by Ryan Frederick
As a husband, my wife looks to me to lead our family. She desires decisive, meaningful direction in our marriage and in our lives (she’s told me this). Don’t get me wrong, she is definitely involved and vocal as we work together to craft our family vision. (Oh, how I married a strong, smart woman!) But as the husband, the buck ultimately stops with me. I’m responsible to lead lovingly as Christ leads and loves the church (Eph 5:25). I’m called to lead her well. It’s my job – a job that should be tended to very carefully. Show me a husband who leads well, and I’ll show you a wife who feels loved.
Part of leading our family means I must diligently seek God and his vision for our lives. We should both be doing this separately so we can work together toward a common family vision. In most cases, we are in agreement on our family vision – but this doesn’t come without lots of diligent communication, prayer, and more communication. Most of the time, here’s how it works…
First off, when I say ‘vision’ I’m referring to a plan for a desired result. Andy Stanley (pastor and leadership teacher) writes, “Vision is the tension between what is and what ought to be”. Vision is needed in all areas of marriage – faith, family, finance, fun, etc.
We’re not always in agreement right off the bat. Sometimes I have to sell her on my vision; particularly if I feel strongly that it’s where we need to go.
Solid leadership (for any area of life, but here we’re focused on leadership in the family) has at least three common characteristics:
- Vision – know where you’re going and why
- Communication – explain the vision clearly in terms of what, why, and how
- Execution – getting to the desired goal
Each piece is vital, but in my experience, the most challenging part is communicating the vision in a way that my wife hears, understands, and supports it.
Example: I’ll use our decision to start this blog as an illustration on creating and casting vision as a husband.
Step 1: Gaining Vision
A few years back, I felt God leading us to minister to young married couples through our marriage. This wasn’t a far reach for us; we’ve always been in agreement in wanting our relationship to be a blessing to other couples. However, the venue was new: a blog that could reach people far beyond our immediate sphere of friends. Blogs are a huge time/effort commitment, and I knew I would have to sell Selena on the methods required of us because the mission was worth it. That’s what casting vision is all about: gaining agreement on the “HOW” because of the “WHY“.
As I recall… I spent about a month thinking about it and counting the cost. I felt a strong sense of “we need to do this”, but I wanted to make sure that I was fully in tune with God and the vision was sustainable for us. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making things up. It’s useless casting strong vision only to fizzle out down the road. I wrote down the vision, refined it, and prepared to share it with her.
Step 2: Communication (“Casting”)
This was the toughest part. I wanted to lead her, but I didn’t want to force her. If I approached her passionately enough, I knew she’d say yes because she’s sweet like that. But I knew we’d never make it last if she wasn’t excited about ministering to others. We’d fizzle out.
The vision came at a particularly stressful time, when my wife was overwhelmed with lots of things. I didn’t want to just pile on yet another responsibility so I had to carefully consider how I could communicate the vision, not just the task, of Fierce Marriage.
Also, I wasn’t sure how she would receive it because it would require a new level of transparency (being vulnerable with strangers is tough), lots of work (writing is tough!), and it would expose us to potentially harsh criticism (and it has!).
After much thought and prayer, I tactfully (emphasis on tactfully) presented the “Fierce Marriage” idea to her. As it turns out it was a pretty easy sell. She had already begun to feel like we needed a way to minister through our marriage and the blog didn’t seem too daunting to her. God was graciously leading us both in the same direction as we individually sought him. “YES!”, I thought. I reveled in the comfort of knowing I wasn’t off in left field.
Step 3: Execution
Once the vision was clear and my wife was on board, it was up to me to make sure we kept it going. It was now time to execute.
I put the vision into action and got my hands dirty by writing code and setting everything up. My wife’s confidence in the vision (and in my leadership) grew as the blog took shape and we had some realistic goals. When it was time to write, I had to be very careful not to bark orders if I wanted to keep her heart in it.
Husbands – we need to be careful not to bark orders if that’s your personality type. It crushes the spirit and demoralizes our wives. We need to lovingly remind and stay in lock-step with our wives – we can’t treat execution like a job. Your wife is your partner, not your subordinate. It is your job, however, to know how to talk to your wife and communicate vision in a way that edifies and uplifts her. That’s leadership.
Conclusion: What’s the point?
Vision evolves as life changes, and it’s imperative that you’re communicating through every vision shift. Husbands should wield carefully their duty to create vision and lead in marriage. Leadership is an art much more than it is a science, and the stakes couldn’t be higher than they are in marriage.
In short, husbands:
- Get godly vision for all areas of your marriage – faith, family, finance, etc.
- Communicate lovingly and seek agreement with your wife. Chances are, she’s already tracking with you.
- Execute with loving strength and consistency.
Here are some examples of how you could apply this in your family:
- Creating and following a path for getting out of debt.
- Starting a new endeavor with full agreement (business, ministry, a BLOG like this one…).
- Seeking new direction for work or life in general.
- Imagining a family culture (praying together, laughing together, healthy) and working together to create it.
CEOs spend millions of dollars crafting, casting, and executing vision for their companies. We, as husbands, need to place as much if not more value on the visions we have for our marriages.
Posted on Wed, March 29, 2017
by Kevin Woods