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 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 in Mary and my case, it may be learned later rather than sooner, but, better late than never I guess.
The old idea of the Man [And no one else.] being the leader, by virtue of his gender, is neither reality nor scripture as I've tried to show in previous posts. The Old Covenant was found to reflect race, gender, and age as elements in it, to be sure. But the New Covenant is not to recognize such elements 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 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 as the Church. Whoever is gifted and set apart mutually for an assignment or responsibility performs it with serving the whole family in mind. Let me show you in a practical way.
Let's assume for this writing that Mary and I brought to our "we" [See previous post] a healthy "I" and a healthy "you." [We didn't. We spent years developing it and sometimes wish we could go back and redo the early years. Can't be done. The kids have had to suffer as a result and have had to be forgiving and willing to learn this later in life. They have been. Whew. Thank the Lord.]
But in the best of worlds, it would be that from the beginning of a marriage, were something an "I" thing or a "you" thing, 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. Then the marriage is at issue whatever the presenting problem.
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, openness, and respect for 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."