By Amy Groeschel
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-40
When God is the priority relationship for both the husband and wife, the marriage relationship will brim with health and peace. My husband, Craig, likes to say this about marriage,“As Christians, God is your one, and your spouse is your two.”But we all know that keeping Christ first can be a real struggle for many a spouse.
A complaint I hear quite often by married Christian women is, “My husband just isn’t being the spiritual leader of our home.” Okay… maybe not. But ladies, what are we really saying we want when we think or say this? Would we even know a spiritual leader in our husband if we saw it? I’m not sure if these wives know exactly what displays of spiritual leadership they want to see in their husbands. They just know that, somehow, improvement is needed.
But to be fair to our husbands, I first want to say this to us wives:It IS POSSIBLE that we are part of the problem.
Here are a few possibilities that may exacerbate our men and limit their potential to lead us:
- A critical spirit: Do you often criticize, complain, and see your husband like a glass half-empty? Is whatever he does not enough? This may be difficult and painful for you to recognize and own, but the sooner you take the log out of your eye, the sooner your marriage can thrive.
- Spiritual pride: Maybe you’ve been on a spiritual high from a ladies retreat, a wonderful book, or a phenomenal Bible study, and your husband doesn’t share your enthusiasm. Does his spiritual journey seem to grossly trail behind yours, and you look down on him because of it?
- Unfair expectations: Are you wanting him to be someone he’s not? Craig and I relate to God in different ways. Our personalities are completely opposite. Maybe your small group of girlfriends connect deeply about spiritual matters in ways you and your husband never have, but it’s unfair to expect your husband to relate to you in a manner that isn’t him. He’s not a woman. Thank God! And he’s not your God or Source. Thank God, again!
Those bullet points were quite easy for me to write because I’ve personally been a problem in our marriage in each of these ways! By God’s grace and by His maturing me spiritually, I’ve learned much from the error of my ways!
Wives, there are two things we need to remember:
- Positionally, our husbands are the spiritual leaders of our home, for better or worse, as God has placed them as such. And so we need to respect and honor them in this role.
- Everything is “spiritual” (I’ll get back to this point in a bit).
What are you really saying when you say your husband isn’t being a spiritual leader? Let’s start with seeking to answer this basic question:
What does a spiritual leader of the home really look like?
To gain more insight on this subject, I recently asked a group of pastors’ wives, “What does spiritual leadership look like in your husband?” Their immediate replies were spot-on, insightful, and consistent with Scripture. Let’s take a look at some of their responses. I hope this will greatly encourage you.
My Husband is a Spiritual Leader…
When he leads himself to stay strong spiritually.
Because of his life of integrity.
Because of his authentic relationship with God.
When he doesn’t complain, but has a positive outlook.
When his decision-making is prayerful, and he seeks godly counsel.
Because he is a humble servant.
Because he prays for his family.
Because he helps guide the family calendar.
When he establishes protective boundaries.
Because he makes church attendance a priority.
Because he is in God’s word and obeys it.
Because he prioritizes me.
Because he protects me: “That’s my wife, and you will not disrespect her.”
Because of wisdom he brings to our marriage.
Because I see his faith in action.
Because he serves our family.
Because of his wise stewardship over our finances.
Because he cherishes me.
Because he leads the cultural direction of our home.
Because he encourages me.
Because he takes care of himself physically.
Because he is an amazing dad.
Because of his loving heart.
Because he is respectful.
Because he is thoughtful about my needs.
Because he gives his best to our family.
Because he fights for our marriage.
Because he shares what God is teaching him.
Because we pray together.
Because I know that Christ is his priority.
Because of his care for others.
Because he loves me and would lay down his life for me.
Doesn’t much of this list sound like the fruits of Spirit?
You see, a spiritual leader encompasses a whole lifestyle. And everything we both do in marriage is really spiritual in nature. Read through the list above again and find your husband’s outstanding qualities or add his to the list. Like you, I know your husband isn’t perfect. In fact, he may be very far from God and that has, no doubt, put you in a very vulnerable place. If that is your situation, our team would love to pray for you both. Truthfully, we already are. But I also hope and pray many of you reading this are encouraged to look with new eyes at the endearing and virtuous qualities you may have been a little blinded to in your husband.
Be specific and tell your husband about what you see in him that exhibits his spiritual leadership.
Talk about your failure to see and your appreciation for the strength he brings to your marriage. Allow him to express his ideas on this subject, too! Maybe you’ll mutually come to better understand each other.
Maybe you need to confess your sin of pride, a critical heart, or unfair expectations, too?
Whether you do or don’t see him as a spiritual leader, please do pray for, encourage, and love your man!