Is your husband your spiritual leader?
I used to belong to an online forum for moms. For the most part it was helpful in finding advice, but sometimes what I read left me a little disturbed.
The discussion once turned to husbands as spiritual leaders and many of the women took to complaining that their husbands were not their spiritual leaders, that their husbands were not as mature as they are, or that they were “unequally yoked”. It caught my eye because just a couple of days before, Courtney at Women Living Well had written an article “Your Husband Is Your Spiritual Leader“.
Not only was I saddened that these women openly gossiped about their husbands and shared some of the worst about them; a new revelation came to me about the idea of a husband’s spiritual leadership in the home and what that means to us – their wives.
1. We have bought into an ideal
Women who have grown up in the church are particularly prone to an ideal. We have heard all our lives about what a spiritual leader should be. This ideal has set us up for failure because it has raised our expectations to impossible levels. When we marry we are immature; and yet we often expect our husband to fulfill a role that even mature believers are incapable to fill.
This does not negate the fact that men have a responsibility to lead their families. The Word clearly instructs them to do so. However, each man is created differently with different personalities and differing views on how this plays out. A woman needs to free her man to lead in the way he feels God wants him to lead.
2. The modern church often does not appeal to men.
Much of the worship today is emotion-based with songs that are so deeply emotional that men have trouble relating to them. By nature men are not as overt about their relationship with God as women are. This is not a maturity issue as much as it is a male/female issue.
A British Christian magazine once surveyed men who either stopped going to church, or only showed up after the worship was over. They all complained that the worship – and even sometimes the sermons – were difficult for them to relate to as a man. In the 80’s when much of the worship was largely based on spiritual warfare, they felt it to be more relevant to their nature as men.
There are two things we must remember about our husband’s spiritual leadership:
1. Each party comes into marriage with expectations.
Each party is bound to get disappointed when those expectations are not met. Our expectations arise out of the culture we were raised in, what our perception of a loving husband, spiritual leader, and great dad is. And yet, our husbands also have perceptions of what a submissive, caring wife and nurturing mother is, as well.
What if our husbands were disappointed in us because we failed to meet his expectations of a nurturing mother? Imagine how hurt we’d feel! Imagine how hurt they feel when we grow disappointed in them for failing to meet our expectations as a spiritual leader. And may we remember that most often it is our personal expectations that are at stake here, not God’s Word and most often not even God’s expectations.
2. Paul warned us not to “compare ourselves among ourselves”.
It is not right for us to compare our husband’s spiritual maturity with our own, our pastor’s, or another man’s, whom we believe is a shining example of a spiritual leader. God isn’t done with him, just like he isn’t done with us, and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to do His good and perfect work in his heart.
True spiritual maturity recognizes that the depth of one’s dedication cannot be seen with the naked eye – God looks at the heart. It realizes that the their devotion cannot be measured by how often one goes to church, how often one fasts, how loud one sings, or how often one prays out loud at a prayer meeting. So many flash-in-the-pan believers have done all of these things – but quickly burned out and turned away from God. It understands that God doesn’t not require us to prove the depth of our spirituality to Him. Therefore, when we as wives require our husbands to prove their spiritual maturity by displaying before us certain spiritual disciplines so that we can feel at ease knowing that our husbands are fulfilling their role as our spiritual leader we are requiring more of them than even God requires!
It is time for us as wives to release our husbands. Men can easily sense when we don’t respect them for the level of spiritual maturity that they are at now.
How motivated would you be if your husband didn’t respect your methods of diaper changing or feeding your children? Humans are not motivated by criticism, or even nagging disguised as encouragement.
In her post, Courtney strongly stated that a husband is always a spiritual leader. Just as we are always mothers. We don’t cease being mothers just because we fail from time to time – and our husbands don’t cease being our spiritual leaders because they fail from time to time.
And just as we are not perfect mothers – our husbands will not be perfect spiritual leaders! Give him time to grow in that role, give him room to fail.
The spiritual leader God created him to be!
Additional Resources: visit Today’s Marriage Prayer and cover your marriage in prayer!!