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.

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.

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!

To My Wife on Our 2nd Anniversary

To My Wife,

It is hard to believe that I have had the honor of being your husband for two years already.  These two years have been the best two years of my life.  I am so thankful that God blessed me with such an amazing Godly woman.  I am so glad that we are so like minded in the purpose of our marriage.  We both have the desire to glorify Jesus as a couple, and for that I rejoice.

It is my prayer that as man and wife we continue to image the love of Christ to the world.  As I love and serve you sacrificially, it is my prayer that the love and sacrifice of Jesus would be clearly seen.  Jesus is our supreme love, and the one who holds our marriage together.  He has laid down his life for us and paid the price for our sins.  He washes us and makes us holy and righteous through his blood.  He has given our marriage purpose and direction.  I pray that through out our marriage Christ would be seen by all, and that at the end of the day people think less of us and more of Jesus.

I am so thankful that I have a partner to help me in this pursuit.  I am so grateful that you are there to help me and support me as I seek to spread the good news about Jesus.  As your husband, it is my great joy and pleasure to love you and cherish you for the rest of my life.  So Kaitlyn, here is to our second anniversary, and to many more years to come serving King Jesus together.

Love,

Justin

Some Marriage Advice: Out Serve One Another

As a man who has only been married for a little less than two years, I'm still a little hesitant to teach and instruct on marriage. Many older married couples still think my wife Kaitlyn and I are in some magical honey moon stage and that a day will come when that will no longer be the case (It is my goal to make sure that never happens).  As a result, I have felt slightly inadequate teaching on a subject I'm still learning about.  I'm still learning how to be a Godly husband and a best friend to my beautiful wife, and I know I will spend the rest of my life learning to love her and cherish her more. However, I must be honest. I absolutely adore my relationship with Kaitlyn Deeter.  I love our marriage.  I look forward to going home every night to see her and spend time with her. She is my best friend, companion, and helper.  The success of our first few years of marriage is all attributed to God's grace and mercy.  However, I wanted to share with you some wisdom that was given to us by Kaitlyn's Aunt and Uncle before we were married.  In fact, it is some of the best marriage advice I've ever received.  Here is what it is:

In your marriage try to out serve one another.

It is that simple, and it has made all the difference.  That simple sentence of wisdom is more than just a command in action, but a change in attitude of how must people think about marriage.  Most of our culture thinks of marriage as nothing more than a contract in which the other is to meet person is expected to meet their needs.  For example, I'll clean up the dishes and take out the trash, and you better have sex with me tonight.  Most people think of marriage as a balance between give and take.  In our minds we constantly keep score on who is giving and whose taking more.  We keep a score card and have our expectations on what our spouse needs to do for us, and when they begin to not measure up, we become bitter, vengeful, angry, and hostile.

This attitude of "what can you do for me" is a virus that will destroy a marriage, because your spouse will never perfectly meet your expectations.  However, when we take the "what can you do for me" and flip it to "How can I best serve them" the score keeping stops.  You are no longer thinking about your own needs or wants but the needs of your spouse.  So a husband cleans up the dishes and takes out the trash, not to necessarily get anything back from his wife in return.  Rather, he does it simply because he loves his wife and wants to serve her.  When both the husband and wife begins to think this way, we become less like the world and more like Jesus.  Listen to His words from Matthew 20:28

even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

When Jesus came to the earth, he had no concern for what other people could do for him.  He didn't come to earth to get anything in return, but came to serve us and lay down his life for us.  A Godly marriage seeking to honor and glorify Christ must have this kind of attitude.  We must cast aside a self-centered view of marriage and try to out serve our spouse.  This means keep taking out the dishes even though you don't get anything in return.  Keep serving your spouse as Jesus has even though you receive no immediate benefit.  Serve your spouse because you love them, not to receive anything in return.  In my own marriage, this has been an incredible help as we both strive to be more like Christ and out serve one another.

In your own marriage, how can you imitate Jesus like this?  Does your marriage reflect the mind and heart Jesus had?   Do you treat your spouse as a slave to satisfy your own desires, or do you love them through unconditional service?  What can you do today to serve your spouse?