It's time for real-life girl talk. It's Kristen here and I'm so very blessed to have a mom (Debby) who I can speak openly with and be encouraged by on a daily basis. We have always enjoyed doing our nails together while chatting about life. So, grab your favorite bottle of polish, and join us while we open up our talk about husbands being spiritual leaders. (If you're actually somehow able to paint your nails and read at the same time, we will be SUPER impressed!)
Debby: Ladies, I feel so blessed to have a husband who leads me spiritually. So many times, as we counsel and encourage couples, the wife says her husband's lack of spiritual leadership is a big issue. Many times, when we dig down into it though, we find that it's not that the husband isn't leading spiritually, but that the wife doesn't recognize what the husband is doing as spiritual leadership.
Many wives who are in church, think of leadership in very specific ways.
- "He should make sure we pray together and that prayer should be filled with deep wisdom."
- "He should read the Bible with me every day and be able to give a commentary based on his knowledge of Scripture."
- "He should want to do a marriage devotional every day, (the longer, the better) and extra points if there is homework involved. Oh, and why doesn't he also buy and read a family devotional while he's at it?"
Those may sound over the top and silly, but they are real expectations for some! Of course, those are actually some great ways to lead spiritually, but they aren't the only ones. As a matter of fact, they aren't even the "best" ones. But for many women, they seem to be the only ones that count.
Spiritual leadership takes on many different forms and we as wives need to focus on viewing our husband as Christ does while giving him our support. Instead of counting how many times a day he does a devotional, count how many ways he shows Christ to your family through everyday actions.
- He forgives you when you make disrespectful remarks
- He says "I'm sorry"
- He gives grace to you or the kids when you mess up
- He confesses when he's messed up and asks for forgiveness from you
- He attends church and makes sure the kids go
- He prioritizes paying for children and youth camps so the kids can grow spiritually
- He faithfully works to provide for the family financially and emotionally, through work outside or inside the home
- He reminds you that you are a beautiful work of God
All these spiritual disciplines, the hard, everyday choices that show he is trying to be Christlike, can sometimes be easy to overlook. So, next time you think, "I just wish he would be a spiritual leader", check yourself. Maybe he IS leading you in all the ways that really count and you should let him know how grateful you are for all the ways he does lead instead of grading him on all the ways you feel he doesn't.
Kristen: Now I have to be honest, even after I make it a habit to show more appreciation for the things my husband already does, there are unfortunately still times where I think "I just wish he would do more (praying, giving, devotionals, etc)." I know I'm not the only who struggles with this. So, for those areas in which you wish your hubby would improve, I've found it really helpful to remember these 4 things:
- Respect: Until you can view and speak to your husband respectfully, the following 3 steps are going to be a lot more difficult. Regularly encourage him in the things he already does and you'll find that respectfully talking through ways you can both grow will come a lot more naturally.
- Responsibility: "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him (in this case, her) it is sin." James 4:17 doesn't beat around the bush. If you're waiting on your husband to do daily devotionals before you start doing personal daily devotionals, it's time to make a change. Your relationship with God is your responsibility and while your husband can be a huge encouragement in that, blaming him for your inaction is not going to help either of you. Also, beware of thinking "Oh, if he sees me doing my devotional, then he'll do his." While this may be a natural encouragement for him, using it as the foundation for your time with God can be a slippery slope. Matthew 6:5-6 reminds us “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
- Prayer: After you respectfully and honestly share with your husband how he can lead your family, give it to God! No, it's not easy, but can you honestly see a positive outcome from constantly nagging your husband to get better in the specific ways you want? (We won't even go down the rabbit trail that is realizing that your wants for your husband may not always line up with what God knows he needs...) Anyway, I wish I could give you a hug, look you in the eye, put my hands on your shoulders and say, "You've got enough on these shoulders girl, and "fixing" your husband is not your responsibility, it's God's!" Every time you wish your husband would do things differently, pray. Pray that God will help you focus on your own weaknesses and not your husband's. Pray that God will call your husband to himself more every day. Pray that the other people in your husband's life would speak into his spiritual development. (Newsflash, you're not the only one who can do that.) Pray that God would show you new ways to support your husband every day. Pray that God would remind you to spend more time analyzing your own relationship with Him than you do analyzing your husband's relationship with Him.
- Patience: Once you have done the first 3 steps, congratulations, you did it! Magical Holy Spirit glitter will now fall over your home and your husband will turn into the perfect Christian Prince Charming you've always dreamed of and your fairy godmother will turn you into a princess!...
*Sigh* No? That hasn't happened for you either? Shucks, it must not have worked. Or just maybe, immediate change and perfection are an unrealistic expectation. Believe me, I wish I could say that I'm always fully aware that it takes time for people to change, so of course I always show them the same patience God shows me when I'm trying to grow... but I don't. I get easily frustrated when I don't see change happen at the speed of light and showing grace isn't exactly my strongest spiritual gift. That's when it's time to give extra patience, go back to step 1, and respect our husbands by encouraging him in both the big and little steps of leadership that he takes.
So here we are with you, peeling ourselves off our high horses to get on our knees and pray for each other in this process. Don't try to do it on your own! God gave us community to encourage and remind each other that even though some of our fairy tale expectations of spiritual perfection may be unrealistic, we are still children of The King, who wants us to be close to Him. We pray that you will be so focused on honoring and following the perfect leadership of God in your own life, that being respectful, responsible, prayerful, and patient becomes the natural way you support your husband's spiritual leadership on a daily basis.