A few years ago, I attended the wedding of a dear friend of mine. Before the actual ceremony the minister took time to give a powerful bit of counsel to everyone who had gathered. His words affected me so deeply that they have prompted me to change not only how I approach my marriage, but also my relationships with family and friends.
From what I can remember, the minister said this:
In scripture, husbands have been called the head (or leader) of the household. The world scoffs at such an idea, but that is because the world has a perverted sense of leadership. The world thinks of a leader as the person in charge -- a person who makes all of the decisions, forces everyone to do what he wants and then takes all of the glory for himself. But the world's way of leadership is not God's way of leadership. Leadership, the way God intended it, is a call to service. God's leadership, simply put, is the rendering of humble service to those you love and giving the glory to God.
Too often, men seek solitude from or power over those they claim to love. This is perverted leadership. God calls men to a road that brings them in harmony with their wives and children. Yes, you will make decisions, but you will make them with the intent to serve your family -- not yourself. Remember, the God who calls others to lead is the same God who washed the feet of His disciples. There is no unrighteous pride in God's form of leadership -- only perfect love.
Some may question the wisdom of this minister, but I have tested his words and found them be true. I have put his advice into practice in my own life, and I've realized that some of the most difficult times in my marriage have been the times when I myself have exercised a perverted sense of leadership -- made demands, ignored my wife's needs in favor of my own or withheld forgiveness. In contrast, the happiest times in my marriage have been those where I've "taken charge," and more fully devoted myself to my wife -- recommitting to serve her and see her needs as equal to my own.
That minister's counsel has blessed not only my marriage, but nearly all of my relationships. As I've applied these principles to my life, I've come to realize that every relationship in life presents us with "leadership opportunities" -- moments in which we are called to serve, guide, protect and love one another. Recognizing these calls to leadership (and acting on them) has made me a better husband, friend, brother and son.
I would like to extend this minister's message to you: Start today and consider ways that you are being called to lead in love. While there are many types of relationships with different dynamics, I can promise you that as you sincerely recognize and meet the needs of those you care about, you will feel a greater sense of love and appreciation for those you serve.