“My husband won’t lead!”
The command for wives to submit to their husbands is criticized by many non-Christians and even some liberal or egalitarian churches. As a result, you’d think as a pastor I’d regularly hear women saying, “My husband wants me to submit and I hate it.” Instead, the most common complaint I hear from wives is, “My husband won’t lead.”
Here’s part of a message I received recently:
I’m really struggling trying to get my husband to lead. I have tried to encourage him to do so, but I’m at a loss! Taking the initiative is what I want him to do, but he won’t. I have your workbook, but he won’t go over the questions with me. Short of reminding him again and again and feeling like I’m nagging him – which I hate doing and have tried really hard not to do – how do I get him to step up?
Unfortunately, there’s no answer that guarantees a husband will grow in this area. Although I provide the following recommendations, I can’t assure a wife that her husband will be different in the future. For any single ladies, this is one thing to keep in mind before saying, “I do.”
1. If your husband won’t lead, keep reminding him.
I’ll be the first to say that as husbands we can be oblivious and forgetful at times. God has called you to be your husband’s helper, and this is one of the best ways for you to fulfill that role. The obvious danger is that your reminders turn in to nagging. The woman who sent me the above question said she makes an effort to prevent that from happening. That’s wonderful!
2. If your husband won’t lead, keep inviting him.
Ask him to lead and let him know how much you would appreciate it if he would pray with you, read the Word with you, work on the questions with you, etc. If he accepts your invitation, make sure you let him know how much you appreciate him doing so.
3. If your husband won’t lead, accountability and/or a mentor could help.
I haven’t met any husbands who say they want to be bad spiritual leaders. Although, I have met many men who say they want to be godly spiritual leaders…but they don’t know how. I believe them! Your husband might be in this category. Maybe he could benefit from another man’s example or accountability. Is there a man in your church (perhaps an elder?) or in your lives who is strong in this area and could come alongside your husband to help him grow in this area?
Brief note to any husbands reading this: when husbands tell me, “I don’t know if I can read the Word with my family!” My response is, “If you can read, you can read the Word with your family.”
4. If your husband won’t lead, keep praying for him.
I say “keep,” because I’m sure you’re already praying for him. Luke 18:1 says:
[Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
It’s easy to become discouraged while praying. Don’t lose heart! Keep praying! One of the benefits of praying is even if God doesn’t answer your specific prayer and make your husband the spiritual giant you want him to be, He will give you the grace you need to endure the situation you’re in. When we pray, sometimes God answers our prayers. Other times He simply gives us the strength to handle the situation without Him answering the way we want.
5. If your husband won’t lead, keep 1 Peter 3:1-2 in mind.
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, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
God says your behavior will win over your husband. Make sure you’re reading the Word, praying, and doing Bible studies with your children. Rare is the man who will not be convicted if he is not doing these things, but he sees his wife doing them! Jesus said, “[The Holy Spirit] will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8b). Let the Holy Spirit rebuke your husband that his wife has to carry much of the load that belongs to him.
- If you’re a woman, what encouragement would you give to a wife in this situation?
- If you’re a man, how would you want your wife to encourage you in your spiritual leadership?