have a husband who does housework.” Granted, my mother-in-law is in her eighties and hails from a bygone era (think Jurassic period) when male and female roles in the home were more strictly segregated. But things have changed since then, right? It depends.

When I was a lad, almost fifty years ago, it was a regular occurrence around our house to see my father engaged in domestic labor such as washing the dishes (by hand) and doing the laundry, in addition to his other duties around the yard and his full-time job as a professional logger. Apparently he was ahead of his time as the feminist movement had just begun to gather steam in America. Fast forward to today when I hear many professional women bemoan how they have achieved greater equality with men but not greater equity of job distribution in the home. In other words, many women today are married to men who still expect their wife to take care of all the domestic duties in the home, raise the children, and have a career . . . oh, and be a seductress in the bedroom, as well. Unfortunately many Christian men still embrace this nonsense as somehow biblical.

Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT suggesting that men need be more feminine or women more masculine. God clearly made men and women different in many ways. For instance, I like to hunt, but my wife, Cindy, is unlikely to join me in the woods, shoot a buck, gut it, butcher it, and serve it for dinner. And I am unlikely to join her at a women’s retreat where the ladies and I sit around the table and do arts and crafts. Even so I think a lot of Christian men have misused verses like Ephesians 5:23 where men are told that we are the head of our wife; a verse which establishes a system of authority in the home. But what type of authority? Authority and work are two different things, right? Certainly there are verses in the Bible that describe labor responsibilities along conventional gender roles almost two thousand years ago. But since when was Christ and his followers conventional? Take for instance the washing of feet. Jesus clearly acknowledges his own authority. His disciples recognized his authority. But Jesus also got down on his hands and knees and served his disciples by washing their feet. This was much more than a symbolic act. It was both practical (their feet were filthy from walking long distances in sandals on dirt roads) and it demonstrated God’s definition of what leadership looks like—leadership serves, often in menial ways.

Guys, if you want to receive the blessing and responsibility of leadership in your homes, do the dishes, do the laundry, iron your own shirts, pick up after yourself, clean the toilet, parent your children, get the kids ready for bed, and learn to cook. These are the ways you wash the feet of the precious people in your home. This principle also applies to leadership in your occupation, as well. If you can’t humble yourself to do these things, you risk becoming one of those guys who can only get your family to do your bidding by barking orders because you have the unholy attitude that your word is final. Period. End of discussion. That’s called lording it over others and it has no place in God’s plan for leadership in the home. Many guys want to be leaders, but they don’t lead by example. It is counter to the Kingdom of God leadership model to demand that family members under your authority do things you are unwilling to do. I’m just saying.

Wait For It: The Kingdom of Heaven is Like a Snail

Snail's pace

Snail’s pace

God often speaks to other people. To me, not so much. And yet ten years ago I distinctly heard God. Don’t worry, it was not an audible voice like those muttering homeless guys hear. It was ten words that took shape in my mind on the night after my eldest daughter’s wedding. It was a promise from God: “I am going to bless you and increase your house.” I wept for joy. But the days and weeks turned into years, and still no grandchildren were forthcoming. It wasn’t until seven years later that my eldest daughter informed me that Cindy and I were going to be grandparents. Luca was born on September 5th. He is now three years old and the lad has been more of a blessing to me than I can articulate. He has become more precious than career, a comfortable retirement, possessions, you name it. In short he is more precious to me than me myself.

A week ago my youngest daughter informed me that she is pregnant. Then last Friday my eldest daughter told me (via text) that she is also pregnant, again. My cup runneth over. My wife, Cindy, has nearly lost her mind with excitement and utter joy over the soon-to-be additions to our clan.

We are an immediate satisfaction society. But God does not act on our timetable, no matter how often we pray, beseech, plead, or throw a tantrum. I can’t stress that enough: God DOES NOT act on our schedule. We either have faith that he knows when and how it is best to bless his people, or we don’t. Ten years ago I was forty-nine years old. Back then I would not have appreciated grandchildren as much as I do now that I’m knocking on sixty and the things I once thought so important have faded into the background. The place I’m at has freed me to be completely present when I am with my grandson. He gets my undivided attention. So will the grandchildren who are on the way.

If God makes you a promise, he might deliver right away, or you might have to wait for it . . . a long time. With the benefit of hindsight (a skill I employ with expert proficiency), ten years ago I was not ready for grandchildren. In the church, we often hear it preached that God’s timing is perfect. That isn’t just a trite slogan to help us develop the admirable character trait of patience. It is a reality that must work itself into our faith. So why does God reveal what he intends to do and then he makes us wait, sometimes for many years? I don’t know, but I have a theory: he does it so we can see how much he has helped us grow and prepare for receiving his promised blessing. In other words, so he gets more veneration than he would if he’d simply given us the blessing right away. And that’s very appropriate.