Some Hard Questions (Part 3)

February 20, 2012

in the generous life

What if my husband won’t lead?

First off, I don’t think most folks have a good idea of what it is to lead.  Culturally we tend to think that a leader has all of the vision, all of the ideas and everyone else is just a support, pieces to be moved around a chess board. In my opinion, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Yes, leaders need to have vision and direction, but, to be healthy and do a good job, they need to listen to others, learn from others and generally relate to and interact with others.  An isolated leader is someone who is headed for a train wreck.  You need the strengths, wisdom, vision, experience and help of those around you.  Yes, you will have decisions to make as a leader, but this is not a one man show.  A leader is one player on a team and all team members are important and have a part to play.

It’s the same in marriage.  Personally I like the concept of “team leader.”  A husband and wife are “one” in God’s eyes.  They are a “team.”  Both are intelligent, creative, capable people.  Both male and female are needed to reflect the nature of God and giving play to both genders fully seems wise.  Being a husband and leader can be a tough job, but it is made easier and saner when he doesn’t have to shoulder everything, when he’s a part of a team, when he’s not going it alone and when he has the strengths of both himself and his wife to lean on.  

The husband as “total boss” is a travesty.  It isolates him from his wife and all she brings to the table.  It puts her in the position of being a child (which she is not), limits what she can do (and since God gave her gifts and abilities, I’m thinking that’s a bad plan) and leaves the marriage partnership without her strengths and abilities.

If your husband thinks being a leader means being a “boss man” and because of this he doesn’t want to “be a leader,” I say “good for him!”  Take the time to study, discuss and examine what you both think about leadership.  What will that look like in your marriage?  

Fear of Judgement

Realize that a number of guys won’t lead because they’ve been punished for the choices they’ve made in the past.  Why would they lead when they are just going to get grief for it?  This means that you are going to have to talk about your respect for him, talk about what a leader is really all about and give him room to try.  

It’s also important to understand that having a different opinion, as a wife, does not mean that you are judging your husband as bad, wrong or stupid.  Different perspectives are a consequence of being different people.  It can actually be a strength because you are bringing up more options to explore.   This can happen in a climate of respect and be good for all.  (Some people mistakenly believe that it’s disrespectful for a wife to speak up, to ask for something different, suggest another option or to point out a problem.  This attitude leads to the wife “not having a voice.” Not good.) 

Fear of Failure

The other thing that can stall out your guy is a fear of failure.  Failure hurts, but unfortunately it’s a part of life.  We’re not ever going to get away from it, so we might as well learn from it and give each other a bit of grace.  

This is likely to be another thing that you just have to bring up in conversation.  Let your husband know that you want to create a home where failure gets you a hug, a prayer, an encouragement and a sounding board, if you need one.  Something I have to remind myself of now and then: If you are unreasonably hard on yourself, your husband might fear that you will be as hard on him when he fails.  Offer grace to yourself as well.

After all this, he still won’t lead?

Time out for a little story: I’ve had a very hard time with a friend over the last couple of years.  I’ve stewed and fretted and generally tried to “fix things” (which really meant “fix her”).  Long story short, it hasn’t worked out very well.  A few days ago, in a moment of generally fussiness, the Lord spoke to my heart.  “It’s not your job to fix her, Lori.  It’s your job to love her.” (Try reading 1 Corinthians 13 after hearing something like that!)  After a moment of acknowledging my own wrong attitudes, I felt incredible relief and several light bulbs went on over my head.  I couldn’t “fix things” because the fixing required the work of two (something I don’t control), but I could love her as the work of one (me, which I do control).   Love also makes a swift death of “fix-itis” and puts your heart in agreement with God, which opens the door to His handiwork.  I realized that I needed to examine the rest of my relationships, let God be God and just love on folks (myself too). 

So love your husband, don’t try to fix him.  Yes, speak truth, talk to him about what you believe and want, but then set it down and leave the rest to God.  Give your husband grace.  Just like you and me, he is on a journey of learning and growing.  Give God the room to grow him up when and how He wants to.  Our perspective and time table may not be God’s.  

Invite your husband’s opinion and value his perspectives.  Learn his preferences and his value system.  Give place to his ideas.   Where he falters in leading, making choices and making decisions, pray and make the wisest choices you know how, honoring what you know of him. 

What if an authority is chronically clueless?

Honestly, I mean no disrespect.  Sometimes you just run into a boss that routinely makes mistakes.  Sometimes your spouse routinely makes bad investments.  Sometimes a teacher will offers poor or false teaching a bit too often (none of us have perfect understanding or theology).  If it’s a minor problem, it may be something to pray about, gently address or even overlook and live with in love.  If it borders on abusive or disastrous, respectfully ask that authority to address the problem.  If the authority refuses, get outside help.  Talk to a supervisor, a church leader, or a trusted friend.

I don’t think it’s right or smart to put up with ongoing hurtful and destructive behavior.  Respectfully addressing problems is a helpful and healthy response. 

Image credit © Jaypmorgan |


If you’re interested in a good book on leadership, I can recommend The Way of the Shepherd (aff link) by Kevin Leman and William Pentak.


My sweetie wrote a great post about being a student of your spouse ~ Find Good Buttons to Push  (from The Generous Husband


Be generous! Lori <><

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff February 20, 2012 at 7:51 am

Very nicely put!
This delicately handles a common issue in marriages and does so in a way that is likely to lead to positive change and improvement. Respectfully confronting a lack of leadership is the loving thing to do. Not seeking to address these things leads to a continuing deterioration of the marriage and that’s not loving at all.


Irida February 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

Great stuff, today especially. I need to do less fixing and more loving. Thanks for getting inside my head (scary place)!


LMW January 16, 2013 at 9:12 pm

As a Christ follower for over 35 years I’ve read LOTS of material on roles in marriage and specifically headship and submission, and I have to say that the series I’ve read on this subject here on your blog rings true to Scripture and is shared with humility, grace and a winsome clarity. Thank you for the courage to deal with this subject and for the grace you showed throughout the series. I’m reaching through the computer to give you a hug and a pat on the back.


The Generous Wife January 16, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Thanks all for the encouragement and virtual hugs. :)


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: