Many Christian women complain that their husbands are not fulfilling their godly duty by being the spiritual head of the house. They envy women whose husbands who seem to be more spiritual. Their disappointment can become a source of conflict, anger, and emotional separation in the marriage.
Many of these women have an idealized picture of what their marriage should be, especially on the spirituality front. They expect their husband to gather the family together daily for prayer and Bible reading. They expect him to be the energy behind going to church, and to regularly speak with wisdom about what God says. They want him to see where she (and the children, if children are present) need spiritual growth, and help them experience that growth.
Living up to that idealized picture is a tall order for anyone. And I’m not sure it’s really what God means when He commends Abraham: “that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord…” (Gen. 18:19)
Oh, I believe God entrusts husbands and fathers with a huge responsibility. But the picture many women have of what that looks like has too often become feminized. And nowhere does God say that you, as a wife, are to nag and cajole and shame your husband into doing certain spiritual practices in the family. It just doesn’t work!
But that doesn’t mean you cannot be a tremendous help to your husband in fulfilling what God has given him to do. Here are some ways to do so:
- Respect your husband’s personality. Don’t assume your husband will demonstrate his spiritual walk with God in the same way you will, or that some other man will. God works in each person’s heart – including your husband’s – in a way their personality can understand and respond to.
- Respect God’s work in your husband’s life. Remember that your husband is accountable first to God, not to you. Be alert to the ways God is working in his life: He may use very different means than you would choose. Celebrate places of growth you see God working out in him.
- Encourage what you want more of. Many men naturally want a happy wife, and will be much more likely to do what pleases her. When he does make an effort to pray, read Scripture, or some other spiritual practice that you appreciate, let him know how much it means to you.
- Don’t shame your husband in prayer. Especially if your husband is less verbal than you, keep your out-loud prayers together shorter and simpler. Don’t try to “one-up” him by sounding more spiritual: it will turn him off.
- Pray for your husband daily. Oh, the power of a praying wife! How many husbands have been brought closer to God by the prayers of the person closest to them. Don’t give up.
- Respect your husband’s lead when he does step out spiritually. If your husband voices a need or desire in a spiritual direction, go along if at all possible. If he hears something from God about the direction of your marriage or family, do your best to respect and honor that.
- Keep your own relationship with God strong. You too are accountable first to God, regardless of whether your husband follows Him or not. God may use your godly character and loving life to draw your husband to Himself.
God desires your husband’s whole heart even more than you do. Pray that you help that happen, rather than get in the way.
Your Turn: How have you seen God working in your husband’s life? Are you able to celebrate that? Leave a comment below.
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