Is your husband the spiritual leader of your home? Would you like him to be?
While some women really struggle with submitting to their husbands, others would happily follow their husband’s leadership — if only their husband would lead!
Unfortunately, however, not all men automatically step up to that role on their own.
If you’d like your husband to be more of a spiritual leader in your home, here are six things you can try.
*Note: This article assumes that your husband is, in fact, a Christian. If your husband isn’t a Christian, you may want to check out this article instead: Unequally Yoked Marriage? Here’s What to Do When Your Spouse Isn’t a Believer.
1. Identify and Examine Your Expectations for Spiritual Leadership
First things first. Before you can encourage your husband to be more of a spiritual leader, you need to decide what “spiritual leader” looks like to you.
In other words: What are you actually wanting or expecting him to DO?
Do you want him to:
- Lead your family in daily devotions?
- Pray out loud before meals?
- Read Bible stories with the children at bedtime?
- Join a small group or men’s Bible study group?
- Share his struggles and spiritual insights with you on a regular basis?
- Attend church with your family every week?
Then, ask yourself: Are your expectations reasonable — taking his personality, strengths, and schedule into account?
2. Reconcile Your Views With the Bible’s Views on Spiritual Leadership
Okay, now that you know what you expect from your husband in terms of spiritual leadership, have you stopped to consider what the Bible actually requires?
The truth is: nowhere in the Bible are men commanded to lead family devotions or pray with the children at bedtime.
Yes, these are good things — very good things — but they aren’t the Bible’s definition of “spiritual leadership,” and your husband is not necessarily lacking if he doesn’t do them.
Let’s look at what the Bible says about husbands and spiritual leadership:
“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.” — 1 Timothy 3:4
Does he teach your children how to behave? Does he guide them with love and care? That’s spiritual leadership.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” — Ephesians 5:25-28
Does your husband love you and take good care of you? Does he tell you when you’re doing a good job and when you could do better? Does he provide for you and keep you safe? That’s spiritual leadership.
Spiritual leadership isn’t just reading the Bible or doing devotions together as a family. It’s setting a good example of Christian life, and encouraging and leading his family to do the same.
3. Recognize His Current Efforts as a Spiritual Leader
Okay, so since spiritual leadership encompasses SO much more than just reading the Bible or praying, chances are your husband is already taking steps to lead your family — you just may not have recognized or fully appreciated them.
Personally, once I began to understand spiritual leadership in the sense of “modeling what good Christian living looks like and trying to encourage the rest of the family to live that way too” instead of JUST doing family devotions or praying together, it completely opened up my eyes to all the many, many, many ways my own husband leads our family — ways I was completely oblivious too until I intentionally went looking for them!
For example, does your husband:
- Model unconditional love and forgiveness
- Go out of his way to love and serve others
- Take your family outdoors to enjoy God’s creation
- Cultivate intentional friendships with others
- Weigh options and make smart decisions for your family
- Encourage you to grow in faith
- Seek to grow in faith himself
Sure, I may be the one who reads more Christian books in our family, but my husband is the one who has taught me so much about God’s love for me… about tenacity, contentedness, bravery and faith… about giving and helping and what it means to be a true friend… He encourages me when I’m right and challenges me when I’m wrong.
He may not sit down with me and lead me through the Bible, but he absolutely leads me to the Lord.
How does your husband seek to grow in faith (even if it’s quietly on his own) and encourage your family to do the same? If so, he’s probably more of a spiritual leader than you realize.
4. Share Your Hopes With Your Husband!
Okay, all that aside… if you have acknowledged your husband’s current leadership and you’d still like more, that’s totally fine. But in order to get it — you have to tell him what you want!
Your husband is not a mind-reader, and it’s not fair to expect him to be. Instead, you need to tell him what you’d like politely, specifically and in a positive matter, while being open to the fact that he may say no.
In other words, do NOT say:
- I wish you were more of a spiritual leader in our family.
- Why don’t you ever step up?
- So-and-so’s family does this… why don’t we?
- I would love it if our family could [do this particular thing]… What would you think about it?
- Would you be interested in / willing to…?
- I’m not sure what the best decision is in this situation… What do you think?
If he says no — that’s okay. He’s a grown-up and he’s allowed to do what he wants. If you’re trying to force your husband to lead you your way — that’s not leadership at all. That’s you telling him what to do, as though he were a child. Don’t do that.
But maybe he’d be happy to step into more of a leadership role — he just doesn’t know that you want him to or what you want him to do!
You never know unless you ask.
5. Identify and Remove Obstacles to Spiritual Leadership
If your husband does say no (or if he says yes, but doesn’t follow through), see if you can identify any obstacles that may be standing in the way.
- He’s too tired after work
- The kids are too loud / won’t sit still
- He doesn’t have enough time
- He doesn’t know how
- He isn’t comfortable with that particular task
Once you know what the obstacle is, you can look for ways to solve it. For example, by:
- Helping him brainstorm a quicker or easier alternative
- Suggesting a different time of day when you’re less rushed
- Teaching the kids how to behave so your time together is more pleasant
- Having the house clean and dinner ready so it’s not so chaotic in the evenings
- Finding the right materials and having them on hand.
Furthermore, sometimes we – as Christian wives – can be an incredible obstacle to our husband’s spiritual leadership.
This happens when we refuse to follow his direction, undermine his authority, nag him to change, or insist on doing things our own way.
After all — how difficult must it be for our husbands to lead when we refuse to follow or when we constantly criticize their leadership? (Whether we mean to or not) And the tricky part is — we often do so without even realizing it.
If you suspect this *may* be an issue in your marriage (and even if you don’t), it’s definitely worth it to check in with your husband to see if there are any things you’ve been doing – even with the best of intentions – that are coming across as disrespectful to him or undermining his leadership for your family.
I know I’ve been guilty of this on more than one occasion! (Okay, lots of occasions…)
6. Acknowledge and Encourage His Leadership Often
Even if your conversation with your husband goes incredibly well, chances are that leadership is still a position that he will have to grow into over a period of time. There will be a learning curve as he learns to step up and develops the confidence to do so, while you learn to step down and develop the trust to do so.
During this time, while the “rules” of your relationship are changing, you both may feel a little insecure, uneasy or unsettled. Hopefully you both want to do the right thing for your family, but you’re likely still figuring out what that is and where the boundary lines are.
You’ll both mess up plenty of times along the way — you’ll learn some things by trial and error — and that’s okay too. Neither one of you will get it right the first time, and honestly, it’s okay if it gets a little worse before it gets better. You’ll get there.
In the meantime, look for as MANY chances as you can find to verbally acknowledge and appreciate all the things he is doing.
Tell him how much you enjoy the new things he is trying, and do your best not to correct him when things go wrong. Tell him you’re proud of him, and share how excited you are for the new dynamic. Find things to praise him for and look for situations where you can step down and defer to his leadership.
(Not in a patronizing way, of course, but in an encouraging, supportive way.)
And you’ll both be better off for it.
Is your husband the spiritual leader in your family? How does he lead your family? What do you do to encourage him as a leader?