(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)
To all my young Christian sisters with an eye toward marriage:
You get a lot of advice about how to decide whom to marry. I won’t pretend to have any expertise in marital counseling, but in my nearly 13 years as a wife, I have learned a valuable lesson I want to share with you.
Oddly enough, this lesson was recently voiced by, of all people, Justin Bieber.
His engagement is inescapable news these days. Without trying to, I found myself reading a recap of his gushing Instagram post to his future bride. One sentence in particular stood out to me:
“I promise to lead our family with honor and integrity letting Jesus through his Holy Spirit guide us in everything we do and every decision we make.”
Ladies, think what you will about the Biebs, but he captures the key thing I would implore all of you to look for in a future husband.
Marry the man strong enough to lead your family.
Yes, you should love him and he should love you. Yes, he should be willing to do the hard things for you. But these alone are not indicators of a strong marriage ahead.
Marriage is about building a family legacy that will have greater impact beyond your one short life here on earth.
You carry enormous influence over the course of your future children’s and grandchildren’s lives. Deciding whom to marry, therefore, requires you to stop thinking in terms of individual (i.e., yourself) and begin thinking in terms of family, especially those yet to be born.
Please take that responsibility seriously. Provide them with as solid a foundation as possible. This means you must look beyond how a man treats you pre-marriage (because believe me, that will inevitably change).
Yoke yourself with a man you firmly believe is suited to the task of forging a legacy with you.
Look for leadership in your potential husband and you will find everything else you desire. I’ll give you 9 reasons why:
1. A man who leads is a man who desires to understand.
To lead well, he must be in tune with those he leads. He must understand their fears, hopes, desires, wishes. He must understand what makes them tick and what makes them ticked off. He uses this information to bring out the best in those he loves.
2. A man who leads is a man who serves.
He will model his husbandhood after the example of Jesus, and Jesus led by serving. A man who leads will serve his wife, his children, his siblings, his family, his neighbors, his countrymen, his world. He does so not for his own glory but for the Lord’s.
3. A man who leads is a man who is loyal.
He has a vested interest in the success and well-being of his wife and family. He will not abandon them in their time of need.
4. A man who leads is a man who shows compassion.
He knows the grace he has received from God is not his to keep but to give.
5. A man who leads is a man who loves sacrificially.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Gave himself up for her. No greater romantic deed has ever been described.
6. A man who leads is a man who recognizes his own weakness and constant need for Jesus.
He does not exalt himself, because he knows this is folly. He relies on the strength and wisdom of Christ in all situations and heeds godly counsel — including that of his wife, whom he loves and trusts.
7. A man who leads is a man continuously maturing in Christ, and encouraging his family to do the same.
He desires above all to grow up into the shape of Christ. Your years together will only become richer if you grow up together.
8. A man who leads is a man who teaches his children the ways of God.
He desires to live with his family in eternity and therefore seeks to pass on what was taught to him. He maintains an eternal perspective in all his fatherly duties.
9. A man who leads well is a man worthy of trust.
I trust my husband WITH MY VERY LIFE. I trust him to defend, honor and protect me, our marriage and our daughters. (Coming from a daughter of divorced parents, these are not trivial words.) It is my joy to follow my husband because I trust he is following Jesus, the One Who Knows the Way.
Sister, you may buck against the thought of a man leading the family, and I get it. I once bucked at the thought too. It’s your choice to make, but consider this:
Strong women pair tremendously well with men who lead, like a motor with a rudder. Both keep the boat headed in the right direction. One is not more valuable or significant than the other. They work in unison. When I put my pride aside, I fully appreciated the depth of this truth and trusted my husband to rudder.
A man who is strong enough to lead your family will not aim to break your strength and spirit. Instead, he will channel it for the best of the family as a whole.
If you marry such a man, together you can create a legacy that will impact the world for generations to come.