Though it’s the oddest question one might pose to a single woman, women want to know how to get their husbands to lead.
“When is my husband going to become the head of our home? When is he going to study Scripture? When is he going to teach us? Time is passing…the kids are growing up! Is this ever going to happen?!”
This is my answer to that.
Godly women are constantly reminded by well-meaning preachers that children need godly fathers. Of course, this is a very real need. Satan works tirelessly to take out male leaders not despite but because of their strength. Their wives are belting out Sanctus Real at every possible opportunity. The problem is, to their husbands, “Lead me, please lead me! Please bless me and bless our children! Please be a godly man!” sounds an awful lot like nagging.
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife. [Proverbs 21:19 NIV]
I’ve heard it said that mothers [alone] are not equipped to raise up and send out sons and daughters as men and women—that it’s impossible for them to do so. Well, we don’t believe in impossible around here. We do believe in ideal, and we know full-well we’re not living it yet. Ideal is a mother and a father functioning together in the same home; and where you have two spiritual parents, the father will and should lead. No, our family isn’t the model, but we’ve asked God to shine brightly through us and to work through willing vessels. He has. I’m not a father (my children already have two—one heavenly and one earthly), but I am a willing mother. And I sing a quiet song with Deborah [Judges 5:7-9 NIV].Villagers in Israel would not fight;
they held back until I, Deborah, arose,
until I arose, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders
when war came to the city gates,
but not a shield or spear was seen
among forty thousand in Israel.
My heart is with Israel’s princes,
with the willing volunteers among the people.
Praise the Lord!
I believe we live in a society much like Deborah’s was. There are godly men and fathers, but there aren’t enough of them. Satan has stolen our men by way of addiction, pornography, pride… Even two-parent, church-going families often lack a husband who leads. Praise the Lord this isn’t always the case! But where it is, there is hope for us as mothers–more than hope, there is purpose and joy. Because He molds us in our weakness (because He promises us wisdom for trials [James 1]), God equips us to be everything our family needs in the exact moments our family needs us (whether we are married or not). God sees us. He honors us, and He works through us (despite of if not because of our gender). We don’t have to try and be something we’re not. Mothers are leaders; He made us to lead…and in leading to shape generations.
I love reading through the accounts of kings in the books of Kings and Chronicles. Many of the genealogies in Scripture give little or no reference to the mothers, but this is not true with the kings. Most of their mothers are named. First we learn the king’s name and at what age he inherited the throne; then we learn his mother’s name. Lastly we learn whether he was righteous or wicked and whether he walked as his father had walked.
Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother’s name was Zibiah; she was from Beersheba. Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest. [2 Chronicles 24:1-2 NIV]
Kings rule countries and fight wars, they do not have the time to raise kings. We are told the names of these mothers (who were, for the most part, eventually widowed) because, for better or for worse, they can be credited with the deeds of their sons. This does not discount the importance of godly fathers, but it does make a case for strong, empowering, life-giving mothers who are not waiting for their husbands to father (or pleading with them to do so). A trustworthy queen does not usurp her king nor take any authority from him. But as his wife, she has authority. She is not weak; neither does she wait for him to do those things that could be easily done by her. He can trust her; he puts his faith in her, and that faith is well-placed.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. [Proverbs 31:11 KJV]
I am reminded of the Shunammite woman. If you don’t know her story, you can read it in Second Kings chapter four. The short version is that she spotted the prophet Elisha, she could tell he was a man of God, and she begged him to eat at her house. He did. Whenever he passed through town, he had an open invitation. Out of a desire to bless the work of the Lord that was so visible in Elisha, she talked her husband into adding a room onto their house just so Elisha and his servant would have a place to stay when passing through. All of this was her idea, but her husband didn’t seem to mind. I believe he trusted her.
After a time, Elisha asked the woman what he could do for her. Shunem must be south of somewhere, because she blessed his heart and told him she didn’t need a thing. Because his servant noticed the lack of children, however, Elisha promised her a child. This is a dream she had long since buried, and she was overwhelmed with emotion. But just as Elisha had said, the Shunammite woman had a son.
When her son was five years old, and outside with his father, he developed a terrible headache. The father sent him inside to his mother, and the boy died in his mother’s arms. The Shunammite carried her son up to Elisha’s bed, and then she asked her husband to fetch a donkey so she could go and visit Elisha. Her husband briefly questioned her reasons, to which she answered, “Everything’s fine.” In fact, “Everything’s fine” became her mantra until she was face-to-face with the prophet.
Elisha returned with the woman, and God raised her son from the dead. There is no further mention of her husband (who may have missed the entire ordeal while he was working in the field). One thing is clear, she did not tell him their son had died! Was he spiritually weak? Would he have lacked the faith needed for resurrection? Would telling her husband have simply been more than she was ready to bear? Scripture is not clear on this point. Whatever the reason, this earth-shattering need was a matter between the woman and God. The Shunammite woman did not throw herself at the feet of her husband; she did not beg him to lead or to do his job. She knew her role as a wife, and she knew her role as a mother.
While we should pray that God will raise up our husbands and empower and inspire them to lead, these prayers cannot be based in fear or in strife. We should be too busy raising up kings and queens without any doubt in our ability (or in His to work through us). He promises to Husband and Father where we have need or lack, but we have a job to do. It’s time to do it.
“I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children;”
— Susanna Wesley to her husband during a time of separation