James Bond and Panning for Gold: What to Look for in a Spiritual Leader (Part 1)

Originally published Saturday, 18 May 2013.

It's a summery Saturday here at in Mechanicsville, Virginia. When I was growing up, these vibrant green days always ended with a favored pastime in the Wilson family home. True to our backyard roots, the five of us, Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother and I would recline in beach chairs in the back yard. Cup-holders full of icy-cold, fizzly root beer, of course. 

Dad and all of his technological savviness would project all of the great adventure movie classics onto the back wall of our little white tool shed. Obviously, one of our favorites film heroes to watch wat the effervescent James Bond. There's this great scene in Goldfingerwhere M. asks Bond what it is he really knows about gold.

Bond coyly replies, "I know it when I see it."

I felt like I had entered this fictitious realm of the silver screen when friend recently asked me something akin to M's question a few days ago...

He asked if the ladies who were like me, waiting for a "man worth writing for" would reallyknow a good man or a spiritual leader if he was standing in front of them?

The truth is, throughout the past couple of years or so---the years I spent waiting for a man worth writing for---I've only been looking out for the red flags. The deal-breakers. I've been keeping my eyes wide open for flaws: for hints of abuse, or control. 

And if you're like most totally normal women and you've been burned a few times in relationships, you learn really quickly from what and from whom to back away from:

The guys who want the milk, the whole milk, and nothing but the milk without even so much as looking at leasing options for the cow. (Uh...Moo?)

Or the guys who have lots of sweet, beautiful, compassionate, emotionally-available girlfriends, but no guy friends. The guys who text you at 11 p.m. and ask you to come over to their houses, offer you drinks, and puffs of their dirty, flickering cigarettes.

No thank you. Move along. Not good. Not gold. James-Bond-wannabes need not apply.

So, then on the flip side, we Christian ladies in our Christian culture are taught to look out for the spiritual leaders. And if you're like me, you're thinking:

"Great. Swell. Peachy. Go ahead, boy. Spiritually lead me. Whatever. Just don't hurt me. And also, don't tell me what to do. Because it won't gain my respect. It won't make me want to follow you anywhere."

(I'm a very stubborn, independent cow.)

And then the word submission gets tossed in there, too. Bah-dah-bing!  Submit, submit, submit, like delightful little croutons sprinkled on top of this ambiguous spiritual leadership salad that everyone keeps talking about; but no know one actually knows what they're saying.

I asked my friend---the man who turned over these stones, these questions in my heart and head and found a little battle of crazy crawling underneath---to help. To explain what all of this really meant. As a member of the Navy, and a recent graduate of Business and Leadership, I trusted that he knew something about leadership.

Turns out, he totally does. He immediately got to work and wrote three pages worth of thoughts on the matter. 

So, for the first time ever, sweet sisters, I'm going to let a guy weigh in on all this stuff this week. It's tricky stuff to grapple with, and I didn't want to just blog-vomit these thoughts and Biblical references up here without saying something like, "I know how you feel" about it first. 

I'll say this: I think it just takes as much faith and trust as we can muster. And I think when it's done well, it's beautiful. 

I know so many wild, beautiful, independent, Godly women who are married. And I certainly don't think of the word submissive when I look at them. I want to know how they have healthy, happy relationships. They're led. They follow. And I want to know what kind of man makes them want to do this.

I want to know gold when I see it. (And I want y'all to, too).