Five Ways to Help Your Husband Lead

More times than I dare to count, I have heard wives (and reports from their despairing husbands) express a
desire for their husband to lead more, better, or at all.  These requests, which come at different times in response to different trials, are usually rooted in a broken order within the marriage. For one reason or another, a husband has abandoned or abused his responsibility as “head” of the home and left a huge void.  The understandably insecure, or too self-assured, wife feels compelled to fill it. And for a while she does a fine job until the job becomes too irritating or burdensome.  It is not that women cannot lead.  I know many women (I am married to one) who are wise, capable, and strong leaders.  But, in a marriage relationship, it’s that the wife is not supposed to lead, they are not designed fill this role like a husband is.  Any rejection of God’s design eventually leads to perversion…and perversion leads to destruction. A wife’s desire to be led, protected, and cared for, even if sparked by the failure of a man, is really a heart-rooted desire to live in the fullness of God’s design.  

And for those women who believe they are strong enough to maintain a role God did not give you, I would humbly ask you to consider how your reluctance to submit to your husband’s leadership (esp. before he has earned it or proved that he can) may in fact be hindering the very thing want him to do.  And even if you don’t feel you want him to do it…God does.  In truth, your refusal to submit to God’s command, to follow your husband’s leadership, is allowing sin to reign in your home.

Consider below a few ways you can help your husband lead by actively “putting on” Christ and living in the fullness of His design:

FOLLOW your husband’s leadership (in all things):   

Follow your husband, let him lead.  That means you will have to release control, embrace his authority, and accept your husband is ultimately responsible for your family before God. That being said, we must not forget that Christlike-submission is not mindless obedienceYou must NOT follow him when he leads you or others into sin.  More often than not, women refuse to follow NOT because they are being led into sin, but because they are being led in a direction they simply don’t dislike.  The hope is that the truth of being “one flesh” is lived out in the marriage.  In other words, there is supposed to be great deal of interdependence, of mutual consultation, of seeking wisdom, and overall of a desire to have harmony and enjoy the peace of Christ.  It is, however, easier for him to lead when he knows he has a follower–someone who believes in him (even if they disagree with him). He needs to know that, if no one else follows him up the hill, you are there, you believe he is strong and capable. Dare I say, he will never learn to lead unless you first begin to submit in reverence for Christ. 

PRAY for your husband’s leadership

The best way to pray for his leadership is to pray for his relationship with God. He will lead like Christ when he is led by Christ.  Your prayer is not that he will make certain decisions or not make other decisions.  Your prayer is not that he will lead in a particular direction that you desire. Your prayer is that he will receive strength and courage to do all that God’s Word says.  Your prayer is that he will depend upon the Spirit to understand what God’s Word says. Your prayer is that he will seek wisdom from his bride, counsel from his friends, and make decisions for the glory of Jesus.  And your prayer is that YOU will trust God as he leads even if you don’t trust he is leading perfectly. If he is not leading now, pray.  If he begins to lead, pray.  If he stops leading, pray. 

ENCOURAGE your husband’s leadership (Word and Deed)

Encourage your husband’s leadership.  Quite simply, tell him he is doing a good job, that you believe in him, that you are following him where he leads.  Encourage your husband as an ally, not an adversary, reminding him that God equips those that He has called–and HE has been called to lead this marriage.  Culture, as seen through your average sitcom, has already made him into an animal or a juvenile.  He already believes the world is against him, that everyone thinks he is a fraud, incompetent, incapable, and not measuring up.  You can help him to think differently.  Do this by encouraging him.  Tell him what you appreciate about his husbandry, about his fatherhood, about his manhood.—even if you don’t  fully believe it yet.  Find ways to always build him up among others even if you don’t feel like he deserves it at the time. 

RESPECT your husband’s leadership (Public and Private)

Speak highly of Him, especially when he makes a wrong or bad decision.  Seek ways to honor him as the leader of your home in front of your children, your family, your friends, and your church.  Remember that approximately 90% of our communication is non-verbal.  Be careful. Women are especially gifted at communicating  disrespect with little more than a look.  Sin naturally brings conflict into the marriage.  Just as men have to be intentional about demonstrating love, women must be intentional about showing respect–it won’t just happen.  Please do not have to wait until he does something glaringly respectable in order to take a disposition of respect toward him.  Jesus did not wait for us to be clean to die. Your husband needs to actually feel respected (as you need to feel loved), and every husband may receive that a little differently.  If you are unsure what this looks like, ask him? Ask him if he feels disrespected or how he would feel more respected?  The answer might surprise you. 

HELP your husband’s leadership (help sanctify him)  Finally, help him in his leadership.  You are his helpmate.  We hear that word and wrongly think secretary or sidekick.  The truth is God paid a compliment to women with this word. The same word is used of God in Psalms 115.9 where it says, “O Israel, trust in the Lord, for He is their Helper. The term is always used to describe someone who brings significant help and often as someone who delivers another from some great dilemma. The Ancient Jew would have viewed the woman as a God-like gift from God to help man be what he could not become or do alone. God has brought your personalities together to complement one another, not compete.  A wife’s submission does not mean silence, but it also does not mean nagging.  Because all sanctification is relational, and the most powerful and intimate relationship you have is your marriage, you have permission, you have a responsibility, you have the opportunity to help your husband grow in Christ.   Sometimes this will be speaking, with all respect, to his weaknesses.  Sometimes this will be teaching, sometimes admonishment, sometimes encourage, all the times respectful.  Help your husband by asking him what he needs, help him to see his strengths AND his weaknesses, help him fight against his sin, and do this all to the glory of Christ. 

Without doubt, following a husband is made easier when they lead and love well.  And sadly, it is true, many husbands do little to deserve the devotion of a godly wife. But true Christ-centered wifery is not just a response to whatever some sinful man can offer through good/bad leadership or a worthy/unworthy example.  Christ-centered wifery is rooted in a personal commitment to Jesus as Lord, and a desire to live in the fullness of his design. 

1Peter 3.1-2 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives— 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

A true gospel-centered woman does not abandon her biblical wifery when he abandons his biblical husbandry. .She fights to put on Christ, to obey today, out of desire to glorify God through living a He designed them to be.   Submission looks, feels, and sounds difficult to someone devoted to their own glory.  Wives, your submission to your husband’s leadership is not based on his merits, but the true husband’s, Jesus Christ.  

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Why Our Marriages Stink

As I am preparing to preach a couple of sermons on marriage, I found this old gem. Who knows when it was written but it reminded me of how I must fight to keep my marriage from getting “stinky.”

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  – Ephesians 5.2

What does you marriage smell like?  Although this sounds like a strange question, the relationships with our spouses emit some sort of aroma that everyone can smell.  That smell is either a fragrant offering to God or it’s a putrid stench we try to hide like a Grandma wearing too much perfume—no one’s fooled, everyone smells it.   Sadly, married couples ignore or tolerate the obvious lack of health in their marriage far too long.   If change doesn’t occur, couples find themselves with a growing aversion for one another.  They either end up divorced or living as “married singles”.

I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want a marriage filled with true joy.  Yet, I can count how many marriages I know that are actually experiencing that on one hand.  It’s not we want to continue to “smell” like Walla Walla Sweets, but we’re often unable or unwilling recognize the source of the problem and deal with it honestly or at all.   I challenge you to take a big whiff of your marriage and identify the aroma.  If you smell something strange, consider the following sources:

1. We do not work at, or on, marriage

Many people spend years in school training for their future careers.  They make sacrifices of their time, spend thousands of dollars, and work extremely hard that they might achieve material success or financial stability. Ironically, the statistics show that workers between the ages of 18 and 38 change jobs an average of 10 times.  The average couple spends little or not time preparing for marriage—something that is intended to last for a lifetime.  Fewer and fewer couples go through marriage counseling, but even if they do, the “intense” sessions usually last a total of a few weeks and the pastor does little more than share humorous anecdotes about how he and his wife learned to put up with each other. They’ll tell you that marriage is, “work”, but give you absolutely no tools to work with.  Marriage is work.  But if you don’t have any tools, your work is fruitless.  We need to equip ourselves tools, educate ourselves with books, surround ourselves with wise people, and work at building our marriages in the same way we build other aspects of our lives.   Then we need to practice, practice, practice, the right things, remembering that practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent.

  1. 2.   We forget our vows

It’s unfortunate how easily we forget our marriage vows.  I often wonder if couples put more time and energy into how sentimental sound of their vows versus actually dwelling on the meaning of what their committing to.  The wedding day is over so quickly, yet, the vows are intended to go on for a lifetime.  Eventually the day ends, years pass, conflict ensues, and suddenly those two lovers, who so easily made promises of commitment to one another are ready to call it quits; pointing the finger to blame everyone and everything but themselves.  At the core of the breakdown is a failure to understand what they vowed on their wedding day.  They forget that the marriage vows are intended to be revisited, everyday.  They forget that the one making the vow is promising what they will do for their spouse, even if the other fails to uphold their own vow to them.  We forget that other than being alive, our vows are unconditional.  The fact that one spouse gains weight, contracts a disease, has an affair, or changes in some other way, has nothing to do with the covenant made.  Make no mistake about, we choose to forget our vows.  It is not a lapse of memory that causes us to fail in our commitment; it is a choice to glorify ourselves as opposed to glorify God.  Dare I say, we choose to stink.

3.  We love sentimentally and not efficaciously

It is easy to say, “I love you.”  If love only remains sentimental, then it is not in fact love at all.  Anyone can tell their child they love them.  But if they fail to feed, comfort, protect, or play with their children, it quickly becomes evident that the love amounts to little more than sentimentality.  Men are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church.  Jesus did more than just say he loved the church.  He died for it.  Christ loved the church efficaciously, meaning, he loved the church with a love that had an observable effect. His sacrifice produced something in those he died for.  Those who believe in Jesus Christ were, as a result of Christ’s love, made free, made beautiful, made acceptable, and made strong.  Unfortunately, men and women often fail to love efficaciously because they fail to love each other beyond feelings.  This failure is a direct result of selfishness.  We consider our needs and desires as more important than our spouse.  That is the very opposite of love.  True love is efficacious love.  Efficacious love requires a denial of the self and will, by nature, produce something in the individual being loved.  A man loving a woman efficaciously will produce in that woman freedom, beauty, acceptance, and strength—and everyone will be able to see it.

 4.  We exchange, confuse, or otherwise ignore our biblical our roles

Quite simply, men and women don’t know what God’s expects of them as biblical husbands and wives.  Instead of reading the bible, we follow culture’s example (or what we learned from Mom and Dad) and find ourselves believing falsehood.  We wrongly believe that man is superior to and dominant over women who are 2nd class citizens or we wrongly believe that there is no distinction between male and female other than biology. The truth is that men and women are equal, but distinct.  This view is rooted in the nature of God as Trinity, and in God’s creation of man and woman.  When we confuse roles, we discover men abusing, abandoning, or abdicating their leadership and we find women trying to fill the void.  Confusion with regard to the roles of husbands and wives is anything but progressive, it is sin and destructive to the marriage Men and women are not adversaries, they are allies—their marriage should enhance one another in their work on this earth.  In this, the man is commanded by God to lead and his bride is commanded to help him    Being a helper doesn’t make her less important, rather, it makes him more responsible.  She is necessary for success—“it is not good to be alone.”  As they turn to the task, since the work is his responsibility, she is his responsibility as well.

5.      We never learn to communicate beyond the surface

It seems that nearly every married couple I meet with struggles in someway with communication.   Some don’t listen each other, some don’t understand each other, and some have simply stopped talking all together.  A couple can get by with poor communication for a very long time but it eventually, their failure to communicate will cripple their ability to resolve conflicts in the other weak areas of their marriage such as sex, finances, parenting, etc..  Poor communication results from an inordinate amount of shallow communication.  Superficial exchange of “facts” is necessary in our lives, it’s the “oil” the greases the wheels of communication.  We go deeper and become a bit more vulnerable when we exchange “opinions”—insights into who we are and what we believe.  With our spouses, however, we need to additionally visit the deepest level of communication where we talk about our feelings.  This is hard for both men and women; men think discussing feelings is girly, and women believe their always discussing their feelings when in fact their usually giving opinions.  It’s natural to spend time exchanging facts, and it’s easy to give an opinion.   If married couples do not get beyond these levels, however, they will not develop true intimacy with one another and eventually begin to talk to someone else.

 In the end, we simply we don’t live gospel-centered marriages devoted to God’s glory.

Of course, there are a hundred other things that are not listed here that make our marriages stink.  Foundational to any smell, however, is the fact that we don’t live gospel-centered marriages devoted to God’s glory. That sounds all nice and Christian, but what does it actually mean?  Quite simply, it means that many of us love our own glory more than God, so we love in ways that are convenient or conflict-free.  A deep belief in the gospel means that you are convinced of three things.  1) That life is about glorifying God–including your marriage. 2)  The best way to glorify God is to look like Jesus.  3)  Glorifying God, and looking like Jesus, is the path to true joy.  Bringing the gospel to bear on a marriage moves one to relate to your husband or wife in the same way that Jesus relates you.  Loving your spouse with the eyes of Jesus means that you see the person for what they are—sin and all—not what they should be. You see their dirt, their weaknesses, their shame, and their nakedness and you still love them.  You love them when they don’t deserve it, don’t earn it, and sometimes, don’t even want it, just as Jesus loved you.  The husband or wives becomes devoted to adorning the gospel regardless of whether the other person does the same.

10 Problems with Halloween…errr…you

In a blog about the dangers of Halloween, especially one written by a pastor, one might expect to read a complete rejection of the holiday as evil, something to be avoided.  Nothing could be further from truth.  My hope is that Christians can avoid getting their holiness panties in a bunch, relax, and enjoy Halloween for what it is–and not make it into something it is not (regardless of how many websites you can find).

Let us acknowledge, with all respect, that there are different opinions about this holiday. The same differences of opinion exists with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, even Cupid and Valentine’s Day. So, let us all take a breath, read Romans 14, and FIGHT the desire to judge people for doing something you consider “pagan” or disqualify them for not attending your harvest carnival instead (or trunk or treat, all saints day, etc).  Whether you abstain, participate, or choose an alternative, let us all be “convinced” in our own minds and be driven by a desire to glorify God–and not make sure others do too (at least not your way).

Personally, I always appreciated that my Jesus-loving parents raised me to enjoy Halloween.  As all of our “church” friends hid “safely” away celebrating the harvest, my sisters and I  risked going door to door.  We were not out to scare anyone, to celebrate death, or to align ourselves with the forces of darkness.  Quite simply, we were out there for one reason…candy. I have great memories.

I find it somewhat disturbing how much effort the evangelical world puts into campaigning against Halloween and the like.  And although I realize we all want to protect our kids and help them discern the difference between good and evil, I’m just not sure demonizing Halloween (literally) is the way to do it.  I also can’t personally muster up the feelings to love “Harvest Carnivals”. They’re often as cheesy as those Christian movies look (not the stories…the actual film). I wonder if, instead of distancing ourselves from things like Halloween, we ought to find a way to embrace them to the glory of God.  Instead of rejecting or receiving it entirely, perhaps it can be reformed in order to be used missionally.  Perhaps Halloween is simply one of those community celebrations that we can use to connect with people relationally–to show them that Christians, though spiritualy different (a real transformation that does reform our real lives), are not completely culturally disconnected joy-killing-party-poopers.

Below are a few ways you’ll know if you need to rethink how you approach Halloween next year:

  1. You have kids but did nothing but darken the lights and hide, close your eyes, and wish it away.
  2. You were stingy with your candy (very anti-gospel), or worse, “blessed” the kids with apples, raisins, or something else healthy (thus ensuring you’ll have half as many trick or treaters next year).
  3. You passed out tracts instead of candy.
  4. You carved crosses,the Christian fish, the face of Jesus, or the names of the 12 disciples in your pumpkins.
  5. You forbid your kid from being a zombie, monster, or the like and forced them to dress up as a biblical character such as a patriarch, a prophet, a priest, a king, a shepherd, or worse…Jesus.
  6. You spent the evening fasting and praying that God would protect little children and condemn those ignorant adults (and pastors) who would dare to inflict such evil on their own child.
  7. You went trick or treating and met most of your neighbors for the first time (Of course, they all met each other at the neighborhood Halloween party you refused to attend).
  8. You didn’t spend a minute with a pagan non-believer who needs Jesus and, instead, hung out at the harvest carnival with believers who already know Jesus.
  9. You spent most of your time with believers hosting non-believers at a “hell house”, exposing the “sinners” to more wrathful, dark, disturbing imagery than they would ever get going door to door.
  10. You did everything you could to distinguish yourself from the world, so much so, it is likely the world will never want to spend anytime with you again.

Laugh and let all that we do be done with a desire to honor God.  Let us keep ourselves unstained by the world as we seek to love those captivated by it.  I realize that this is a difficult tension to resolve sometimes.  It’s easy to reject and it’s easy to receive. Perhaps we should ask more about how we can discern how to reform…ourselves…not Halloween.