What is a godly wife to do when she is the one who wants to work more outside of the home, but her husband wants her to be home and not work?
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 (unless he is asking us to rebel against the Lord), 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.
Also, our children learn how to submit to authorities in their lives, including ourselves and our husbands, by watching our example of how we honor their dad’s authority.
WHAT CAN A GODLY WIFE DO?
Here are my suggestions for a wife who wants to work but her husband desires her to be home (these principles apply whenever we don’t agree with our husband on an important decision):
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. 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 and plans 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 only marry a man who is truly seeking to live for Christ as Lord. That is a command God gives to believers, that we only marry someone who is “in the Lord.”) God is able to lead us in His will for us as we honor the leadership of those He has placed in our lives.
You cannot accomplish God’s will for your life if you rebel against your husband – or any other God-given leader in your life.
God chooses to work through the leaders in our lives and to lead us through them. He chose to lead Israel in the wilderness through Moses. The people could not get to the Promised Land any other way than to follow and honor Moses’ leadership. It is the same with us. God chooses to lead us through our husbands and other leaders. So – seek to honor your husband’s request for you not to work in order to honor the Lord. You can share your heart on the matter and say something like:
- “Honey, I would really love to work. It means a lot to me that I can have this job. But I know that you are the head of our home by God’s design and I will honor your desire for me not to work if you believe that is best for us.”
You can also respectfully ask for things you believe you need. You may also respectfully suggest that your husband consider the idea of you having a part-time job that may be a better balance for your family.
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 for you to work at a certain job. Invite Him to change the circumstances. Invite Him to change your heart and perspective. Ask Him to help you see and appreciate your husband’s concerns and perspective.
4. Embrace the opportunity to be home.
Thank God for having a husband who wants to provide for your family and who wants to give you this gift of being a homemaker and maybe you have children and can be home with them. That is a priceless treasure. If this is the Lord’s will and He is leading you through your husband to be here – own it. Decide that you are going to make the absolute most of this opportunity. Invite God into your home. Invite Him to help you make this a place of sanctuary, peace, welcome, hospitality, warmth, joy, and blessing. Allow the Lord to lead you in opportunities to use your gifts and talents. Perhaps there are ministries you can do – with your husband’s blessing. Or maybe there are friends you can encourage. Or possibly there is time for you to read and study more about God’s Word or other topics, maybe even related to your education – with your husband’s blessing.
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. Listen to sermons, podcasts, and praise music while you work around the house. Take the time you need to exercise. Enjoy having balance in your life and living at a slower, more healthy pace. Focus on relationships. Practice ministering to your husband and children by keeping the house neat and organized. Run your home like you would an office – and let your motives be love, honor, respect, and grace.
Teach your children God’s ways. Mentor younger wives. Maybe you would enjoy cooking more meals from scratch to bless your family. Use this time to really seek God’s will and His glory for yourself and your family. Be available to be an instrument in God’s hand to bless your family richly.
5. Avoid harboring jealousy, bitterness, or a critical spirit.
It is easy to focus on women who “get to” work outside of the home. Or to focus on feeling resentful and bitter at your husband or God that you don’t have the situation you wanted. 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 working outside of the home 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. Let Jesus lead you. Be content in whatever place He decides is best. Working outside of the home can be fulfilling. If it is God’s will. But being home can also be fulfilling. Whether we are fulfilled or not is not really about our circumstances. It is mostly a matter of our attitude, our faith in God, our willingness to develop a heart of thanksgiving, and whether we are walking in God’s will for us or not. (Phil. 4:4-8, 12-13)
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.
What has God shown you that may be a blessing to other wives struggling in this area? Or if you are struggling, you are welcome to share and we can hash through the tough issues together here.
The Life Ready Woman
by Shaunti Feldhahn helps women focus on the things that God desires most for us and how to align our priorities with Him.
by Carolyn McCulley is an explanation of how much feminism has saturated our culture and how it has affected our understanding of femininity and masculinity. If your husband wants you to stay home, this book may open your eyes to a lot of great reasons why this may be a blessing.