Junior-Varsity Husbanding.

I’ve been talking with some guys lately who are also in their first year of marriage, and one of the struggles I keep hearing from them is that they all recognize they need to grow in spiritual leadership. I guess this is pretty common among first-year Christian husbands.

I shared last Monday how my spiritual walk has been dry lately, and how God has been pressing me to repent and return. One of the unintended consequences of that dryness is that I have been failing to encourage and nurture the spiritual growth of my wife.

She is a born-again daughter of God; she has a relationship with Christ that does not rely upon her relationship with me. But part of my responsibility to her as her husband is to help strengthen and cultivate her spiritual life–to wash her with the water of the Word, so to speak. If I am to help her grow and flourish as a person, I cannot ignore this aspect of her life.

I know I haven’t been leading well in this area, because I haven’t really been growing lately in this area. I’ve repented of this, and want to grow, but I would like some advice on how to strengthen her spiritually.

So, fellow believers, can I ask you for some ideas? How do you encourage and support your spouse’s spiritual life and growth? 

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8 thoughts on “Junior-Varsity Husbanding.

  1. It’s pretty common among first-year complementarian Christian marriages.

    From RHE: “In talking with campus ministers, I’ve found that this whole “spiritual leader” thing is alive and well on Christian college campuses today. Perhaps because “submission” has been understood in terms of hierarchy, young women assume they must marry men who are more assertive, driven, and knowledgeable than they. I wish I could send out mass email to college girls everywhere reminding them that if Christ is our example of leadership, then what they should be looking for are men who are servants.” (Google “Spiritual leadership Rachel Held Evans” and it’s the top hit.)

    It’s much easier to be a spiritual servant than a spiritual leader. It doesn’t require any extra knowledge, any extra “spirituality,” whatever that means. Sometimes I think wives are understandably frustrated, shouting at husbands to “LEAD ME” in areas that their husband doesn’t even care about. Hence this sudden, startled, “Uh, oh, I guess I should have been leading more this whole time.” Anyone holding themselves back from growth, waiting for someone else to come in, assess the situation in far less time than they have, and make a decision… that’s just full of problems and it’s no wonder it’s such a struggle for all parties involved.

    Not married, but if I had a spouse, I’d just talk to them about their spiritual growth. I’d say, Great. Do it. I support you. I’m here for you. Let me know what you need.

    And in this case, if you’ve hit a dry spot, maybe she should be encouraging you? And that’s not bad? And you can be saying, Go, go, go. Don’t worry about me. Don’t wait for me. I don’t need to be in the same mental space as you to serve you. Don’t let me hold you back. Grow.

    • The complementarian/egalitarian issue is something we’ve always disagreed on, and that’s fine. And while I’m prone to disagree with RHE on pretty much anything Bible-related (because our understandings of the Bible are extremely different), she is right in saying Jesus the ultimate servant-leader. That’s the standard for all husbands. That image of servant-leadership is what I’m pursuing.

      Like I said, my wife has a relationship with God that is not dependent on me. And I don’t think she’s waiting on me for anything. However, as I am called to care for her, support her, help her flourish, my responsibility as her spouse is to encourage that. Since I’m recognizing that I haven’t been doing that, I want to change that. And I have been asking her how I can help, as you suggested.

      And to your other point, she actually has been a HUGE spiritual encouragement and support for me. God has blessed me beyond imagining by giving me such a wise, gentle, compassionate spouse who loves me in spite of my weaknesses and recognizes and encourages where I’m growing.

      Thanks for your comments, Jaimie. They’re always appreciated.

      • I love that Jaimie and I have profile pictures on YOUR website but you don’t.

      • There you go, Michael. New profile pic for website comments–one that represents the love I’m still trying to let go of.

      • You know, as I was writing my comment I was more writing it toward your blog readers (present and future) than to you, so I’m sorry if it sounded like I was talking down to you. Just trying to be broad. I don’t know your wife, but regardless your marriage is far down the list of marriages I would ever be concerned about.

  2. Start with a simple checklist. If you do these things right, the rest will follow.

    1. Pray for her daily, but come up with different specific things to pray for her about. I am talking about virtues and spiritual growth for her. Ask God to grow her.
    2. Read God’s Word out loud to her.
    3. Remind her how blessed she is to have you, especially after you offend her.

    2 of those are serious. One of them was not.

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