What is spiritual leadership?
This is a question about which there has been a great deal of confusion among Christians. We all know that we need to date guys who can lead us spiritually, and we also know that we are to date people with whom we are equally yoked. The problem is that these two elements are not always discussed in conjunction with one another. We are not viewing them as two equally important aspects of a dating relationship, aspects that hold one another in a complementary tension.
For many women, we subconsciously interpret “equally yoked” to mean: “as spiritually mature as me, or more mature if possible.” That is, we want to date someone as mature as we are, but we would prefer someone who is more mature. Why? Because he needs to lead you, and he can probably do that best if he’s already more mature than you are.
As a result of this mentality, you will sometimes see couples in which the husband is clearly more mature than the wife. It’s not that the wife is immature in her faith, but she’s not nearly as passionate about studying Scripture or theology as her husband. She doesn’t desire the same amount of knowledge that he has. After all, he’s supposed to be the spiritual leader in the relationship, so why not leave that stuff to him?
The problem with this kind of relationship is that it fulfills one Scriptural requirement, while ignoring the other–yes, the man is leading spiritually, but are the two equally yoked? Not necessarily.
Spiritual leadership does not necessarily mean that the husband is significantly more mature than his wife. If he is, then the two are not really equally yoked. What’s more, the man is actually doing himself a disservice because he has not married someone who can REALLY challenge him. While he may be the spiritual leader in the relationship, it is likely that he will grow less because he is not married to a woman who has the capacity to push him the way he needs.
That said, spiritual leadership does not mean that the husband spiritually dominates his wife. On the contrary, it simply means that the man works harder. He’s got to step up, think ahead, anticipate, pray for wisdom, and humble himself, because being a spiritual leader has nothing to do with spiritual superiority–it has to do with fulfilling a role. If a man leads a woman who is just as solid as he is, then it’s going to be challenging for him to be the leader, but he’ll grow tremendously because of it.
With that in mind, men and women both have a challenge before them. Men, don’t allow spiritual leadership to be your only criteria in choosing a girl. Even if she’s a nice Christian girl, it’s not enough to know that you can lead her. Make sure you two are equally yoked as well. Make sure she is at the same place as you spiritually so that she is sure to challenge you, rather than pulling you down to her level.
And ladies, don’t be afraid to push yourselves. Not only are you doing yourself a service by pursuing God with radical ferocity, but you are serving your husbands as well. Remember, it takes iron to sharpen iron, so we cannot sharpen our husbands if we ourselves are not made of the right material.
Date a spiritual leader? Yes. But be equally yoked as well. Never have one without the other.