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Grandfather Mountain, NC

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.



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,



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.

21 thoughts on “What Is Godly Spiritual Leadership?

  1. Just a thought, but perhaps you ought to try and imagine yourself in the world at the time and place where each bible book was composed.

    -There were no bibles, for couples to study together.
    -There were no churches for them to attend.

    Just think about it for a moment. The ancient Isrealites were instructed to attend a gathering once a year, and a long gathering once every seven years. The 1st century Christian met in each others houses.

    The implication is that it is more important to LIVE a godly life, than it is to emphasize constant reading/study. As for prayer, I think it is implied that husbands should pray with their wives, but there is no need to make it a mandate. If each person prays, and they LIVE according to Gods commandments, they will be doing what they are supposed to be doing. God lovingly refrains from making to many mandates, knowing that some people simply may not be comfortable praying with others.

    The other issue is that the congregation is fundamentally different from the family. A person that is not following the rules of the congregation can, and should, be removed for the protection of the congregation. A wife/husband that is not following God’s laws can not/should not be removed. Children, after reaching an age of reason, are responsible before god for their own choices. So, in a sense, the Bible emphasizes that a husband sets the example, recognizing that:

    -You can’t force anyone to serve god, and if you did try, it would damage them and you.
    – Jehovah gave us free will, so overriding an individuals free will would be like setting your self above god.
    – Your family will follow your actions, not your words. If you do not live what you teach, then your words are worthless.
    – To truly love your family is the best spiritual guidance you can give them.

    1 Cor 13:13 “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

    1. ravaught,

      Very true – there were no Bibles in homes. There were house churches in the New Testament, after Christ’s ascension.

      God desires us to be doers of the Word, not hearers only. And you are right, we can’t make anyone serve God or serve Him in a particular way. Thankfully, He has given us free will – and it is not our right to override the free will of others. That was a lesson I desperately needed to learn!

  2. Reblogged this on Peaceful Single Girl and commented:

    This post describes the kind of godly leadership single believing women should be looking for in a godly man. Please keep in mind that we are all, men and women, on a journey of sanctification. No one is perfect in this life. But believers should be being increasingly transformed to be more like Christ.

  3. April,

    I have a question that’s been nagging at me for a while now. I’m wondering if you can give any insight into it.

    My husband is an amazing man, and I’m very grateful to God for him. He’s a fantastic husband and father to our kids, a kindhearted son to his mother, and a helpful leader at church. That being said, lately (it seems the past several months, perhaps) he seems to be focusing a lot more on judgment than before. I know it’s important to remember that not only is God full of grace, but also a just judge, but let me explain in a bit more detail.

    We volunteer for the youth group, and one night, right after a very powerful time in worship, he came up to me (before the sermon had even started) and said, “I’m not sure how I feel about that song.” I was confused, because I had just been deeply touched by the song, so I asked him what he meant. He told me that he was having trouble with a phrase in the song that he thought was incorrect. I tried to explain what I saw that phrase as saying. He didn’t seem receptive to my take on it, and I remember feeling like perhaps he thought I was wrong for worshiping the Lord if it was through that song. He also had an issue with the group who’d written the song.

    Later on (after the service, etc), he brought it up again. I (again) tried to explain my take on things, not in a disrespectful way, but just in a conversational way. He was frustrated with me, that I kept saying that the words to the song were really good, and that I really felt moved by the song. His response was, “Well, if the Mormons wrote a song with ‘really good words’ and you ‘felt moved’ by it, would that be good to have as a worship song?” Basically what the whole thing boils down to is that we disagreed. He thought the song was bad because of the group that wrote it, and shouldn’t be sung in worship service, whereas I thought the song was really good and didn’t really care who wrote it.

    The thing is (in the past, and still now, I suppose), when I disagree with him, he sometimes gets very frustrated with me for not seeing things exactly as he does. In the past, what I’ve usually done (to create peace) is to kind of lie: to make him believe I finally see things “the right way” and I’m no longer seeing it differently than he does.

    I asked him eventually why he was telling me this. He sort of said that he just wanted to talk to me about it. He was giving a pretty strong argument as to why that song wasn’t a good one, and I told him that if he thinks that way, he should probably bring it up with a youth leader or worship leader, or perhaps even Pastor. He refused, saying it wasn’t his place to do something like that.

    I began to get really confused, because he was getting upset at me and I didn’t even know what his objective was in telling me these things. I tried to explain to him that, because he’s not going to talk to anyone about the song, but because he talked to me about it, I’m not going to know what to do with myself next time the song is sung in worship service. I asked what he wants me to do next time it comes on, because I’ll feel that if I worship God again through the song, it may upset him because he doesn’t like the song… yet I can’t see myself just stand there stoically in a time of worship because a certain song comes on. I’ve grown up believing we are to worship God in every aspect of our lives… I can’t withhold worship from the Creator of the earth just based on who wrote a song.

    He brought up an issue he’d had with his mom as well: a disagreement they’d had and how she “shuts him down” when he tries to talk to her, too. I’d been there in those conversations, so I told him as respectfully as I could, “She’s not shutting you down… she’s just disagreeing. It seems if one of us doesn’t agree with you, it upsets you a lot and you get mad at us.”

    I was hoping things were better as far as that aspect, but last night, he again approached me (this time after we’d gotten home) to let me know that the guest speaker (our Pastor’s son) who’d been running youth didn’t use any verses in his sermon. Again, I was confused at first and didn’t know what to say. At first I thought he was just talking about giving them a Memory Verse, because he’d been doing that lately. He went on to tell me that the speaker hadn’t used a verse at ALL. I thought about it, and then I said, “Yeah… but he taught from the book of Esther, and he was telling us about Mordecai.”

    He said that it was still really important to have scripture in there, and I agree with that… I definitely prefer as much scripture as possible. (The speaker’s dad – our pastor – does a really good job of this. Several passages for each sermon.) After the other issue with the song though, I was a little leery of where this conversation might be going, so I (as he put it) put a wall up. (I wasn’t doing it intentionally or to spite him… I just began to get nervous and wonder how this was going to go.) I asked him if he was planning on telling anyone about that, and again he said he just wanted to talk to his wife about it, and then got frustrated and “gave up” because I wasn’t agreeing with him 100%.

    Later on, in the middle of the night, he brought it up again, along with the song thing again. He mentioned that the speaker even mentioned the people who wrote the song, and there were two songs used for worship which were written by groups that he didn’t feel comfortable with. I kept my tone level and answered him (because he’d asked me a question) and he got frustrated again with me, rolled over, and went to bed.

    What am I to do when I disagree? Am I handling this properly?

    I’ve noticed he’s started watching a lot of videos and listening to radio shows of very opinionated people. They are all Christians, of course, yet their take on certain things doesn’t necessarily reflect mine. One that he likes a lot has a really sarcastic and negative-sounding “radio voice” (he also does outreaches and he always sounds loving and compassionate on those, but over the radio and on his show he comes across mean and judgmental and a bit like a Pharisee).

    My fear is that this influence (that he absolutely loves, by the way: he watches and listens on a very regular basis) is causing him to start looking for the negative in everything (especially church services) rather than the positive. It’s heartbreaking to me because he’s always been a pretty calm, roll with the punches kinda guy, and now it feels like he’s nit-picking a lot about our church services. Even our pastor’s sermons… Pastor has made references to people and my husband has said, “But they believe…”

    I just so greatly desire him to see the good at our church. I’m not talking about excusing blatant sins, but just being more positive about things rather than feeling the need to voice to me any time something isn’t quite “up to par”. I want him to realize that there is no church that’s gonna be perfect all the time, just as none of us are perfect all the time. People make mistakes, but if you’re not willing to talk to those people about their mistakes and correct them in love, why talk about them at all?

    Do you have any advice for me on how to handle this? I have not brought it up any of the times he’s spoken to me about it, because I know it’s a sore spot and I don’t want to provoke my husband. Is there a right way for me to respond when he brings it up?

    Thank you… sorry it’s so long.

    1. I’d also like to hear April’s thoughts on this problem. It’s awesome that you recognize how much your husband relies on your support. My husband is similar but unfortunately, I didn’t realize how sensitive I needed to be with him as he sorted out his thoughts on various topics. I thought I could be quite open about our differences but I was mistaken. Even when I was respectful, he took my different perspective as usurping his authority. That wall has been up for years now. If I had just been supportive of his earnest search for truth rather than opinionated about where he landed, perhaps over time he would’ve heard the errors on his own without me being the bad guy. I don’t know. A lot of what my husband criticized was insightful but …imbalanced? At least from my perspective which isn’t from the weight of one who’s the protector and family leader. Our husbands certainly need to have the space to learn and evolve. I’m not saying to be a mouse, I just wish I had been more in tune with the Spirit and more knowledgeable about my husband’s real need in order to speak light towards the heart message. I didn’t realize my help as his sounding board was so important with his own growth process.

      1. Refined,

        I know you are dealing with a slightly more complicated situation than normal.

        What do you think about the idea of seeking simply to understand him at first – without making a judgment call or immediately disagreeing with him where possible – then praying about the situation before deciding how to respond and if to respond?

        Much love to you!

        1. Thank you so much for your reply, April. Jenn’s question struck such a cord with me. I’d love so much for her husband to feel heard and for them to be able to value differences. In my experience, a husband benefits from his wife’s perspective when shared in a way he can hear it. My situation is definately a bit complicated as I truly have to weigh the cost of such sharing. Seeking to simply understand, as you suggest, is a lovely art form. It’s always a nice ‘ground zero’.

    2. Jenn and Refined,

      I am going to do my best to answer this issue – but please keep in mind that I am going to have to base my answer off of husbands other than mine – so I don’t have personal experience with this issue. What I mean is – listen to God’s Spirit much more than to my ideas!!!! 🙂

      I know that there is sometimes the belief among husbands that for a wife to disagree = disrespect. I don’t agree with that at all. But it is a popular concept. God asks us to submit to Him – but He doesn’t say we must understand or agree with Him. Jesus wanted to let the cup pass from Him in the Garden, but then He submitted to the Father’s will even though it wasn’t His will.

      If we agreed, then it wouldn’t be submission! It would be agreement.

      My suggestion – whatever it is worth – is to let him think through his idea and don’t immediately try to disagree with him if possible. Just let him play out his thoughts and listen. Perhaps you could say, “So you believe that this group is not a godly group/doesn’t have a biblical message. Wow. That is a really big deal. Would you share some more about why you think that?” And then if you still don’t agree, and you feel pressured to agree, perhaps you could say, “You’ve given me a lot to think about. I am going to pray about this and try to digest it more.” Then, if you truly believe it is that necessary to disagree with him about the issue, you can prayerfully consider what he said and seek God’s wisdom and His power and prompting about how and when to address it.

      I think, from what you are explaining, that you both may have valid points. I think you have different priorities about what is most important in these situations. I do am not sure that either of you are necessarily “wrong.” Does that make sense? I think it may be possible to agree with his premise – even if you don’t like his focus. “Yes, I see where that is an issue with this group. I can understand your concerns about that.” That will help him feel heard by you and understood by you. Then you may be able to say, “I really do like this particular song. But I can understand the reason why you don’t think we should listen to this song.”

      There may be a time to gently, humbly, confront him if you believe that he has a critical spirit, or that he is complaining and should be taking these issues to the leadership… but there may also be times to just wait and let God work.

      Let’s pray for God to give you wisdom about how to respond and that He might work in your husband’s heart. Is he just beginning to have some of his own opinions or just beginning to tell you his ideas about things recently – or has this been ongoing your whole marriage?

      Much love!

      1. This is an issue in my marriage too. My husband gets very upset if I disagree with him. It’s very strange and frustrating that when we were dating we had good conversations even when we disagreed; it was part of getting to know and appreciate the other person. What happens at the point of marriage that they start being offended and even angered by different opinions? Is this normal? It must be somewhat normal since there’s three of us here experiencing the same thing. It feels controlling to me but I’m open to a good explanation.

  4. Amen to your prayer! I prayed it to our Heavenly Father as well! May the Lord move in mighty ways through these God glorifying, eternal based prayers, bringing more people into His Kingdom and more Christians living for His Kingdom, not the world.

    Your ministry is helping me be more thankful for my husband and respecting Him more. Blessings to you and those you minister to.

  5. For what it’s worth, my take:

    Prayer with wives isn’t addressed, although “coheirs of salvation” makes me feel like a husband and wife should be like a team in their walk with Christ. In context of husbands, I think the mention of Christ washing his church with the word is a good example of leading as Christ leads the church in the spirit of being coheirs to salvation–ministering to their wives to the best of their abilities, I’d argue, is somewhat implied.

    My observation is that the command to husbands to love “as Christ loved the church” isn’t really different from the command to love given to believers in general.

    Ephesians 5:2
    And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

    John 13:34
    A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
    Spoken by Christ, of course this means to love others who are “the church” as Christ loved the church.

    Of course that takes nothing away from the gravity of the command given to us all in general. But I am wary of the liberty with which the command to husbands gets applied and construed.

    I mean, something as basic as “feed your wives” doesn’t exactly seem like something very many husbands have to go out for some in-depth study to comprehend. The commands to husbands seem kind of fundamental, although probably a “wife must respect her husband” wasn’t a command that women had to go QUITE so far out of their ways to understand back in those days either compared to today.

  6. Jenn, Refined and Coco,

    Let me give you a quick perspective from a man’s point of view……YOU ARE MISSING THE GREATEST REVIVAL THAT GOD COULD EVER VISIT ON A MAN!;…which is the spiritual gift of discernment and the Spiritual enforcement of the sufficiency of SCRIPTURE in all matters of life and worship.

    The phrase “I have to agree with him 100% or else” is a very old excuse for denying him his aspiration to be heard fairly and harmonised with in truthful companionship…I say truthful because there is something slightly sweeping and dismissive about that phrase. You might as well be thinking “he’s a tyrant” or “he’s become a control freak” but is that truth?

    1. heart,

      That is an awesome question – and it comes down to the sovereignty of God. God is able to cause pagans who don’t even know about Him to accomplish His purposes. The Old and New Testaments are full of examples of God changing the hearts of kings and leaders who didn’t know Him in order to work out His plan for His people. He has the same ability with unbelieving husbands. If a husband doesn’t know Christ, God can and will still lead that wife through that man. If he asks her to clearly sin, she will need to respectfully decline – in order to first submit to Christ. But I know many, many wives whose husbands are not believers and God is able to lead them through their husbands.

      I Peter 3:1-6.

      A wife’s prayers and faith are very powerful when she is in right standing with God. She can pray for God to give her husband His wisdom. If he is a believer, but just not being discipled, God can definitely reach him, too. He has done so with my husband, that’s for sure!

      Much love to you!

      1. Peacefulwife,
        Im curious, what do you think about this verse?

        1timothy 3:4-5 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

        1. heart,

          For leaders in the church – they are to know how to properly discipline their children and they are to have obedient children. Is that what you are asking? 🙂

        2. Context is king. The last part of the verse tells you who is being referenced (i.e. those taking, or aspiring to take, a leadership role in the church). If a father/husband shows that he can command the loyalty, respect, and willful obedience within his own household, he is also showing that he has the personality traits needed to care for the conregation.

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