Are You a Yes Man?

What does it take to be a leader? How would we score if we were rated in our leading abilities? More importantly, what will the results of our leadership be in five, ten, or twenty years?

Mary, our seven-year-old daughter, wanted to know if she and Jesse could go with the other three children to their appointment this afternoon. Unfortunately, the car we were taking would not have had enough seatbelts for all five of the children. I had planned on taking the smaller vehicle and was hesitant to change plans.

It is so easy for me to lock in on my own agenda and preferences. I would like to automatically choose to put others first. It amazes me that I can struggle with that, but it is true. I have to make it a conscious decision. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). Vainglory means self-conceit. We are not to do anything based on the (false) assumption of our importance. In other words, we are not to put our interests first.

That can be a difficult thing when Dad is the one who is able to make the final decision. It is easy to think that means we can make the decision that is best for us. However, the best decision is the Lord’s decision.

I find I need to run each situation past the Lord and ask Him to tell me what I should do. As I took this decision to the Lord, He quickly impressed on me that my choosing the vehicle that would exclude my little ones was ridiculous. I love my time with them, and here I was willing to pass it up because I wanted to take the smaller car. It was hard to believe I was about to make such a silly decision.

We love our home, but one thing it lacks is storage for items like bicycles. With seven bicycles, that poses a real problem! Part of the solution is that I have three bicycles hanging upside down in the garage. That works out okay most of the time, but when the children want to ride those bikes, I have to pull the car out of the garage so we can get the bikes down. That probably doesn’t sound like a huge problem, but selfishly, there are times when it is very inconvenient; I may be working, in the middle of a project, or on the telephone. It is pretty easy to justify not taking the time to pull out the car to get down the bicycles when I’m in the middle of something “important.”

The other morning I was doing my beginning-workday routine of clearing out e-mail and doing other desk-related chores when one of the children asked me to go through his birthday list with him. I wasn’t officially on the “clock” yet, but I had to deal with those other things so I could begin “work.” To make matters worse, the previous evening I had told this child that I was available to go through his list with him, but he had something else going then that he wanted to complete. So now it was convenient for him but not for me. I was beginning to feel irritated about it because I was forced to make a decision: was he more important than what I was doing? I’m not saying we drop everything every time, just because our children want something, but are we willing to if the Lord directs?

This verse should ring loud and clear in our minds: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). As we evaluate the decisions that are brought to us each day, are we thinking of our children’s best interests? Are we zealous not to provoke them to wrath or cause them to be discouraged (Colossians 3:21)?

I expect we may have forgotten what it is like to have to go to someone else for a decision when we want to do something. I know it has been a few years for me. If every time I wanted to do something all I heard was “no,” I would get pretty frustrated. That is the difficulty of being a real leader: knowing when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”

On the other side of this discussion can be a tendency to say “yes” just because it is what the child wants. However, it might be against the direction the Lord is leading the family. Dads will justify the “yes” as only a small compromise or not a battle worth fighting. Don’t fall for that trap. If the Lord has directed in an area, it is a battle that must be fought and won! There can be no compromise.

How sad when we hear dads justify wrong decisions that they knew they shouldn’t have made, but the child “really wanted to.” The truth is, Dad said “yes” when he should have said “no.” But so often the dads are afraid of losing their children’s hearts if they say “no.”

We don’t lose our children’s hearts when we do the right thing. We lose their hearts when we do the wrong things for many years. Keeping our children’s hearts means purposing to say “yes” every time I can, even if it costs me something. It may be an inconvenience or an outright difficulty for me. If it is an opportunity to show them I love them, I value them, and want their best, then I am committed to saying “YES!”

As I shared, this does not come naturally for me because I’m selfish. However, the Lord Jesus has been working on me in this area, and I’m so grateful He has. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). It is hard to even use that verse here. I know nothing of taking up my cross daily. The minor inconveniences I face cannot even be compared to taking up my cross. Yet, if that is the case, why do I struggle?

May we be committed to being “yes” men. May we purpose that we will do everything we can to say “yes” to our children, because we know that there are many “no’s” that must be served if we are to be faithful and trusted fathers. There will be numerous things that our children want to do that will not be good for them. If we have proven our love through the years, they will continue to trust us with their hearts.

Wise or Foolish Wives?

As Christian wives, we will be making decisions each day that affect our relationships with our husbands. Here is an example of the simple interactions that occur and often cause us the most difficulty. Susie (not her real name), a wife and mother, writes:

What should we as wives expect in the way of being a part of decisions made in the home? I wholeheartedly agree that our husbands have the final say in all matters, and they have the right to consult us or not. My question is mainly: is it unbiblical to request that my husband come to me before he announces to the whole family a decision he has made? This is not necessarily so I have the opportunity to change his mind but because he will often make changes to plans or make decisions, and I feel like an outsider. I don’t have a chance to work through any feelings or problems I see with a problem before he has already told the kids and me. It feels insulting to me that he would tell them and me at the same time.

Recently my husband made an abrupt change of plans. The children were disappointed, and I was too. I reacted improperly, and the whole night was miserable. My contention was that if he had made me a part of the change from the start, I could have gotten over my problems and been on his side much easier. Seeing their disappointment coupled with my own and the fact that he didn’t bring me in on it was totally overwhelming.

The next day we had another major situation that he wanted to take care of in a certain way. He brought me in private and told me what he wanted to do “so I wouldn’t have a fit in front of the kids.” I had something different in mind, and we were able to discuss it. He gave in to me because he saw my point. I don’t expect him to give in to me every time nor do I think it is feasible to do this every time. But this is the way I would prefer things to work. Is this biblical or not?

I think for Christian women, what Susie described here is a very real situation that many, if not most of us, have faced. It presents us a great opportunity to delve into the husband-and-wife issues at hand here. These are not the extremes of abuse but rather the kinds of everyday happenings that occur in Christian marriages. As wives, we must biblically decide how we will respond. I write this Mom’s Corner because the area of submission is still a regular battle for me with my flesh. Right now I need the reminders I will write in this article. I think I make two steps forward only to soon find myself at least one step back again.

First, let’s look at Susie’s situation where her husband sprang a disagreeable change of direction on the children and her without discussing it with her beforehand. Certainly, the key to a loving, growing husband-and-wife relationship is communication. Generally, decisions will be discussed by a husband and wife and agreed upon. However, it certainly isn’t beyond reason to expect times to arise where prior discussion hasn’t happened. It may be that the time for talking wasn’t available. It could be that the husband doesn’t think the situation is major enough to warrant taking communication time. He may feel sure his wife will be in sync with him, so he doesn’t see the need for prior discussion. But if she is unhappily surprised, then what?

This becomes our opportunity to test our hearts. It is easy to submit when we agree. It is hardly submission at all, is it? The crisis comes when we disagree. What kind of response do we want from our children if they don’t care for what we have asked them to do? Of course we prefer a happy smile and cheerful compliance. We have the chance to model this for our children in these everyday situations with our husbands.

I am ashamed to say that my displeasure, which is evident to both my husband and my children, is seldom, if ever, necessary. It generally rises from my personal biases. We aren’t talking sin issues here, but rather preferences. My reactions show my pride, not my meek and quiet spirit. They are a reflection of my continued selfishness and need to control to get my own way.

In Susie’s story, she tells us of her reaction to her husband’s decision: I reacted improperly, and the whole night was miserable. As I read her story, though, rather than repenting of her unsubmissive attitude, I see Susie wanting to blame her husband for her sin—trying to make it his fault rather than hers. I struggle with this so much. In my pride, I don’t want to be wrong and, worse yet, to be at fault. I want to find a way to pin my failure on something Steve didn’t do right. Then I don’t feel so bad or view my wrong reaction as sin. I have an excuse for it.

I would encourage us to accept our responsibility for our failures and not put the blame elsewhere. It is nothing more than my pride that won’t let me simply say, “My reaction was wrong. Will you please forgive me?” I want God’s grace in my life to help me be a wife that honors, respects, and submits to her husband. What does God say about pride? “. . . God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6). I want and need God’s grace. This verse tells me that His grace is given to me through my humility—saying I was wrong and asking for forgiveness—and that He resists me when I am proud—making excuses for my sin or blaming it on someone else.

We want our husbands to be strong, godly leaders. However, we often encourage the exact opposite tendency by our own words, attitudes, and actions. Consider the second situation Susie describes. Her husband does what she asks him to do by sharing his plans with her privately before he tells the children. Rather than using this information to help her have a positive attitude in front of the children, she expresses her disagreement with his direction. Wow, could I relate to that scenario. My own words don’t match my actions. Instead of putting up a fight, Susie’s husband goes with what she wants. I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt he was in a situation where no matter what he did, he couldn’t please his wife. Steve has told me that when we were in the midst of a similar situation. We wives seem to struggle so much with letting go and truly letting our husbands lead.

Scripture seems to be full of admonition and warnings of what happens to us, who are wives, and those around us if we choose this path of controlling:

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing” (Proverbs 9:13).

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1).

“It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house” (Proverbs 21:9). (Proverbs 25:24 says almost the same thing.)

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman” (Proverbs 21:19).

“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike” (Proverbs 27:15).

Then we have these verses, which give a wife a picture of an obedient walk with Jesus Christ:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (Ephesians 5:22-24).

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18).

“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5).

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives” (1 Peter 3:1).

We have a choice set before us each day. We can be wise women who build our houses, or we can be foolish ones who pluck them down. I pray that we will consider well how we can build our houses to bring joy and peace to those who live there. Who do we want to please? Jesus Christ? Our husbands? Ourselves? It is our decision. May we be women who take joy in obedience to Jesus Christ through submission to our husbands.