(This is the second of a two-part series; here are the links to part 1.)
In my last post, I recommended to wives who desired their husbands to be spiritual leaders (a valid desire, btw) that they just chill. Well, okay, I didn’t say “chill”, but I did say that maybe they should back off and leave room for God to work. It’s all part and parcel of my reaction to the “let’s make my man in my image” mindset of too many wives.
I know that we come into marriage with expectations, both men and women. Often, our expectations are based on what we have already experienced in our families: my dad was like this, my mom always did that, etc. And when we live with our spouses, our expectations run up against the fact that Hubs isn’t Dad, that Wife isn’t Mom. And right there, we have a choice: we can accept our spouses for who they are and embrace their gifts, or we can be disappointed and begin maneuvers in order to get our spouses to change.
So this brings me to the fact that I have another suggestion for these wives (other than chill, that is):
“Lift Up Your Eyes….”
No, I’m not saying that the fields are ripe for harvesting. Instead, get your eyes off of your preconceived vision of what a spiritual leader is and expand your perspective to consider new possibilities. Instead of looking for an idealized pastor-substitute, look instead to your husband’s giftedness.
Every Christian has a motivational spiritual gift, an impulse through which s/he operates, and believe it or not, your husband’s spiritual gift will determine HOW he leads. I promise you that, more than likely, it won’t be in the way that you want, so I would advise you to be willing to lay your ‘vision’ down, and be willing to accept how God works through your husband.
I believe that there are seven areas of ‘giftedness’, that are basic motivations by which we respond to the world around us, whether it be family, church, work, etc. There are two good methods, by the way, for learning your motivational gift: first, spend some time examining your actions and seek to get to the reason why. “Why do I do what I do?” The second method is an excellent tool, as well. Again, ask yourself a question: “What is it that Christians do that really irritates me?” Quite often, your reaction is a valuable insight into your spiritual gift.
In my case, while the first question pointed to the fact that I like teaching, the second (what irritates me) yielded the big, neon-flashing, horns-blaring fact that too many Christians are stuck on stupid, ignore God’s Word and principles, and this willful stupidity really burns my toast. It wasn’t too big a jump to realize that’s what motivates me, to realize that my spiritual gift is teaching.
With that in mind, these are the seven motivational spiritual gifts that Paul tells us that God gives:
- Prophecy – proclaim truth
- Serving – meet needs
- Teaching – clarify truth
- Exhorter – stimulate faith
- Giving – entrust and manage assets
- Administration – plan and organize
- Mercy – remove distress
Let me tell you a short story to illustrate how these seven different motivational gifts might operate in a given situation:
One day, at a cookout for his Men’s Sunday School class, Sam carried a plate of grilled hamburgers to the table. He had been asked a question by one of the guys, and because he was trying to answer it, he wasn’t watching what he was doing when he started to set the plate on the table. He set it down on the edge, and the plate slid off the table to the ground. Immediately, his seven classmates sprang into action, to help with the spill. Since each was gifted with a different motivational spiritual gift, each reacted differently to the accident.
Paul (administration) started organizing, “Don, can you get the broom? George – oh, you’ve already got that. Sam, have you got any hotdogs? They’ll grill quick and replace the burgers.” (Motivation – help the group meet the ‘crisis’ and achieve its goal at the same time)
George (service/helps), immediately got down on the ground, saying “Let me help you pick them up.” (Motivation – fulfill a need)
Dave (prophet), immediately said, “Ooh, man! That’s what happens when you get distracted!” (Motivation – correct the problem)
Jim (mercy), said, “Hey, could have happened to anyone. I’m dropping things all the time.” (Motivation – relieve any feelings of embarrassment)
Don (teaching) noted, “Hey, Sam? Have you noticed that your picnic table isn’t level? That’s probably why the plate fell off.” (Motivation – to discover why the plate fell and learn from mistake)
Steve (exhorter) smiled and said, “Hey, Sam, next time, ask for help in getting the food to the table.” (Motivation – correct the future)
Rich (giver) suggested “I can go down to KFC and get a bucket of chicken, if you want.” (Motivation – meet a tangible need)
Hot dogs were quickly brought out, and the cookout continued.
I hope you get that each of these men responded in a different way. And not one way was the right way to respond, and none of them were wrong. It’s just that each response came from the way that they were wired, the way that God had ‘gifted’ them. Not right, not wrong.
“This Is What Spiritual Leadership Looks Like!”
If you watch the brain-dead Left and their protests, whether it be the Occupy Wall Street goobs or college students protesting their latest outrage du jour, you’ll hear their mindless mating call, “This is what
stupidity democracy looks like.” I’m going to appropriate that chant and inform wives that having a one-track vision of spiritual leadership and chanting to yourself, “This is what spiritual leadership looks like” is just as useless as an OWS protest. **
While many wives say that they are asking for spiritual leadership, what they are really asking for is for their husbands to be like a mini-pastor in the home, setting up and leading little Bible studies and prayer meetings. And all the time that they are doing this, they are missing the ways that their husbands, with their own different spiritual gifts, are living out Christ’s call in their lives.
I am challenging these wives to step back from their desire, and examine both their own motives, AND their husbands’ lives. First, while you have a legitimate desire for your husband to be the spiritual leader of your family, are you trying to mold your husband in your image of what constitutes spiritual leadership?
Second, is it possible that you are missing the ways that God works through your husband, that God has gifted him in a manner other than your concept? Spiritual leadership isn’t always a Bible study or devotion; it may be service to others, it may be help in organizing community/church activities, it may be serving as a Cub/Boy Scout leader. It may be that he demonstrates spiritual leadership by the simple act of being there for you and your children.
Lastly, pray for your husband to grow in his spiritual giftedness. And to complement him, learn more about his spiritual gift and yours. The .pdf at this link goes with a teaching series by a pastor named Chip Ingram. While the first page is meant to go with the series DVD, the following pages give a good overview of spiritual gifts, with an emphasis on the motivational gifts I present above. There are a number of Spiritual Gift Assessment tests on the internet, enough to make me leery of them, but I did find one that avoids the wild and wooly. A panel of 98 questions, easily done in a single sitting, this test yields an accurate assessment of one’s spiritual motivations and impellings.
** I make no bones about the fact that, politically, I’m so conservative that I think Attila the Hun was a pinko. I try not to let it intrude into my blog, but due to the need to appropriate the OWS chant for literary purposes, my disdain for them shines through. No apologies; it is what it is.