Most women I know are prone to action. Perhaps it’s our God-given inclination to care for things that makes us swift to cross the next thing off our to-do list (or even to write the to-do list in the first place.) We’re also inclined to progression. We measure our kids’ height as they grow throughout the year. We try to better ourselves through a myriad of different ways and compare our “growth” with those that we know. In fact, perhaps it’s this tendency to compare that fuels our “action-oriented” nature. We want to make sure that we are viewed favorably in comparison to our friends.
The challenge with this is that we often turn this proclivity towards our husbands and make them the object of our activity. We are quick to identify the ways that he could improve to be a better spouse, employee, father, etc. In this regard, there is a fine line between helper and hindrance. Helping is lovingly encouraging your spouse as he works towards the things that God has called him to do. Being a hindrance is when we try to make our husband work towards the things that we think God has called him to do. Helping is for his good, hindering is for our own.
So what’s the solution? How do we lovingly help without being a hindrance? The first thing that we need to do is get our hearts right before God. We need to trust in the work that He is doing and humbly recognize that God doesn’t need us to accomplish what He wants. Oftentimes, He uses us in our loved ones’ lives, but if we’re waiting to be used by Him, than we will seek how His guidance for how to proceed. We won’t trust in our own initiative, but asking Him if, and how, He wants us to be used.
Secondly, we need to consider our motivation. As mentioned earlier, often the reason for our “helping” is because we’re fearful of what we’ll happen if we don’t keep everything together. We aren’t sure we will get what we want if we don’t “help” things aloge. If fear is the reason for our intervention, than likely the good of our spouse is not the cause. We need to seek God’s good for them; not the good that we would like to create for ourselves.
Lastly, there needs to be conversation. We need to ask how we can be a help rather than assume that we know what would be most beneficial. To help is defined as “mak[ing] it easier for (someone) to do something by offering aid.” If we are in fact making it harder, because we are being discouraging or demotivating, than by definition, we aren’t helping. Our intentions may in fact be good, and let’s assume that they are, but we need to find out how our spouse would like us to make things easier, not assume that we know what they need.
A friend likes to say that in a marriage “love is the husband’s responsibility.” This is based on Ephesians 5 where we see that God calls the husband specifically to be a model of Christ’s love. While husbands should look to Christ as their guide for doing this, perhaps wives would do well to look to the work of the Holy Spirit, who is called the Helper, for our example of how we can best be an assistance to our husbands. After all, the goal of both Christ’s love and the work of the Holy Spirit is the same – bringing glory to God. That should be the goal of our marriages as well.
Why is it so tempting to be a hindrance rather than a helper? How does the Holy Spirit provide a model that we can look to for how to be a helper that brings God glory.