Saturday, September 18, 2010

When My Vision is Not My Own

When news of John Piper's temporary step-down from his pulpit ministry became news in the Christian community, many questions and concerns were asked relating to why he was stepping down.  Sadly it is all too common these days to hear of a pastor/priest leaving the church due to a particular sin, however Piper felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to take sabbatical to focus on his marriage and family, work on his own faults and take a breather from the stress of ministry life.  Another well-known pastor, Francis Chan, permanently stepped down from his church in order to follow the Lord's leading - rumors have been made that he has hinted at creating an urban ministry for those in downtown L.A., others that he will be moving his family to a third world country to rescue victims from slave trade and care for orphans.  It's easy to look at these men and applaud them for their courage and convictions (and praise the Lord for His leading, of course).  It's easy to look at their church members and all those who worship alongside them every Sunday and sympathize with them, knowing they'll grieve over the "loss" of their pastor.  It's easy to sit from afar and wish these men good luck and God's blessings on their holy ventures.  It's also easy to not give one thought to their wives and families and wonder how they're taking this all in and stepping out in faith with their men.

Both of these men have wives and families who are looking to them for guidance and direction.  It's one thing to look at John Piper's family and think how lucky they are to have this extra focused time with their husband/father for eight whole months, but imagine the 24 hours, 7 days a week of being with him as he wrestles with the Holy Spirit.  Imagine the hard spiritual work going on in the house.  And whether he ends up in downtown L.A. or a third world country, Francis Chan has big changes ahead which means big changes for his family as well.  Imagine if his wife was not on board with this!  Following men like these leaders takes extra grace and tons of faith...and takes adopting their vision as your own.

Growing up, we all formed visions of our life ahead and most likely took steps toward creating this personal vision.  Whether it was to be a stay-at-home mom, a working-outside-the-home mother, a housewife, a professional in top management, whatever, we tend to end up where our vision took us.  But what happens to this vision when you marry?  Does it change?  Expand?  Disappear?  Sometimes in marriage, we take the opportunity to create a whole new vision for our husbands and we do whatever we can to fulfill this vision whether our husbands are on board with it or not.  Especially when our husbands don't really know what their vision is or know how to fulfill it.  I'm going to say something very controversial right here: when we marry, our vision must become what our husband's vision is.  Which also means your husband needs to know his vision so you can help him fulfill it.  Is that too 1950's for you?  But that is the essence of being your husband's helpmeet.  It requires a lot of strength to carry out and a lot of faith in his leading.  Courteney from Women Living Well blog recounts her own story:

3 years ago, my husband and I went out on a date night. During the course of dinner, my husband pulled out his napkin and a pen and began to draw out some career path changes. I was mortified! They were nothing like the path we were currently on. I was comfy and cozy and liked his career choice. And in the blink of an eye, he was changing everything. I could hear the passion in his voice and see the excitement in his eyes. My mind said - "follow your husband where ever he leads you" but my heart said - "he's asking too much of me!" I wrestled with some of his choices but allowed him to lead. It was scary. I cried for about the first 2 months off and on. I cried to my friends, cried to my family, cried to my husband and yes, even cried in front of the children. A lot in our life changed as a result of his vision for our family - and I had to sacrifice a few things. 3 years later, I have a husband who thanks me for putting all my faith and loyalty in his decisions. It was not easy to make the choices he made. Knowing that I got on the roller coaster ride beside him and hung on tight for the ride meant so much to him. We grew closer as a couple - we saw qualities exhibited in each other that we had never seen in the first 9 years of our marriage. 1

Helping our husbands discover their vision, building up our husbands and following their leadership are all requirements of being their helpmeet.  Creating their vision for them, thinking your vision is better than theirs, taking the lead in where you see the family going (following your own vision), trying to change our husbands "for the better" are all examples of the controlling, unsubmissive wife.  I have been guilty of all these examples and had only a tiny clue what it meant to follow my husband's leading.  By not following my husband (good, bad or no vision at all), I stripped him of the powerful opportunity to reflect on the vision he was following, figure out what kind of vision he wanted and allow the Lord to guide him in that vision.  When I take that kind of control over him, I essentially try to become his own personal Holy Spirit, prompting him, convicting him and leading him.

LAF/Beautiful Girlhood has a post titled Practical Ideas for Supporting Your Husband's Vision which provides ideas on how to actually implement this in your marriage and in your daily life.  It also stresses this important point: Does supporting your husband’s vision mean you should abandon your talents and interests?  Absolutely not!  One of the wonderful challenges of being a wife is building on one’s existing skills in new, creative ways.  Keep in mind that your assistance and gentle encouragement are invaluable to your husband.  Supporting one’s husband’s vision is just one of the many joys of becoming “one flesh” in marriage.2

Get out of your husband's way, ladies, and let the Holy Spirit take His rightful place in your husband's lives!  It's scary, takes much faith and prayer but yields amazing and joyful results.

P.S.  I would also highly recommend getting your hands on and listening to The Wise Woman's Guide to Blessing Her Husband's Vision by Doug Phillips, found at Vision Forum online or download at BlueBehemoth.  It is amazing and was what God used to speak to me on this issue.

1. From Following Your Husband's Vision post on Women Living Well.
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