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Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

Helping Him Lead: Can Strong Women Make Submissive Wives?

  • Dr. Julie Barrier Preach It Teach It
  • 2015 18 Sep
Helping Him Lead: Can Strong Women Make Submissive Wives?

I’ll be brutally honest. My Dad wanted a son to take over his business. He had two girls, and I was the heir-apparent. My "Daddy issues" carried over into my marriage. Roger, my fledgling pastor-husband, sought advice from our church counselor about how to handle a driven wife. Dr. Dowdle advised, "Julie is a talented and powerful woman. You had better set her free to be all that God wants her to be, or in twenty years you're going to have a very angry lady on your hands."

I didn't fit the "bun-wearing, casserole-carrying church hostess" model. I burned food. Badly. Instead, I was more comfortable wearing leather pants, playing keys in the youth rock band. Later, I conducted choirs and orchestras, earned a doctorate in music, and eventually taught seminary.

My first potluck cake. It was supposed to be yellow...

A well-meaning couple cornered Roger post-sermon one Sunday morning and asked, "Why are you letting Julie do these crazy things? Don't you know that's not what pastors' wives do?" My husband confidently answered,  "Julie, like Jesus in His baptism, is fulfilling all righteousness." He had no earthly idea what he meant by his answer! But upon further reflection, Rog was saying that he truly felt I was simply following God’s calling for my life, and he loved being supportive. Eventually, we spent much of our ministry as a teaching team counseling pastors and wives around the world. We are partners in life and in love.

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My husband often quotes Genesis 2:18. The KJV version states:

"And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an helpmeet for him.'"

The Hebrew word helpmeet is not some healthy protein; it is a term that describes interlocking fingers - distinct yet united, completing each other.

Lori Byerling at The Generous Wife wisely described the Hebrew phrase ezer kenegdo (helpmeet) in this way:

SEE ALSO: Women Who Can't Say No and the Men Who Control Them

"Eve's creation reflects a kind of strength and was a rescue for Adam. All of creation was good and very good, but there was one thing that was not good. Adam was alone and God’s solution was an ezer kenegdo. The words ezer kenegdo couldn't be found (in the rest of creation), so God made one."

Ezer is often used in the Old Testament in reference to someone who is very strong and capable coming to the rescue of another in serious trouble! Most of the verses using “ezers” concern God being the helper of His people in battle (1 Samuel 7:12). Kenegdo signifies "what is in front of, corresponding to, or facing opposites." Picture male and female counterparts reflecting the full image of God!

Wives, God created you and your husband to be a team - interconnected, stronger together and yet distinctly unique. Eve was created to be half of a strong partnership divinely designed by the Creator.

Ladies, what if you don’t have a "Roger"?

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Perhaps your husband is threatened by your success, intimidated by your talents. Do you belittle him or neglect to honor, respect and encourage his strengths? We all need appreciation, approval, acceptance, support, security and comfort. Humble yourself. Learn to be content in God’s arms. Remember David’s sweet prayer in Psalm 131:1-2:

“My heart is not proud, Lord,
 My eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
 or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
 I am like a weaned child with its mother;
 like a weaned child I am content.” NIV

You may be a frustrated young mom at home chasing babies and changing poopy diapers. Contentment is the last emotion you are feeling right now. I sat enthralled, listening to Jill Briscoe speak at a conference for pastor's wives. I wept. "God, why am I on the shelf instead of at the podium? I am so tired of chasing kids, drowning in loads of laundry. Will I ever be able to express the passionate calling I feel for ministry?" I heard a loving whisper. God said, "Wait, my Daughter… My timing is perfect." A weaned child is one who leans on mommy's breast without any milk. He can find contentment just being close to Mom. I learned to be content during that time just resting, loving my babies and being close to Him.

Paul's wise words in Romans 12:3 also challenged me:

"I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for Him." The Message

All that I am is from God and to God. The gifts I hold are His and not mine. They are to be used as He chooses.

What if your husband is not a believer? You may be the only spiritual leader in your home. Perhaps you have children to raise and they need to know Jesus. My favorite verse in this regard is 1 Peter 3:1:

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” ASV

Many Christians paint this verse as a picture of slavish subjection. As if it says, "Wives, keep your head down and your mouth shut. Your husband will be won to Christ without your preachy nagging."

I believe this is a beautiful opportunity for a woman to express the gentle character of Jesus. She loves her Lord, prays earnestly for her hubby, and nurtures her children.

A strong woman does not have to be bossy or "large and in charge!" She listens to God, looks for His will and patiently allows her Creator to fulfill her potential.

We are delightfully made. We are not just an appendage for a husband, like an extra arm. We are meant to be strong partners. We are needed in the body of Christ to help reflect the image of God to a world in desperate need of a Savior. We are not somehow inferior or less than. We are made of the same substance as man but fashioned a little differently. Not better, not worse, just delightfully different.

For over twenty-five years, Dr. Julie Barrier has been in demand as a national and international conference speaker, addressing topics such as marriage and ministry, developing healthy relationships, biblical study, and women’s issues. She is the founder and director of the Preach It, Teach It website, providing sermons, devotionals, blogs, and videos by internationally renowned teachers and authors such as Francis Chan, Josh McDowell, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, David Ferguson, Jim Cymbala, Larry Osborne, Mark Batterson, Stanley Toussaint and many more. International resources are also offered in ten languages. Since its inception in June 2008, Preach It, Teach It has received more than five hundred thousand hits from 203 countries. For many years, Julie also taught Biblical Foundations of Worship, Conducting, and Arranging as an adjunct Professor at the Dixon School of Church Music at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. She has served as a minister of worship, orchestra conductor, and arranger at Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Barrier has also performed as a concert artist and orchestra conductor. Dr. Barrier is the author or composer of over fifty published works: books, choral pieces, orchestral works, musical theater scripts, and journal articles. Her latest book is Bored in Big Church: Recollections of a Church Brat and Tattletale (Xulon Press, 2011). She and her husband, Roger, have two beautiful daughters and two sons-in-law.

Publication date: September 18, 2015