Before we address this painful issue, that is such a sensitive one for so many wives, let’s go over some basics.
GOD’S AUTHORITY STRUCTURE IN OUR LIVES
- The world defines authority as – tyranny, abuse, selfishness, lording power over others.
- God defines authority as – shepherding, bringing order to society, nurturing others, providing for them according to God’s will, loving them, taking good care of them in a humble, selfless, sacrificial Christlike way.
- The world defines submission as – slavery, being a second class citizen, having less value as a person, being a doormat.
- God defines submission as – a voluntary willingness to recognize God’s ways and His wisdom and to accomplish His will by cooperating with His directives.
- Positional authority – a person in a position of authority, like king, president, manager, husband, parent, or pastor.
- Influential authority – a person who may influence the person in the position of authority like an advisor to a king, a deacon board to a pastor, an assistant manager to a manager, or a wife to a husband.
The way God works out His will in our lives is that He uses people in positions of “delegated authority” to help accomplish His purposes. He is the “direct authority.” But He gives His authority to certain people to help accomplish His plan. There are people like this in leadership positions in every area of our lives – at work, in the government, at church, and in the family (husbands and parents).
By God’s design, He chooses to lead us through imperfect people in positions of leadership.
If we are seeking the Lord’s will and yielded to His Lordship, part of what we will do is submit to human delegated authorities in our lives (unless they are clearly trying to lead us to violate God’s Word and principles).
God’s design for marriage is that the husband is in the position of “leader.” He is in the driver’s seat. Not because he is more important, more talented, smarter, or more valuable. Just because this is God’s design and His appointment to accomplish the picture He wants to accomplish in marriage.
- The husband is supposed to represent Christ and His selfless, unconditional love, sacrifice, humility, wisdom, and servant hearted leadership.
- The wife is supposed to represent the church in its relationship to Jesus in the way the wife honors, respects, and follows the leadership of her husband.
- This portrays the gospel to the world – and to our children. (Eph. 5:22-33)
If we usurp our husband or rebel against his leadership, we malign the gospel of Christ. (Titus 2:3-5
) This is a weighty matter – of infinitely more significance than whether I work outside of the home or not right now.
MY SUGGESTIONS FOR A WIFE WHO WANTS TO BE HOME BUT HAS TO WORK RIGHT NOW
- For financial reasons.
- Because your husband wants you to work.
- Because you don’t have a choice due to circumstances.
1. Submit first to the Lordship of Christ Jesus.
Be completely yielded to Him, His will, His purposes, and His glory being accomplished in your life. Trust Him fully to lead you. Be willing to lay down your greatest dreams, desires, and fears before Him. Trust Him with them all and allow Him to do what He believes is best in your life. Seek His will far above your own will. This is “dying to self” or “taking up your cross.” Be willing to be content in Christ whether you work outside the home or not. Give all of yourself – your body, your gifts, your abilities, your talents, your intelligence, your health, your time, your money, your resources completely to the Lord. Consecrate yourself and your life to Him. Hold your dreams loosely in your hands. Commit to doing whatever He desires you to do with all your heart in service to Him alone. When you have such an attitude, He will open doors that you can’t begin to imagine. Doors to opportunities that are infinitely better than your personal plans and dreams.
2. Submit second to the God-given leadership of your husband.
Your trust is ultimately in the Lord to lead you through this man, even though your husband is not perfect and he may not even be close to the Lord at this time. (If you are not yet married, please don’t marry a man who is not fully seeking to live for Christ as Lord on his own.) God is able to lead us in His will for us as we honor the leadership of those He has placed in our lives. God led Israel through Moses’ leadership. The people could not get to the Promised Land unless they honored and cooperated with Moses. It is the same for us. We can’t live in the center of God’s will if we live in rebellion against God’s authority structure in our lives at home, at church, at work, or in the government (unless the authorities are asking us to rebel against the Lord).
You cannot accomplish God’s will for your life if you rebel against your husband – or any other God-given leader in your life (unless they are asking you to rebel against the Lord).
Honor your husband’s request for you to work. Respectfully speak up about your limitations and needs. You can share your heart on the matter and say something like:
- “Honey, I would really love to be home. It would be my dream to be home to take care of you and our family all the time. But I know that you are the head of our home by God’s design and I will honor your desire for me to work if you believe that is best for us.”
- “If me working is the most important thing to you so that I can contribute financially, I will do my best to support your decision, even though I believe it would be most honoring to the Lord for me to be your helpmeet at home. I do need to let you know that I can’t work full-time and do all/most of the chores, cooking, shopping, and child care. That is too much for one person. I will still need time for things that are most important like God, you (and sex with you), the kids, exercise, and time to rest. Balance is going to be much more difficult if I am working full-time. So I would love to talk about how we might want to handle chores and household responsibilities so that neither of us are overworked or overwhelmed. I’d like to know that we can continue to touch base and negotiate together if there are issues in the future.”
You could also suggest a part-time job that may help you have greater balance between helping financially and keeping the house and children. Of course – there may be emergency situations where there isn’t a choice and a wife may have to handle everything, at least for a time.
NOTE – If your husband suggests that he stay home full-time and do the chores and child care and that you work full-time, let’s talk about that together before you agree to it. 🙂
Invite the Lord to work. Ask for His will. Ask for Him to open doors and change your husband’s heart if it is His will. Invite Him to change the circumstances and provide more opportunities for your husband to bring in more income to feel confident to be the sole provider. Invite Him to change your heart and perspective.
4. Examine your motives and approach.
Be willing to examine your spending and expectations of lifestyle. Are you willing to give up eating out, vacations, frequent trips to the salon, fancy new designer clothes, expensive make-up, extravagant purchases, etc…? Have you been asking for a bigger, more expensive house or car? Let your husband know you can be content without those things if being a homemaker is what you believe the Lord is calling you to do. Perhaps your husband would feel better about being the sole provider if you are content with much less materially? One reason some husbands feel their wives need to work, too, is because their wives talk about wanting bigger, more expensive houses, vacations, or cars. If those things aren’t really that important to you, your husband needs to know that you would be much more content with less things materially and that you are willing to stick to a realistic budget if you are only living on his income.
Go through the budget together and evaluate whether you working really does help a lot financially and whether it is worth the price. Write down all of the costs associated with your working: career wardrobe, gas, day care, eating out more because everyone is too tired to cook, less time to shop and cook so more expensive things are bought that are more convenient, time involved, etc…
5. Embrace the opportunity to be at work.
Thank God for having the opportunity to work if this is His will for you. Own it. Receive it. Decide that you are going to make the absolute most of this opportunity. Invite God into your home and into your work life. Invite Him to help you make both places sanctuaries of peace, welcome, hospitality, warmth, joy, love, and blessing. Ask Him to do big things in both places and invite His greatest glory into your home and work place.
Determine to use this time to seek the Lord wholeheartedly and to develop a much stronger walk with Him. Invite Him to show you what He wants to do in your life in this time and what He wants to teach you. Use this time to really seek God’s will and His glory for yourself, your family, and your work place. Be available to be an instrument in God’s hand to bless your family and coworkers/customers richly.
5. Avoid harboring jealousy, bitterness, or a critical spirit.
It’s easy to be jealous of women who stay home if you wish you could stay home. It’s also easy to harbor bitterness and resentment toward God or your husband if you don’t get to do what you want to do at the time. That is unproductive and toxic. Focus on being thankful for the situation the Lord has given you and on what He is calling you to do at this time.
And, as a reader mentioned, let’s also avoid judging other women who make different decisions. All of us get criticized no matter what choices we make in this area. That is hurtful. Let’s love, encourage, and seek to bless one another. Being a wife and mom is hard. Let’s not assume we know every mom’s motives or what is best for each family’s situation. We each answer to the Lord for these decisions, not to each other.
6. Remember that the dream of being home all the time can easily become an idol.
Any dream or desire can become more important to us than our love for the Lord if we are not careful. Be sure to seek Christ first far above all else. Let Jesus lead you. Be content in whatever place He decides is best. Whether we are fulfilled or not is not really about our circumstances. It is mostly a matter of our attitude, our faith in God, and our willingness to develop a heart of thanksgiving. (Phil. 4:4-8, 12-13)
7. Savor the waiting.
Often, the waiting is the most important part of the answer to prayer. It is in the waiting that you learn to develop stronger faith and learn to trust God in spite of your circumstances. Check out “Waiting Becomes Sweet.”
God may have reasons we will not understand until later for the delay or for leading us into a certain place
Realize that how you think, act, and respond to this situation is about whether the Spirit of God is filling you or your flesh is in control. Invite Him to intervene and see what He wants to do. Be open to the spiritual pruning and refining that He has in store for you first to help you become much stronger in your faith.
Sometimes life is hard and there aren’t any easy answers.
It is in those moments that God often tests and grows our faith the most. We don’t know all that the Lord knows. We don’t know what He may be sparing us and our families from when He leads us in a particular way. We don’t know all of the blessings He has in store as we yield to His will. Our job is not to understand it all ahead of time but to trust Him completely to do what is ultimately best for our families, ourselves, and God’s kingdom in light of eternity.