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What Is Godly Spiritual Leadership?

Grandfather Mountain, NC
Grandfather Mountain, NC

Caution – if reading about what husbands “should do” (even in Scripture) is a trigger for you to feel depressed, discouraged, bitter, resentful, or upset – please skip the first part and go down to the section where we pray together for our husbands, my dear sisters!

I Wish My Husband Would Pray with Me – Part 1

I Wish My Husband Would Pray with Me – Part 2

Last week in Part 1, we talked about the fact that, surprisingly (at least to me), Scripture doesn’t really seem to address husbands praying with wives. There are no recorded examples of husbands praying with their wives that I can find, and there is no explicit command given by God for husbands to initiate prayer with their wives or to pray with them. The men (and women) of God of the Old and New Testaments mostly seemed to pray in private or in a corporate body of believers.

Of course, there is no prohibition on prayer between husbands and wives. Prayer between any two or more believers – when done in the power of God’s Spirit and with right motives – is an incredibly powerful gift and a treasure in which God allows us to participate. I believe that private prayer is where we tend to do the most learning and growing in Christ.  I also believe that prayer is one of the most beautiful things God has given to us as believers – full access to Himself.

It is unfathomable that we even have this privilege once a year, much less all day every day! May we use this gift of prayer in ways that greatly please and honor our Lord, Jesus Christ!

In Part 2, we talked about reasons why husbands may not pray with their wives and we talked about the benefits of private prayer. We also joined together to pray a prayer of repentance if we have laid unfair expectations on our husbands about praying with us.

Today, we will discuss the biblical requirements for Christian men to be spiritual leaders in the church. I am not attempting to teach men, but rather show a biblical perspective to wives of how God defines spiritual leadership so that we don’t have unbiblical expectations or hold our husbands to man made rules. I also  want to present a balanced view so that wives know that God does call husbands to specific responsibilities, as well as wives.

We could possibly extrapolate that the qualities of church leadership would be honorable goals for husbands as spiritual leaders of their homes. But – there really isn’t a lot said in the Bible specifically about spiritual leadership in the home. Our husbands’ character is a matter that is between them and God. It is not something we can or should try to control for them. We may influence them in a godly or ungodly way, but our husbands make their own choices just like we make our own choices. The Bible affirms several things:

  • The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. (I Cor. 11:3)
  • The husband is to love his wife with the agape love of God. (I Cor. 13:4-8, Eph. 5:22-33)
  • The husband is to care for and nurture his wife as he would care for and nurture his own body. (Eph. 5:22-33)
  • The husband is to be gentle and not harsh with his wife so that his prayers will not be hindered. (I Peter 3:7)
  • Wives are to honor and respect their husbands. (Eph. 5:22-33, I Peter. 3:1-6)
  • Wives are to cooperate willingly with their husbands’ God-given leadership (unless a husband is asking his wife to clearly sin or condone sin) so that the Word of God is not maligned. (Eph. 5:22-33, Col. 3:18, Titus 2:5)
  • Parents are to talk with their children about God, His Word, His truth, and about loving Him all throughout each day. (Deut. 6)
  • Parents are to train their children to obey them. (Eph. 6:1, I Timothy 3)
  • Parents, especially fathers, are to discipline their children. (Prov. 13:24, Prov. 22:6, Heb 12:11)
  • Fathers are not to embitter their children. (Eph. 6:2)
  • Christian leaders are to lead humbly, gently, lovingly, and selflessly for the good of those God has entrusted to them. (Eph. 5:22-33, Eph. 6:2, 2 Tim. 2)
  • Christian leaders are to endure hardship like good soldiers of Christ. (2 Tim. 2:3)
  • Church leaders are to warn those who quarrel, avoid godless chatter, flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue love, faith, peace, and righteousness with a pure heart. (2 Tim. 2)
  • Christian leaders are to not quarrel, be kind to everyone, able to each, not resentful, gently instructing those who oppose them.
  • Christian leaders are to be Spirit-filled men of God. (Acts 6:3)

My assumption is that the requirements for a man to lead in his home would be less stringent than the requirements for a man to lead in the church. Here are qualifications for believing men who are to lead in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-12).

A pastor is to be:

  • above reproach,
  • faithful to his wife
  • temperate
  • self-controlled
  • respectable
  • hospitable
  • able to teach
  • not given to drunkenness
  • not violent but gentle
  • not quarrelsome
  • not a lover of money.
  • a good manager of his own family
  • not a recent convert
  • of good reputation with outsiders

A deacon is to be:

  • worthy of respect
  • sincere
  • not indulging in much wine
  • not pursuing dishonest gain.
  • keeping hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
  • married to wives who are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
  • faithful to their wives
  • a good manager of their children and his household

Most of these qualities are things to which all  godly women and women would also desire to aspire in the ways we relate to others.

Some general qualities we are all to have as believers:

A godly man/woman would love with I Corinthians 13:4-8 agape love by the power of God’s Spirit. He/she would be filled with the fruit of God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). A godly person would also abide in Christ, take up his/her cross and follow Christ on an individual basis (John 15:1-8, Luke 9:23).

I can’t help but notice that praying together or reading the Bible together in marriage doesn’t seem to be mentioned as a key component for marriage in Scripture or for a spiritual leader in Scripture. There are other things that are emphasized here – mostly character traits and qualities of godliness that show that God’s Spirit is working and alive in a man’s life.

PRAYER FOR OUR HUSBANDS:

Lord,

How we thank and praise You for Your wisdom and Your design for godly masculinity, godly femininity, and godly marriage. Your wisdom is infinitely higher than our own. We humble ourselves before You and acknowledge that You know what is best in everything and we do not. We gather together across the world, joining our hearts to lift up our dear husbands and brothers in Christ to You in prayer.

Cause us to be the wives our husbands need. Use us to inspire them, encourage them, honor them, and bless them. Let us be a safe harbor for our husbands. Let us be a place of peace, acceptance, security, trust, loyalty, godly love, honor, and genuine respect for them. Let us be nurturing and overflowing with kindness, patience, gentleness, self-control, goodness, joy, peace, selflessness, generosity, grace, forgiveness, godly wisdom, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Remove any tendency in our hearts to be like the Pharisees and to try to make our husbands obey a bunch of man made rules. Let us extend the same grace, mercy, understanding, and favor to our husbands that You do.

The enemy wants to destroy our husbands and our families. He wants to tear down their God-given leadership. He wants to ensnare them in sin. He wants to paralyze them into passivity or apathy. He wants to coerce them into selfishness and harshness. The enemy wants men and women to be either too passive or too aggressive. He wants anything but Your plan for our husbands and our marriages. Help us not to cooperate with the enemy – but let us cooperate with You, Lord. Open our eyes to the ways we can build up our husbands, cherish them, pray for them, empower them, honor them, live a godly life in front of them, and pour out Your love through our lives into their lives.

Let our husbands be strong in the Lord. Let them stand firm in the truth of the Gospel. Draw those who do not know You or who have wandered far from You back to Yourself, God! Let them be men who are Spirit-filled, courageous, bold, on fire for You, and completely devoted to Christ. Let them be holy men who desire to please Christ above all things. Let them have Your wisdom to lead and love us and our children for Your purposes to be accomplished and Your will to be done in our lives individually and as a corporate church.

We trust our husbands into Your hands for Your Spirit to work in them to form them into godly men. Let them do what is right. Let them not give way to fear. Let them love with your love. Let them understand all that Christ has done for them and let them learn to access all the riches of heaven in prayer. Transform them to be more and more like Christ. Use them to change this world for the Kingdom. Use them to shine for Jesus in our families, churches, neighborhoods, work places, and countries. Let this generation of men forsake all sin, and every addiction and impure thing and take up their crosses individually and follow You wholeheartedly. Let them be faithful to You. That is the only thing that matters.

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

RESOURCES:

My favorite description of godly spiritual authority is from a class I took at my church. You can find the class notes here.

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem tackles the issue of male headship in the home and what it means for men to lead. It also addresses biblical womanhood and godly femininity as well. You can click on this link to get a free download of this book.

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