No, not that kind of power.
I strongly believe that women should put just as much effort into understanding men as we women often demand that they put into understanding us. Movies, TV shows and jokes would have us think that we’ve got men squarely pegged as uncomplicated, egotistical dunderheads.
Well, I beg to differ.
Now, most of you reading this know that I am single. Lack of experience abounds with me, so this is no attempt to come off as some kind of self-declared expert. My desire is to describe some observations, express a few points I’ve become passionate about, and point the reader to some helpful resources that I am very grateful to have the benefit of learning from before ever entering a marriage.
For those of us not married, there is still much that is applicable to our friendships with men, and useful for practice, so to speak.
Back to the — what did we say? — ah yes, egotistical dunderheads.
So, maybe a man is being an egotistical dunderhead at a particular juncture, but that is not the extent of his abilities, nor does it speak to his level of inner complexity. There is no value in arguments over which sex’s inner life is most labyrinthine, and we women should stop thinking of men as easy to understand while writing off any serious effort to modify how we think about how they think. The way we think becomes the way we speak, and “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21a)
Men were created by God just as women were. In fact they were created first, and women were created to be helpers. There are a myriad of places I could go from here, spanning the whole spectrum of the roles discussion, but my focus is the power we women have over the men in our lives — for good or for evil. In particular, power simply to help them either become men or remain boys. To turn them to God, or away from Him.
That’s the kind of power I’m talking about. Women can be an incredible source of strength for their husbands (and sons!), and an equally powerful place of defeat. We can build them up or tear them down, and which one we accomplish is decided in the instant between emotion and response. As we should with all of our speech, take a few extra beats and think carefully. Pray. Seek wisdom. Because belittling, scolding, and disrespecting a man is the best way to hinder his growth. Dennis Rainey, co-founder of FamilyLife Ministries, says “You can mother your husband if you want to, but you’ll turn him back into a boy.” Even if a man is being childish, treating him like a child in return doesn’t help. And a man who has difficulty growing out of adolescence can be absolutely made by a wife who affirms and encourages him, speaking with respect no matter what.
They go together: making the effort to understand men in general and being the helpers we were meant to be.
Personally, I find men very intriguing. They’re plenty complex. The wonderful workings that God has built into men’s minds suit them for roles He requires them to fill. It is my prayer that I will remember to study my future husband and sons, to build them up in a way that helps them become more godly men, mentors, and patriarchs than they would otherwise have been.
Ladies, we may not be superheroes or supermoms, but we have great power and we are using this power whether we’re aware of it or not. Let’s use it for good!
FamilyLife Today radio has a series all about “Stepping Up to Manhood”, which includes two days of talks from Barbara Rainey about ways women can help or hinder the maturity of their men. I highly recommend it, and the link to listen online is below. Also very helpful are the books written by Shaunti Feldhahn, “For Women Only” and “For Men Only.”