On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy made a very bold decision to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth; and to do that before the end of the decade. That seemingly unreachable goal was reached and now seems rather mundane, because we currently have roving equipment on the planet Mars and future dreams of placing a man on Mars. But all of this came about because of a bold decision and courageous action.
You see the same thing in 2 Chronicles chapter 23. The chapter begins with an evil over-bearing queen Athaliah ruling over Judah and leading the nation into dark wickedness. The chapter ends with a descendant of David on the throne, a priest leading a nation in a fresh and strong commitment to God, and a peace reigning in the city of Jerusalem. This dramatic change was initiated by a bold decision by Jehoiada the priest at the beginning of the chapter and was carried out by his courageous actions in the rest of the chapter. Because of this, the chapter ends with a people rejoicing over a new king and a nation returning to its commitment to God.
It was a bold decision and courageous action that brought about the change.
What great change in your world is waiting on you to make a bold decision and take courageous action? What would be overturned and set right if you would but decide and act? What dreams would be reached and what moons would be walked on if you made a bold decision and followed up with courageous action? What is God calling you to do?
How would you respond to the following question… “Are you the CEO in your marriage?” Maybe you would say, “Well, no! of course not!” Maybe you say your spouse acts like the CEO. Or, maybe you would say, “What do you mean by that?”
DO MARRIAGES HAVE CEO’S?
Every company has a CEO, or Chief Executive Officer. This person is the highest-ranking person in the company and the one ultimately responsible for making managerial decisions.
By this definition, you might say, “Marriages don’t have CEO’s. They’re not a business or a corporation.” And you would be right.
But many marriages still have a CEO. I call them the Chief Ego Officer, and they function much in the same way as the CEO of a company. They carry a lot of weight in the relationship, especially when it comes to direction and decision-making.
DECIDING WHO’S THE CEO.
How can you tell if you’re the CEO in the marriage? Ask yourself the following questions…and try to be honest with yourself:
Do you tend to make most of the decisions?
Do you get upset when your spouse makes a decision without checking with you first?
Do you often explain to your spouse why your way is better?
Do you have trouble listening to and considering your spouse’s opinions and approaches?
Do you get frustrated or angry when your spouse doesn’t take your advice or do things as you want?
Do you look down on your spouse for thinking or believing as they do?
Do you see your spouse’s differences of opinion as a threat to you or the marriage?
You may believe this list better fits your spouse than it does you, but the more you answer “yes” to these questions, the more likely you are to be the Chief Ego Officer of the relationship. You may have become the CEO in response to their behavior, but it still will affect your marriage.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF A CEO ON A MARRIAGE?
Though a company benefits from a strong CEO, a marriage suffers from a strong CEO. When a marriage has a strong Chief Ego Officer, two things typically happen:
The marriage becomes oppressive.
Whether it’s implied or stated out-right, the CEO of the marriage has a my-way-or-the-highway approach to the relationship. The other spouse’s thoughts, opinions, or approaches are ignored, dismissed, and not considered. The CEO increasingly stifles their spouse, not allowing them to be themselves.
This is a poison that will slowly kill the love, affection, and attraction in the relationship. And, the longer this continues, the harder it becomes to recover the relationship.
Then, the second effect a Chief Ego Officer has on marriage is…
The marriage becomes abusive.
Many CEO marriages stay stuck in the oppressive stage. But there are some marriages that progress to the abusive stage.
When the Chief Ego Officer experiences disagreement or push back from their spouse, they will begin to push back themselves. At first, the CEO will try to convince or cajole their spouse into seeing things their way. If that doesn’t work, the CEO’s approach will become more pointed and frustrated. If that doesn’t work, their anger will come out and they will become emotionally abusive, and possibly physically abusive.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE IN A CEO RELATIONSHIP.
If you find yourself in a CEO marriage, what should you do? Well…
If You’re the CEO…
Humble yourself. Apologize to your spouse for being so dominant and inconsiderate. This is hard, especially for a CEO, but you need to start here. And your apology must be sincere, not just a way to get the heat off or to get your spouse to soften back up to you. If you’re not really repentant for your behavior, you’ve not changed and the relationship can’t change.
Invite and listen to your spouse’s opinions. This is not just something to check off the list so you can then get on to how you want to do things. Take your time and honestly listen to them. To paraphrase Stephen Covey, seek first to understand them before trying to get them to understand you. Hear their thoughts, their heart, and their desires.
Look for reasons to defer to your spouse. This is hard for a Chief Ego Officer because they usually believe their spouse should defer to them. But try hard to defer to your spouse whenever possible. You may feel your way is better, but don’t push your way through. Share it with your spouse and make sure you both agree your way is better before implementing it.
Make the above a way of life. If you just do these things to get back on your spouse’s good side, then you’ve not really changed. You’re just manipulating the situation to get back in their good graces. These changes need to be a way of life for you…even if the marriage fails.
If Your Spouse is the CEO…
If your spouse is the CEO, you have three options:
Continue on as it is. Some people decide they will just go on tolerating the CEO’s behavior. Perhaps they don’t want to rock the boat out of fear of the CEO’s response. Maybe they’re concerned for others in the family. Or maybe their own insecurities make them wonder if there’s something wrong with them. Continuing on as-is is a valid option, but know that such a marriage rarely improves over time.
Begin to push back against the CEO’s behavior. This could go from standing up for yourself and your opinions, to not being easily coerced, to insisting on counseling, to threatening to leave the relationship. Chances are, the CEO will not react favorably to such changes, and they will do whatever they can to get things back to “normal.” If they feel they’ve got no other option, the CEO will seem to concede, but it usually doesn’t last.
Leave the relationship. If all else fails, you may decide you can no longer tolerate the relationship and make plans to leave. Departure is a last resort option and can either be temporary, until the CEO truly changes, or permanent. The CEO may have a variety of responses to your decision to leave. They may act shocked and say they didn’t know anything was wrong. They may try to convince you that things are not that bad. They may get angry and blame you for all the problems. And if all else fails, they may concede and offer to make changes. But, oftentimes their changes are only an attempt to get you back in the fold.
A FINAL THOUGHT…
Can CEO marriages really change? Yes! But…the ego of the Chief Ego Officer will not change quickly or easily. It will take work and practice to learn to exchange ego for humility. But it can be done. So, if you’re the Chief Ego Officer in the marriage, honestly and humbly enlist the aid of close friends, accountability partners, pastors, or counselors. Do whatever it takes to resign as CEO of your marriage. And if your spouse is the CEO, do everything in your power to share the problem and encourage them to change. Either way, you (and they) will be the better for it.
Global warming. It’s one of the hot topics today…if you’ll excuse the pun. Scientists tell us that past decisions to satisfy our growing hunger for more (more products, more comfort, more convenience, etc.) are now having destructive consequences on the current state and health of our environment.
Just as decisions in the past can affect current conditions environmentally, past decisions can affect current conditions spiritually.
That’s the message we hear over and over again in 2 Kings chapters 14 and 15. Time and time again, we hear phrases like, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord, just as his father did.” At times, the Scripture connects the behaviors of the current king of Israel all the way back to the idolatry of the first king of Israel…Jeroboam. And this pattern is repeated so often in chapters 14 and 15 that you get tired of reading it.
I believe the Scripture is trying to drill home the idea that the choices we make now have a lasting impact in the years to come. Our decisions now will reverberate down through the generations. (Ex. 20:5) Our current choices and actions are key to the spiritual climate of the future. My words and actions impact my children; which has an impact on their interactions with their friends, their spouses, and their children.
Whether or not you believe in the reality of global warming, you can believe that your current decisions and actions will impact your future spiritual climate. That is the clear message God gives us in 2 Kings chapters 14 and 15.
“It doesn’t get any better than this.” It’s something we say when things feel good, worries seem to evaporate, and all seems right with the world. Maybe you’ve said it on the beach, during a vacation, at your favorite restaurant, or just someplace with your feet kicked up.
It’s easy to assume all of this just happened; that it was just the “luck of the draw.” But remember, 1 Kings chapter 4 is preceded by 1 Kings chapters 2 and 3. The foundation for this current prosperity and peace was laid through a past pursuit of God and a willingness to make difficult decisions for Him.
The “here and now” is a product of the “there and then.” And this “here and now” is the preparation for a future “out there.” One stream flows into the other. A future of prosperity and peace depends on a present pursuit and dependence on God…and the willingness to make the difficult decisions that will align us with Him.
If the future is to be a time when we say, “It doesn’t get any better than this,” we must pave the way in the “here and now” by pursuing God and making difficult decisions for Him…now!
“What a difference a day makes.” It can be bright one day and dark the next. Your investments can be growing one day and tanking the next. A relationship can be great one day and falling apart the next. What a difference a day makes!
When it comes to 2 Samuel chapter 11, we could say, “What a difference a chapter makes.” In 2 Samuel chapter 10, David is the conquering king. But in chapter 11, David is the cowardly sinner. In chapter 10, David is killing the enemy. But in chapter 11, David is killing his own man.
How did this happen!
Though the change in David seems quick and radical from chapter 10 to chapter 11, it was actually a slow and subtle slide. David started taking it easy. He let up a little. After all, he had worked hard and suffered much in his life. No one would begrudge him for taking a little break…even if it was the time when kings were normally out working hard with the troops.
So, instead of advancing on the enemy, he stayed behind. Instead of aggressively taking ground, he took a nap. Instead of running toward victory on the battleground, he took a stroll on a roof. And things just naturally progressed (or rather digressed) from there. With each wrong decision, David became more insensitive to God and what was right.
It can happen to us, too. One decision leads to another, which leads to another, and so on. We need to remember that there are really no small decisions. Decisions have a cumulative effect. They lead somewhere. And because of that, we should not make decisions casually.
Perhaps the phrase should be, “What a difference a decision makes!”
“Shoot first and ask questions later.” This statement calls one to make quick decisions, and worry about whether it was the “right” decision later.
There may be some rare occasions where a person needs to shoot first and ask questions later. I’m thinking of occasions like natural disasters, criminal violation, terrorist attacks, and military endeavors. But most would agree that “shoot first and ask questions later” is the stuff of movies, and normally not the best approach.
Choice. It’s both wonderful and scary. Choice is always there and always available. From the dawn of creation until this very moment, choice has been the canvas on which life is painted. Choice is both the common denominator and the wild card of life.
It’s amazing that God would entrust us with the privilege, power, possibility, and unpredictability of choice. The fact that the God of order would allow us to choose speaks volumes about both His extensive power and love.