Take the Lead
I want to start by saying: God loves you. He wants you to be cared for, protected and loved. God designed marriage so that man wouldn’t be alone – he made Eve especially to suit Adam, to be his helper, his friend and the mother of his children. God made women for men. (1 Cor 11:9)
So it’s ok to want a man to ride in on his shining steed and save you from your life of drudgery in the cellar/tower. And the good news is, men are biologically predisposed to do this. They want to face a challenge, to conquer, and to win the heart of a beautiful woman. They want to look after you.
Well then…where are they? A valid question. Hold that thought.
First of all, let’s look at what it means for a man to want to save you and look after you. Does it mean that he will ‘lead’ you? The issue of leadership is quite pertinent to you, my lovely readers, as many of you have strong personalities, powerful professional roles and big responsibilities as lay leaders in church. How on earth will you find a man who can ‘lead’ you?
Perhaps we are not fully understanding what it means to be led by a man. When you think ‘strong leader’, who are you thinking of? When you have those thoughts: ‘I wish I could have a husband like ________’, who do you picture? Are you thinking of someone like Brian Houston? Tall, loud, commanding and popular? Or maybe Dwayne Johnson, ‘The Rock’? Tall, strong, in the action, with massive guns? Or maybe Izzy Folau? Tall, clean-cut, athletic and with super strong convictions? I have no idea who you’re thinking of. But I wonder if there’s a certain profile in your mind of a man who could be a good ‘leader’.
If I had to name a public figure who I reckon would be a good ‘leader’ as a husband, you know who it would be? Jamie Oliver. Not hugely attractive, no massive guns, a bit lispy, and spends all his time in the kitchen. But I think that Jamie has the two basic ingredients for A+ husbanding: he loves what he does, and he is kind.
Leadership in marriage is not about having a domineering Donald Trump type husband who calls all the shots, bosses you around and does whatever he wants. Some men are more commanding than others, and you have to work with that – but the generic idea of a ‘good leader’ is extremely superficial. It’s not about being tall, loud and popular. In fact, a man doesn’t even need to have followers in order to be a good husband. He only needs one follower to start with – you!
And therein lies the answer. Marriage can make a man into a leader. So when you’re looking at a guy and wondering if he can lead you, what you need to be asking is this:
1. Does he love what he does? If so, this will mean he is secure in himself, is productive, and probably working or has the potential to parlay his passion into a viable job. (A job is essential, but jobs come and go, so you need to be really wise but also a bit flexible in your expectations here.)
2. Is he kind? The trait of kindness is consistently rated as the most important factor in the success and happiness of a relationship. I’m not talking about him being a martyr, a doormat, disingenuous or having false niceness – but true kindness. A truly kind man is worth his weight in gold.
AND let me bring you to the most important point of all:
3. Does he want to lead you?
Here’s the thing. A man might look like a complete deadbeat until the woman of his dreams walks in. Then something inside him turns on. He is able to step up, make a move, and become the hero. (Watch the movie Walter Mitty!) Steve Harvey says, a man will only change for one woman. (vid)
A man can change, but he won’t change unless he’s really into you.
It’s not really about – is this guy a leader, can he lead, etc. It’s all about how he feels about you. If he likes you, he’ll lead you.
And for you strong girls with big personalities, lots of degrees, and high expectations, you know what? When a man comes along who is really into you, he will treat you in such a way that you will end up trusting him and letting him lead you.
So, here’s what you need to do.
When a man shows interest in you, give him a chance. Don’t write him off immediately because he doesn’t fit your perfect profile. Give the guy a chance! Sit back and see what he does. If he offers to open the door – let him. If he offers to buy you a coffee – let him. If he takes an interest in your work – tell him about it. He has to ease his way into your life, and slowly build your trust with small things, one at a time. Give him time and opportunity to do that.
Stop taking the lead when you’re around men. It may have become a habit for you, and we all know that you’re probably way more efficient and smart than they are – but you have to just chill out, humble yourself, and let them take over. A man will have no interest in a woman who doesn’t need him around. Why would he? Men want to be needed. They want to be able to make a difference. So let him make a difference in your life. I have to ask: if you say you need and want a man, well, do you really? What do you want and need him for? Take a good hard look in the mirror and answer that honestly.
Let him make mistakes. No one is perfect, and no man is going to be perfect when he doesn’t know you, he’s trying to impress you, and he’s nervous and maybe stressed about stuff going on in his own life. Dating is pretty hard for guys, you know! Cut the poor man some slack. You need to decide what your deal-breakers are, and you need to be realistic.
Are you really going to dismiss a guy who is kind, really into you, and loves his job, just because he’s an inch shorter than you? Do you really expect a man to be the perfect date, every time, and not lose the keys, forget where he parked the car, or have the wrong time for the movie? (These things happen.) Eventually, once you are aware of his idiosyncrasies, you can actually help to fill in those gaps. Maybe he’s a terrible navigator and always gets lost driving to the restaurant. Well, that’s where you can start to help him and do the navigating. That’s what a marriage relationship is – teamwork. But let him woo you in the beginning – let him show you what he’s got and do a bit of the hard work at the start. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Sort out your own issues. If you’re in your late 20’s or older and you’re reading this, I doubt that you’re single just because you have a strong personality. I can almost guarantee that you had at least one man interested in you when you were much younger, but for whatever reason you just didn’t see or grab the opportunity – and now the ship has sailed. There were lots of guys around – but you’ve missed your ideal window.
I reckon that most guys start looking for love at around 18-28, and they are looking for girls who are between 16-25. That’s the ideal window. It seems crazily young when I look at it, but I remember that I had lots of guys pursuing me when I was between 18-21, particularly. But I was so emotionally immature, ego-centric and completely lacking in self-awareness that I just wasn’t ready. I hadn’t been taught the necessary relationship skills in my family of origin to be able to get into a romantic relationship at that age. So, I missed the window. Now that I’m happily married, I see God’s hand in my life and how he used my 20’s to prepare me for my husband. So whether or not you wish you had married earlier, or regret passing up a past opportunity, you’re here right now. You just have to make the best of it.
When I say ‘sort out your own issues’, I mean you need to look at what was stopping you from being in a relationship in that earlier window of time. Were you like me, immature and relationally unskilled? If so, you might need to start ‘doing life’ with some healthy couples and families, to see how to relate romantically in a functional way. Were you still reeling from a family trauma such as a bereavement or divorce? If so, have you sought counselling to sort out your grief and anger? Were you unattractive and surly back then? If so, why, and have you worked on that? Were you in an unsatisfying relationship, and threw your best years away on an unkind man? If so, you may need to do some divorce recovery workshopping (or similar), to heal your heart and be ready for the next man to come along.
The point is, it’s usually our heart issues that are stopping us from finding love. For sure, ‘ideal’ Christian guys are few and far between once you’re over 25. But there are tons of men out there looking for someone to love and be loved by. Once your heart is softened and ready, you will be surprised at how many men come out of the woodwork and want to get to know you.
Let me conclude with a final thought on leadership. If you have a strong personality and a ‘leadership gifting’, then I have good news for you. You will be able to lead yourself. The best leader is someone whose own life is in order. Have a think about the various areas of your life, and see if there are places where you could be leading yourself better. You just worry about you, and when the man who is into you comes along, he’ll want to worry about you too. It’s a nice feeling.