When Your Husband Doesn’t Lead

I have watched my husband attempt to lead his family in many of the recommended ways. And I’ve watched him fall flat numerous times. As a result he became discouraged, defensive and frustrated.

Like many husbands he feels intimidated and a bit inadequate in his role of spiritual leadership. Most men find it hard to measure up to the idealistic ways spiritual leadership is defined:

  • read his bible for an hour a day,
  • pray for half an hour a day,
  • lead his family in daily one hour devotions and worship,
  • pray with his spouse for 15 minutes a day,
  • have regular family discussions on theology,
  • the list goes on…

At first, I was disappointed. I never voiced it, but I’m sure he felt it. As time wore on I wished he would, you know, “step it up”. “Just get out that Bible and start reading out loud. How hard can it be?” were my thoughts.

As thoughts would have it, one built on another and they ended up a little indignantly with this, “How can I biblically submit if my husband isn’t leading the way he’s supposed to?”

Yeah. That’s when my spiritual brake lights blazed red and I recognized the bitterness and contention that had started taking root.

Here are a few things I learned in regards to the fact that spiritual leadership isn’t always cut and dried, and that I still need to honor his position as leader.

When your husband doesn’t lead the way you think he should

1. If my husband doesn’t read the Bible to his family, I can.

We can read in Deuteronomy 11:19-21 how we are to present God’s word to our family.

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door-frames of your houses, and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many…”

I can teach them. I can talk about them and I can put them on our walls.

There’s no arguing that having daddy read the Bible has a huge impact on children. But, in my experience, while my husband doesn’t instigate deep and regular conversations about theology, when we ask him a question about something in the Bible, guess what? He has the right answer or goes to find it! He is still prepared to give testimony pointing us toward truth and light.

2. My husband may not be as well versed in the Bible as I am, but that doesn’t make his faith or his leadership illegitimate.

He meets God in different ways than I do. He has been given a different measure of faith than I have. None of that disqualifies his walk with Christ.

My husband is an avid outdoors-man. He meets God in the tree stand as much as I do over my morning coffee. He talks with God while drowning worms…err, fishing, in the same manner I do when I’m folding laundry or browning hamburger.

He takes me and our children on hunting and fishing adventures. We have had great conversations during those times. In that, our children are learning that God is a personal God who can be reached wherever, whenever and however.

I like that they have that view of God.

3. It’s not scriptural to expect him to lead in a way that works for other men.

No, it really isn’t.

Am I suggesting we just roll over and give up? No. That is not what this is about. It’s okay to have biblical expectations of our husband. God put those in place. But we also need to realize our husband needs to nourish a relationship with God first, so he can lead through the way the Spirit leads them.

Let’s not get in the way of that.

Extending grace, lifting him in prayer regarding the area of his spiritual leadership, and asking God to minister to his heart, has proven greater results than when I’ve tried to guilt or pressure him into leading in ways I think he should.

What are some ways you have learned to encourage your husband in his spiritual leadership? I have found this spiritual discipline to be beneficial as well.

This article was first seen on  Christian Wife University.

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  1. Amanda @ The Fundamental Home says:

    I struggled with my expectations for my husband when we were first married. If we were a fable, we would be “The Tortoise and the Hare.” Of course, I am the hare, and his slow, methodical ways drove me nuts! Over time, the Lord showed me the wisdom of submitting myself to his leadership. He showed me how his ways were what I needed, especially when I most felt that I wanted things done my (quick) way. Whenever I step outside the boundaries of my husband’s leadership, which the Lord set as a blessing for me, I regret it. It’s a hard truth to learn, but I am thankful that God’s Word tells us to submit. If it didn’t, I surely never would have done so on my own. Thanks for bringing out this important truth!

    • Kaylene Yoder says:

      Amanda, I am glad this spoke to you. I find this a tough area for me, too. I’m so thankful that the Lord helps us, teaches us & equips us through His word.

  2. Jen says:

    Yes, I can relate to this Kaylene, as I’m sure many women can! I especially like that you included number 3 because I think our human tendency is to make unfair comparisons. I often have to remind myself that my husband is a work-in-progress, too. 🙂

  3. Kristina says:

    My husband grew up in a very conservative home where he struggles with the things of God. But there are many times that he still teaches me about with my attitude. It is always nice to be challenged by him because I know he cares even if he is struggling. I just need to keep on praying for him and submit to his authority as my husband and my daughter’s father. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Alicia says:

    Thanks for sharing your heart in this issue that can be sensitive to talk about. I appreciated what you said about sharing truth with your children and inviting your husband to be a part of it in times that he is home. This year I found an advent devotional and my husband was happy to go through it with us, rather than me expecting him to find one for us.

    • Kaylene Yoder says:

      Alicia, I love that you took initiative! There are definitely times when it is okay for a woman to “take the lead” and still be within her husband’s protective covering. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Betsy de Cruz says:

    This is such important encouragement, Kaylene. For years I judged my husband because he didn’t bounce out of bed to read his Bible in the mornings. After many years, I can see how God has changed him. He now spends more time in the word and in prayer than I do! But he has grown at his own pace and in his own way!

  6. Crystal says:

    Interesting read Kaylene. I’m not married but I have spoken with my mentors about marriage before and what I’ve learned from each and every one of them is that their husband leads in different ways and their husband prays in different ways, often in ways they may not have anticipated while coming into the marriage. This is something I certainly need to keep in mind before I get married! I’m happy to hear you are seeing results thanks to prayer and God working in His life. Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Marva -- sunSPARKLEshine says:

    Kaylene, you’re so right. It’s easy for us to become judgmental about our husband’s leadership. I wonder what they would have to say about the way we follow? Hmm…makes me even more grateful for his leadership now. It’s a tough job and we simply need to cover them in prayer!

  8. Meghan says:

    This is a great and much needed topic. I struggled with pushing my husband a little too much and found out when I let go and let God have His way in my husband and in His time, things goes much better and could see the work He was wanting to do in me all along.

  9. Lori Schumaker says:

    Oh, Kaylene, such a good topic. So many women struggle with this (thus so many men do, too!). As a young wife I did, too. It caused unnecessary battles and tension between my husband and I until I stepped out and let God step in. When I let the situation be between Jesus and my husband, everything changed. His walk is definitely different than mine, but it doesn’t make it any less the path that God has planned for him. I pray this post gives hope and peace to many!!!
    Blessings and smiles,

  10. Beth says:

    I think this is such a common problem for many Christian women, Kaylene, and I think you hit this subject right out of the park! Such wise and practical wisdom you share from your own experiences. I love it and will be sharing in the Twittersphere, my friend!

  11. Cathy says:

    I have been married for 32 years. My caution (and a hard lesson learned) would be to NOT put a laundry list of requirements of what spiritual leadership,looks like on your husbands. Allow them the space to grow in their relationship with the Lord and their giftings. They should do the same for you. And things change & evolve. When my kids were young, I was with them all day and more of the spiritual leader, if you want to,call it that. Now that they are adults, I see it much more in out husband as he leads by example our entire family, including sons-in-law & grandchildren. I think this whole 20th/21st century idea of spiritual leadership and what it looks like is very man made. God is honored with a heart attitude of love and appreciation for whatever our husbands bring to the table spiritually. He is not diappointed in our husbands. He loves them and is working in them. I think the church has taught us to be disappointed in them because the church has made the rules. Not God. I think we are called to Love of our husbands, extend grace to them, pray for them & focus on whatever GOd is calling us to do.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Absolutely love the way you where about to put this subject into this point of view. Spiritually leadership is from God and should not be man made.

  12. Dawn says:

    This is such beautiful, grace-filled advice. I agree. We shouldn’t have a defined picture of who our husbands “should” be. When we pray for our husbands, our own hearts are softened and are eyes are often opened to the ways that our husbands do lead- even if it’s not in the ways we expect.

  13. Stephanie says:

    I suggest that every woman, and man for that matter, read “The Woman Question” by Kenneth E. Hagin. He addresses this topic beautifully, and even more in depth. The thoughts in this article are wonderful! I, myself, as well as both men and women I know have found it incredibly freeing to find out what the Bible ACTUALLY says about the husband’s role as spiritual leader instead of what we thought, or have been taught, the Bible says on the matter. Blessings!

  14. Pat says:

    When my husband and I were first married, I made it a point to allow him the opportunity to step up and be the spiritual leader. I had witnessed a couple of my friends who would not let their husbands lead and it lead to resentment on the men’s part and them feeling emasculated. However, my husband had not come from a church that emphasized a spirit lead life as I had. He would ask me what do you think the Lord would want us/me to do about this…? I’d say, “You are capable of hearing from God too. Ask Him what to do and I will too. Then we will talk again about this.” Every time I would say this, when talked again, we both would have heard/felt the Lord saying the exact same thing to us. This encouraged him to begin to assert himself more as the spiritual leader in our home. It also helped when he began attending men’s Bible studies through our church.

    • Pat says:

      Don’t know how the first sentence got messed up with a phrase in the middle of it that I did not type. It is suppose to say: When my husband and I were first married, I made it a point to allow him the opportunity to step up and be the spiritual leader.

    • Kaylene Yoder says:

      This is a wonderful way to put Christ in the center of your marriage, Pat. Thank you for sharing practical steps and wording for us younger wives! We need sound advice and solid instruction like this. Blessings!

  15. Ailie Baumann says:

    Such aa great post. Love your insights. My hubby currently doesn’t share my views with the Lord (he used to). Ive found God has encouraged me to support and respect my hubby were he is at. Of course prayer is vital. Ive also found God teaching me to lean into him as the perfect hubby and father in those areas my hubby can’t. I trust God with mu hubby and the rest

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