I was recently asked this question by an earnest new husband. He is easygoing with an energetic wife. Both wanted to honor the Lord. But he articulated a struggle he was having as they faced some unexpected decisions that had large financial consequences.
I thought he articulated a struggle many young (and older) men have.
How do I lead us when I don’t know where I am going?
Here was my response.
In one sense, you do know where you are going. You want to have a loving, caring relationship with your wife. You want to honor the Lord with your marriage and with your life. You want to care for the physical and financial health of your family.
But in this question, I think you are asking, “How do I lead when I don’t know where I am going in this particular decision?” That is a great question.
First, let’s look at what you are believing about leadership. There is an assumption that a leader must identify a problem, know a solution to the problem, and seek to persuade others to go there. Many times this is true.
But isn’t always true. There are plenty of times a good leader does not know what is the best solution. Or he and his wife disagree on the best solution.
Initiate to Solve the Problem
In that instance, we lead by addressing the issue. We pray together and get advice from others. We say, “I am not really sure what to do, but we must do something. Let’s start by seeking the Lord together. Then let’s get outside advice.” A good leader realizes his limitations. But rather than being passive, he initiates to solve the problem.
Start by praying together. God promises wisdom to those who ask him (James 1:5). When a husband and wife are united in prayer, God sees. Trials are often a time that God uses to draw you two closer to him. There have been many times Sharon and I would seek the Lord. Sometimes we brought our desires to him and at other times we simply said, “We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you” (2 Chron 20:12).
In addition, seek out lots of godly counsel. Hearing from others will not solve all the problems. As someone has said, “A wise man gets lots of advice. A fool listens to it all.” Only you know the unique situation, temptations, challenges, and desires that you and your wife have. Ultimately you two must weigh the advice from others. But in this situation, you are leading, not by having the answers, but by initiating to solve the problem.
Leadership involves oversight and initiative. It is not passive. In your case, it means gathering more information, weighing the options, and praying together. Even if you don’t know what to do, you know that something needs to be done.
Humbly Go With the Best Idea
Finally, if your wife has the better idea, then go for it. A good leader recognizes the best solution no matter who it comes from. However, and this is very important, you must sign off on it. At this point, it is not her decision that you “just went along with.” If things go wrong, it is not her fault.
It is your decision together. You will give an account for your leadership. Too many men just give in to please their wives. If you don’t agree, stand strong and keep seeking outside counsel. But if you do agree, sign off and say, “Yes, we decided to do this, and I believe it is the best decision that honors the Lord. I am so thankful to have a wife with good insight.”
Marriage is full of decisions. This is the first of many. You will have to weigh many factors. There will be times you’ll have to make a decision when you don’t know all the facts or haven’t researched it as much as you would like. That’s life. Seek the Lord together, and the Lord will guide you.
What would you add?