Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Essentials for family leadership---Giftedness

Non-essentials for family leadership---Gender

Unacceptable in family leadership---Ruling

How family leadership works is a matter of genuinely relating to each other on the basis of things other than gender, age, or position. It is the ability to share life built on respect, deference, and responsibility. It is a willingness to exclude things such as ruling, controlling or demanding.

All of what follows in this post presupposes an understanding of an equality in Christ and a commitment to His Lordship over each one involved in the family unit. There is only ONE Lord for ANY believer.

Ideally, this kind of sharing should begin when the couple is first married and is then passed on to the children. Unfortunately, as was true in Mary and my case, it may be learned later rather than sooner, but, better late than never I guess.

The concept of the Man [and no one else] being the leader, by virtue of his GENDER ALONE, is neither reality nor scripture as I've tried to show in many previous posts. The Old Covenant [Testament] was based on race, gender, and age as elements, to be sure. But the New Covenant [Testament] does not recognize that at all. Sons and daughters, old men young men, male and female [Acts 2:17-18] all were gifted and functioning in it and that is to be true in the home as well, as it [The home] is to reflect that New Covenant [Testament] where Jesus is Lord, in my opinion.

With that understanding, how does a New Covenant home function? Who is its leader? The answer is the same for the Church. Whomever is gifted and is set apart with mutual agreement for an assignment or responsibility is to perform by serving or doing it with the whole family in mind. Let me show you in a practical way. The ONLY individual assignment is a biological one and that is the birthing of children which is OBVIOUSLY the female gender. [Parenting carries with it an authoritative responsibility as well.]

Understand for this writing that Mary and I DID NOT come together in our marriage with an understanding of what we love to call the "I"/'YOU"/"WE" relationship for having a healthy family. For the sake of the illustration, I'm the "I." Mary is the "YOU" and the "WE' is the marriage we have because we're together. Understand there's no sacredness about these designations at all. We had to spend years developing an understanding of this and sometimes wish we could go back and redo the early years. But that can't be done. The kids had to suffer as a result and had to be forgiving and willing to learn all this later in life. They have been willing!  [Whew. Thank the Lord.]

But in the best of worlds, the healthy "I"/"you"/ "we" thing would be understood from the beginning of a marriage and there would be automatic recognition of greater responsibility and a mutually agreed assignment of leadership for decision making with deference on the part of the other. This, remember, would not allow for demanding or ruling as that would be a DENIAL of a relationship built on freedom in Christ and HIS Lordship.

When issues arose that demanded action, say for example, one with the family of origin, the one whose family it was, [The "I" or the "You."] shouldered the assignment of greater responsibility and led the way through it. Talking with openness and respect, the opinions of both were always in play. But the crunch was in the court of the one whose family of origin it was. We found that there was a far greater involvement of emotions, energy, even spiritual battle in that person. Thus greater responsibility was assigned and seen by the other in the "we."

Some things ARE a "we" thing by their very nature. The discipline [training] of children for example. Keeping the house, yard, garage, and a host of other things. Not the least of which is writing the bills. Here the "I" and "You" are not in play so much. It truly is a "we" thing. The assignments were made/accepted with the gifts, abilities, likes/dislikes, of the "I" and "You" all coming into play here. But it was always a mutually agreed thing. This is certainly more difficult to achieve than the old "He's the boss" system of family life. but the relational growth is vivid not to mention reflecting New Covenant living.

I could write a multitude of posts illustrating this from my own experience with Mary and the kids as we learned. But suffice it to say, the essentials are perennially in play, the non-essentials recognized for what they are, with the unacceptables never allowed to be in play.

This takes patience, practice, flexibility, and a willingness to be honest with each other and learn together. The assignments alter and change from year to year and person to person as children come and go and lifestyles change as the seasons do. [I could testify to my assignment for much of the housework now that my traveling is less and Mary's work in her office is greater.] I'm learning to cook which, thank the Lord, the kids never had to endure what I do cook.

This is certainly more difficult to achieve than the old "He's the boss" system but We have found that this DOES become second nature and DOES begin to be as natural as breathing. Failure happens. But maturity doesn't allow for being obstinate and dogmatic about an opinion as to what is best. Sometimes you have to rethink the essentials and see where you've missed things. That's called relational growth. [Another name for it is spiritual maturity.]

Now...I believe the local Church Body could function the same way and Kingdom living would be able to follow the leadership of the Spirit as the will of our Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, was accomplished. And, when people viewed from the outside, they would be saying .."My, see how they love one another."

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


How right you are!

"ruling, controlling or demanding." are written into the DNA of a major part of the traditional church scene.

For what it's worth, I believe this is because the systems of theology which we have adopted, and hold , at least equal to Scripture, have attempted to hybridize

Moses X Jesus

Law X Grace

Old Covenant X New Covenant

Israel X Church

O.C. Relationships X N.C. Relationships.

As in plant life, when I hybridize two different plants of the same type, I end up with another plant,of the same type, but with at least, some characteristics of both of the original.

As in plants of different type, Old Covenant and New Covenant, are NOT of the same type and cannot be hybridized. The result of this cross-breeding ends up being a very poor example of what either of the originals were.

What do you think?

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

My wife was reading over my shoulder just now as we were looking at various search engines for different topics and we saw I had mail. I opened it and it was your comment. Her exact words were..."Oh, now that is really good." I concur.

When it was said "I will make a New covenant", the intention was that it WOULD be a new type. When you said..."The result of this cross-breeding ends up being a very poor example of what either of the originals were"...you described the results of mixing the Old and New covenants in law, lifestyle, or anything else one attempts to describe. Both are no longer what was intended for either.

I say again..EXCELLENT.

Chris Ryan said...

My how I wish we really believed that God made all things new. Including, maybe even especially, how we relate to one another. That's one of the reasons I don't like the Niebuhrs as theologians (Realism... phooey). All the "newness" is something that will happen eventually by God's cataclysmic intervention. We have no responsibility to that "newness" now.

I believe we have to hope that God is doing things differently. Yet such a hope only makes sense to the degree that we are willing to try and embody it. Perhaps God may even use such trying to bring about that same change in you and I and those with whom we interact. One of our Bible profs told us today that it was his opinion that as soon as you stop being an idealist, it is time to hang up your robes and get out of ministry. Because if all you can do is capitulate to the way things are you are of little use to the Gospel.

Personally, I agreed.

Paul Burleson said...


Your Prof. sounds clearly on target to me. Thanks for the comment and may your tribe increase.

Rex Ray said...

May I quote your son?

“For Paige Patterson, and men who believe like he, the issue has never been about Senior Pastors. That is only a smoke screen. The issue, pure and simple, is this:

No woman shall have any position of authority over a man - period.

If this attitude is allowed to prevail in the SBC then we will be no less culpable than when we allowed leaders of the SBC to convince us that slaves should be subjected to their masters.”

I believe as you - what one believes Scripture teaches will effect married life.

Becky Dietz said...

And this is why you must continue to blog. Can we just agree now that we'll all hang out on Aussie John's porch in heaven?

Paul Burleson said...


A remarkably astute comment. [The second sentence anyway.] ;)

traveller said...


I have no problem with the thrust of this post. Indeed, I agree, except, of course, for the word "leader" or "leadership" which I believe contradicts in definition and most often in practice what you are describing.

The point is not to agree on the word but to find common ground in concepts and ideas. In that we are definitely in accord.

As you may recall, my wife and I moved to Africa in August. I was visiting with a South African this week and we had a discussion about authority. He said in South Africa there is a term for someone who willingly gives up authority and power. It is called "doing a Mandela" in reference to Nelson Mandella who willing gave up power instead of doing what most of the other leaders in Africa have done.

So, may we all do a Mandela.

Paul Burleson said...

I'm without my computer this weekend. But I have to agree and plead ignorance as to how to communicate the concept with different words at present. Some learning Is obviously on the horizon for me. I'm ready!

Deborah Felts said...

Brother Paul, you're back! It's good to see you on the road to recovery. It is also great you're blogging again. Welcome back!