MAN & WIFE = LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT by LaShawnda Jones
“My goal with the two-projects-that-are-really-one, is to make them complimentary to each other. I have no desire for The Helper to outshine The Worker. Nor do I want The Worker to dominate The Helper. Just as in life and in marriage, the two should be both bearers of light and reflections of each another’s best qualities.”
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So, the above six words have been with me for over a month. When they first came together in mind, I realized I had finally hit upon the approach for my two companion books-in-progress: The Worker: A Man of God and The Helper: A Woman of God. They are two books that are really one with a focus on man and woman as individuals and as partners in their marriage, their family and their community.
I know… I have lofty aspirations…..
I’ve been stumped by the idea of writing a book for men. Even though the Word of God is available to us all, the thought of communicating such lofty matters (regarding function and purpose) to a male audience has been intimidating. And I’ve been overwhelmed at the thought of condensing my endless thoughts about women as wives, mothers and supporters. Fortunately, I’ve been bolstered by the knowledge that my craft, hand, and spirit are yielded to the Holy Spirit and I trust that only that which will be edifying for the readers to come will be written.
My goal with the two-projects-that-are-really-one, is to make them complimentary to each other. I have no desire for The Helper to outshine The Worker. Nor do I want The Worker to dominate The Helper. Just as in life and in marriage, the two should be both bearers of light and reflections of each another’s best qualities.
My bright idea was: Marriage is basically a partnership of leadership and management. The man is the natural leader in his marriage and family. The woman is the natural manager in her marriage and family. Popular culture and social norms tell us there are many variations and combinations for marriage. But my books are not about the preferences of popular culture, they are about the preferences of God as stated in His Word.
Leader: a person that leads; a guiding or directing head; a person who rules, guides, or inspires others (dictionary.com)
Manager: a person who has control or direction of an institution or of a part, division, or phase of it; a person who manages; a person who controls and manipulates resources and expenditures (dictionary.com)
That being said, I am looking forward to fleshing out my two-books-that-are-one: The Workerand The Helper. I am looking forward to exploring how the Worker’s leadership in the home sets the pace and standard for his Helper’s management of the household.
Today’s thought: Marriage is all about the partnership of two individuals who have chosen to become one. A partnership between a man, who is created to work and a woman, who is created to help. The partnership works best when the husband accepts the mantle of responsibility to provide for and lead his wife and children, and the wife accepts his covering which equips her to support and manage the needs of her husband and their household.
If animals in partnership can adapt to each other’s needs in the wild, surely it’s not such a stretch for today’s young couples….
The Proverbs 31 woman was the wife of a city elder (verse 23) and a respected figure in her own right (verse 31). Some of her many responsibilities included buying and selling merchandise.Illustration by Larry Salk
For thousands of years, God-fearing women have looked to the noble, or virtuous (KJV), woman of Proverbs 31 as their ideal. Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, probably had this role model of the virtuous woman in the forefront of her mind from earliest childhood. Most Jewish women did, for this poem was traditionally recited in the Jewish home every week on the eve of the Sabbath.
But what about today’s woman? Of what value can this ancient poem be to the diverse, complex life-styles of women today? To the married, to the single, to the young, to the old, to those working outside the home or inside the home, to those women with children or without children? It is more relevant than you might at first expect — although it is also too good to be true.
When we examine this ancient biblical ideal of womanhood, we do not find the stereotyped housewife occupied with dirty dishes and laundry, her daily life dictated by the demands of her husband and her children. Nor do we find a hardened, overly ambitious career woman who leaves her family to fend for itself.
What we find is a strong, dignified, multitalented, caring woman who is an individual in her own right. This woman has money to invest, servants to look after and real estate to manage. She is her husband’s partner, and she is completely trusted with the responsibility for their lands, property and goods.
She has the business skills to buy and sell in the market, along with the heartfelt sensitivity and compassion to care for and fulfill the needs of people who are less fortunate. Cheerfully and energetically she tackles the challenges each day brings. Her husband and children love and respect her for her kind, generous and caring nature.
But with all her responsibilities, first and foremost, she looks to God. Her primary concern is God’s will in her life. She is a woman after God’s own heart. Let’s examine the characteristics of this remarkable woman — a role model for Christian women today.
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” The Hebrew word chayil, translated here “noble,” or “virtuous” (KJV), means a wife of valor — a strong, capable woman with strong convictions. This description of the ideal wife does not agree with those who associate femininity with weakness and passivity.
“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” Her husband trusts her management of their resources. Her industriousness adds to the family income.
“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” This woman does not do right only when it is convenient and profitable. Her actions are not based on how she is treated by others or by what others think. Her character is steady. She is reliable and dependable.
“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.” This woman enjoys working so much that she plans ahead for what she needs in order to accomplish her responsibilities.
“She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.” The trait not to settle for the mediocre is portrayed by a woman who goes the extra mile for quality items.
“She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.” Though the woman described here has servants to take care of many of the household duties, she sets the pace. She understands that good managers have a responsibility to take care of those under their authority. That is one of her top priorities.
“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” Every woman doesn’t have to go into real estate and horticulture — the principle here is that this woman uses her mind. She does not act on a whim, but logically analyzes a situation before making a decision. Her goals are not only short term — she envisions the long-range benefits of her decisions.
“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” We get a picture of a woman who vigorously goes about her duties. She keeps herself healthy and strong by proper health practices — good diet, adequate rest and exercise. Many people depend on her.
“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” She knows that her merchandise is good and takes pride in doing a good job. Night or day, no one worries that her responsibilities are not taken care of.
“In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.” The example she sets is one of skill and industriousness. Whether this woman would be a computer programmer, a concert pianist, a mother, or all three, she develops her talents and hones her skills through education and diligent application.
“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” Although it’s good to donate to needy causes, this means far more than writing a check. This woman shows personal concern. She visits the sick, comforts the lonely and depressed, and delivers food to those in need.
“When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.” Providing clothing for the family is one of her responsibilities. She takes this seriously, and plans ahead. She does not practice crisis management.
“She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.” This woman has high standards and dresses properly for the occasion.
“Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” This man does not have to spend half his time trying to straighten out problems at home, and his success in the social world comes partly from her support, just as her success comes partly from his support. The original woman of Proverbs 31 couldn’t phone her husband for his opinion on matters. She made many of the day-to-day decisions about their property and goods. He trusted her to manage the estate efficiently.
“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.” This woman runs a business from her home. Her efforts and industry add to the family income.
“Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come” (NKJV). Not only does this woman benefit each day from her wise and diligent actions, long-term lifetime benefits and rewards lie in store for her.
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” This woman is well read and has the facts. She knows what she is talking about. Whether about her job, her personal values or her opinion on world events, she is able to express herself intelligently, tactfully and diplomatically. People come to her for good advice.
“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” She is an organized, energetic person who carries out her responsibilities.
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” This woman is not a doormat, slavishly trying to appease and please her family, no matter how unreasonable their demands. She is honored in her home. Here we gain an insight into the character of her husband as well. He teaches their children to respect her and the virtues she personifies.
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” High praise for this extraordinary woman — a role model for women of all time.
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Here is the key to this woman’s effectiveness. Her priorities are determined by God’s will, not her own. She is concerned about what God thinks, rather than with what other people think. Physical beauty and clever conversation are admirable qualities. But if a woman’s beauty and charm are the extent of her virtues, what happens when time and the trials of life take their toll? This woman does not depend on beauty and charm for her success. She recognizes her need for God.
“Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” This woman is actively doing, not merely talking. She does not boast about her plans for the future or her successes of the past. They are obvious.
Does this woman sound too good to be true? Perhaps she is. The woman described here is an idealized woman, a composite of many capable women. After all, not all people have the same skills. Some women’s strengths are in music or art. Others may be in mathematics, teaching or business. Some are better managers and organizers than others. While some women may excel at coming up with ideas, others may be more skilled at creating or producing what has been invented by someone else. No one excels at everything.
Some women work for several years after high school or college before marrying. Others, for one reason or another, do not marry at all. Does this mean that unmarried women cannot be Proverbs 31 women? No. Although this chapter describes a married woman, marriage and motherhood are not prerequisites for the successful Christian female’s life. The essential characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman can be applied to the the single woman, too.
The model woman described in Proverbs is a portrait of ideal womanhood. The focus of this portrait is a woman’s relationship with God, not her specific abilities or marital status. The Proverbs 31 woman realizes that regardless of her natural talents or acquired skills, or all her accomplishments, her strength comes from God.
Who is a virtuous woman today? Proverbs 31 tells you that it is the woman who puts God first. The ideal woman of Proverbs 31 should encourage all women everywhere. Cultures change, but this woman’s God-inspired character still shines brightly across the centuries.
One of the sad realities of this world is that many people throughout your life will claim to “love” you, but very few will actually put action to it – including your spouse. Quick to speak, slow to act love isn’t love at all.
Learning about Love
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. ~ Ephesians 4:20-24 NASB
A number of years ago, before I got serious about God, I wrote a poem, Words, Part 1, which explored my relationships with people who claimed to love me, but whose actions toward me were destructive and hateful. For many years I didn’t understand love because of the way it was represented through my friend and family relationships.
Even before I understood that God was calling me to Him, before I consciously took a step on this journey, I knew how important the correlation between words and action was. My confusion came from believing the world-view of love: if people say it, it must be true. I didn’t have knowledge of the God-view of love: expression through selfless action for the benefit of others.
The Word of God says that one cannot love unless one has accepted His love. Since God is the first to love, He is the source of love. We love each other because He loved us first. (1 John 4:19) God is love. One has to live in God and be inhabited by God in order to accept and channel love. (1 John 4:15-17)
I didn’t understand love because I had no understanding of God. As I have grown to know God, my understanding of love has increased. My increased understanding of love has led me to a better expectation of my husband’s character and behavior towards me. God has also developed my discernment, which greatly improves my ability to see the difference between what is truly Christ-like and what is only a mask of Christ-likeness.
Truth and revelation will change you
I am so glad that you always keep me in your thoughts, and that you are following the teachings I passed on to you. But there is one thing I want you to know: The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:2-3 NLT
One of the truths that has been developing in my life over the last few years is that a woman cannot really show a man love. She can only return the love he first gives to her.
It is out of order for a woman to express her love to a man who has not expressed his love for her to her. It is out of order for a woman to try to prove herself and her devotion to a man. It is out of order for a woman to seek to attract a man’s attention. It is out of order for a woman to pursue a man. I get that now. That’s a hard pill to swallow for some men and women. Accepting such behavior from women is part of the game some men play to “collect” women and play them against one another. A man is not going to tell a woman that she is out of order for giving him excessive attention – at least I have not come across such an honest and direct man.
I was that woman who needed to be told such. I was that woman who thought something and said it. I was that woman who felt something and expressed it. I was that woman who made herself available according to his schedule. I was that woman who kept offering to share herself, her time, her talents, her resources, her knowledge, her support, her life. I was that woman who over-exposed herself – who hung herself out to dry. Not any longer. Now I see how out of order I was. Now I see that it doesn’t matter at all if I love a man, if he has no love for me. It doesn’t matter what I do, if he doesn’t want to do anything for me. It doesn’t matter what I say, if he has no words for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m in his presence, if he prefers to be elsewhere. It doesn’t matter what I want to give or have to give if he doesn’t want anything from me.
What I want really doesn’t matter, if he doesn’t want me.
Dear Jesus, that is a hard pill to swallow. That is a devastating truth to be confronted with. But the Holy Spirit’s comfort makes the pain bearable and transforming. Now that I realize that my prior behavior was out of order and I have taken steps to correct myself, I can look at men more objectively. I communicate in a different way. Actually, I’m no longer interested in initiating conversation at all. I’m no longer interested in putting any effort into any type of interaction. Why? Because now I know and accept that it is not my effort that will determine the initiation, development, course or destination of a relationship. My response will contribute to the outcome, but my effort has no real value initially.
The male was created to be a “doer”. The female was created to “support” the male in what he does. Look at it this way, if a woman starts “doing” things that is within the male role and function, and the male is not interested in assuming the female role and function of supporting the woman as a “doer” (i.e. there is no agreement between the two) nothing in the relationship is going to operate well because the relationship is out of order.
Love needs a giver and a receiver
But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 NLT
A woman is made to receive. She gives from what she has been blessed or burdened with. A man is made to initiate the process of giving. Whatever a man gives to his woman is what he will get back from her. If he is loving, caring and attentive, she will be loving caring and attentive in return. If he is dismissive, evasive, and distant, she will become dismissive, evasive and distant. The woman does not set the tone of a relationship – the man does. The husband creates the environment in which his wife and their marriage will flourish or die.
That concept was difficult for me to wrap my mind around because, in my family, I’ve only been exposed to men who either abuse their women or ignore them. I’ve learned that men who don’t care for their wives won’t care for their household. So, essentially, I grew up surrounded by women who became “doers” because the men in their lives weren’t doing anything constructive. Today, we call such women, strong and independent. I have long maintained that I’ve never known a woman who wants to be strong and independent – certainly not the woman who has to be. I speak as a woman who has been characterized as such. There are some who may describe me as outspoken and aggressive. In my time, I saw a few people cringe when they noticed me heading their way. My early experiences taught me the “doer” behavior and mentality: if I don’t do it, it won’t get done; if I don’t initiate, it will never get started; if I don’t say something, no one will know anything.
I thank God for His gentle Holy Spirit. At first the quiet gentleness is easy for a loud bullish woman to ignore. But once there is knowledge of God and an understanding of love, everything that works against God’s design, plan and purpose for you will be rooted out of you. You will undergo a transformation that bears no resemblance to your former self. The Holy Spirit has been teaching me to zip my lip and to measure my words. I’ve been learning the painfully awkward lesson of sitting and waiting! Of all things, God wants this “doer” of a woman to sit and do nothing…. I obey while patiently asking daily, “Father, am I there yet???” (Okay, maybe we’re still working on the “patient” part….)
Throughout scripture, God the Father and Jesus the Son are depicted as the Bridegroom, first mated with Israel (land and people), then mated with the church (the body of Christ). In this depiction Israel and the church are made holy by God’s presence – the Holy Spirit – among them or in them. We are told to pursue the fruit of the Spirit in order to manifest the glory of God in our lives. Well, if we go further and align the husband’s role with Bridegroom a.k.a. God/Jesus and align the wife’s role with the Bride of Christ/Holy Spirit we will see very well the call and response, the action and the reaction throughout the Great Story that provide behavioral instructions for our conduct within our marriage relationships.
God is active in His love. Jesus sacrificed His life for His bride. There is no ambiguity in the way the Father and Son communicate and represent love. For this reason, I now know and appreciate that I will recognize my husband by his actions toward me and for me.
Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth.
The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. ~ Isaiah 62:1-5
Love requires presence, connection and action
Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it to make it belong to God. Christ used the word to make the church clean by washing it with water. He died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault, with no evil or sin or any other wrong thing in it. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. The man who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it. ~ Ephesians 5:25-29 NCV
Husband, do you love me? It’s a question one supposes a wife should not have to ask. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of living in the world is picking up worldly habits. Worldly men have distanced themselves from Love – they have lost their intimate knowledge of God. How can a man with no knowledge of God, who is Love, truly love his wife? How can a man, who straddles the world and the Kingdom of Heaven, love his woman fully when he doesn’t love God fully? It’s not possible.
If you believe the Word of God, then you know that love is a manifestation of God. We can only love through His Spirit, which means (1) there has to be a connection, and (2) the connection must be maintained. If a man has God’s Spirit operating within him, he is going to be active in his expression of love for his wife. He is going to pursue his wife daily. He is going to speak words of life to her constantly. He will never cease praying for her to be made into the image of Light – a deposit from him, through him and for him. A reflection of who he is in Christ. The love of a husband changes his wife so deeply that her former self dissolves into the greatness of their shared identity. She takes a new name as her husband’s wife. His claim on her is her covering. Her acceptance of him is his blessing and his joy.
Husband, do you love me?
Then let me hear your voice.
Husband, do you love me?
Then cleanse and wash me.
Husband, do you love me?
Then shepherd me.
Husband, do you love me?
Then cover me.
Husband, do you love me?
Then feed me.
Husband, do you love me?
Then disciple me.
Husband, do you love me?
Then present me to God.
Husband, do you love me? A simple question, but the affirmative response requires a great deal of committed action. (John 21:15-22)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdomyour days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer. ~ Proverbs 9:10-12 NIV
foolish: lacking or exhibiting a lack of good sense or judgment; silly; resulting from stupidity or misinformation; unwise
A foolish woman is a destroyer – she tears her home down with her own hands.
Her destruction reaches forward from her heart to the generations of her children’s children. She contaminates every good thing in her environment and under her control. She is lazy and self-pleasing. She is insincere and manipulates through a show of care and concern. She advertises pleasure and provides entertainment, both of which are momentary. In her presence is the illusion of life, but her ways lead to death for herself and those under her influence. The foolish woman doesn’t give respect, for she has no experiential knowledge of God. She trusts only herself and her means. She operates in the flesh only, neglecting and starving the spirits and souls entrusted to her care. Her husband is ashamed and disgraced, though he may not be aware. He is hungry for her support, but receives her abuse instead. She shares only her disregard, disrespect and her haughty, dismissive attitude with him. He asks for guidance and she leads him astray. He seeks comfort and she turns her back on him. He longs for companionship, but she’s busy enjoying others. Her treatment of her husband and children, prepares them for spiritual death.
What good is a foolish woman?
She brings no spiritual good to her household. She is a drain to her husband’s soul and brings rot to his bones. Her wickedness derives from her lack of true knowledge of God and lack of respect for His divine order.
The woman named Folly is brash. She is ignorant and doesn’t know it.She sits in her doorway on the heights overlooking the city.She calls out to men going by who are minding their own business. “Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says, “Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret tastes the best!” But little do they know that the dead are there. Her guests are in the depths of the grave. ~ Proverbs 9:13-18 NLT
wise: having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion; having knowledge or information as to facts, circumstances
A wise woman is a builder – she builds her home and she builds up her family.
She is a crown of glory to her husband’s head and he knows well the honor she brings him. A child of God, she seeks counsel first from her Heavenly Father through their shared Holy Spirit. Her discernment and good judgment is a blessing to her husband and children as she exerts her influence with knowledge, patience, love, respect and concern. She is trust-worthy and reliable; hard-working and well-respected. She points her husband towards God always, even as she stands and walks beside him; guiding him even as she is lead by him. A wise woman is aware of the power and influence she has, but she does not abuse it. Her strength is exhibited in her gentleness. Her love is expressed in her discipline. Her patience is seen in her teaching. She communicates her hopes and gives the best of herself always (even when quality of her best varies). She is a meticulous steward of her family’s possessions. She is generous with her family’s harvest. A wise woman cultivates every seed her husband plants in her. She answers his needs with an open heart, eager to be all she is called to be as his wife. She nurtures her husband and everyone in her household. Her hospitality is abundant and gracious. Her husband is at peace in her presence as are others. Her treatment of those entrusted to her glorifies God and lead them to the light of everlasting life.
What good is a wise woman?
Her value is beyond measure. Her contributions have no scale. Though she improves the physical lives of those in her household and community, she is a greater blessing to their spiritual lives. She deposits the Love of God, the Hope of Christ, the Faith of her husband and her own spirit into everyone who crosses her path. Her husband, children and the Kingdom of Heaven are the primary ground and the primary beneficiaries of her wisdom. A wise woman raises a child but nurtures a community. She provides for her home, but feeds a nation. She may have a modest planting ground, but she will have an abundant spiritual harvest.
Wisdom has built her house; she has carved its seven columns. She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table. She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come. She calls out from the heights overlooking the city. “Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says, “Come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment.” ~ Proverbs 9:1-6 NLT