I think these are some VERY important issues I am about to bring up. MANY, MANY of us (maybe, the vast majority of us) see our guys not doing these things and we cast serious judgement against our men – assuming we know their level of spiritual maturity and assuming they are horrible spiritual leaders. Then we assume WE are then more qualified to take over the leadership position that God has given to the man in marriage.
I would like for you to think about these things BEFORE you agree to marry a man. I would like you to have realistic and reasonable expectations of a husband as a spiritual leader. And realize that it takes decades for men to become mature, godly spiritual leaders. They have learning to do when they are 20 years old. They don’t arrive to marriage completely mature. But you do want a guy who loves God and is pursuing Him with all his heart.
God’s Word says that the “husband IS the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.” (Ephesians 5:22-33) It’s not that he “could” be or “should” be. He is. I can’t take that role from him – even if he is not a believer. God gave the authority to him and God did not give it to me. God’s wisdom is much greater than my own! I have to be willing to reject our culture’s warped and ungodly model of marriage, femininity and masculinity and authority in marriage. Then I can humbly accept that God did this for my good, my husband’s good and our family’s good and for God’s glory.
MY SKY HIGH EXPECTATIONS
I used to expect a LOT of specific things from my husband. I would harp on my husband about how he needed to be “a better spiritual leader” and then I would list off things I thought he needed to do in order to qualify for being a “good” spiritual leader. (see how many of these things are things God has commanded him to do, and what are just my personal preferences, or ideas I read in a book!) My list included things like:
- praying with me daily (with HIM initiating the prayer, not me – if I had to initiate the prayer, then that didn’t count as him praying with me in my mind.)
- him taking me to church weekly or more
- him taking me to the church I thought was best (because I was always right about everything, after all! And I clearly knew much better than he did where we should go. – this is one thing he put his foot down about. He required me to go to the church he thought was best. Now I completely see the wisdom in his decision and I am glad he didn’t go along with me.)
- him tithing (what I thought was an appropriate tithe – my definition of 10% before taxes)
- him giving generously to many other charities that support orphans and the poor in addition to the tithe
- him giving time to serve God in a ministry
- him having a long “quiet time” with God of his own daily (that I could observe)
- him praying a lot on his own (and me knowing all about it)
- him reading the Bible to me/with me/to our children
- him not watching tv anymore
- him spending more time talking with me about deep spiritual things and connecting with me spiritually
THIS IS SO DANGEROUS!!!!!!
None of these things on my list are really wrong. They are all “good” things. The problem here is that I am placing myself in the position of JUDGE (with evil thoughts )over him and whether he is doing a godly enough job for ME. Some of these things he would do, some he didn’t do that much. But the more I got on his case, the LESS likely he was to do what I demanded just because of my disrespectful and controlling attitude. He was not going to be manipulated by me. I hated that at the time. Now I am THANKFUL that I have a man with a backbone and convictions who won’t be swayed by my emotions or feelings.
My husband answers to GOD for his leadership and how he handles his God-given authority. He does not answer to me.
Who am I to say how he should lead? If he is not sinning or asking me to sin – I am sinning against God if I do not cooperate with my husband’s leadership. Who am I to add things that the Bible never even said he needed to do? How arrogant, condescending and prideful that was of me. My list reminds me a lot about some of the lists the Pharisees had. And Jesus did not have joyful words for them – He called them a brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs.
God made my husband the head of our home (I Corinthians 11) – HE needs to be the one who decides how he leads. If I try to tell my husband that he is leading wrongly – I need to be extremely careful! There have been times that I fought against my husband’s leadership that I was actually fighting God. I can tell my husband what I want and how I feel (respectfully – and usually once) and then, if he is not asking me to sin, I cooperate with his leadership – even if and especially when I do not agree! THEN I TRUST GOD TO WORK THROUGH MY HUSBAND FOR MY ULTIMATE GOOD!
This is ultimately all about my faith or lack of faith in God and His Word – NOT about my faith in my husband!
We wives are sometimes so intent on trying to take over the lead ourselves because we pridefully think:
- I know better than my husband
- I know best
- I know better than God
- I should be in charge. I’m a much better leader than he is.
- I know God said the husband is the head, but that just won’t work in my situation. Surely God didn’t mean it to apply to me, or He didn’t mean it to apply in 2012 America.
Those are some of my very ugly sins. I committed those sins for 15 and a half years and DID NOT EVEN SEE IT. I was so blind to my sin against God and my sin against my husband. All I could see was his “sin” and his “failure” in my eyes as the spiritual leader. And I arrogantly assumed I should step in and take over. I pridefully condemned my husband and judged his heart and spirituality. I was WRONG.
WHAT I DO NOW
Now, I allow my husband to lead as HE sees fit and do what HE believes God wants him to do, and I try not to interfere with the line of communication between my husband and God.
Some things are not biblical mandates. We as Christian wives have these ideas in our minds about what a “spiritual leader should” be. And when our husbands don’t meet our expectations, we get ANGRY, CONTROLLING, DISRESPECTFUL, PRIDEFUL, JUDGMENTAL, CRITICAL, BOSSY, UNFORGIVING, RESENTFUL, CONDESCENDING, HATEFUL and full of CONTEMPT. Some of us may even SLANDER our husband or GOSSIP about him or attempt to create DIVISIONS in the family over these things. Who is really the less godly one here?
- having a nightly devotion with the family after supper is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.
But those attitudes I used to have when my husband didn’t meet my expectations – THOSE WERE SIN. I WAS SINNING. My husband wasn’t! I mean, it would be NICE if he did that with us – but it is not a sin for him not to read a devotional book to us. REALLY! Deuteronomy 6 does tell parents, including fathers, to teach their children to love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength and to talk about the things of God all throughout the day. But those families didn’t even have a copy of the Bible, much less a devotional book. Fathers can have talks about God and direct their children to the things of God without having an official devotional time. Sometimes, I think we need to trust God to move our husbands to do what God wants and not impose our own expectations unfairly.
- Exactly how to calculate the tithe before or after taxes is not really addressed in the Bible. I don’t think I can argue that my husband was sinning in the way he calculated our tithe. But my attitudes were very blatantly sinful.
Actually, II Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion.” So it is my husband’s responsibility to decide how much he wants to give. I can say what I want to give. But he decides what to give to church, if he will tithe, how much he will tithe, if he gives to other charities. And I know that many women assume that not tithing is a sin. But I don’t find anywhere in the New Testament that mandates that Christians must tithe 10%. We are to be godly stewards. I love the idea of tithing. We are to be generous to the needy and to our believing brothers who are impoverished and in need. I believe in tithing. But if my husband decides not to tithe, then I let him make that choice. My husband does tithe, but I don’t monitor him. I allow him to decide how he handles that between himself and God.
- I believe that I must go to the church my husband wants to go to (unless it is a cult). I can tell him where I would like to go. I can tell him if I don’t want to go to the church where we are going – but then I need to follow his leadership, even if I disagree, and allow him to choose the church. And I need to go and be joyful about it, have a willing spirit and be flexible enough to worship Christ wherever my husband deems is best.
- How my husband spends his time is his decision. And it really isn’t much of my business how much he prays, when he prays, how he prays, where he prays, how much tv he watches, how often he reads the Bible, how long he reads the Bible, what translation he uses, if he writes his prayers in a journal or not, if he reads the Bible to the family or not, if he does some type of ministry or not, if he chooses to have a mentor or not, etc. He is a grown man. He can make those choices without my help or input. And the WORST thing I could do is nag/preach/lecture or try to force him to do what I think he should do. Not only are my words about these things ineffective, they are likely to make him very resistant to the very things I want him to do. I must trust God to grow my husband, not myself!
- My husband talking with me about spiritual things and praying with me would be AWESOME! BUT, I can’t force him to do these things. The harder I try to MAKE him do what I want, the more he will resist me, if he is not Spirit-filled. And if he were Spirit-filled, he would probably want to do these things with me on his own. I actually find now that he talks with me about deep spiritual things EVERY DAY – any time I want to. Now he even turns off the tv to listen to what is on my heart. That NEVER happened when I was trying to force him to do that!
HOW I EMPOWER MY HUSBAND TO LEAD NOW
Now, I ask my husband for what I want (once) i.e.:
- I want us to give more to X charity.
- I want you to pray with me, please.
- I want to have family devotions
- I want to help orphans somehow
- I want to think about adopting a child
Then, I leave it with him – and I don’t bring it up again. Or I may email him about it once every year or so. ie: “Honey, I would really love to give more to an orphanage. I trust you to do what is God’s best for our family about that.” And then I don’t bring it up again for many, many, many months. I don’t nag. I don’t try to force. I pray that God will lead our family through my husband and give him godly wisdom to lead. If he doesn’t bring it up again. That’s ok. I have my answer. And I trust God to work His will through my husband.
Whenever I see my husband do something I appreciate as our leader, I thank him verbally or in an email or text for what he did and tell him how much I admire him.
Then I rest against God, trusting Him, and I lean back and rest against my husband and trust him, too. And I wait. In the meantime, I praise God, pray, minister to others, care for my family, am filled with thanksgiving, joy and peace.