Monday, August 19, 2013

'Whatever seems best'

2 Samuel 18:1-4 (NIV)

David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. David sent out his troops, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, “I myself will surely march out with you.”

But the men said, “You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us. It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.”

The king answered, “I will do whatever seems best to you.”
I’ve never considered myself the king of anything, but I’m fond of David’s phrase here and use it frequently when discussing plans with my wife: Whatever seems best to you. That’s not the same as saying “Whatever you want,” because as adults we can accept what we want personally is not always the best course of action. Rather it is a deferment when a family decision needs to be made.

One wrinkle I’ve learned over the years is the value of yielding to the party with a more firmly held opinion is weakened if the yielder never sticks up for their own view. When I do care, I make sure to say so. Otherwise my wife would rightly assume I’m not engaging, just passively letting her run the show with little concern for what happens. That’s not a partnership in any sense.

By and large we’re not talking about major, life-changing issues here. It’s more along the lines of what time we leave for a weekend trip, or whether or not we should get the house painted this summer. I try to be involved in the discussion, weigh the pros and cons and give my opinion, but usually I will do whatever seems best to her. I can’t think of a single time this strategy has royally backfired.

I bring this up in the context of parenting because it’s important for the kids to not only know their parents can be reasonable adults but also for them to have an example of how a married couple converses and chooses. They don’t need a doormat dad anymore than they need one who insists on controlling absolutely everything. They need to understand compromise is key, to stick up for the things they value most and to trust the people who say they love them.

My wife and I are far from perfect, but we each seem to be the precise partner the other needs to make it through life. I trust her without reservation, and I hope I offer the same to her. It’s fairly cliché to say she makes me want to be a better person — and that’s not really how I’d describe the dynamic. What she does do, whether she realizes or not, is make me want to always treat her with the respect she deserves and continues to earn. And I hope and pray each of our boys are lucky enough to one day find a partner who will always do what seems best for the both of them.

A prayer for August 19:

Lord, than you for your leadership and guidance in my life. Thank you also for the gift of a wife who is trustworthy, fair, respectful and able to set such a strong example for our children. Please help me hold up my end of the deal, show me what it takes to be the husband and father my family deserves each and every day. Be ever present and at the center of our family. Amen.

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