Unwilling Leadership

Several times a year a woman will come for counseling because her husband refuses to lead in the home. Her complaints center around things like he won't help with the finances, he won't discipline the children, he won't make leadership decisions for the family.

She is very frustrated and angry with him because no amount of gentle prodding or suggestions have helped. He has not picked up the clue phone, despite its constant loud jangle in his ear.

What a wife can do in such circumstances is first to pray that God would give her a quiet and content heart with her husband. Dissatisfaction breeds discontent, and where there is discontent anger and bitterness grow.

One question I ask is if she has willingly placed herself under the authority of her husband (Eph. 5:22-24). What I have seen in many of these marital cases is that the husband has tried to lead in the past, he has tried to make decisions and discipline the children and the wife refuses to follow his lead! Often she badgers him and reminds him of his failures in past leadership. She countermands each of his decisions, questioning and berating him until he gives up and does it her way. This sort of critical spirit will lead a man to give up.

A wife must encourage her husband to reclaim his rightful leadership position in the marriage and the home, despite her fears about his abilities to do so. One way she can do this is to consult him in all matters and tell him, "This is a suggestion as to how we could handle this, but we can do whatever you think is best." He may refuse to make decisions at first, but over time as he sees your willingness to follow his lead he may begin to reassert his leadership.

In spite of such actions the husband may still choose to abdicate his God-given position and responsibility. In such a case the wife will have to make the decisions that are the wisest and the most biblical course of action. Even when a man refuses to lead, a wife can still glorify God in her life, and respond in ways that honor both God and her husband (1 Peter 3:4-5).

Another question I ask a wife is if she prays for her husband regularly. Praying the prayers of the Bible is a wonderful way to begin if you don't know how to pray for him. A passage like Colossians 1:9-14 would be a place to start. You can even substitute his name for the pronoun where appropriate. Pray Ephesians 5:23 for leadership, 1 Peter 2:2 and 3:18 for him to develop a deep desire for godly things.

Consider this, does your husband know how to lead? So few men are taught to be godly men and godly leaders as they are growing up. With so many female only households there is no male influence in the lives of boys these days. Boys are not taught how to be men so as you pray for your husband, ask God to bless him with a godly man to come into his world and teach him how to lead his family. One excellent book that I suggest is The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott. It is a wonderful primer on the subject and the book we most often use in our counseling center for this purpose.

There is much more on this subject than I could ever cover in the blog... To close this topic for today I want to remind you wives, regardless of your husband's response to the challenge of leadership you are responsible   to love and respect your man. You can still do both of these things and God expects you to! Continue to be his friend, lover, and companion to the degree he will let you. Be a loving and submissive wife and helpmeet and God will be honored and glorified in your life.