More and more women today are sensing a call of God on their lives—a call to draw closer to the Lord, to grow spiritually and to minister in His name. But many hesitate to respond to that call.
"What will happen to my marriage if I become more spiritually mature than my husband?" wives often ask. "Will I become the 'spiritual head' of our family and be out of God's order?"
"I want my husband to be the spiritual leader in our home, but he is not taking on that role for himself," others say. "What do I do with my call while God is working in my husband?"
I believe God is pleased to know that such issues concern His spiritual daughters. You probably know at least one woman who did not ask these difficult questions—with disastrous results in her marriage.
Each of us needs to ask the tough questions and find the answers that fit our particular circumstances. Only then will peace, mutual love and respect be maintained in our marriages while we grow and minister in the Lord.
The guidance for this challenge, as for all the challenges we face, is in the Word of God. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (NIV).
In other words, your situation is not as unique as it seems; according to the Bible, it has already been experienced by at least one other woman! God had the answer then, and He has your answer now.
As you begin your quest, an important scripture to consider is 1 Peter 5:7: "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." You are never alone! God is always with you. He loves and protects you and cares about you and your marriage.
According to the dictionary, "to care" means "to have strong feelings for." That's something to remember and meditate upon: The God of the universe has strong feelings for you!
And because God has strong feelings, you do too. After all, you were made in His image. It's no surprise, then, that many emotions rise to the surface when you feel a tension between your marriage and God's call on your life.
Taking the Risk
Fear is perhaps the most common of these emotions. And it's a valid one because following your destiny in God can be risky for you and your husband.
You may not understand all that's happening to you and in you. What you do with your time may change. Activities that used to hold your interest may no longer do so.
Instead of watching television at night, you may find yourself choosing to read the Word and other books for self-improvement. Instead of shopping during the day, you may prefer to have a small group or Bible study meet in your home.
You may change your circle of friends. Your appearance may even change as you begin to honor God with your body, His temple.
It is especially important that you remain intimate and connected to your husband during this time. He may or may not accept some of the changes he sees in you.
Even these healthy kinds of changes can be perceived by some men as threatening to the marriage. But by developing a humble spirit, you will ultimately add to your inner beauty, causing your husband to appreciate the changes he sees in you and lessening his own fears about your relationship.
The wrong response to fear is to try to control or manipulate the timing or degree of your husband's spiritual growth. If you do that, you will be out of alignment with God's design for a godly wife. And depending on your husband's temperament, you could cause him to rebel and retreat even further from God or develop an "Ahab nature."
You remember Ahab, the cowering, ineffective husband of Queen Jezebel in the Old Testament. In his book The Jezebel Spirit, Francis Frangipane describes a husband with the Ahab nature as a man who never truly exercises his spiritual authority.
Frangipane writes, "The man who cannot govern his household in godly, protective authority will not exercise his spiritual authority elsewhere." That's the exact opposite of what you want!
God's solution to fear is not for you to push but for you to put your faith in Him. If you have allowed fear to govern your behavior, repent and ask God to increase your faith. Believe in God's sovereignty and timing, trusting that He will work all things for your good. His Word says that God's plans for you and your husband are not to harm you but to give you hope and a future (see Jer. 29:11).
Dealing with Anger
Another common emotion is anger—anger directed at your husband or even at God for not seeming to act on your behalf. Hebrews 6:1 tells us that God's desire is that we all become spiritually mature.
You see other husbands growing spiritually. So why is your husband the one dragging his spiritual feet?
Many Christian women have confided to me that their husbands won't pray with them. Many have said they've had to take responsibility for family devotions—otherwise there would be none. And week after week, many women have had to bring their children to church by themselves.
How easy it is for anger to build up in such circumstances! But over time, anger can be stored and, if not resolved, turn into resentment and bitterness. When that happens, aggressive behaviors, either passive or overt, can begin to destroy the unity and intimacy that God intended for your marriage.
Again, we can go to God's Word for insight. Ephesians 4:22-33 says that we must not sin in our anger but rather be "made new" in the attitude of our minds. We must "get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger" and "speak truthfully" to our neighbor. And in this case, your husband is your closest neighbor!
If you have spoken the truth—without anger or rage—about God's desire for your husband's spiritual maturity and his response is not what you had hoped for, you can find further instruction in 1 John 3:18: Love him "with actions and in truth."
Addressing marriage in particular, 1 Peter 3:1-6 says that you can win your husband to Christ by your godly actions and behavior—by living a pure, reverent life; by exhibiting a gentle and quiet spirit; and by remaining hopeful and not giving way to fear. Obeying God's commands with a heart full of love pleases Him. In this attitude of faith, humility and love, you can "receive from Him anything" you ask (1 John 3:21-22).
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