I received an e-mail this week with the following paragraph.
My wife and I are not convinced that I am walking in the office of husband. I know it is the will of God. I am definitely willing and wanting to walk in the office. How do I embrace the office of husband so that I can truly walk in that office? It feels like I am a lot closer than I have ever been before.
It is my opinion that there are a lot of people who are not spiritually in the office that they technically occupy. You can get a paycheck for being a teacher or a mayor or a doctor without being in the office that parallels that paycheck.
The same is true for “Fred” and his being married to the same woman for decades, being committed to that marriage, but not being “in” the office of husband.
I think we find some clues in the story of King Saul. Samuel informed him that God had chosen him to be king. There were several supernatural confirmations. Now note 1 Samuel 10:7. “Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.”
The signs were fulfilled and Saul went back to farming instead of stepping into the office.
God tried a second time to put him in the office of king using the public coronation, but he was Teflon coated and it didn’t stick.
But when the incident with Jabesh Gilead went down, he suddenly found something to do with his hands, and God indeed was with him!
What happened there?
I believe that the issues are perception and permission. Do YOU perceive yourself as worthy of the office, and have YOU given yourself permission to step into the office, in spite of the fact that others do not perceive you as worthy or do not give you permission?
Saul clearly had God’s permission to take the office. But he does not seem to have given himself permission, based on his hiding with the baggage on coronation day. It can be challenging for a Servant redemptive gift to give themselves permission to step into an office of leadership.
And it is quite clear that some of the subjects of the king did not want him to be king over them, and he probably heard about that.
So between the internal lack of permission and the external lack of permission, he choked and had the crown but was not personally “in” the office of king.
When Nahash the Ammonite attempted to shame all Israel by gouging out the right eye of everyone in Jabesh Gilead, Saul had permission, he put himself in the office and acted. People followed him. God validated him.
What happened? Well, I am reading his mind from a few thousand years’ distance, but let me suggest the following, based on my knowledge of more than a few Servants. It can be hard for a Servant to accept that they deserve the perks of any office, so they commonly do not step into an office. By contrast, Servants are the first to believe someone else deserves all sort of things.
Hence, Saul could see the people of Jebesh Gilead deserving life and freedom, and he could consistently see that his son Jonathan deserved to be king after him, instead of that upstart, David.
There are so many permissions lacking for those who are in place, but not in the office. I know a Christian man who has been in business for a while, but was not in the office of businessmen because of what the church taught about “the love of money.”
I know an artist who could not step into the office because of all the snide comments made about “starving artists.”
Many a pastor has not given himself permission to actually step into the office of pastor because they compare themselves with others who they feel are so much more “qualified” than they are.
So, for Fred who is not in the office of husband, I suggest looking inside and outside to see where the lack of permission is.
-Did friends and relatives object to the marriage – especially her parents?
-Was your father in the office of husband? If you come from a family line where the husbands are generally not in the office, then there could be some generational delegitimization that has been passed down through the years.
-Do you feel you have not lived up to your own expectations for what a good husband should be? How valid are those expectations? There are 100 flavors of good marriages. Are you using the currency from some other marriage to measure value, instead of the currency you bring to the table?
-Has there been a big failure in your role as husband: alcoholism, bankruptcy, adultery, etc.?
-Have there been a multitude of small failures, like ten thousand evenings spent in front of the television or weekends spent on your hobby instead engaging with her and the kids?
-In the redemptive gift matchup between you and your wife, do you clash with cultural expectations? If your wife is a verbal expressive with quick decision-making skills while you are a ponderer, the culture will generally think less of you.
There is one other angle that is more vague, yet powerful. There is a story of a woman who was hell-bent on getting her husband saved. She brought everyone she could to the house to do spiritual mugging. On one occasion, the husband confided to the resident evangelist that he had been saved for five years but didn’t want his wife to know, because if she did know he was saved, she would immediately raise the bar in a dozen other areas of his life.
Sometimes a man knows in his spirit that as long as he is a loser in the marriage, expectations are manageable, but if he steps into the office of husband, his wife will know it in her spirit and instantly raise the bar far beyond what he thinks is attainable. So if he is going to end up a loser all over again, he may as well be a loser with a beer bottle in front of the tube, instead of playing his heart out in the marriage.
Perhaps a month’s worth of prayer against the mesmerizing spirit would flush out the rest of the hidden prohibitions to being in whatever office is in question. At the end of the day, if God has designed someone to be in a particular office, and they are functionally in that role already, but they are not in the office, there is a permission lacking.
Now, flip it to the other side. There are three primary facets to the office of husband: to provide, to protect and to lead.
Each comes with a very broad spectrum of options, and we can focus on what we can’t do among the many options, or what we can.
Take providing. You may not be as good as you like in providing financially, but there are 50 other things you can provide besides dollars. How are you with providing dignity, or peace, or wisdom, or perspective, or a well-maintained car? Do you provide her with the permissions she needs in life?
Protection is more and more difficult in our culture. If your wife is out in the working world, she is completely beyond your physical protection most of the day. Do you protect her spiritually? Emotionally? Financially? What is your currency of protection?
And leadership is as broad as one can imagine. Many times a wife is not willing to be led in certain areas and in others he can’t lead her since he doesn’t know her area of technical expertise. But where can he lead?
If a man considers himself unqualified in one or more of those areas, he will not feel legitimate in the office of husband. And the enemy is quick to point out where he is NOT qualified. Unless you spend some time with the Holy Spirit to figure out what your currency IS, instead of what it isn’t, the delegitimization will be devastating.
Let’s summarize where we are so far, before going for the nub of the matter.
-The culture (especially the in-laws) have defined the proper currencies for providing, protecting and leading. The man may or may not be able to demonstrate competency in those currencies.
-The wife has her own definition of the proper currencies in those areas.
-The man has his own definition of the proper currencies in those areas.
Any one of the three (or all three groups) may be far off base from the design-based and calling-centered currencies that the man has been equipped by God to use. Therefore, THE question that will have to be answered before a man steps into the office of husband, is whether he has developed the currencies God intended him to, and whether he is using them.
In one marriage, what the man provided was a very respected family name. He inherited a good name from both his father and mother’s family lines, and he built it into a higher profile name, with more honor. This was one of the primary currencies God had equipped him to provide for his wife – a good name.
However, she came from a fear-based family line where being visible in the culture was anathema. Their family code said you keep a low profile, don’t attract any attention, especially from important people. So his gift was vigorously rejected by her. In fact, the thing he was designed by God to give was seen as an absolute stripping of her protection. She only felt safe in anonymity and hiding.
She (and her parents) made it plain that he was not protecting her with the required dosages of hiddenness. He, on the other hand, was providing for her with the currency God had given him.
For a very long time after the rings and vows were exchanged, he was not in the office of husband because of the criticism by her and them. Eventually he had to wrestle this to the ground and decide whether or not God has the right to make the rules of the game.
Once he decided that God had the right to equip him with his own unique combination of the three currencies, and that he was indeed walking in God’s design for him as a husband, even though their marriage was in rough shape because of her woundedness, he was able to step into the office of husband.
And, remarkably, when he did, she began to respect him, instead of fearing his supposed irresponsibility.
The finest permissions come from God. And when you are sure that God has designed you for an office, and that you are walking out the office properly, then you HAVE all the permissions you need to step into the office.
One final story. A father died and God came to the firstborn son and informed him that the son was now the patriarch of the family. In other words, it was time for the son to step into that office.
The son pushed back to God and reminded God that neither his mother, nor his siblings were going to accept him in that office at all. They had long since rejected his role in the family and considered him utterly unqualified to be a spiritual leader of any sort.
God’s response was eloquent and final. “I don’t care.”
Permission granted. Now the son needed to receive it – from God and God alone.
Copyright March 2015 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub