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 . . .