What is the difference between managing and leadership?

Shalom and I were sitting at the creek enjoying the last bit of summer’s rays when she asked me that question. Of course she already knew the answer, but we had been discussing my control-freak, OCD personality :) I recognized my faults but didn’t know how or if I should change my behavior.

Wasn’t it a good thing that my husband came home to an immaculate house? Isn’t it more excellent to have your daily agenda planned out weeks in advance?

During our conversation, I recalled a chat I’d recently had with my husband. He had mentioned that our house wasn’t “homey.” I asked what he meant, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. It dawned on me later that I was making him miserable!

My spotless, “you could eat off the floors” home was no longer inviting or relaxing to him. Not only did I get stressed out about cleaning up all his “messes,” but I stressed him out by griping and complaining. The to-do list that was supposed to help life run smoothly and organized was a source of bondage. I was dealing with depression and getting worse every day! When I couldn’t manage my life, I would break down with anxiety attacks and anger. What a crazy cycle!

The more we talked, the more I saw these negative consequences unfolding before me. If I stayed my course, I could lose my daughter—because who wants to be around “mad mama”—and I could lose my husband. To top it off, I could lose my sanity and health! All by managing, or making everything look right on the outside without investing on the inside.

I realized that afternoon with my feet in the water, watching my baby girl, I had a choice. I could continue my poor management, or I could choose to become a leader, a Proverbs 31 woman. “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (vv. 27–28).

I chose to be a leader. I still get up at 5:00 every morning so that I can clean my home before my baby wakes up. I still make to-do lists, but guess what? All weekend long I let the dishes pile up in the sink. I let the clothes sit on the floor. Now I take impromptu trips with my amazing man! For a long time it was painful. I would purposefully leave my house messy and deal with my anxiety head-on. But God is good and he is faithful! Now I lead my daughter to practice cleanliness and self-control so that one day she can lead herself instead of being tossed to and fro by emotion. I lead my own heart to practice joy, organization, freedom, and thankfulness. There are days when I still struggle, but to see the joy in my husband’s eyes as he walks in the door from work because he no longer dreads coming home to the “mad mama” is worth it all. I have become a leader.

It might be a different struggle for you. You might be trying to manage your child’s schooling or your husband’s lack of initiative. Whatever it might be, I would encourage you to lay it down. We make ourselves weak and heavy laden, troubled with a load of care, when we need to take it to the Lord in prayer. Don’t be a manager in your home; be a leader.