Monday, August 17, 2009

Spiritual Micromanagers

Part 4 in the "Men Behaving Badly" Series
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Imagine you have just graduated with your MBA and earned yourself a fantastic job on Wall Street. You show up for work on your first day, eager to bring your talents and skills to the company. You are excited at the challenges that lie ahead, and you can't wait to do your part to make this company the best it can be. Things are going great for a few weeks. But then you start to notice there is little freedom in this company. You learn very quickly that you cannot make any intelligent judgment calls on your own; you must first obtain permission. When you are given a project, it comes with a million emails instructing you exactly what to do. One day, you approach your boss with a problem and you need his help. Instead of trying to work with you, your boss proceeds to give you a lecture on what the problem is and how you should solve it. The next morning, you open your calendar and discover that every moment of your day has been prescheduled for you, including your breaks. Frustrated, you think to yourself, "Is this what I went to school for?"

According to an article at Mindtools.com, "Micromanagers risk disempowering their colleagues. They ruin their colleagues' confidence, hurt their performance, and frustrate them to the point where they quit." Nobody likes to be micromanaged at work, so imagine what it feels like to be micromanaged at home. Many men do not realize that in their sincere attempts to exhibit spiritual leadership, they instead micromanage the women in their lives. So what's the difference?

Pointing women to Christ does not mean dictating to them how you feel submission should be done.I am going to go out on a limb and say that leadership has more to do with you than it does her. Leadership is about you being accountable to God. It is not about you making sure the women in your life are accountable to God. Granted, as a man you want to point them to Christ, but this does not mean dictating to women how you feel submission should be done. That is their job, not yours. On Judgment Day, God is not going to ask you if the women in your life submitted to your leadership. He is going to ask you about you.

Ephesians 5:22 instructs women to submit to their husbands. The text then turns to men and instructs them to love their wives. Nowhere in the text are men instructed to ensure that women submit. Men who are overly preoccupied with whether or not women are submitting are not focused on their own duty to lead. As a result, their leadership suffers and they become micromanagers. Here are some examples of what this might look like:

Leadership: Trusting a woman to manage the home as she sees fit while you're at work.
Micromanagement: Leaving a woman a list of chores to do as though she were a child instead of an adult.

Leadership: Empowering your wife to perform sexually by telling her how much you want her.
Micromanagement: Disempowering your wife by telling her how much you want sex. Reminding her that her body is not her own and by refusing, she is being selfish and disobedient to God's word.

Leadership: "Honey, that neckline is a bit low and distracting. Do you think you can choose another blouse?"
Micromanagement: "I've taken the liberty of having your clothes altered so that all your necklines are a minimum of four finger widths above the point where your cleavage begins."

Leadership: Trusting a woman to make a decision without you because she knows you well enough to know what you would and would not approve of.
Micromanagement: Focusing on the fact that she did not ask your permission first, even though the decision was admittedly an excellent one, and requiring her to check in with you from now on for every little thing.

That last example can be very difficult for many men who assume leadership means that decisions are left to them alone. Yet Proverbs 31:16 tells us a different story: "She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard." A Proverbs 31 woman is like that MBA grad on Wall Street: both were "hired" for the job because of their excellent qualifications. A woman is often excited at the prospect of serving her husband. But after a few months of micromanagement, she may question his decision to "hire" her for the job of being his helper, and can even grow to despise the position altogether.

Good leadership has the power to transform many companies into healthy organizations. The same can be said for the home. Are you a spiritual micromanager? Check out this article from Mindtools.com on micromanagement in the workplace. See if you can draw any parallels between the office and your home. If you think you've been micromanaging, ask your wife's forgiveness and ask God to give you the power to resist the temptation to micromanage. God will be more than delighted to complete the work He began in you (Philippians 1:6) and turn you into the great leader He has called you to be.

To be continued . . .

6 comments:

Natasa said...

Great post... look this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp4WOttWs_I (John Piper has similar message - very short)

Jennifer said...

Natasa, this is great! Thank you so much for sharing and bringing this to the conversation.

WhiteStone said...

Oh, Wow! There are husbands like that??? (the micro-manager style?). Reading your description gave me chills. That's abusive, manipulative, controlling and unGodly. If a man loves his wife as Christ loves the church, he will die (to self) for her.

Jennifer said...

Whitestone, the examples I've provided are exaggerated in the sense that they are not the norm, but I do believe these situations occur from time to time. It's one of the main reasons I rejected the idea of getting married for most of my Christian life. (I can vouch for example #2 -- I personally know someone whose husband had this attitude. He even went as far to say that her behavior was leaving him "no choice" but to turn to pornography. Yuck!)

Bobby Mosteller said...

Hey Jennifer,

Another good one. I just wanted to add, in my own experience, that most of the time when a husband is leading as he should these issues never come up.

It is almost a different world. I don't know how to really explain it but it just kind of happens. I am not saying that marriage doesn't take work. At times it is good for both people to remember what their calling is, within the marriage, but if you both are operating on the premise of "for the glory of God" the selfish, narcissistic tendencies begin to fade away.

The key is remembering and acting on the ultimate principle that I am to do whatever necessary to help my spouse get closer to Christ. It is a question that we have to ask ourselves daily, "Do I want my spouse to think about this certain area in their life for me or is it for their spiritual growth"? Even the faults of the spouse have to be looked at through the lens of wanting their spiritual good and not because I am not getting what I want.

The atmosphere that this will create is, although not perfect, but a constant awareness of each others unconditional love for the person. This then seeps into every area -sex, conversation, obedience, submission, leadership, financial decisions, the housekeeping, work etc. and these areas become a joy to deal with. You will spend a lot of your time just trying to out do the person in self sacrifice and love.

I don't know if any of this makes sense but I hope it does.

It is good to remember that we can start off on the wrong foot in America. American culture says marriage is a contract built by expectations. When one fails to meet those expectations we have been wronged and are no longer obliged to participate. God's way is totally different. We marry for God's glory and since we have been loved tremendously, while in our sin and failure, so we love our spouse regardless of how they reciprocate. We give ourselves to them even when it hurts and is hard. Marriage is so not about us yet you get so much when you realize that fact.

steve said...

Jen, I think submission DOES have a very bad connotation sadly - I think it's just realizing the husband has the final say, but ideally takes what his (hopefully) Godly wife has to say into account.

I know a brother who met his wife while on a missionary trip to Ethiopia - so he brought her back, and raised their family, now that the kids are grown and out, he feels God calling him to go BACK to Ethiopia forever. So I wouldn't blame her for resisting, and he should definitely take what she has to say into account, and wait, wait, wait, until he's sure he's hearing from God.

I think there's a big difference between a woman whose just a "Kate" (Gosselin), and someone who claims to be a woman of God but doesn't accept that her husband is the spiritual head, and doesn't have the final say. If that woman refused to go to Ethiopia, unless she has a really good reason, she's sinning IMHO.

I think Paul Washer does a real good job of explaining this.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=22808122950