Go into any group of men and women and ask them, “Who was the spiritual leader in your home growing up?” The majority of people will answer, “My mom.” While there’s great appreciation for mom’s influence, there’s a corresponding sadness that dad wasn’t more involved in the spiritual nurturing of the home.
Men and women continue to feel that tension in marriage today. We’ve talked to many women who have said, “I want my husband to be the spiritual leader in our home, but for some reason he won’t do it! I’m so frustrated!”
And we’ve talked to men who feel spiritually inadequate. Their wives are more verbal, more consistent, and more knowledgable about their faith. Men don’t want to engage in anything when they are already set up to fall short. The idea of spiritual “leadership” simply seems unattainable to most men, because if they are growing spiritually so is their wife. As a result, men think they will NEVER catch up so they opt for being supportive of her efforts while keeping and the spiritual peace.
When we teach at our Build Your Marriage conferences, we encourage men to be spiritual initiators instead of spiritual leaders. Being an initiator is doable no matter where a man is on his spiritual journey. It’s measurable, achievable, and a win for his marriage, his family, and especially his relationship with Jesus.
Here are five ways a man can be the spiritual initiator in the marriage this week:
1) Initiate personal spiritual growth
When a man takes personal responsibility in a disciplined approach to his spiritual growth, it gives his wife greater confidence in him. It ushers peace into the marriage. Regular time reading the Bible, prayer, and finding other Christian men to connect with relationally and spiritually are important first steps.
2) Initiate prayer
For some reason a man will jump in front of a bullet to protect his wife, but he freezes up when he thinks about taking her hand and praying with her. Men—just do it! It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent. Just say, “Baby, I want us to start praying together out loud. Even if you aren’t comfortable praying out loud, I’d like you to at least join me as I pray.” Then simply pray thanking God for your wife, your marriage and anything else that comes to mind. Ask him to bless you both. Pray for whatever else is on your heart and say amen. You can do this—just initiate!
3) Initiate devotions
Devotions are simply reading the Bible and/or a daily Christian reading together. This is as simple as finding the time and reading this out loud to your wife, ask her to read it, or both of you read silently together and then discussing it. We personally like Our Daily Bread which you can find here or My Utmost for His Highest which is here. If you are reading the Bible, then just read a couple paragraphs at a time starting in the Gospel of John.
4) Initiate church attendance
Men, your wife needs you to take the initiative each week in making church attendance a priority. If you don’t like the one you’re at, then perhaps you need to look together for a place where you can both grow spiritually, connect relationally, and serve. Your loving initiative in attending church will yield more spiritual benefit in her life—and your marriage—than you can imagine!
5) Initiate thanksgiving
When either of you experiences something good in life, take the initiative to acknowledge verbally that the good you have is from God’s provision. In fact, James wrote: “EVERY good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17)
What are some other ways you have seen men be spiritual initiators in the marriage? Take the steps now as you spiritually build your marriage!