How to Support Your Husband’s Spiritual Leadership

Simple ways to support and encourage your husband’s spiritual leadership without being controlling or demanding.

Support His Leadership

Welcome to another Wives Only Wednesday. It’s been a while since my last WoW post, so as a reminder, these are posts I do specifically for wives. Husbands can check out the related Men Only Monday post: 3 Simple Ways to Lead Your Wife Spiritually.

Most Christian wives I know are longing to have their husbands take up their God-given role as the spiritual head of the household. So how do you encourage your husband to lead? Many wives either have tried and failed or aren’t sure what to do.

(Note: these suggestion are for Christian couples and do not address the situation of an unbelieving husband. Also note that the “What Won’t Work” section is especially true for a non-believing spouse.)

What Won’t Work

There is a principle that says you can’t push on a rope. When you try pushing, all you get is a tangled mess. This rope principle applies to roles in marriage. Below are some examples of pushing.

Criticism – Many husbands won’t step up and lead spiritually because they fear they will fall short or embarrass themselves. Criticizing your husband’s spiritual life will only exacerbate his fear of failure and judgment from you. The higher the expectations you heap upon him, the less likely he is to step up. Communicating dissatisfaction will likely have the very opposite effect you hope for and cause him to pull back from expressing his spirituality to you. Be aware that he can easily view even well-intentioned questions as accusation (“Did you pray about that?”).

Nagging – Demanding your husband be a stronger spiritual leader won’t work. That is actually you usurping his leadership and will cause him to shrink back further. Nagging him about his spiritual habits will have the same negative effect. Such question as “When was the last time you had a quiet time?” or “Have you read your Bible today?” are actually just veiled attempts to control his spiritual life. It doesn’t work.

Comparison – This is probably an obvious one, but pointing out what other husbands are doing to lead their families spiritually will only make him feel like a failure and inadequate in your eyes. Just don’t do it.

What You Can Do

All of the approaches listed above amount to trying to control your husband. You and I both know that the only person you can control is yourself. Controlling amounts to pushing on the rope of your husband’s spiritual leadership, and it will probably backfire.  So, what can you do to help create an internal “pull” in your husband’s heart to want to grow in his headship role?  Here are a few ideas that are based on love and serving rather than on control:

Show Honor – Let go of your spiritual checklists and expectations. Your husband’s spiritual life is most likely going to express itself differently from yours, and that’s okay. My wife’s quiet times and mine are as different from each other as they can be. Mine are less frequent, less scheduled and tend to be shorter than hers. It took me a while to realize that we are just different in this regard. Honor and respect his way of seeking God.

Value His Insights – Even if (and maybe especially if) you feel you are spiritually stronger and more knowledgeable than your husband, ask for his opinion on spiritual matters. Invite him into your spiritual struggles and questions. Ask him to pray for you about specific situations and thank him when he does. Acknowledge his answered prayers. This has two outcomes. First, it builds spiritual intimacy as you learn to share your hearts in a vulnerable fashion, and second it helps him build spiritual muscle.

Express Appreciation – Acknowledge every step your husband takes in spiritual growth and in leading your family. Affirm him by saying, “I’m so thankful to have you as the spiritual head of our home.” Thank him when he opens up to you about spiritual matters or offers his perspective. Appreciation will demonstrate your desire for his spiritual leadership without you actually having to say it.

Seek Intimacy – Spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy are all connected. If you desire deeper spiritual intimacy, pay attention to your sex life and to how you act with him emotionally. There is not a formula, but fruit in one dimension tends to spill over into the others.

 


As I said, these actions are about showing love to your husband in language he can appreciate, and when you do these you invite his leadership by offering him your submission. The Greek word for submission used in the famous Ephesians 5 passage on marriage (hupotasso)  means to arrange yourself under. When you willingly show your husband honor and respect with your actions, you are arranging yourself under his loving spiritual leadership.

Of course you should pray for your husband, for spiritual intimacy between you, and for his headship in the spiritual domain of your marriage, but you don’t have to just pray and wait. While prayer is vital and your number one strategy, there are also practical steps you can take that create an environment where his leadership can thrive.

These are my ideas for what will and won’t work in your journey toward a rightly ordered spiritual dimension of your marriage.  I’d love to hear any ideas you have! Leave a comment.

 


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3 Simple Ways to Lead Your Wife Spiritually

Leading your wife spiritually is not as hard as you might think.

 

Lead Her Spiritually

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Men-Only-Monday post. As the moniker implies, these posts are intended for husbands. Wives, can check out my Wives Only Wednesday post for your side of the equation on this topic.

Are you among the many men who feel unqualified to lead their wives and family spiritually? Do you feel like your wife has more knowledge, more insight, and more sensitivity concerning spiritual matters? If you are like most men, you aren’t going to attempt things you don’t feel you can excel at, which means that you might hold back from even trying to be the spiritual head of your family.

You don’t need a theology degree or years of biblical study to spiritually lead your wife. Don’t disqualify yourself for this important role that God has assigned you to. The way the Bible describes spiritual headship, as with other dimensions of headship, has nothing to do with being the “spiritual boss” or being in any way spiritually superior to your wife. It doesn’t mean you need years of spiritual wisdom under your belt before you start leading.

Leading your wife spiritually is not nearly as hard as you might think it is. For the most part, it just means consistently pointing your wife to Jesus and inviting his covering over your family.

If the idea of spiritual leadership is new to you, here are three simple, easy ways to begin stepping into your God-ordained role.

1. Pray

Maybe you aren’t that comfortable praying out loud in front of others, maybe even with your wife. If that’s the case, just ask your wife what you can pray for her about. A simple “How can I pray for you today?” text message will work great! Then do actually pray for her and let her know you did. Even this simple little step will bless her more than you know.

If you can muster your prayer courage, I would urge you to actually pray together. Prayer builds spiritual intimacy like few other things can. If that seems too difficult for you, start just by praying together silently. Maybe conclude with the Lord’s prayer, if spontaneous prayer doesn’t come easily for you. You can also pray the “Apostolic prayers” right out of the Bible . A few examples are Ephesians 1:17-23, Ephesians 3:16-21, Colossians 1:9-14, Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 15:13. These are great prayers for when you don’t know what to pray.

2. Read, Learn & Share

Pick a book on a spiritual topic that interests you. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it is something that speaks life to you or challenges you in some way. Devotional books can be good, because they tend to be short easily digestible. I’ll admit that I’ve never been a regular devotional reader, because I prefer books that drill a little deeper into a topic, but that’s just me.

I also encourage you to read the Bible regularly. If you don’t know where to start, you might consider a topical Study Bible. If you are looking for a life-giving translation, I suggest the Passion Translation Series. If you are new to Bible study, start off with the Gospels. If you feel you have a hard time understanding what you read in the Bible, pray for revelation and understanding. The Bible says the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth (John 16:13), and He is eager to do it (Luke 11:11). Just ask.

A few times a week, as you come upon something that gives you a new insight or seems helpful to you, or when the Lord gives you a particular revelation, share it with your wife.

Your wife will feel safe and protected when she knows you are pressing into a deeper understanding of God. This is one dimension of God’s instruction to husbands to wash your wife with the water of the word (Ephesians 5:26).

3. Invite Her In

As I said, headship does not imply superiority. I describe the relationship between husband and wife as described in the Bible as an ordered partnership, where husband and wife are of equal value but willingly take on different roles to support and honor each other.

Good leaders invite the full participation of those they lead and encourage them to employ all of their talents and capabilities. So invite your wife into partnership with you as together you discover God’s heart and plans for your marriage and your family. Lean on her spiritual discernment and sensitivity to the things of the Spirit. Invite her to bring her spiritual gifting to your partnership.

Intimacy comes from being fully known and knowing you are completely loved. Spiritual intimacy is no exception. Be real, honest and willing to be vulnerable with your wife about your life in God. Invite her to do the same. It’s not a competition to see who is more spiritual. It’s about encouraging each other to walk in your God-given destinies and to grow in the knowledge of who God is. 

If you are the stronger one, spiritually, never use your position to browbeat or speak harsh judgment to your wife. Rather, speak grace and truth and encourage her toward who God says she is.

Now it’s your turn. What simple tips do you have for husbands who want to take a more active role in leading their wives spiritually? Leave a comment.


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Rethinking 50 Shades of Grey

Why did a poorly written book followed up by a mediocre movie grab the hearts and minds of millions of women?

Grey or black and whiteI’ve purposefully chosen to stay out of the Fifty Shades of Grey (FSOG) fray up to now. So many people have covered the topic that I figured I wouldn’t be able to add anything significant to the conversation.

But it’s hard for me to ignore the fact that over the last few months, my blog stats show that my post A Wife’s Sexual Surrender has been consistently at the top of my most viewed pages. The 2011 post shot up in popularity with the release of the FSOG book and then again with the recently released movie. No doubt many disappointed Googlers landed on that post, written long before the release of the book, to find nothing remotely close to the kind of “submission” depicted in FSOG.

I have often wondered what all these poeple, the majority of whom are presumably women, are looking for in a post on sexual surrender?

It’s this question that ultimately led me to finally wade into the murky FSOG waters today. And this question leads to some similar ones that have been nagging me ever since the FSOG phenomenon took our popular culture by storm.

How is that a such a poorly written erotic romance novel spent months atop the best seller list and sold more than 100 million copies in 52 languages worldwide?  One book blogger  said about the book, “In all honesty, though, this book is awful.  Really, truly, mind-bogglingly awful.” The New York Review of Books, after acknowledging the popular success of the book, summarized the critics perspective this way,  “Critics, by contrast, have found much to abhor about the work.” Yet the readers at Amazon and Barnes and Noble both give the trilogy an average of four-and-a-half out of five stars. How could the progenitor of such mediocre tripe be named to Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World?”

Further, the movie based on the book has been critically panned, receiving one star on Rotten Tomatoes and a little south of two stars on IMDB’s critics review. Yet the movie has set box office records, grossing in excess of 500 million dollars in the month since its release. But why? As with the book, critical and popular opinions stand in stark contrast to each other.

These are questions I’ve seen a few writers attempt to answer, but most of these answers haven’t fully satisfied my curiosity.

What The World Says

Admittedly, I have neither read the books nor seen movie, but I’ve read enough about them, from enough varied sources, to get a pretty clear picture of the content. In researching for this post, I’ve also read a number of theories on the reasons for the FSOG phenomenon, from both secular and Christian sources.

Secular sources are decidedly mixed as to the effects of FSOG on society. Many call it harmless mind-candy for bored housewives. Some laud the permission FSOG supposedly gives women to free themselves sexually or to tap into their hidden fantasies. Others argue strongly that the books and movie promote sexual violence against women.

As for the reasons for its popularity, secular writers say the attraction is in the way the story portrays the healing power of love, even though it does so in a totally unrealistic fashion. Other say it appeals to women’s innate desire to be a “rescuer and healer.” Many mention women’s common attraction to “bad boys.” Surprisingly few point to the kinky sex as the draw.

Christian Voices

For the most part Christian’s have been pretty universally critical of the book and movie, and for the most part, rightly so. Erotica is just as dangerous as porn in terms of the potential damage to marriages. The works depict a non-biblical view of sex (outside of marriage, full of control and manipulation, sado-masochism and more). Of course the shows and movies on cable TV these days are just as sexually non-biblical, with much less outrage.

As true as all the badness is with FSOG, we have to admit that millions of professing Christians have read the books and seen the movie. From what I can tell by the many comments I have read, most women loved it and recommended it to their friends. Of course that doesn’t make it right, but it does further beg the question of why women, Christians and non-Christians alike, seem so compelled by the story line?

We also have to admit that a non-trivial number of women, Christians among them, claim to have a renewed sense of sexuality and many report improvements in their libido and sex lives as a result, short-lived though it may be.

Stopping at condemnation of the books and movie as perverted, evil and destructive will do little to further our understanding of the popularity of FSOG. Likewise, simply warning, scolding or even condemning those who have chosen to partake of FSOG isn’t going to help us or them them understand what it is they are really after.

It’s understanding I want to gain as well. 

My Theory

I’ve realized that I keep researching and rewriting the first part of this post because I have tremendous trepidation over actually putting my theory out there.

As I freely admit in my bio, I’m not a psychologist or trained theologian, so take what I’m about to say as just another marriage blogger’s opinion, worth what you paid for it.

Enough caveats. Out with it.

I believe so many woman are drawn to the Fifty Shades of Grey story because they long to be radically loved and cared for by a strong man. Women paint themselves onto the seemingly blank canvas that is Anastasia Steele, the story’s female protagonist, because the idea of surrendering themselves to someone whose heart they totally own and who will completely care for them (emotionally, sexually, spiritually, financially) is a huge turn-on for many women.

So strong is this desire that women are willing to look past their disdain for Christian Grey’s overly controlling and sadistic nature. Though there are exceptions, many women report that the S&M sex is not what drew them to the story and that they have little desire to engage in the practices depicted so graphically in the books and movie.

The Longings of the Heart

It is difficult to paint the complexities of human longing with simple, broad strokes. Yet, due to the sheer mass appeal of FSOG, it’s obvious that the story has clearly tapped into many women’s basic desires.

My feminist friends are no doubt rolling their collective eyes at my theory. I hear the chant, “Down with the patriarchy and misogynistic notions that women long to be taken care of. What women really want is independence, power and equality!”

Really? I find nothing of what feminists claim that women want within the FSOG story. Nothing. Yet women are drawn to it by the millions.

Now, before you accuse me of being a woman-hating misogynist, you should read more of what I’ve written on the subject. My “What I Believe About Marriage” would be a good place to start.

Let me state clearly that I believe that a woman can be both strong  and submissive, that the two are not mutually exclusive. And yes, I did just use the S-word. I agree that feminism has helped to right some historical wrongs, and I absolutely believe men and women are of equal worth.

But I also believe that God set up the ordered partnership that is marriage as described in the Bible. I believe that being equal in value does not mean men and women are the same or interchangeable. I believe God filled our hearts with innate desires that correspond to our God-given roles, though the world will try to get us to deny and denigrate our very natures.

I believe that what most wives really want is a husband who will love them radically, selflessly and unconditionally, and who will pursue and woo them relentlessly, as Christ does with the church. I believe they long to find the bliss that comes through willingly surrendering themselves to such a love, only to find themselves the object their husband’s deep affection, relentless protection, and generous provision (as we receive from Christ in our love-relationship with him).

And in such a marriage you are going to find some really great sex.

Fifty Shades of Grey is flawed erotic fiction, with all the dangers and falsehoods that attend it . Yet the hugely popular draw of the story compels us to examine more closely a flawless and even more compelling love story, Christ and the church, the picture of marriage as God designed it.


What do you think of my theory? What have I missed? Why do you think FSOG is such a draw for women? Chime in. Leave a comment.