(What is a spiritual leader in a Christian marriage? In the first of this two part series, I’m going to talk about husbands as spiritual leaders. In part 2, I am going to talk about what it means for wives to submit to their husbands. )
Many men are intimidated about what it means to be a spiritual leader. Many times these men are dating wonderful, Godly women wondering if they can ever “lead” them.
There are a lot of misconceptions that paralyze these men from moving forward. Many feel that they need to have it all together, or they need to be at a certain spiritual place before they can be a leader.
What is a leader?
A leader is someone with a vision. A great leader is someone who is willing to lovingly guide their followers to a goal. Here are characteristics of men who are good spiritual leaders:
1. A spiritual leader prioritizes his walk with God
You don’t need to be a pastor or elder of your church. You don’t need to be a Bible study leader or pray 10 hours a day or memorize the new testament.
However there needs to be a sense that God is important and it is a priority. A godly woman will not feel safe knowing that it is so easy for you to forego spending time with God and nurturing your relationship with Him.
Many people will not miss a day of work whether they have the flu or have two broken legs (I am guilty of this). But they struggle to go to church if they are tired. There is no judgment here–we all have a right to have whatever priorities we want. But since this an article about spiritual leadership, in order to be a spiritual leader, you need to be prioritizing your relationship with God.
2. He puts the needs of his wife and family above his own
A lot of the men I counsel are struggling to transition from bachelorhood to husbandhood. They struggle to let go of the 6 days of the week basketball playing, or working 60 hour weeks, then heading to the bar afterwards. Some have very loose boundaries with women (e.g. Social media flirting, blatant wandering eyes, emotional affairs), which hurt their spouse deeply.
Being faithful to church activities and even your own quiet times will not help you be a spiritual leader if you aren’t putting the needs of your wife and family before your own. Your wife will not be able to follow someone she feels is hurting her.
3. A spiritual leader is mature and doesn’t use his position to lord it over his wife
Being a spiritual leader means to protect and build up. This means respecting and loving your wife, helping her to be the best she can be. It means being a good listener and not always trying to be right but being curious about what your wife is trying to communicate with you.
It means being humble enough to learn about what it means to nurture your relationship with your wife. It means being willing to read books, or go to therapy, talk to your pastor, or attend a marriage conference to learn more if you need growth in this area.
4. He initiates, sets good boundaries, and stands firm when he needs to.
While being a controlling tyrant is not a sign of a spiritual leader, neither is a passive follower. Make sure that you take a stand when you need to. Make sure that you don’t ask your wife what to do at every turn or wait for her to tell you what to do. Take the initiative, be aware of the needs of your wife and your household. Don’t agree with everything out of fear. (And again, if you are having trouble with this, get help!)
Being a spiritual leader is similar to being a good Christian: love God and love others. Basically, keep your own spiritual life in check. Make it a priority. Keep growing in your walk with God and seek Him just as much as you seek your promotion or your next goal at the gym. And then loving others: make sure you are loving your wife sacrificially, leading her to become her best self, and standing firm when needed.
Being a spiritual leader is something that you practice and grow into over time. Put time and effort into it and you will see rewards in your family and your walk with God.
(Click here for part 2: What Does It Mean To Be A Submissive Wife?)
About the author: Lia Huynh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving the Milpitas, San Jose and Fremont areas. Her specialties are Christian Counseling and Couples Counseling. If you are wanting to learn more about how to be a spiritual leader in your home, find out more about Christian Counseling here and Couples Counseling here.