The Leadership Lament

One of the questions I hear most often from young brides is, “How do I get my husband to lead me?” This question usually comes from an unhappy wife who feels that many of the burdens of the relationship or home or budget are on her. Underneath the pile of disappointment, the question lurks, “How do I get my husband to be the man I want him to be?”

This question really has two sides:

1.  These women believe it is their responsibility to change their husband.
2.  These women believe they must take the initiative or nothing will get done.
(see Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free! by Nancy Leigh DeMoss for a cogent discussion of this question.)

Both beliefs are contrary to Scripture and will put a stumbling block in the pathway to unity and peace in the home. Do you want to live with a defensive, resistant man? If so, consistently point out to him the things you wish he would change, begin, complete, and initiate.

If we as women take on responsibility that God never intended us to have, we will end up frustrated and resentful. In Proverbs 17:1, 19:13, 21:9, the Bible says that a nagging, quarrelsome wife is worse than deep hunger (a dry morsel), tedious torture (continual rain), and physical and social deprivation (the corner of a housetop)!

The Bible graces us with two powerful weapons that are far more effective than nagging, whining, or withdrawing. The first is a godly life characterized by a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:1–4). And the second is prayer—appealing to a higher power than you could ever exert in your husband’s life.

Mary: Waiting on God
Think of Mary, our Lord’s mother, as an example. The angel came to her, not to Joseph at first. Joseph didn’t believe Mary when she told him what was about to happen, and he thought she had been unfaithful to him. There is no indication that she pressured Joseph to believe what she knew God had told her. She waited on God and gave Joseph the opportunity to hear directly from God himself—and he did! Mary was a woman who knew how to keep things in her heart and ponder them (Luke 2:19). She could afford to wait because she knew the power of God and trusted Him to fulfill His plans for her life and her family.

Our natural tendency is to take the reins and try to control our husbands. Ironically, though, most of us women long for our men to take action. We insist that our husband’s inactivity has forced us to step up to the plate.

But we can so easily strip men of the motivation to rise to the challenge and lead. And often when they do lead, we women correct them or tell them how they could have done it better.

So what can a woman do?

Be willing to wait. Be willing to let your husband fail. Your security is not in your husband, but in a sovereign God who is never going to fail you.

Turn to God in prayer, releasing your worry to Him. Your prayer doesn’t need to be perfect. If you can cry, you can pray:

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Ps. 143:10).”

Sarah: Why Didn’t I Wait for the Lord?
Sarah is often lifted up as an example for us, but there is at least one time when God did not seem to act quickly enough for her, and she took matters into her own hands. When Sarah was sixty-six years old, God promised her husband that they would have a son.

Ten years went by and she was still childless.

Where was God? Had He forgotten His word to her husband?

So Sarah resorted to a common practice of that day and used her handmaiden to get a child for her man. It seemed to work! But the situation soon turned sour—even before the child, Ishmael, was born (Gen. 16:5)—and Sarah blamed her husband for her suffering.

Thirteen years later, when Sarah was ninety years old, God supernaturally gave Abraham and Sarah their own son, Isaac. But Isaac’s half brother, Ishmael, was a lifelong source of conflict and pain. I wonder if Sarah ever thought, Why didn’t I wait on the Lord? Why didn’t I trust His word and His way? Why did I have to step in and control the situation in my own way?

Psalm 27:14  says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Where is it hard for you to trust the Lord in relation to your husband? How has the Lord helped you to wait for Him to work His plan in His time?

About the Author

Jani Ortlund

Jani Ortlund

Jani Ortlund is the Executive Vice President of Renewal Ministries. Serving Jesus through writing, speaking, and discipling are her chief passions in life. Jani and her husband Ray, Pastor of Immanuel Church, have four married children and fifteen grandchildren and … read more …

Join the Discussion