I have sometimes felt on the outside looking in when I read Christian books or listen to sermon series on marriage. They often talk of godly masculine leadership with imagery that leaves me thinking that all godly husbands will be out front publicly leading their family. Of course, these sermons are usually given by men who are comfortable standing in front of hundreds or thousands of people at a time. No wonder most of their illustrations reflect men out front in public settings.
Frankly, many more people know me in the larger Body of Christ than know my husband. I am sensitive at times – people are going to think that I “wear the pants in the family,” that I set the agenda in our family, that my husband is marginalized in a corner of our home while I pull the strings. No one who knows us personally thinks that, but I did hear once that a church staff member gossiped that we had moved on to a different church because my husband “lost control” of his wife. That seriously ticked me off. First, it was blatantly untrue in terms of the circumstances that caused us to move on. But second, who uses that kind of terminology?! The idea of Biblical submission is starkly different than control. Does anyone in the conservative church actually advocate that husbands “control” their wives? Ugh. I certainly hope not. Nevertheless, there seems to be a large segment of the Christian population that has little understanding of the value of quiet men in the Christian home, and I am grieved over the pressure they put on homes consisting of extrovert wives and introvert husbands.
There’s a new book that I appreciate called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts….”
It is nice to see a larger movement afoot toward valuing the quiet person. But no one has ever had to talk me into valuing my husband. My dad was a man who did not say much, but what he did say was worth hearing. I recognized that quality in my husband very early on in our relationship. As someone who does say a lot, his ability to sit back, observe, and boil down a boat load of wisdom in one sentence attracted me even before our first date. I have only become increasingly in awe of his discernment as we have grown older together. In all avenues of life, he is a quiet man of influence. He also respects me and values my opinion. Because I well respect him, his respect of me means that much more to me.
It’s too bad that the larger evangelical movement seems to value loud, upfront leadership as a more masculine trait. I’m concerned that the result is that strong women who want a godly husband may not recognize the power and wisdom of the quiet guy observing the group from the sidelines. We mistakenly think he is not a player, not recognizing the God-given qualities that make him, not a player, but the more dignified role of a coach or referee. In a world of noise and a church of noise, it is good to value quiet men (and women) who observe well before they speak, and speak few words when they are ready to contribute. The church is wise to listen to their input.
Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.