Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Spirit of a Marriage - Part 4

Most men are very fragile when it comes to being the spiritual leader of their families. One criticism or sarcastic remark can cause a husband to give up his God-given spiritual responsibilities. For this reason, it is essential that the wife look for ways to reassure her husband in this area. When a wife is aware that she has wounded her husband's spirit in this area, she must quickly ask his forgiveness and assure him that she wants him to take the spiritual leadership in the family.

Many wives unknowingly discourage their husbands in spiritual leadership by looking to other spiritual leaders for their council. The following testimony illustrates the importance of wives working through their husbands to find Scriptural answers.

How a Pastor Avoided a Spiritual Casualty by Having a Wife Ask Her Husband a Question
Three years ago, I received a phone call that was to change the emphasis of my ministry and the lives of those in my church. The phone call was from the wife of one of my elders. She didn't understand a difficult section of Scripture.

Until then, I had always tried to answer any question any person asked me about the Bible. I believed that this was one of my responsibilities as a pastor, but that day, God prompted me not to answer her question. Here is the reason why.

I believe that a husband is to assume the leadership of his family, and a wife is to be submissive to that leadership. No husband can be a leader unless he has a follower. It is not a matter of abilities, it is a matter of leadership. The wife who has more ability should work to make her husband more successful. I have preached this message from the pulpit, and I have counseled couples to do this, but God showed me that my practice was not consistent with my belief.

So I didn't explain the passage of Scripture to her. Instead, I asked her, "Have you asked your husband about this?" She replied, "No. He wouldn't understand it either."

I told her that I had been meditating on 1 Tim. 2. I explained how her question was a special opportunity for her. She could use it to illustrate to her husband a genuine humility and a learner's spirit.

She hesitated, so I gave her the wording. "Honey, I'm having a difficult time understanding this portion of Scripture. Would you help me with it?" I waited as she gave serious thought to this new idea. Eventually she asked, "What if he says no?"

I told her what to do if that happened. I reminded her that her husband's 'no' would be another opportunity for her to demonstrate confidence in God and in her husband. She was to say, "If you aren't sure of the answer, would you ask someone else for me? I really do want help, and it would mean a lot to me if you explained the answer to me."

Again there was silence at the other end of the phone. Then she said, "I've never thought about asking my husband to help me understand Scripture, but it makes sense. I'll go to him for help and trust God for the outcome."

Before she hung up, I explained five things she would accomplish by doing this:
1) She would be looking to her husband and not to the pastor for primary spiritual guidance.
2) She would encourage other women to do the same as they saw that her husband was her spiritual leader.
3) She would motivate her husband to be her spiritual leader. She would help him gain the confidence to become what God intended him to be by saying, 'I'm counting on you and no one else for my spiritual leadership.'
4) She would strengthen her marriage instead of weaken it.
5) She would protect herself from becoming spiritually proud of her own Bible knowledge.

As a result, the husband told the pastor a few weeks later that he was within days of giving up the Christian life. God used her question and her submissive spirit to put the right type of pressure on him. Now it's a pressure to motive him, rather than defeat him. His wife still knows more about the Bible than he does, but her husband is learning fast. He concentrates on the passages she challenges him with, and it is helping him to become a better spiritual leader. It has given him a new way in which he is needed by her.

This experience has given the pastor a new appreciation for the teaching of 1 Cor. 14:35 - that if a woman has a question in church, she should go home and ask her husband for the answer.

Part 1