I spent an hour or so this morning with more than two dozen men of The Downtown Church. The elders of our almost one-year-old church had asked us to join them in a special meeting. Pastor Jayson Turner began the session by reading the record of prophetess Deborah and General Barak, in Judges chapters 4-5, emphasizing the sub-theme that Barak lost some of the glory from victory in battle than he might have had because he failed to lead courageously. He demonstrated a lack of trust in God, and depended upon Deborah to fill a role she was not called to. Scripture makes the clear implication that Barak failed in his role as a man, a leader, and this was not good (4:8-9; 5:24-27). Jay used this to springboard to a concern of the Elders – that the men of our fledgling church take on their biblical roles, not just in the church’s mission to be a redemptive force in the city, but also in our homes, with our wives and children.
In the discussion that followed (to which I just listened) several great thoughts were shared, but one strong thread resonated with me – that our wives, so very often, long to have us as husbands take the initiative in leading – especially in spiritual things. I wound up checking out of the discussion for a while as I reflected anew on the topic.
I’m sure there are books and articles and blog posts about the reasons why men wrestle with taking this initiative. I’m sure that there is often controversy about it. But I know that when I humbly, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, lovingly take the lead in asking my wife to pray with me, or to attend a seminar, or work on our issues, or solve a problem, she seems to be pleased and content.
Example. Linda and I have always prayed, Linda far more than I. We just haven’t always prayed together. We finally figured out that the best time for us was in bed each evening. In recent years I’ve tried to take point and initiate … sometimes just starting to pray, sometimes after we’ve discussed something, sometimes in response to a deep concern, but not waiting for her to say “can we pray?” all the time. She tells me that she appreciates that, and I can almost always feel her sigh contentedly as we begin. And it makes a difference in our marriage.
There are still lots of situations where I am more like Barak than I would like to admit. I think a lot of the men this morning might have feel that way as well … so, guys where do you need to take point more often? Why is it difficult to do so? Any advice? Ladies, what do you think? Am I on track? I wouldn’t mind a post with some comments – feel free to have at it. Of course there is more to marriage and relationships than this. And, yes, there have been all sorts of abuses of male leadership.
And here’s a couple of links you might find of interest:
- What Should a Wife do When Her Husband Doesn’t Lead Spiritually? John Piper. NOT just for wives.
- What Should be the Husband’s Role in Marriage?