A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. –John C. Maxwell
On October 29, 1915, a team of marooned Antarctic explorers lamented their worsening conditions. For nine months their ship, the Endurance, had been drifting in a circle.
After deciding to leave the ship behind, Shackleton, the team leader, took some gold coins from his pocket and threw them into the snow. He tore out the Twenty-third Psalm from his bible and put the page in the pocket where the coins had been. He told the men to carry only necessary items.
After thirteen months of walking, starving and freezing they were saved. The men said they owed their lives to “the powerful leadership of Ernest Shackleton.”
Leadership that leaves a legacy in our marriages can be, like Shackleton’s, heroic, but it is seldom born from desperate situations—instead, it involves the quiet, consistent control of the Holy Spirit in the mundane moments of every day.
We are not born with this desire for the Spirit’s control, but as we submit to his leading, our leadership style becomes less about exhortation and more about example. In our most intimate relationships, we are drawn to the humility in those who lead by example.
Leading by example
Lovers who understand the wisdom in the “partnership” principles of marriage, learn that it must include leading and loving by example. (I Peter 3.7).
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams
Leslie and Kevin love this way. Before they were married, they spent hours praying about having a relationship where love was expressed more in the examples they became to each other than in exhorting each other.
Couples who learn this lesson experience the intimacy that comes from less preaching and more praising, from less teaching and more encouraging, from less demanding and more doing.
Enjoying a partnership
Because of her skills in handling money, Leslie and Kevin decided that she would handle their finances. Kevin loves to cook, so they decided he would prepare most of their meals. They enjoy depending on and needing each other.
Solomon showed the wisdom behind needing each other—that an equal partnership is better than any leadership model born from insecurity or insensitivity.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. . . . if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? —Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
Kevin and Leslie continue to benefit from the often counter-cultural wisdom in God’s word. In ways that work for both of them, Leslie and Kevin have learned that God’s Spirit wants to move them toward the kind of delight-filled marriage He wrote about in the closing aria of His Song of Songs,
Come away, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the spice-laden mountains. —8:14
Like Leslie and Kevin, the partnership we (Rich and Marty) share with our wives (Lou Anna and Linda), has provided more than the examples God has used in our ministries to couples—it has promoted the experiencing of a love that tosses the world’s ideas of success into the cold snow where they belong.