When He Won’t Lead… {Men, Step Up and Lead! Part 2}

By Chris Cartwright, Contributing Writer

(Read Part 1 of this series: When Roles Get Reversed… {Men, Step Up and Lead! Part 1})

Women! YOU can encourage your husband to lead your family!

Photo by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

Last month we looked at the vital leadership role which God has designed for men to carry out within marriage. But what if he won’t lead? I have been asked before to share from a man’s perspective what is the best way for a wife to bring this problem to the attention of her husband in such a way that will encourage him to step up and lead. More important than my own personal thoughts, though, is what God’s Word says about the matter. I will try to go about answering this both from a guy’s perspective and a biblical perspective.

1 Peter 3:1-2 says:

Likewise wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the Word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.


Here, Peter doesn’t elaborate as to whether these “husbands who disobey the word” are believers or not. Therefore I believe that this can apply to either situation.

For a husband, if it seems to him that his wife is spiritually more mature than he is, this can be very intimidating to him. I can think of two possible responses that a guy may have in this situation:

1. Passive: He may feel so intimidated that he steps back and does nothing, thus forcing the burden of leadership upon her or

2. Active: He recognizes his need for spiritual growth which then spurs him into overdrive…making up for lost time to become the spiritual leader that he is called to be.

Obviously the latter is the one you want to foster in your husband if he won’t step up and lead. But how? here are just a few things to keep in mind:


Praying for him is very important. You are not your husband’s personal Holy Spirit. Only God can change his heart, so it is vital that you continually lift your husband up in prayer to the only one who can change him.

Point out strengths instead of faults

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.”


Constantly pointing out areas where he needs to grow “you need to do this!” “you need to do that!” will more than likely drive him away from what it is that you are requesting of him. However, if you take the time to notice the areas in which he is growing (no matter how small) and encourage him for it, it very well might motivate him to desire to grow in the larger areas.

Help him to catch a vision for the end goal

So what does this even look like? Let me use a totally unrelated example from Dave Ramsey to explain. Imagine a couple who is deeply in debt: $30,000 in credit card debt, $50,000 in student loans, upside down on the house, and the husband just bought a $45,000 red Corvette (his baby) a few months ago. Finally the wife comes to her senses and has had enough. She is done being a slave to the bank…so she goes to her husband with one of two responses:

1.  Honey we NEED to get out of debt! We are in so much financial trouble that we have creditors calling 20 times a day! And you went and bought that Corvette a few months ago! You need to sell that car so we can start getting out of debt

2. Honey our life is so stressful. Imagine a life with no payments! No money fights! If we got out of debt, imagine how much we could give, and how much we could save! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

If the wife in the example starts out with the proposition to “sell the car”, he will think she is nuts! “She wants me to sell my vette? She must be crazy!” Rather, if she comes to him with approach number 2, he will be much more likely to do the work (sell the car) if the end goal becomes his. The same is true with spiritual growth. He will be much more likely to do the work necessary to become a godly spiritual leader if you help him catch a glimpse of that goal, instead of nagging him about what he needs to do to get there.

Encourage him towards growth

Look for ways to encourage him that with God’s help he can indeed become the godly spiritual leader that his family needs. I know this one seems a little vague, but I guess it requires a specific knowledge of your husband as well as wisdom as to how best to apply it to your situation.

Remember, change takes time

Spiritual growth is no different. Remember, sanctification is a process which happens over time. Think back on your own journey in Christian growth, think back 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. I always find it encouraging to look back and see how much the Lord  has grown me over the years. Just because change seems painfully slow doesn’t mean that progress is not being made. Who knows what seeds are being sewn in his heart now that you can’t see?

Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What are some things that you have found helpful as it relates to encouraging your husband towards spiritual growth? Please feel free to leave a comment and share with us!


  1. MichelleS says:

    Thank you for this. I am in this exact situation of spiritual leadership as well as in other areas. I often feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities that I have. Sadly, that feeling of being overwhelmed has kept me from being consistent in my prayers for my husband. And I am not always encouraging as your example #2. Thank you again for this post as well as part 1. God Bless!

  2. Hey Michelle!

    I’m glad to hear that these posts are helpful. Praise The Lord! I’m sorry to hear that you are in this difficult situation. I trust that God will continue to give you grace and wisdom as you seek his guidance in dealing with these issues. I will be praying for you, as well as all of the other women who are in your situation…as well at the men, that a fire will be lit under them and that we all, as men will step up to the challenge that God has ordained for us. God bless!

  3. Chris,

    AWESOME advice! Men respond to respect – not to our demands. I’m so thankful that when even ONE spouse begins to really seek God first and obey Him and do things His way – God breathes life and healing into the marriage and may change the other spouse, too, in time.

  4. Thank you for again encouraging me to be a prayer warrior for my husband and also to bring my concerns and burdens to God rather than tell my husband in a less than encouraging way. I still struggle with wanting to take up that leadership role myself when I feel like my husband won’t, but I know that also has to do with my impatience in God changing him.

  5. Hi I just came across this as I feel that I am drowning right now. Thank you for your post it has reminded me of where I need to be obedient to God. Its stinks to know that other women are in the same boat but its also encouraging yo know that I am not alone. To be honest I don’t even know if my husband is saved. He says that he believes but I don’t see fruit. I actually feel as though he fights against me. He holds me to a very high standard spiritually that he will not even try to meet himself. I have asked for counseling and he refuses to go what do I do? Help !!!
    Sincerely spirit willing flesh weak

  6. I do not mean to offend you or your posters, but I am hurt by the implications in this article.
    So what you are telling wives is that a husband has the right to keep being foolish and sinful, against his wife. But he should and can ignore her and be stubborn and rebellious, unless she comes to him like a little child and sugar coats a plea to him to come to his senses?
    My sister read this and had somewhat the same understanding that I got..

    Can someone, help us see how this is a good way to deal with a foolish husband who will more than likely do and has already done some foolish acts. This is a sign of something serious, like immaturity, selfishness, arrogance. Why would a man who is supposed to be the leader, do something so outrageous? Buying a 45,00 Corvette, wow, sounds like he is either needing his ego stroked, or he is wanting other women to notice him, or maybe even both. Also, why do other posters on this site not see this? Now, we can see that men are really, just as bad at leading, as women are at submitting? It’s nice to know that men do not act obedient just like women. So it’s not just us wives who are sinful.
    A wife should be able to approach her husband as his malte and tell him that that was unwise . He should not be that fragile in the ego, that she cannot do this. What woman wants to be married to a man that delicate.

    Maybe someone should go and tell the female marriage writers, that they are wrong and unfair, when they write all these long drawn out articles on the internet that scold women about reapect and submit, and how we make husbands feel and how we women hurt their egos.