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."