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Monday, August 23, 2010
What do you do when life hits you in the face, causing you to feel unable or unwilling to be the kind of leader in your home that you know you should be? When disappointments and difficulties overwhelm your desire to stand strong in your authority, how do you get back on your feet again? I could pretend that this never happens to me, but that would be a lie. As a matter of fact, I’ve been struggling through such a season in recent weeks, and in the hopes of helping other guys who might find themselves in similar situations, I decided to address this very real issue head on.

In preparing this post, I decided to pretend to be that guy – that husband who just feels too beat up to stand up and lead (OK not so much pretend). I supposed that I stumbled across my blog via a Google search about husbands and leadership, which isn’t a stretch since I seem to get a lot of hits from similar searches. After roaming through the blog and not finding anything that directly addressed my dilemma, I supposed that I wrote the blog’s author with a direct question something like this.
Hi Scott,

I came across your blog today and I found some good stuff here. I agree with much of what you write about the roles of husbands and wives, but I have a question that I didn’t see addressed anywhere.

What do I do when I just feel like I can’t lead right now, when difficult circumstances and bitter disappointments cause me to be withdrawn into myself, moody, and even angry? I know I’m supposed to be this good, faithful, strong leader, but right now I just don’t have it in me. Please help me get back on track.

Weary Husband

So how would I reply to someone like Weary Husband, who, like me, finds himself struggling with the burden of leadership in the face of difficult circumstances? I tried to step back and be objective, forgetting for a moment that it was actually I who wrote the inquiry. (Not to worry I’m not going schizophrenic.) Here is what I think I would say.

Hi Weary Husband,

Thanks for your email. I’m sorry to hear things are so tough for you right now. I’ve had those kinds of seasons of struggle myself, so I definitely identify with you.

Let me start by saying I don’t just want to quote platitudes to you or tell you what you “should” be doing. When you already feel beat up, you don’t need more legalistic junk piled on top of it. So receive what I say as encouragement. I simply want to hand you a set of tools to help you out with what you are trying to do. Which ones you use and what you do with them are totally up to you.

First of all, it’s important to remember that authority over your family is not something you earn – a husband’s headship is a God-ordained biblical principle. In times of stress I sometimes forget that whether I’m leading well, poorly, or not at all my role doesn’t change. So when you don’t feel up to the task, I might suggest you turn to the One who gave you the assignment in the first place. Maybe you found the post from a while back where Matt from the band Sanctus Real prayed, “God I need you to lead me so I can lead them. I can’t do this on my own.” That’s a good prayer. Sometimes just the acknowledgement that we need help can help lift the weight off.

Next, remember that your leadership comes out of the attitude of your heart. I know your heart probably feels bruised by your circumstances, so it can be hard to keep your mind in the game, to keep your emotions in check and to maintain the right priorities. Sometimes we just need to feed our souls with a few basic truths about what constitutes godly leadership toward your wife and family.
  • Be real – You probably came across the phrase I like to use about getting real with each other. I call it being “naked without shame.” Us guys don’t always like to admit our problems – we are afraid of looking weak or something. But your wife loves you and knowing what is going on with you helps her feel connected to you, even in your struggle. And don’t make the mistake I often do of thinking that I don’t need to tell her again because I told her last week and nothing has really changed. Keep her constantly in the loop of what you are dealing with.
  • Love your wife unconditionally – that means regardless of your own condition too. Remember that the Bible defines your headship role in terms of love. That doesn’t mean you have to be some kind of fake Mr. Romantic. Just remind her that your struggles don’t change how you really feel about her, though it may sometimes affect your ability to express it like you normally would. She needs reassurance of your love.
  • You don’t have to have all the answers – I know I sometimes make the mistake of thinking leadership means having all the answers to everything. It doesn’t. The authority God has given you doesn’t come with some kind gift of omniscience. But he has given you a loving wife, good friends, and godly pastors to help you figure it out. Asking for help doesn’t make you are a failure.
  • Tell her what you need – It’s true that Jesus is our role model for leadership and that in him we find the heart of a servant and not an overbearing dictator. But that doesn’t translate into never asking for what you need from your wife. I forget that sometimes. She usually wants to help carry your burden, but she may not know what she can do to help. Tell her, in loving terms, how she can help you. Maybe you don’t’ know exactly, but be as specific as possible.

I hope some of this was helpful to you. I’ll also point you to a few other posts that may be of use here  and here .

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’ll be praying for the hand of God to be on you and your marriage as you work through this difficult season.

In Christ,

What do you do when you feel like you aren’t able to stand strong in your place of authority in your home? Do you have any advice for Weary Husband?


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