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.


  • StepUpToTheCall says:

    Great questions, and a good discussion, but I was surprised to hear that this would be a common interpretation for being ‘equally yoked.’ II Cor 6:14 doesn’t stress the equality of the yoke, rather “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

    The distinction is between a believer and an unbeliever. It’s one thing for two oxen to differ in how strong they are, but another thing completely when they want to go in 180 degree directions.

    With respect to dating then, I think this scripture would encourage considering someone with the same direction and goals in terms of following Christ, rather than focusing on maturity level. Keep up the interesting posts!

  • Anonymous says:

    From reading your blog it sounds as if you believe women need a man to be a leader rather than the two walking alongside one another–spiritually and otherwise. This seems to be a very weak view of women, as if the two dont have the ability to be equals in the depth of their discipleship. I would personally hate to be in a relationship in which I would have to lead my wife. I’d much rather walk with one another, discovering God together as we journey together through life.

  • Dawson says:

    Great blog! I think your spot on. A Christian lady can fulfill a role, and follow passionately without division of dignity nor diluting herself as an individual. We are all given the charge before the throne of grace to become a real person. To be a responsible self and that means both following a role and following hard after God mind will and emotions.

    One of my desires and prayers is to find a lady that desires to be engaging on more than just a surface level.I blame my sisters (12-13 years older than me)for making the strong industrious woman appealing to me. further, I blame Proverbs 31 for it shows an independent( uses in best way possible) woman running hard for God. Deep conversation about things of true substance is attractive to the Christian man or at least it should be as attractive as when a females Honor and respects you. Most men stop too soon for they are captive to a little hint of pride that wants more of a slave and a wife. That is sad!

    Thanks for the Good word and the great clarity of thought. . a blessing

    thanks again.

  • Anonymous says:

    Any suggestions on readings or studies to help sharpend that iron?

    My husband and I have a very strong partnership in our marriage, and I’d like to see that deepen and grown. I am most in love with him when I see him pouring over his Bible or hear him talking with his father (a minister) about a spiritual topic.


  • Leia says:

    I came here seeing some really logical blogs, espeically the ones about marriage and the in- crowd but this blog saddens me.

    I agree with anon.

    “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.”

    I don’t want a guy who will always be my leader and I always be my follower. I want to date a guy whom we can mutually lead each other. Why is that so wrong? I do not want a “dad” I want an equal.

    “A Christian lady can fulfill a role, and follow passionately without division of dignity nor diluting herself as an individual.”

    But the question is…would you as a Christian man be able to fulfill your role of following her teachings passionately without division of dignity nor diluting yourself as an individual as well? Yes, it can go both ways.

    A woman teaching a man? Yes. I’ve tought plenty of men as well…am I doing evil…no. I refuse to be treated as exclusively as a student. It saddens me to see so much of this.

    Apparently I stumbled on this for a reason.


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