Have you ever wondered, "How do I get him to change?"
I did. I'm slightly/extremely ashamed of just how much I did.
How do I get him to serve at church? How do I get him to want to go to church? How do I get him to want to read His Bible? How do I get him to be more thoughtful? How do I get him to write in his journal? How do I get him to start doing this? How do I get him to stop doing that?
It's exhausting trying to be omnipotent. Perhaps you've done more than wonder — you've planned and persuaded, and, like me, discovered you in fact do not possess the same giftedness as the Holy Spirit. We can't make someone change, but oh, we are stubborn to try. We inform minds; we cannot transform hearts.
I'd be willing to bet if you didn't already know you couldn't change someone, getting married lead you to experiential knowledge of this truth.
As a newlywed, I was trying to decode the term spiritual head of the wife. I knew it was Mike's God-given responsibility as taught in Ephesians 5, but no one seemed to know what it was supposed to look like. I never knew how it worked, only that it was to be. Yet, I tried to enforce what I didn't even understand.
I was the nagger, the guilt-tripper, the leave-His-Bible-out-where-he-might-see-it-er, the what-do-you-mean-you-don't-want-to-go-to-evening-church-er, my personal favourite — the spiritual book and paraphernalia gift giver. Because all those things work so well at softening a person's heart.
In trying to make sure he was doing his job, I failed to do mine. In fixing my eyes on how he needed to change, I missed all that he already was.
But of all the things I've done completely wrong, there is one I did right. And as I continue to do it, my heart stays alive, and we thrive.
I decided to go first.
I found myself thirsty waiting for him to wake up early and invite me to read the Bible with him, so I got up and read it myself. I was tired of waiting for him to ask if he could pray for me, so I prayed. I gained zero ground trying to get him to change, so I asked God to change me.
Are you willing to do what you wish he would, with no strings attached? That my friend is how your marriage displays the gospel.
When we loosen our grip on our wants, our will, and our way, our hearts change. And often, other hearts eventually do as well.
But it's easier to sit around and assign blame. Perhaps you've spun your wheels on this one: But he's the man. Isn't he supposed to initiate?
Scripture is perfect; our interpretation of it is not.
Yes, God says a husband is head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. But I don't find anywhere in Scripture that says only the husband can initiate spiritual growth. In fact, God instructs the church, all believers, including wives — ask, seek and knock.
There's more God commands to the church, including all believers, including wives: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is useful for building others up according to their need so it may benefit those who listen. Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility, regard others as better than yourself. Do not be anxious about anything but in everything with prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Maybe pointing fingers keep a person's defences up instead of their hands. Maybe making it so known you want them to change leaves no space for them to realize they want it too. Maybe they don't know how and they don't feel spiritual enough. Maybe they're swimming in shame and it seeking God seems impossible. Maybe no one is in their corner cheering him on. Maybe belittling, nagging and criticizing have taken chunks out of their confidence.
Anyone can ask, seek and knock, and whoever is hearing from God can respond to God. We can cross our arms and stomp our feet, or we can surrender our hands and get on our knees.
How do you change a person?
You can give God full access to the only heart you have control over and say, "I can't change a person. You can. I'll surrender first."
Thirsty people are drawn to water, but they can't want to drink from a fire hose being aimed at them. But they can drink from the fountain of Living Water flowing through an empty vessel. Surrender your will. Take Him at His Word. Walk in His way. You just might find your own thirst quenched and your own heart changed. And just maybe, thirsty people will be drawn to Jesus in the process.
Put down your hose and put up your hands.
Grab your mug and pull up a seat! Let me know in the comment section below:
What thoughts do you have on "ME FIRST"? Objections?