Two-Headed Leadership Monster Or An Equal Partnership? -- By: Jan Huffaker

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 09:2 (Spring 1995)
Article: Two-Headed Leadership Monster Or An Equal Partnership?
Author: Jan Huffaker

Two-Headed Leadership Monster Or An Equal Partnership?

Jan Huffaker

Jan Huffaker is a missionary with CBInternational sewing in Uganda. She teaches Old Testament and Hermeneutics at Kiburara Baptist Bible College, She has studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Denver and Fuller Seminaries.

Recently I was reading an article that was teaching about “secrets” of family life.1 The author was making the point that the husband is to be the “manager” of the family. Thus only one person can be the ultimate leader.2 I am sure that this is no new “secret.” It has been pushed on us for a long time. But his examples of “only one in the lead” juxtapostioned two vastly different ways of seeing things, as well as stating bluntly as “truth” an idea that I would seriously call into question. In fact, in American Christian culture it is the myth upon which a large part of the castle of teaching on male dominance as normative is built.

His illustration was of a woman, who apparently had a successful egalitarian arrangement going with her husband, who heard this teaching probably for the first time. She said, “I thought we both were in charge—not one of us over the other.” The author concedes that both have “decision-making power” but he adds, “but the buck had to stop with someone.” This couple did not seem to be thinking this way before! Oddly, the illustration that immediately follows is not from marriage — but from a ministry trip he made with a male colleague. They were equals in every way, but seemed to falter in decision-making because they had a “two-headed leadership monster slowing (them) down.” So they designated one as responsible. One voluntarily backed off in favor of the other. Next statement: “...dual leadership won’t work, even if you are equally qualified. Someone has to make the final decision” (emphasis mine).

But herein lies the lie — or the myth, or the false assumption. Who says dual leadership won’t work?? Who says some one person has to make the ultimate decision? This is not a “truth” that I find explicitly stated in Scripture, nor is it one that has panned out in real life in every case. I would suggest that it is in the category of “old-husbands’ tales” that have been taken as gospel truth for far too long.

Of course, if you don’t believe something will work— you will not be particularly looking for proof that it does, or creative ways to make it happen. So too the practicality and effectiveness of equal partnership has not been objectively or fairly explored by persons teaching male dominance.

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