What does spiritual leadership look like in marriage?
Many Christian men want to lead their wives spiritually, but they have no idea what that means. Many Christian women want to be led spiritually by their husbands, but they're not really sure what it looks like to follow. Often times, what can result is a chaotic mess of unmet expectations.
Recently, I sat across the table from a young married man who wanted to know some practical ways to lead his wife. He went through a short list of what he was currently doing, but felt that was somewhat inadequate. After asking some men around him, he felt like the main question he got back was, "are you praying with your wife?".
I'm glad some men want to fill the role in their marriage as spiritual leaders. Since God has called us, as men, to love our wives like Christ loved the Church, it is important that we put together some practical ways this plays out on a daily basis in our marriage relationships.
Here are a few ways I think men can lead spiritually in their home:
1. Pursue Christ. This is the foundation for good spiritual leadership. Before you try to start leading, you need to make sure you are following. Men whose hearts are humble before the Lord can be shaped by Him. Sit before God regularly, with His Word open, eagerly seeking to be purified and conformed into His image. Show her the importance of this in your life. That will translate into your relationship as well.
2. Find out who has led your wife spiritually in the past. Think about your life. Who made a distinct impact on you? Was it a youth pastor, college pastor, Young Life leader? Why did you learn so much from their presence in your life?
We all learn and are led differently. If you can find out those things about your wife, I think you will get a better clue of what it means to lead her. Your wife might love time together, just sitting and talking. In those times, significant conversations are had that give you the opportunity to care for her soul.
3. Honor her publicly. Speak highly of your wife. Don't focus on her flaws or deficits. Be the man that makes your wife light up when you speak about her at meal tables with your friends.
4. Sacrifice for her. Philippians 2 gives us a great picture of Jesus' love and example. It is marked by putting others' needs before your own. Do the same in marriage. Put down the rights you think you deserve and start sacrificing for your wife.
Leadership begins by setting an example, and then asking someone to follow it. As a man, take the initiative to sacrifice for your wife.
5. Be eager to serve. My temptation is merely to be able to serve. Some days I am even willing to serve. But Christ's example and calling for Christian leaders is to be eager to serve.
The other day my wife asked if I could help with one of our foster sons. I made a joking comment in return, and then helped. A couple of days later I apologized to her, recognizing that my attitude in that moment did not show her an eagerness to serve her. That was not the type of husband I want to be.
6. Pray with her. Yes, I said it. Pray with your wife. This might be the go-to question for older men teaching younger men about spiritual leadership in marriage. There is something unique and intimate about praying together. I've read statistics of what prayer in marriages does for the health of a marriage. It is profound.
Spiritual leadership in marriage is not something we should leave as a vague idea that exists in someone else's reality. Instead, let's strive as men to fulfill the role that God has given us.
Any other concrete ideas of how a husband can lead a wife spiritually?
If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.