What if My Husband Refuses to Be a Spiritual Leader?

What if my husband refused to be a spiritual leader? Sadly, it's a question I hear all to often. Many Christian wive's cry out in frustration and disappointment, longing for their husbands to do what God has called them. It amazes me how many professing Christian men struggle to bring the gospel to bear on their family life. For many men, spiritual things ooze of femininity, weakness, emotion—things men are typically opposed too. Somehow the church has failed to cast a vision for a strong, robust masculinity that sacrifices, denies the self, and serves others. As a result many men, though professed Christians, abandon their spiritual responsibility and pass off spiritual issues to their wives. 6359473191_84de9fbaf0_z

Yet, many wives long to see their husbands take more initiative in leading the family, particularly towards Christ. A man may go to church with his family, but he distances himself and checks out.  You can see it in his eyes; he'd rather be out on the golf course. Where is the godly man whose soul pulses with the strength of Christ and whose heart burns in gospel zeal? Churches, pastors, and ministry leaders must sound the alarm to the spiritual lethargy in so many christian homes, caused in large part by lazy and apathetic men.

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But what about the wife who longs for her husband to take leadership in this way? How can she encourage her husband to take spiritual leadership in a way that respects and affirms his leadership? That is the question I want to help answer today, but first a few disclaimers:

  • I'm assuming you and your husband both confess Christ. If your husband is not a Christian, that's a different situation requiring different counsel. For starters read 1 Corinthians 7 or 1 Peter 3:1-6.
  • I'm assuming you agree with male headship, and that the man should be the spiritual leader in the home. I won't take the time to defend that position in this brief blog post, but I believe the biblical position on gender is the position of complementarianism.

So, with the disclaimers out of the way, how can a Christian wife encourage your husband to take the spiritual leadership? Let me suggest five ways.

1. Pray for your Husband

Love your husband through prayer. Bring him before the Father daily, asking God to strengthen his faith and his walk. Pray that God would protect him from sin, and that his heart would be filled with love for God and his family. Pray for his spiritual maturity and his growth in Christ.

If your husband lacks the motivation or desire to lead you spiritually, God must give that desire to him. Therefore, fall on your face and petition the Lord to bring a work of awakening in your husband's life so that he can grow into the leader you need him to be and that he's called to be.

2. Talk to Your Husband about his Spiritual Leadership

Many people mistakingly think that submission means silence. That certainly is not the case. As a wife, striving to live out God's word in your roll, you can and should share your heart, emotions, and concerns with your husband. As a result, talk to your husband about his leadership, and ask him to take more of a lead.

However, a few words of counsel. Men can be incredibly prideful (I know because I am one!). If you approach your husband in anger, hostility, and bitterness your husband will only became defensive. Speak tough words to your husband with gentleness and kindness. Your aim is not to hurt your husband with passive aggressive guilt, rather your aim is to spur your husband to fulfill God's call.

Find a time when the kids are asleep, the night is calm, and emotions are cool, so you can approach your husband in a gentle and non-threatening way. It won't make your words any easier to hear, but if your husband humbles himself, he will listen to what you have to say. I can't help but hold my own wife Kaitlyn as an example. There are times when I have failed greatly in my own spiritual leadership in my family. Yet, Kaitlyn approaches me with respect, gentleness, and firmness. The words still sting, but my defenses are down and I'm more apt to hear her.

3. Get Involved in the Community of the Church

I hope you and your family already participate in a solid local church, but the community of the saints is essential for your families health, and your husbands spiritual leadership. Do not be spectators, but join in the community. Get to know other couples. Get involved in Bible studies. Learn and grow together as a family. Within the community of the church, your husband can learn from other men what it means to be a godly husband and father.

Now, what if your husband refuses to go to church? Well, that sort of mule-like stubbornness is all to common. Yet, I'm assuming your husband is a Christian, so a Christian who refuses to participate in a local church doesn't make a lot of sense of me. How can you be a member of Christ's body but never gather with his body? Talk with your husband about this, and your desire for him to attend. If he is a member of your church, get your pastors or elders involved in reaching out to him. Yet, if your husband demonstrates a consistent, antagonistic attitude towards the local church, I'd consider his profession of faith suspect. Perhaps your husband is not a Christian. Not that your church attendee saves you, but a refusal to go indicates an unregenerate heart.

4. Ask to be Mentored by a Wiser Couple

So if you and your family get involved in the local church, you will meet other couples who has marriages you respect. Now, no one has a perfect marriage, but many people have the experience and wisdom you lack. The joy of the Christian church means we can learn from one another and grow together. That's called discipleship.

As you meet other, older, wiser believers in your church, ask to be mentored by them. Get together for dinner and come with a list of questions. There your husband can build a relationship with another godly man who can help him learn what it means to love Jesus and love his family. In addition, you not only hear wise counsel, but you both can watch the marriage of the other couple.

Encourage your husband to surround himself with other godly men and let them to the training. Men tend to respond better to rebuke and correction from other men. Help your husband build those relationships with other men who love Jesus, so they can speak truth and confront when necessary. The church exists to equip the saints, training husbands to be spiritual leaders. Press into the body of Christ, so that you both can be equipped together.

5. Find Hope in Your True Husband

Sometimes this idea of "my husband as a spiritual leader" becomes a mythological fair-tale with unreasonable and unrealistic expectations. No matter how strong in his faith, your husband can never be Jesus to you. There is only one husband who never disappoints, and he died on the cross for your sin. We sinful, but redeemed husbands do our best to imitate the husband Jesus who lays down his life for the church, yet only Jesus is the real deal. Yes, love your husband and pray that God would help him become the spiritual leader, but at the same time even in your husband's failures, may your identity be so wrapped up in the love of God that your joy remains fixed on Christ.

What Super Bowl Marketers Know that the Church Can't Miss

The super bowl this year was one for the record books. People watch the super bowl for a variety of reasons – some for the game, others for the commercials, and some for the half time show. The super bowl has become such a huge event in America it is practically a national holiday. As I was watching the game something stuck out to me about the commercials this year. It seemed like many of the commercials strongly featured Dads.  A few different companies this year decided to market their products by featuring prominently fathers. It was nice to appear to the sentimentality and bring father’s in the focus, but why? No matter how great the commercial is, the aim is not to pull on your heart strings but to sell you a product. These companies don’t spend millions of dollars to just give you warm fuzzies. We live in a marketing world. We are always being sold something, and often marketers know our culture and know what makes us tick better than anyone. And this year, for Super Bowl 49, Dads were the focus of the commercials. Watch some of these commercials in case you missed them.

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Isn’t this strange? In a day and age where many are arguing to eliminate gender stereotypes and where Father’s living in the home is a relic of the past, these marketers decided they could best sell their products by bringing fathers to our attention. While the marriage between a man and a woman is being redefined in our culture into a genderless union and while the home has been shattered by divorce, these marketers feature loving, gentle, and present fathers.

There is a crisis of fatherhood in America. The traditional family of Dad, Mom, and children seems to be rapidly fading. Many men ignore, run away from, or deny any responsibility they have when it comes to their children. Rather than rising to be worthy of the title husband and father many men are content with the title “baby daddy”. Men refuse to fight for their marriages and for their families and cowardly run from difficulty indulging every selfish pleasure their hearts crave.

But that’s not the picture these advertisers presented to us at the super bowl. These advertisers know us better than we think. They know that there is something hard wired into humanity that longs to be loved by a father. We long to experience the warm protective, self-denying, embrace of dad. The picture of Dad they presented to us is the ideal we crave, but not this is not the reality for many of us.

Children need Fathers. Despite arguments trying to minimize the father in the family, marketers know what many deny – we long for a Father. These super bowl commercials point to the great challenge of Christian men to be father’s who sacrifice, love, protect, and provide for our children.  We need Christian men who can demonstrate in word and deed the love of God the Father to our children. Every human being longs for this. Though our earthly fathers may fail us, we must always point people to the Father who never does. We must point them to the Father who displays his lavish love for us by purchasing our redemption. America has a hole and a desperate longing for fatherly love. The marketers know this. Does the church?

Have You Turned Your Spouse Into an Idol?

Marriage seems to be falling apart. We live in a society that is just plain confused about marriage. The high divorce rates are an indicator of the many unhealthy marriages and unhealthy homes in our society. Even many Christians have marriages that are seem to be toxic. Within marriages there can be adultery, anger, bitterness, porn addictions, verbal abuse, sexual denial, physical abuse, financial secrets, distrust, and the list can go on and on. Your own marriage might be filled with some of these same problems and issues. If so, you need to get some marriage counseling from a good biblical counselor or pastor. Yet, behind much of the great disharmony in marriages is the root of idolatry. More often then not, a man or woman has turned their spouse into their supreme idol of worship. The heart behind sin is idolatry. Idolatry is when we worship and serve created things rather than the creator God.(Rom 1:25) Although we might not literally bend our knee to these created things, we look for satisfaction, rest, and lasting joy from our idols rather than God. One of the most common idols people worship is romance. We have a passionate, desperate, and idolatrous longing for another human being to satisfy our roaming hearts. Not only does the idol manifest itself in the dating and hook up culture, but even within the sacred walls of marriage.

Marriage as Idolatry

Is your spouse your idol? Some questions to diagnose your heart:

  • Does your world revolve around your spouse?
  • When they disappoint you are you devastated?
  • If they fail you do you go into a full depression?
  • Do you place unrealistic expectations on your spouse?
  • Do you demand a certain lifestyle and luxuries that your spouse must provide?
  • Have you turned your spouse into an object of sexual pleasure? Do you become passive aggressive or bitter when you don't get your way?

Idols have grand promises, but never deliver. Spouse Idols make the same promises. They promise your marriage life will be as romantic as a Nicholas Spark's book or that your wife will be like June Cleaver with dinner on the table when you walk through the door. Idols make grand promises that cannot be delivered. They promise lasting joy with no sorrows and no hardships. Many newlyweds enter into marriage with these idolatrous expectations about their new marital bliss. Often times they live on that fleeting promise that spousal idolatry gives, until they get so frustrated and disappointed they just give up on their marriage and become another divorce statistic.

True Joy in Jesus

True joy and satisfaction cannot be found in your marriage but in Jesus. He delivers on the promises He makes. We must orient our worship towards the right object. We are not to worship creation, but the creator. We are not to worship our spouse but to worship Jesus Christ. In Jesus we receive lasting joy and lasting peace. Jesus as the son of God comes to the world as our savior, delivering us from the penalty of our sin through his death on the cross. As Jesus rose from the grave after three days, he guarantees his offer of life and life abundantly. He offers us life free from the shackles of the slave driver of idolatry. He frees us to find true joy and lasting peace in Him!

You see marriage is an absolutely wonderful thing. Marriage can be a source of incredible joy. God designed it for the good of humanity. Marriage is a great gift of God that pictures the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, sin can distort, twist, and destroy what God has created good. Marriage was not designed to complete us, but was designed for two souls to find their completion together in God.

Marriage as True Worship

Marriage was designed to be something much bigger than just a man and a woman being googly-eyed over one another. Marriage was designed as the foundational vehicle for bringing God glory. A man and woman must not turn inwardly to each other to find their purpose and joy. To turn our attention in our marriage inwardly is a quick path to idolatry. However, when we turn our attention outwardly towards God and his mission, marriage becomes a beautiful partnership of worship. Your marriage isn't about you and it isn't about your spouse, but it is about God and his glory. Your marriage has a purpose, and its not about your needs or getting your way. It is about bringing glory to God together as a couple. As you seek God's glory together as man and wife in worship, you will receive life and life abundantly through Christ.

A marriage focused on God is a marriage that will endure. Rather than seeking to use your spouse to serve your wants, you will serve your spouse so they can flourish in their worship of God. I'm convinced this great change of perspective is essential to developing healthy marriages within the church. When as a couple you are living for God's glory and advancing God's kingdom, it is amazing how much sweeter the intimacy can be with your spouse. As you both grow closer to your God you will find you've grown closer to each other. Together hand in hand you will spend your life fighting through hardships, discipling your children, serving your world, and proclaiming the Gospel all for the glory of God. This is worship and this makes marriage a glorious gift from God.

One of God's greatest gifts to me is my wife Kaitlyn. Not only has she given me so much joy, I'm thankful for my partner in ministry. I'm thankful that we can live our marriage to God's glory, and I praise God that he can take two rough sinners like us and by God's grace sharpen one another for the cause of Christ. Looking forward to as many years as God gives us to serve the Lord together as one.

A Case for Early Marriage: Why It's a Good Idea to Get Married Young

People don't get married anymore. If they do, then it is much later in life. In fact the age of marriage is continually going up in our culture to where it is pushing thirty. Not only has this been the trend in the culture, but I have seen this trend begin to take place in the church as well. It is my personal belief and conviction that this can be harmful to human flourishing and a great hinderance for godly families within the church. Early marriage has become taboo in our culture. Getting married at a young age of 20 or 21 will get you some strange comments from others, including other Christians (Trust me, I've experienced them). However, I think we need a revival of early marriage among Christians. I think there are several reasons younger Christians need to begin adopting this counter cultural practice by marrying early.

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1. Marriage is a Great Gift

The way many people talk about marriage, it seems like they were talking about a death sentence. As I was engaged to my beautiful wife Kaitlyn at twenty years old, here was some of the comments I received.

  • Enjoy life now because everything will be different (said in a depressive tone)
  • Already? But you're so young, you have so much life to live!
  • Get ready for that bail and chain

It is astonishing that Christians treat marriage as if it's the worst possible thing that could ever happen to you. Getting married is right underneath getting terminally diagnosed with cancer for some people. Young people are told to go "sow their wild oats" and live hedonistically before they settle down and get married. We must recapture the biblical definition of marriage as an incredible gift. Marriage is not a curse, but a wonderful privilege given by God. Marriage is not something to avoid, but something to be sought after by young people. Unfortunately the negative comments about marriage deter young people away from this precious gift. However these negative comments reveal nothing but the troubles of their own marriages.

2. Marriage Encourages People to Grow Up

It is not a strange sighting today to see 25 or 26-year-old men living at home with mom and dad, drinking red bull, and playing X-Box all day. The recently created teenager/adolescent culture seems to be a growing age group. Adolescence is no longer just during the teen years but continues into the 20s and early 30s. My own generation is a generation characterized by a lack of initiative failing to take responsibility for their own lives.

Marriage is God's gracious gift of forcing a man and a woman to grow up, particularly men. When a man gets married he becomes responsible for providing for his family, making sure the bills are paid, and protecting his wife. He must not only take responsibility for himself but for his wife and future children. Marriage pushes young men out of the nest to spread their wings and fly under the windy pressures of life. This is a good thing, but unfortunately rather than pushing these guys towards manhood we allow them to continue in a lengthy boyhood. This is a shame and Christian men need to grow up into their divine calling of marriage and family.

3. Marriage Protects From Sexual Immorality

We live in an overly sexualized culture. From nude scenes in Hollywood movies, risqué television shows, and erotic novels, young people are being bombarded with one message: Sex. There is an incredible amount of pressure on Christian young people to bend their knee to our cultures unbiblical view of loveless, carnal sex without consequences.

However, if Christians place the expectation on young believers to wait till their late twenties and early thirties for marriage, we are placing on them a weight that will cripple them. Young Christians seeking to be obedient to abstain from sexual relations outside of marriage will collapse under the weight of their optimal sex drive and the influence of an obseessivly sexualized culture.

It is unreasonable, foolish, and harmful to place this weight on young people. Sex is a good gift given to us by God, meant for our enjoyment in the way God has designed. Rather than encouraging young people to delay marriage and a sexual relationship with their spouse, we should encourage them to marry. This way they can enjoy God's gift of sex in a way that protects them from sexual immorality and glorifies and honors God.

Don't Make Early Marriage Taboo

Christian parents, grandparents, and teachers should encourage younger Christians to consider marrying early. Marriage is an incredible gift given by God to our sanctification and our enjoyment. Yes, early marriage is not necessarily an easy road. You may be poor, have to work twice as hard to make it through college, and be thought of as weird by a anti-marriage culture. However, if two Christians love each other, and most importantly love the Lord Jesus Christ, early marriage should not be a thing that is tabooed, but encouraged and celebrated.

6 Ways to Spiritually Lead Your Wife

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As Christians, we have the Biblical conviction that the husband is to be the leader of the home.  We believe that this is God's intention and healthy design for the family.  However, although many Christians strive to have a Biblical understanding of family, many men fail to be the spiritual leaders of their home.  When I first got married, one of the things I struggled with most, is leading my wife spiritually.  To be honest, many churches fail to train the men in their church to be godly husbands and dads.  As I've talked with other brothers, I've seen that many have had the same struggle that I've had.  How do we practically lead our wives spiritually?  It is a crucial question.  Although I am far from perfect in this area (as my wife told me last night!), by God's grace I have grown in this area over the past 2 1/2 years of my marriage.  Here are some real practical tips for how you can lead your wife spiritually. 

1. You Can't Give What You Don't Have

This should go without saying, but I'm startled by how many men fail to understand this principle.  How can you expect to lead your wife to the throne of grace if you are not daily going there yourself? If you hope to lead your wife spiritually, you must violently pursue Jesus Christ.  You cannot expect to encourage and disciple your wife if you are not growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This means that you must prioritize studying the Scriptures every day. Make prayer a habit that takes place throughout the day.  Find some good books to read that encourages you to grow and become the christian, husband, and dad that you need to be.  You can't give what you don't have, and you can't expect to lead your wife spiritually if you are not vigorously pursuing Christ yourself.  

2. Initiate Prayer with your Wife Daily

Husband, you need to make it a daily habit to pray together with your wife.  This is so easy to do, but for some reason so difficult for us to initiate.  Praying before meals doesn't count here.  Husband, you need to grab your wife by the hand, ask her how you can pray for her, then….. You do it!  Pray for her right then and there.  In my own marriage, Kaitlyn and I have found that this happens best at night.  We have been working on making prayer together a nightly ritual as a couple.  We finish our day by talking about what is going on in our lives, then I lead us in prayer.  This is so practical and easy to do, but so many of us struggle to just pray with our wife.  If your wife is craving for you to spiritually lead the home (as she should!) start today by just taking your wife's hands and praying with her.  

3. Read the Scriptures or a Devotion Together

Start reading a book of the Bible together.  Read a chapter a night, and talk about what the Lord is teaching your through it.  Discuss it and open up about what the Lord is teaching you.  Maybe find a good devotional book together.  For a while Kaitlyn and I were reading Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening together.  Again, this is obviously simple, but sometimes we are so stubborn to see it!  It might be awkward the first week or so, but make it a habit to read the word together and the Lord will use it to draw you closer to Himself and closer to each other. 

4. Counsel your Wife with the Gospel

Every husband should learn how to counsel his wife.  Indeed, every christians is to learn how to counsel other christians with the Word of God.  A husband should learn to do this for his wife.  A big part counseling her in the Word is actually listening, which is tough for us men.  In a day with smart phones, TV, and iPads we are so quickly distracted.  In order to counsel your wife, you need to listen to your wife. This means giving her your undivided attention and listening.  It also means learning to apply the Gospel to your wife's struggle.  Questions to ask are, What does God's Word say about this situation?  How does God's grace change the way I think about this problem? How can God use this situation for his glory and our good? Questions like this can shepherd your wife's heart.  Listen, be attentive, and apply the Gospel in your conversations.  

5. Be Involved in Biblical Community Together

Notice that this does not say "let your wife drag you to church and hurry home to catch the football game".  As a pastor I see so many men who get dragged to church by their wives and show no interest in being there.  There is no love for the things of God and there is no love for his bride, the church.  As a husband and the spiritually leader of the home, you should be the one that initiates belonging to the body of Christ.  This means that you make it a priority to go to church on Sunday morning, but Biblical community is much more than showing up for a service on Sunday.  This means that you make the initiative of getting involved in a Sunday School class or Small Group.  Rather than sitting on the sidelines, take the initiative and get your family involved in Biblical community.  

As a pastor, I've noticed a really bizarre and disturbing trend in some churches.  So often I see husbands and wives going to two different Sunday School classes.  I'm going to be honest, this doesn't make any sense to me.  Sure, sometimes we need accountability with the same sex, and that's a good thing.  But a husband and wife should be in community with the body of Christ together, learning and building relationships together.  

6.  Serve the Lord Together 

One of the great ways God has grown Kaitlyn and I together spiritually is through serving the church.  Kaitlyn and I have always done ministry together as man and wife. Whether she is helping me out on a youth event or I am helping out at the pregnancy center, we serve the Lord together.  We are a team. I think many couples would benefit from serving the Lord together.  Volunteer together at a ministry at the church.  Go invite your lost neighbors over for dinner and share the Gospel with them together.  Serve the Lord together as a couple.  Husband, take the initiative here and take your wife by the hand and joyfully serve the Lord together.

Husbands, I hope you are picking up on a common theme throughout this blog.  The key word here is INITIATE.  We need godly men who take the lead in the spiritual life of the home.  Husband, you have been given the biblical responsibility of pastoring your family.  You are to lead your wife like Christ led the church.  You are to lay down your life for her, just like Jesus did for you on the cross.  The Bible makes this clear:  

   “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,” (Ephesians 5:25–29, ESV)  

Husband, you are called by God to lay down your life for your bride.  You must give yourself up for her sanctification.  To be the spiritual leader of the home, means you are to be the disciple maker in the home.  You are to disciple your wife and your children in the word of God.  As you sacrificially give up your wants, God will use your leadership for your wives spiritual maturity.

So how are you doing in leading your wife spiritually?  We are faulty men who will struggle and fail often, but there is grace at the cross of Christ.  Today ask your wife this question, and be prepared for an honest answer; How am I leading you spiritually? Have you grown in spiritual maturity since I became your husband? More than ever we need husbands who will rise to the challenge to be the pastors of their homes and shepherd the soul of their wife and children for the glory of God!

How have you lead your wife spiritually? What tips would you add or have worked well in your marriage?  Why is leading our wives spiritually such a struggle? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!