4 Ways to Wordlessly Impact Your Husband's Spiritual Growth
- Cindi McMenamin Author
- 2016 8 Feb
(This is Part 2 of a Two-Part Series on “Accepting His Spirituality”
Are you frustrated with where your husband appears to be spiritually?
I know some wives who say, “My husband is all I’ve dreamed of, spiritually. He has a thriving relationship with Christ and he’s the one who is leading me and our family spiritually.”
But I also know many women don’t feel that way.
Chances are you are one who would like to see more initiative when it comes to your husband leading your family, spiritually. Or maybe you’d like to see more evidence of – or excitement in – your husband’s walk with Christ. Or maybe you’d just like to see him have a relationship with Christ in the first place.
If any of those are true in your marriage, this article is for you. And it’s important that you recognize that, no matter what your hopes and dreams for your husband from a spiritual standpoint, what happens in his relationship with God comes down to him and God – period.
There’s a reason why Scripture exhorts women married to unbelievers to “be submissive to your husband so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (1 Peter 3:1-2, NASB).
I often wonder if that portion of Scripture is included for us today because God knew just how much we would try to push and pull, hint and convict, and even at times manipulate our husbands into sharing our faith or meeting us at the same level in our faith.
I’ve talked to hundreds of wives, over the past 20 years of my ministry, who will attest to the fact that their words are rarely effective when it comes to trying to convince their unbelieving husbands to submit to God. And many wives of believers are finding the same thing when it comes to trying to get their husbands to develop a deeper relationship with God or to be more committed to the church or spiritual matters.
My friend, Theresa, told me that she tried for several years to get her husband to be the kind of godly man and spiritual leader that she had envisioned when they married. She would drop him hints, recount to him great sermons, buy him books on how to be a godly man, and sign him up for every “spiritual” opportunity for men at her church. The only problem was, her husband felt the heavy load of having to live up to his wife’s expectations. And what husband can do that?
Theresa said, “The best gift I can give my husband is to allow him to be who God created him to be. I have to allow him to grow in his faith on his own. Because when I tried to change him spiritually to be the man I envisioned him to be it almost ruined our marriage. The only expectations they are to live up to are the Lord’s.”
Well said, Theresa.
Now what does it look like to encourage our husbands to grow spiritually?
It does not look like pulling, pushing or manipulating. In fact, it often looks like backing off and letting him pursue his walk with God without your help.
Now please don’t think I’m being critical because I don’t understand what it’s like to live with an unbeliever or a man who isn’t on the same page as you, spiritually. I do understand your situation, if you are desperate to see your husband be the godly spiritual man he is called to be. In the past 20 years of ministry, my husband and I have often seen well-intentioned wives trying to pull their husbands along spiritually. We value the wife’s intention. Of course she wants her man to live for God and be on the same page she is on, spiritually. And kudos to her for pursuing her spiritual growth without his push behind her. But, as women in general, we tend to be impatient when it comes to the spiritual growth of our men.
Your Silent Witness
While it’s commendable for you and I to desire that our husbands be all that God has created them to be, we must remember that God never made it our responsibility to bring our spouse along spiritually. Rather, Scripture exhorts us in 1 Peter 3:1-4 to live pure and reverent lives and be focused on our “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
So what is this reverent behavior that will win over our husbands, spiritually? What is this unfading beauty and “inner self” that Scripture says will have a profound impact on our husbands, drawing them to a relationship with Christ or developing in them a desire to grow closer to Him? It’s speaking of character – a character of faith that says more through our actions than our words. I believe what God is saying, in Scripture, is “model it to him so he can see through your life what Christ-likeness looks like.”
Here are some character traits that may have a profound effect upon your husband’s spirituality:
1. Be a Woman of Purity
Why would Scripture point out that the “purity and reverence of your lives” would be something that would win your husband over to the Lord? Because purity is something that makes you stand apart from the rest of the world.
One of the ways we can be pure – and separated from the rest of the world – is to not have a critical or argumentative spirit.
Philippians 2:14-15 says: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life… ” (Philippians 2:14-16).
That verse, basically, says that you will “stand out” in the crowd simply by not complaining or arguing. In another translation, Philippians 2:15 says a person who does all things without grumbling or complaining will “shine like stars in the nighttime sky” (NASB).
Jesus told his followers: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). So shine, woman of God – by being grateful and gracious – so that others (including your husband) will see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven!
2. Be a Woman of Reverence
In addition to a lifestyle of purity, reverence is another characteristic that may win our husbands over without a word from us. To revere your husband is to respect or admire him even if you don’t agree with what he says or does. Any woman will gladly obey and respect her husband when she knows he is absolutely right in the decisions he makes and how he leads. But what if your husband struggles with this? And chances are, if he doesn’t know or live for Christ, he may struggle in many areas of his life. How much more then are you ministering to his heart when you respect and admire him, out of a love for God and a desire to please your heavenly Father first!
3. Be a Woman of Gentleness
Proverbs 15:1 says “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” The opposite of gentleness is roughness, callousness, harshness. Husbands are attracted to the softness in their wives – their ability to smooth over a situation, say a kind word at the appropriate time, hold a crying baby and cause him to quiet down. Does your husband see those same qualities of gentleness expressed in how you relate to him? When I have had a constructive suggestion to my husband, in the way of spiritually leading our family, it always goes over better when that suggestion is offered with gentleness.
4. Be a Woman with a Quiet Spirit
A woman with a gentle and quiet spirit is not a cantankerous woman, or a disgraceful or foolish woman, as is described in the Proverbs. A woman with a gentle and quiet spirit is one who is calm, not worried; quiet, not stressed. She is quietly trusting in her God to come through in ways that perhaps her husband cannot comprehend. A quiet spirit says, without words “I’m not going to worry about this situation because I know my God is in control.”
As you practice those characteristics you are modeling Christ-likeness to your husband and showing him – rather than telling him – what faith really looks like.
Cindi McMenamin is a national women’s speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120, 000 copies sold), When Couples Walk Together (co-authored with her husband, Hugh), and When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, from which this article is based. Her newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom releases March 1 from Harvest House Publishers. For more on her ministry to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: February 8, 2016