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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Husbands as Spiritual Leaders: What Do We Expect?

Photo courtesy of tiramisustudio, Free Digital Photos

I hear it all the time: “My husband isn’t the spiritual leader he ought to be.” “My husband doesn’t take the spiritual leadership in our home.” “My husband doesn’t pray with me.” “My husband doesn’t initiate discussions about spiritual things.”

The Bible talks about God’s order in the home: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God (1 Corinthians 11:3). This is about responsibility, and it includes spiritual responsibility, since the husband is responsible to Christ. 

Wife doesn’t think Husband is taking spiritual leadership. She doesn’t see his spiritual leadership. (She's thinking she's more spiritual than her husband.) It’s a common issue, and I believe it’s one we need to understand. What’s going on?

Let me make a few observations, and we’ll take off from there:
  1. Men and women handle spirituality differently. Many men are more private about their prayer life, their Bible reading, and their relationship with God. Women, on the other hand, want to share. They like to talk to their friends about their Bible study, about answers to prayer, and what they’re learning. Women are more eager to join a ladies’ Bible study, where they share their thoughts and blessings. (Have you even heard of a men’s Bible study group?) Men might pray with friends. (I know several men who meet with close friends for prayer.) But, you’ll rarely hear them discuss their personal spiritual walk with others. It’s one of those differences between men and women.
  2. Men are the spiritual heads of their homes. They don’t have to prove it. Let me explain. God has made the man responsible for his home, both in the spiritual realm and in leadership. Whether or not the man acts like a general, he is the general. His wife is to follow his leadership, respecting his position. The same is true with spirituality. The Bible even says that if she has questions at church, she may ask her husband at home. (1 Corinthians 14:35) He is her spiritual authority, just as he is the head of their family.
  3. Your husband may have a different time and method for doing his personal devotions. He may do them in the parked car before going into his place of work in the morning. He might read the Bible on his lunch break. He might pray as he mows the lawn. He may read and pray while you’re making supper. He probably won’t be very public about his devotional life. Whereas you might enjoy doing yours in the breakfast nook with your notebook at hand, he may not. It’s quite okay if you each meet the Lord in the way that's comfortable for you.
  4. Husbands do not like to be confronted about their relationship with God. (I doubt if you do, either.) Christian Hubby knows he’s responsible before the Lord for the whole family. He doesn’t need to be reminded or questioned about it.
  5. It’s fine to ask his opinion about a certain Bible passage or a spiritual issue you need to understand. If he doesn’t know, he’ll do some research and get back to you.
So, what does a spiritual leader husband look like?

For some, he’s a Bible-toting man who has lengthy devotions with the family every day. His pious platitudes punctuate every dinner conversation, and the children are held in rapturous awe at his obvious spirituality. I am kidding! Wives don’t even want this! (You’d think so, though, by women’s comments.)

Or, is a spiritual leader a man who gracefully, gently leads his family? He makes sure they’re faithful to church and that they serve the Lord together. He prays and reads his Bible, and he asks God to help him make wise decisions. He lives cleanly, is a good husband and father, and he helps others. He is comfortable in his relationship with the Lord and with his wife and children. He's loving and kind.

He is the leader. Let him lead. The Bible says wives are to respect (KJV reverence) their husband. This means they’re to support him in his role as head of the home. There aren’t any conditions on this. There isn’t a clause that says, “if he spends an hour a day reading his Bible.” Your husband is the head of your home.

If his style of spiritual leadership is different than you imagine it should be, well, men are different from women.

If you think he’s not spiritual because you don’t see him reading his Bible or you don’t hear him praying, you’re judging him without really knowing what he does.

If you have a Christian husband, and you’ve been yearning for your idea of spiritual leadership when he was exercising his, you’re not alone.

Maybe that’s why God told wives to respect their husbands. (Ephesians 5:33)

What do you think? How does a man exercise spiritual leadership in his family? Does it have to follow a certain form?

(Note: We are, of course, talking about born again Christian husbands.)

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