This is a continuation of the post two days ago about how wives tend to have VERY specific and high expectations of exactly what it means to be a spiritual leader – and how many of the things we expect aren’t even biblical. Not only that – but our expectations can lead to sin in our hearts (contempt, bitterness, resentment, disrespect, rebellion against our husbands or God, divisions, factions, fighting, hatred – and ultimately lost unity in our marriages and families). When our children (and those around us) witness a marriage like this, they are repelled from Christ.
Let’s look at ways that husbands actually DO try to lead in their families.
There is a REALLY good chance that your husband is trying to lead you – but – are you listening? Are you following? Do you even acknowledge his attempts at leadership?
In real life, some husbands tend to lead in subtle ways. They don’t necessarily announce – “We will now begin our 6:30pm nightly Bible study time. Here is an outline of the books of the Bible we will be covering for the next 12 months. There will be a test every week and here is a list of all the Bible verses I expect each family member to memorize each week. You will all be graded. There will be an essay question once a month, with extra credit options.”
I think sometimes we as wives tend to expect our husbands to stand in front of our families like a pastor or like a Sunday School teacher and teach for 1 hour every night.
I would like to suggest, that MOST husbands don’t follow that type of style, but they DO try to lead their families in many ways.
EVERY HUSBAND IS UNIQUE
Each husband has his own style, personality, perspective, gifts and strengths. Each one will have his own particular brand of leadership – and it will change as he grows and matures. But keep in mind that NO husband arrives to marriage completely spiritually mature and with a total grasp on godly leadership. Godly maturity and leadership are developed over many years, decades even. And the more we cooperate and support our husbands’ attempts at godly leadership, the more quickly they will learn and grow and honor God.
Also – remember that for a husband to be a great leader – he needs a great follower – you! If you are trying to lead – you are not following. If you are busy criticizing, you are not following. It’s time for us to learn to be fantastic, supportive, encouraging, amazing followers!
MY HUSBAND’S BRAND OF LEADERSHIP
This section is a description of my husband’s particular style and how our marriage works now. Your marriage may look different. That’s ok. Follow YOUR husband’s leadership and appreciate his strengths. Admire and thank him often for what he does for you and your family.
My husband leads first of all by example, I believe. Even when I was so disrespectful and controlling – my husband was peaceful, forgiving, patient, kind, generous and loving. Back then, I thought I was so spiritually mature and “above” him because I read my Bible daily, I prayed a LOT (sometimes 4 hours/day), I wrote my prayers in a notebook, I could quote lots of scripture, and I “knew” how things should be. But I held grudges, didn’t forgive, was very impatient, rude, condescending, holier-than-thou, disrespectful, prideful and was committing constant idolatry – putting my own self and trying to have control up as idols in my heart. I also put my husband and our marriage as idols in my soul. And I didn’t even see it. Like Eve, I was so blind and deceived, but I thought I knew best. Imagine the blessings and miracles I missed out on for 15 years because of my disobedience to God’s Word and the sin I cherished for so long in my heart.
My husband leads in subtle ways, ways I used to miss:
- He gives me direction and guidance. Often what he is saying is really God’s Word to me – if I will but listen and cooperate. My husband may say, “I think you are spending too much time blogging. I want you to take a break and spend some time with the family for awhile.” THAT IS SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP, LADIES! Or he may say, “I think you need to take a nap today. You haven’t been getting enough sleep and I can see you are really worn out.” Sometimes, he just makes suggestions. That is his way of leading me. He doesn’t usually give me “commands.” I am wise when I listen to his suggestions. The whole family benefits from my husband’s wisdom and leadership.
- He helps me say no to unhealthy commitments. He sees where I get out of balance or zealous to do something that might take too much of my energy and leave me drained with nothing but scraps for my family.
- He disciplines our children. My husband may be more strict or harsh with our children than I am. Or sometimes, he may be more relaxed with them than I am. But his powerful influence on our children is a HUGE way that he leads spiritually in our family. If I cooperate with him, tell him my feelings and perspective, but trust him to handle situations as he sees best – my children learn real discipline, they learn to have godly character, they see the unity in our marriage and they see my example of how to submit to God-given authority. My example is the standard upon which they will base their own future submission to God and God-given authority.
- He desires physical intimacy with me. God designed sex to be the glue that holds a married couple together physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Both the husband and wife are bonded to one another during the one flesh relationship with a cocktail of neurotransmitters and endorphins (a natural “high”). And sex unifies the married couple spiritually in ways we can’t begin to fathom. It helps to keep divisions away. It removes tension and helps promote forgiveness. This needs to be a HUGE priority whenever physically possible in marriage. And I count this as one of the ways my husband gently leads me and creates a very loving, strong, tight-knit, unified, vibrant, flourishing marriage relationship. It’s important to stop serving the family and just enjoy and savor each other. Kind of like our quiet time with God rejuvenates our soul. The relationship and intimacy is much more important than the to-do list. (If your husband is not interested in sex, check out this post. If you feel like a piece of meat to your husband, check out this post. I also have a number of others, send me a comment if you need more resources.)
- He handles the salesmen and solicitors.
- He gently confronts sin in me when he sees it.
- He tends to see the big picture. My husband doesn’t get bogged down in every little detail like I tend to do. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed with all the daily little details and having my husband there to help me step back and look at the bigger picture saves my sanity many times!
- He takes care of his own spiritual connection with God. He decides how, when, where he reads the Bible and prays. He seeks God’s will for his life and our family. I encourage and support him. But I don’t interfere with his relationship with the Lord or try to tell him what to do anymore.
- He doesn’t get swayed by emotions like I do. There are definitely times when my hormones and emotions completely engulf me and I feel like I am drowning. My husband is my “second rock” (Jesus is my first!) and he can help pull me up onto dry ground if I am willing. There are times when I know I can’t rely on my feelings, and during those stormy days, I trust my husband’s words, his love for me, God’s Words and His love for me – and I don’t trust my feelings. I keep my eyes on Christ and I keep my eyes on my husband and hang on tight, knowing that my feelings will settle down in a few days. I don’t allow myself to be tossed about by my hormones and feelings. I trust God and my husband and don’t lean on my own understanding. My faith in Christ and my man are much greater now than my faith in my own wisdom or my emotions. My husband can pull me up onto the rock of his steady soul and he is a resting place, a safe place for me.
- He takes responsibility now for the ultimate decisions. This is a HUGE relief for me! I couldn’t carry all that weight. It overwhelmed me before. Now, I am so FREE! I can share my perspective, my feelings and desires, but then I trust my husband and God to work out each decision for what is in my best interests. I can’t always see what is best. When I try to lead, I take us the wrong way. I feel such weight off my soul since I know HE is the one who will answer to God, not me. What a blessing! I feel safe, protected and cherished.
- He handles the finances now. I took care of the finances for the first 16 years of our marriage or more. And that was ok. But it ended up that I was telling my husband what to do (when my hours were suddenly cut at work) – and that didn’t really work well. I told my husband, “I can’t handle the finances anymore. Here are the accounts and passwords. Thank you for taking over.” And then I left it with him and never touched it again. He is saving us money in ways I had never even thought about! And he feels the full weight of his accountability this way. So he makes very wise decisions. Also, he is able to treat me by taking me out to dinner or buying me things and I’m not telling him he can’t do that. He is MUCH more generous with me AND even more responsible now that he is in charge!
- He drives when we are together.
- He gives me the better vehicle.
- He researches books on marriage for me and buys me lots of books about respect, biblical submission, godly femininity and godly marriage. He lets me share what I am learning and he listens and discusses things with me and shares his insights and perspective.
- He takes time for himself to recharge. Unlike wives, husbands are usually careful to have some down time so that they don’t burn themselves out. I really admire this about men! And he encourages me to slow down and just savor cuddling together and being together without running around like a crazy woman all the time. That has been very healing for my soul!
- He has fun with me and our children. This creates a much more healthy balance for all of us than my constant seriousness did. He definitely brings an amazing balance to our family that I was not able to bring when I tried to be in charge.
- He stays calm and collected under pressure. His ability to face difficulties with dignity, poise, strength, courage and self-control helps me be able to have those same qualities, too!
- He is my compass. If I am having a particularly difficult time with our children, I will ask my husband if he thinks I am being too hard on them, or unreasonable, or if he thinks I am being too easy on them. His perspective helps me steer straight and not veer off too far one way or the other like I am prone to do on my own.
- He makes the final decision. I am free to suggest anything, to ask for anything, to want anything, to feel any way. And most of the time, my husband does what I ask since he loves to see me happy. But if we don’t agree – I willingly and cheerfully cooperate with his call on that issue. If he made a mistake, I don’t hold it against him. I trust God to use even his mistakes for our ultimate good. I thank him for his decisions and for looking out for the best interests of everyone in the family. (There are times when a wife would not be able to submit to her husband, in certain situations.)
- He is the one I go to first (outside of the Lord). Whether it is good news, or a decision that must be made, or awful news – I call/text/email/talk to my husband FIRST about things. I seek out his opinion and his wisdom before I make decisions.
- He does a lot of behind the scenes work on my blog. He helps find an audience for me and finds guest writers for me.
- When I am confused about something – I go to him. He also is always willing to listen and talk with me about issues that come up and spiritual topics – whether they are things I am writing about or situations people are in or family situations at home.
- He decides how to use his time. He decides what house project he wants to work on and when. He decides his own priorities.
- He arranges our vacations and finds great deals on them.
There are other ways, too. But maybe this will give you a few things to think about.
What are some ways your husband leads you? You are welcome to share!
Gentlemen, what are some ways you try to lead in your marriage and in your families? What is your definition of spiritual leadership and what do you believe God calls you to do?