It’s important to realize there are different ways to give spiritual leadership in the home.
By Dennis and Barbara Rainey
My husband will show spiritual leadership in our family by initiating a devotional time for us as a couple, but soon it stops. I feel disappointed. He seems to do it for my sake, not because he has real convictions of his own regarding spiritual intimacy with me. What can I do?
Barbara: One thing I have learned through the years as Dennis and I have grown in our marriage is that this may not be in place when you first get married. When I got married, it never occurred to me that Dennis didn’t know how to provide spiritual leadership and that this had to be learned.
I was rather impatient in our early years. I expected regular devotions seven days a week. We didn’t get anywhere close to that. Part of it was our kids. We had babies screaming. What I got was real sporadic leadership. It worked for awhile but I felt like he was doing it because I was bugging him to do it.
Dennis: I think a wife needs to understand that it may take years for a man to grow spiritually so that he can lead his wife in this area. I would guess that most men did not have a good model of spiritual leadership in their homes as they grew up. Barbara and I have prayed regularly as a couple for our entire marriage. But it took years before we had morning devotions with the kids before they headed off to school. With an incredible diversity of age span and needs when our children were at home, it was sporadic. And it was a challenge!
Barbara: It’s important to realize there are different ways to give spiritual leadership in the home. My big mistake early on was thinking that spiritual leadership meant you have devotions each day. I didn’t realize that a man can give spiritual leadership in all kinds of other ways just by the interaction he has with his children. If he is pointing his children to Christ, and to the Scripture, then he is giving spiritual leadership. It doesn’t have to just be in a formal Bible study.
Be grateful for what you get. Pray that God will give your husband a heart to want to lead the family spiritually. Be patient, because it may not come as quickly as you would like.
Dennis: As a couple, it’s good to evaluate your expectations and your personality differences. I think sometimes there are certain types of personalities that we tend to think of as being biblically approved leadership styles. There is really only biblically approved character, not biblically approved personality.
A structured wife will have, more than likely, married a man who is less structured and more spontaneous. With that comes an irregularity of schedule—never doing things the same way two days in a row. That is part of the joy of life for that person. And this type of husband will also have a more difficult time disciplining himself to provide consistent spiritual leadership for his family.
Ask your spouse what you can do to encourage him to lead spiritually. That may mean having the table set for dinnertime devotions with the Bible beside his placemat. Or it may mean finding some material to help him plan and schedule family nights. There may be other things that you can do to help take the load off your husband. It may mean going to bed early so you have time to read the Bible together.
Finally, be sure to affirm your husband for what he does do right. Even if it is as little as praying over meals, thank him for the spiritual leadership that he does initiate.