I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about how all of us are role models to young people whether we want to be or not. Because we are older than them, they look up to us, they watch what we do, and they want to be just like us. It's the same for each of us, whether we are "good" or "bad", no matter how immoral or godly we are, we will continue to be role models. We can't change it. We instead need to work to be aware of that fact as we make decisions and go about our daily lives. They're watching every move we make, and if we don't want those kids to be lead astray, we should live our lives in such a way as to show them how to walk down the straight and narrow.
It occurred to me last night that there's a similar truth for men. Men are leaders. They were created to be leaders. Men are called and created to lead the women in their lives, and that's exactly what they do. Men lead.
It doesn't matter whether a man is good and godly or abusive and aggressive or weak and passive. It doesn't matter if he's trapped by lust or finds himself addicted. He can be in love with God or in love with himself. He can be giving or selfish, trustworthy or manipulative, a rebel without a cause or a man living to the glory of God -- he's still a leader. All those qualities, all the things he cares about, those don't decide whether or not he IS a leader, they decide which direction he's leading in.
Dancing is one of my favorite metaphors for relational life. When we dance, the man is supposed to be leading, and the girl usually lets him. However, sometimes, it's painful and trying for her because the man can't find the beat. He's hopelessly off and is dancing with two left feet, yet she tries to follow...for both of their sakes.
That's how I've seen so many relationships, including many of my own go, the man is leading the woman down the wrong path. It's not that he can't lead her...he just isn't going the way she wants to go, or knows she shoud go. I've seen too many women get trapped in abusive relationships, lose too much of their innocence, get too wrapped up in lust and worldly passion, lose sight of godly things because their man has lead them into that situation. I know that many people will say that that woman should have been strong enough to resist, strong enough to say no, strong enough to get out...it's not about strength...Women are caring and have a fear of abandonment. The two together so often seals our fate. A woman will "stand by her man" because she loves him...because she knows he can change...because she hopes to help him change...because she doesn't think she'll find anyone else...or anyone better. So she sticks with him through thick and thin...all the while traveling farther and farther away from God and the kind of life He intended for her to live. Maybe the fact that she's lost isn't as obvious as abuse, but it very well could be there...perhaps it's manifested itself as stagnation...a lack of growth.
Regardless of how it happens or exactly what it looks like, if two people are going to journey together down the path of life, God will have set them to go in the same direction. He doesn't want men leading His daughters away from Him. He loves us too much for that.
So, to the women: You'll know when a relationship isn't right...when he isn't the one...when it's not the right time...pray to God for the courage and strength to end it. Remember that Jesus is the lover of your soul. He will never leave you nor foresake you. He loves you better than any man ever could, and if you trust Him enough to give up those relationships that hinder your spiritual growth and well-being, He'll give you something much, much better.
And to the men: You need to be aware of the fact that you are a leader. You are leading the women in your life, even the ones that you are not dating or courting or engaged to or married to, you influence their lives with your leadership. So, where are you leading them? In the same way that young people watch every aspect of our lives and attempt to model themselves after us, women are watching you. They are taking note of what you value, of the way you spend your time, of what you care about, of the way you act towards women...and they are using what they see to shape themselves. So, what are your actions and words saying to them? Are you leading them to live a godly life? Are you using your strength and power for their good? Or are you abusing your God-given gifts to hurt them and leave them wounded and lost? I pray that God will work in your lives. I pray that He will give you the courage and strength to turn to Him and allow Him to mold you and lead you so that you may be a godly man...a man worthy of a daughter of the King...a man that will not try to snatch one of these women away from her Father.
(As a note: Yes, I realize that God's your father, too. He loves you as well, but I didn't have the time to truly explain what that brings into the equation...perhaps another day.)