Note: This post was first published in 2017, but has been updated.
She sat across the table from us with tears flowing as she shared how desperately she wanted her husband to lead their family spiritually. It hurt that he hadn’t.
A woman needs her man to lead his family spiritually. If he doesn’t, the burden of the spiritual welfare of the family lands on his wife and it’s heavy.
The Bible says, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” Ephesians 5:23.
God designed man to be the head of the wife, to lead her spiritually as well as in other ways, but the reality is that a lot of men don’t lead their families in this area.
So, what to do if your husband is not leading your family in this area?
You cannot force your husband to lead spiritually.
To lead spiritually he needs a relationship with God and you cannot force that in anyone.
There may be a number of reasons why your husband is not leading:
In our home Richard did not take the spiritual lead when our children first arrived. I longed for him to do it. I found out later that the reason he didn’t do it was twofold: a) He had not seen it done in his own family. His family had never had worship together and his father had not led out in this area. b) He felt inferior to me because I could read well, sing to the kids, and connect with them better than he could.
Thankfully he did take up the role of spiritual head and did a fine job.
Here’s what you can do if your husband is not leading your family spiritually.
Don’t take your complaints about your husband to God and rehearse all his shortcomings. Ask God to work in your husband’s life the way He sees best. Leading out in family worship may be further down on God’s list of things to work on in your husband. Be patient and let God work.
Present your need to your husband in a non-attacking way. Ask him why he doesn’t lead out. Don’t let the fear of addressing an issue keep you from addressing it at all.
“The spirit in which something is delivered makes all the difference between creating more resistance or opening the heart.”[i]
Even if he doesn’t do it as well as you. Don’t patronize him and make him feel like a child. Express genuine appreciation – “It makes me feel loved/safe/secure/happy when you lead our family spiritually.” Or, “The kids really enjoyed your story tonight.”
Unless you are having a non-threatening conversation. Bible bashing is not going to motivate your husband to take the spiritual lead.
“A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” Proverbs 27:15 Nagging will cause your husband to shut you out even more and will not motivate him to take up the role of spiritual head.
When you pout you nurse your grievance internally. It will grow in your imagination until it becomes bigger than your reality. Your spouse’s good points will fade and the distance between you will grow.
This creates a negative impression in your mind of your husband. It will also create a negative impression of him in the minds of your friends. Praise his good points to your friends instead.
Above all, be thankful for the husband you have. Show him respect. If you become resentful and bitter toward him because of the things he doesn’t do you will damage your children more than going without family worship will.
What is it that you need to do to help your husband in this area?
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[i] Irresistible, 116, Jim Hohnberger