Modesty and Deference Admired

Posted: May 27, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Male and felmale roles have been on my mind lately. I wish I had written last night while the thoughts were most vivid, but here is my attempt to encapsulate my fleeting thoughts.

I’ve been thinking about what my friend Karen was telling me in a conversation at the NEXT conference (hopefully more to come on that in the future). We were talking about how our community/family groups at the conference were going. She told me that she was enjoying the conversations she was having with her group, but wished the leader would ask a few more questions, perhaps following up on comments made, etc. But she basically told me that she didn’t want to take control over the dialogue. Even though this was just a short comment, made in passing with little more said about it, I appreciated what it said about Karen’s heart so much. Karen has a gift for drawing people out in conversation, asking good questions, and showing real care and interest in the way she converses. Therefore, in a group dialogue, it would be easy for someone with her gifting to take over the reins of leading the discussion. After all, she could probably do a better job of it than the man who was chosen to lead. She chose instead, however, to humbly and modestly lay down her preference of more thorough discussion in order to let this man grow in leadership. This was so incredible to me! As a young man who has been in the position of leading a group and has done so many times feebly and timidly, I am so thankful for people like Karen who help us men grow in leadership by their modesty.

I remember when I would do a poor job with chores or move slowly when doing them. Sometimes my mom would show me how to do it properly and do it for me. I saw this as the time to nod my head and slowly back away until I could escape unnoticed to get back to playing games. I simply let her take over, and unfortunately I made this a regular habit. I think sometimes this is what happens with grown men and women. A man may lead poorly in some area, and the woman’s maternal urge to show him how it’s done kicks in. The immature or timid man sees this as a way of shirking his responsibility. “I’ll just let her do it, she seems to be doing it well, anyway.” The man becomes a coward, afraid of leading because he knows somebody else can do it better. Women, if you know a man well enough, encourage him in his leadership and point out ways he can grow. But for his sake, please don’t take over the leadership or he will never learn. His family will suffer in the future. His wife will either usurp his authority or, if she’s humble, will suffer lack of direction and guidance. His children will fall into the same trap, as he will be afraid of making his authority known. They will not respect him because he’s waiting for somebody else to step up, tragically missing the fact that God has called him to be the man and leader of his family. It may sound like I’m being dramatic, but I don’t think I am. I will be bold and say what I believe: Not only can lack of modesty on the part of women be detrimental to the character of men, it is unattractive. Some men may find that super-independent, don’t-need-nobody’s-help characteristic appealing. But I will venture to say the majority, if they are honest, do not. Hollywood may say feminism is attractive. I disagree.

I hope I don’t sound chauvinistic or sexist, as if women should just be quiet and let men domineer them. I don’t believe that one bit. Ultimately, I think in the Bible women are only called to submit to their husbands decisions (or father’s, depending on marital status). Therefore, only in marriage should women submit to their husband’s decision even if they don’t think it is the most wise. In all other male and female interaction, there is not this command to honor every decision. However, I think it may be a good idea to practice submission when the decision does not dishonor God in any way or compromise their love for him (i.e. If you’re with a coed group, give your input but encourage guys to make the final decision in where to go eat or decide what to do). Men, likewise, should practice submission to other men who are in authority over them, so they learn to be humble leaders.

For me, personally, leadership and authority are not always things I want to take on. Some crave power and love the attention of leading. For me, however, I have an equally dangerous tendency toward timidity, not wanting to offend anyone or be thought conceited (even though I am). I say this so that women can understand that dominance is not the only temptation for men, but fear is the flip-side. Out of love and care for the men in your life, please try, by God’s grace, not to contribute to their fear. Similarly, if they are arrogant and controlling, let your modesty shine and bring conviction to them rather than contending with them.

I know these are not really popular ideas, and not all of what I said may be Biblical. I hope they are. But most of this is simply my opinion, to be listened to or ignored at your discretion. My aim is to help women understand some things about beautiful, admirable femininity from a young Christian man’s perspective. You get enough of Hollywood’s and our culture’s perspective as it is. So please, weigh out what I’ve said, toss out the junk, and hopefully you’ll be left with something that’s helpful to you. For advice from God himself, I encourage you to read often the description of the Proverbs 31 woman. Please don’t read it feeling guilty or making discouraging comparisons, but instead be encouraged by what God says is beautiful in a woman. You can forget everything I’ve said, but don’t forget His teaching.

Please let me know what you think. Have I said anything you disagree with? Have I been unclear anywhere or perhaps gone too far in some advice? Not far enough? I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are. Thanks!

  1. mom says:

    Well put, Stephen. I love how you pick up the smallest things and ponder them biblically, like Karen’s brief comment. We women really do need to hear more often how a godly man thinks.

    I’m sorry I took over and did so many things for you. I didn’t realize it half the time, which is what gets us women in trouble. Taking charge is sometimes such a kneejerk reaction that we don’t even realize we’ve stifled a growth potential in the men (young or older) around us. Thanks be to God you grew up to be a very capable leader in spite of me.)

  2. Michelle says:

    I think your mom pretty much covered it, but I just thought I’d say your new layout looks nice.

    Brian Regan goes with anything.

  3. Steve says:

    Mom, I didn’t mean at all to make it sound like it was your fault for taking over in things. I always knew what I was doing was wrong anyway in avoiding responsibility.

    Thanks, Michelle. It’s true, I’ll pretty much try to fit in a Brian Regan clip whenever it even remotely applies 🙂

  4. Kelly says:

    It’s so exciting and refreshing to hear your thoughts on the matter! It seems to me you’ve got things sorted well, and your understanding of the issues will serve you well, both now and in marriage.

  5. Laurie Lynn says:

    “Fear being the flip-side to dominence” is a compelling thought! Yes, on one hand women want you all to LEAD and anytime you are brave enough to lead, we wan’t to take back the reins! As I say, It must be hard being a man with so many women happy to “tell you how to be a man”! But for our sake, Lead! And for the love of God’s order of creation, Lead!
    and in God’s Authoritative leading, Lead!
    I can’t help but get a visual of a man and woman sitting side-by-side in a horse drawn wagon with the man’s hands firmly on the reins, a woman beside him confidently trusting him, both knowing the One truly leading the wagon whether through green meadows, swift waters or dry prarie. “Lead On O King Eternal”!

  6. Jessi says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I’m popping in here as someone who reads your Mom’s blog, and per the suggestion in her recent post.

    If I would express my views, after much careful and prayerful study of this topic myself, would actually tend to disagree with some of what you have said. I think you’ve expressed yourself very well, and I respect the thought you’ve put into it. Having also read the practical suggestions post, I wouldn’t even disagree with MOST of what you said there.

    However, since you asked for comments of those who might disagree, (and no one else disagrees) I just thought I would offer this… By your own admission, you are not sure that all of what you are expressing is completely biblical. You did mention that you believe women are called to submit only to their husbands, YET the post mainly focuses on how ALL women can affirm and submit to the authority of ALL men – or at least whenever possible. These are the only 2 points I would challenge you on. You also said that these were your opinions, to be taken or left; fair enough. However, I do sense there is a desire in you to walk in Godly biblical leadership, and in order to do so, and to truly deserve the respect, admiration, and submission you speak of, I do think you owe it to your future wife/other women you may lead, to fully have explored and understand that which you are putting forth and asking of women. Being someone of a differing understanding of this topic, I can honestly say I have no problem respecting this viewpoint set forth by any man who has thoroughly sought God’s heart on this issue. And while we are commanded to respect various people – i.e. – husbands, church leaders, government – earned respect is much more gratifying, and ultimately will provide a huge sense of trust in those that you are asking submission of.

    Blessings as you continue on in your walk with the Lord!

  7. Steve says:


    Thanks so much for your comments. I did speak of unmarried women mostly, mostly because I don’t really know much about marriage and didn’t want to tread into waters I’m not experienced in. My thinking is that some of these principles (e.g. modesty and godly/controlled submission) can be “practiced” before marriage, but I certainly understand that is not always possible or desirable with some of them (i.e. universal submission, absolute loyalty, etc.). .

    Also, thank you for challenging me to explore the topic Biblically. “However, I do sense there is a desire in you to walk in Godly biblical leadership, and in order to do so, and to truly deserve the respect, admiration, and submission you speak of, I do think you owe it to your future wife/other women you may lead, to fully have explored and understand that which you are putting forth and asking of women.” Well said, and so true! I plan to do a Biblical study of masculinity and femininity, and, in fact, should have done so before posting. I don’t want my opinions to be the standard for anyone.

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