Friday, October 4, 2013

31 Days to a Fruitful Marriage Day Four: Who is the Spiritual Leader?

I think this is probably something all of us know, but the Bible tells us that the husbands are to be the spiritual leaders of the family. Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter 5 that the husbands are the head of the wives as Christ is the head of the church. This chapter tells us as wives, we must submit to our husbands. It goes on to say that this means that husbands must love their wives as they love themselves and wives must respect their husbands.
However, the New Testament doesn't get super specific on the exact ways a husband should be the spiritual leader, does it? It leaves the term "spiritual leader" and what requirements fall into that category pretty open for individual determination, much like other things in the New Testament. I tried to find the chapters and verses that said, "Husbands, you need to take your families to church twice a week and participate in Bible studies every quarter, be a deacon in church, do a family quiet time every day, etc." but alas, I couldn't find those verses listed. Obviously, they do not exist.
Being a spiritual leader in every marriage really looks different in every marriage. The thing that God told us is that husbands are the head of the house. Women, submit to your husbands. Men, love your wives. Women, respect your husbands. In the next couple of days, we will talk specifically about each spouse's role in a marriage. But today, we are talking specifically about what a spiritual leader looks like.
Women, we expect our husbands to be pretty close to our idea of perfect, don't we? At times, we feel like our husbands are failing us. That because they don't do what our vision in our head is about being a spiritual leader, that they aren't doing what God has called them to do. Because they don't know all of the answers, that we can't trust them to lead us. I have had this problem a time or two (or a hundred) in my own marriage. You hope that your husband is living up to his end of the bargain and is providing you spiritual guidance regularly and participating in the all powerful "church." But sometimes, it's just not like that. Does that mean that you can't follow him, anyway?
I think trying to force your husband to do the things you want him to do as a spiritual leader is a very slippery slope. I think wives certainly should encourage their husbands during times of tribulation and doubt. But most importantly, we have to know that the one and only person that can change a person's heart is God. It is something between God and the individual. Praying is probably the best way you can get on the same page about the role of the spiritual leader in your family. But also in praying for the man "you want your husband to be," you have to pray for your own heart, that it isn't full of wrongly placed ideas and that you can learn how to follow your husband's guidance in your marriage within the confines of what is in the best interest of your family. If you are having trouble "making" your husband do something he isn't ready to do, take a step back. Pray about it and let God be the one that leads him. It's so hard to do and it takes such patience, but the benefits that will come from God leading versus you leading will be tremendous.
I put this on us, wives, because all too often, we think we always know what is best. We don't try to be like that, but we are. We are the ones who take on the lion's share of responsibilities. We know how our family runs, down to the smallest item on the grocery list to the budgeting every month. We think because we are in charge of mostly everything in our households that we know how to best lead our family spiritually, as well. It simply isn't the way it is supposed to be. I am not saying lay down and never have an opinion or never share what God is laying on your own heart about directions you think things should take. If a man loves you the way God has asked and is taking Christ's lead in love, he will certainly respect your opinion and advice about matters of spiritual direction. If you give respect and he, in return, gives love, you have a cycle of communication and giving that can move mountains.
If you are struggling with this in your marriage, you are absolutely not alone. In a marriage, this is probably the hardest thing to do. If you are struggling and in need of some great information and guidance, there is study that was excellent that my husband and I did that could really do wonders in your marriage. Don't want until things have gotten so far out of control that it's too late to work on it, if you are experiencing discourse in your marriage about this, this Bible study entitled "Love and Respect" is wonderful. If you don't/can't do this, find a Bible study at your church about marriage that you can participate in. Travel, if your church doesn't offer it. It will be worth every penny you spend.

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