In the first four posts of this series, we studied Genesis 1-3 to reveal the biblical definition of a woman. In this broken world, a woman is someone who struggles with an unhealthy desire toward man, struggles with being dominated by man, but through the power of God can overcome this struggle. She can reclaim her God-given identity: an equal & fruitful ruler, with the potential to become one flesh with man, made in the image of God.
I have seen that transformation in my own life. I grew up in a loving home with wonderful parents who made time for me, encouraged me and taught me well. But rightly or wrongly, I got the distinct impression that my dad’s ambition for me was basically limited to being a Christian version of June Cleaver. This was hard for me because I am wired to be a lot more like my dad than my mom. The domestic role never really appealed to me, but I tried to play it anyway.
When I got married, I assumed my husband was to be the “head of the home” – meaning he was supposed to brainstorm the plans, make most of the decisions, teach me and our kids about God (just like my dad had done). The problem is my husband is actually a bit more like my mom. You see, while my dad is gifted in vision-casting and communication, my mom is gifted in faith and perseverance. She is the strong warrior. She’s the one who believes and perseveres in the plan no matter how discouraging things may be. My dad may lead by determining plans, but my mom leads by having the determination to see it done. And that’s my husband. His mind is hard-wired on the present, doing what is necessary in the present moment. His mind rarely goes to future planning. But in our early marriage, I assumed that my husband was the head of our home, and that meant he was supposed to come up with the future direction and communicate it to me.
Just like Genesis says, I had an unhealthy desire for my husband, to be dominated by him. Why? I don’t know! Perhaps because I was fearful about failing and it was easier to make him responsible for making all the risky decisions. But this was an unfair burden to dump on him. Since he doesn’t have the gift of strategic planning & vision, I was always waiting for him to realize what I already knew needed to be done. I became increasingly frustrated that he wasn’t stepping up to be the head of our home. And he was feeling more & more like a failure. Although I never explicitly said so, he sensed that he couldn’t lead in the way I expected. So he increasingly stopped trying. He became even more passive in his leadership.
Eventually one day, he told me “I can’t be the leader I’m supposed to be unless you are the leader you are supposed to be.” That day, I had to step up to be the leader that God created me to be – someone who is constantly thinking about the future, who sees the way forward and is gifted to communicate it. And yes, I get easily discouraged by present circumstances, but ya know what? My husband doesn’t. Even when I am ready to bail on the plan (which 90% of the time was my original idea), he isn’t. He still has faith, he still has energy, he keeps moving forward and encourages me to do so also. Since we’ve accepted the unique ways God has gifted us to lead, we enjoy a unity and peace and joy in our marriage that we never had before.
There is no clear distinction in Genesis of how the woman is to rule differently than the man because the “how” of the ruling is unique to each person. Some couples may be gifted in traditional roles, that’s wonderful. Other couples may be gifted differently – maybe he loves cooking, or maybe she’s a savvy business leader & financial manager like the noble wife of Proverbs 31. There is freedom to determine who does what & how they do it. Ephesians 5:21 commands us to mutually submit to one another. Other verses command us to love and unselfishly serve one another (Romans 12:10; Galatians 5:13; Philippians 2:1-16). We’re also commanded to use our God-given abilities to benefit others (Romans 12:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12-13). There is great freedom in determining spousal roles as long as you mutually agree upon your roles then love, respect and serve one another in them.
Too often, we women are dissatisfied with the men in our lives because we are waiting for them to lead in the way that God has gifted us to lead. We need to stop expecting men to do the things that God lays on our hearts to do. We need to appreciate the unique leader God created them to be (whether that be an outspoken leader, or a strong silent type that leads by example), and step up to be the unique leader God created us to be. We women are made in the image of the triune God for the purpose of ruling. So go and be the leader God created you to be!
What kind of leader are you?
In what ways are you not stepping up into your God given role? Why?