I recently came across a question from a wife that was asking if it was ok to seek personal (and to me that also means spiritual) growth for her husband. She wondered if maybe personal growth (desiring it) should only be for oneself, and if it was maybe wrong to desire it for someone else.
This is a great question, and something I believe God’s shown me even recently through the many lessons He’s taught me this past year of 2015. Not about my husband at all, but it centered around me desiring personal and spiritual growth for people I interacted with who were continually acting sinfully and in ways that dishonored God. I’m so grateful and humbled that He’s done so much in my life in just this one year, and especially these last few months!
So without further ado, this is the answer I gave her:
Hey (Name Redacted), from what I’ve been taught and believe, I do think you can desire personal growth (spiritual growth as well) for your husband, it just has to be directed in a positive, respectful way, and probably not reminding him of his “goals” when he falls short constantly.
The best thing you can do is to pray for him in this area, but then don’t let it become what you focus on so much that this is what the majority of your time spent with God is about. If you are looking too much at the speck in his eye, and forget the “plank” in your own (not to say you have a plank-sized sin, just to remind you that we ALL sin), that focusing so much on someone else’s sin can be a distraction from our own spiritual and personal growth. Wanting him to grow more can become what you think about too much, instead of focusing on what God wants you to do, how God wants you to grow. I know it can be hard – even with people that aren’t your husband, we want them to change when we see them caught up in a stronghold that’s making them act sinful. It can be tempting to hear sermons and tidbits of wisdom and immediately apply it to them and think “Oh if only he/she was hearing that! Maybe then they’d stop their sinful behavior!!” It’s good to pray for others and trust God to work in their heart, but ultimately God wants you to grow in your own spirit and not be overly bothered by someone else’s lack of spiritual growth.
Satan wants to get you off focus of doing God’s will for your life, so he will use anything to achieve that goal, even good things like seeking personal/spiritual growth for your husband or someone else you wish was behaving differently.
Hope that helps you!
Some more thoughts:
When someone you love, or know and interact with, is acting in a sinful and hurtful way, it can be extremely tempting to want to go in and “fix” the situation and “fix” them, and if we really love and care about them, this comes naturally. Loving others means you want the best for them, that you want to see them become all that God desires them to be. Giving them a loving, life-giving rebuke in a kind and gentle way can be extremely beneficial if their heart is humble and open and their spirit is desiring to follow God’s will for their life. But what if their heart is hard and calloused, what if they mock the wisdom from God in how to treat other people, or mock your attempt to help them change and use it as fuel to further attack you for wanting to help them?
- You have to step back, and realize if you’re dealing with someone spiritually wounded. If they are reacting in hate or with mocking behavior, something is very off within their spirit, and they will not be able to receive wisdom most likely at this time in their life. A reaction like that means they are generally in rebellion to God and against the Holy Spirit (if they’re Christian), and are grieving the Holy Spirit with their words and actions. This may be because they’ve experienced a dramatic event in their life, immense pain they are feeling, anger, or a loss of purpose and belief that God can use them and their life experiences to further His Kingdom.
- If they are spiritually wounded, don’t take their harsh and angry reactions or rejections to heart. Try to see where they’re at and feel compassion and love for them, even in the state they’re in. When you minister to other people, and especially the wounded and broken, they will sometimes “spiritually vomit” all over you because they are so far from God and His will in how He desires them to act. We need to expect this, and not be surprised when it happens with people who are Christian. The saved are still depraved creatures, and we all need God desperately.
- Keep your mind from focusing on their sin too much, pray for them, but have a peaceful confidence that God will deal with their sin – because He will and always has.
- Focus on God’s will for your life, and doing the important things that He’s already put in your path for you to accomplish.
- Don’t let other people’s sins become a distraction for you, taking away from the time you need to spend doing God’s work in your life and in the lives of those He’s put in your path to minister to. Time is our most precious commodity, and how we use it matters so much! Satan can use another person’s stronghold, your focusing on it, in order to stunt your own spiritual growth and spend your time wasted. It gives him great satisfaction when God’s children are off track and ineffective.
- Don’t give in to despair, have good boundaries around how much you allow other people’s sins to affect you. Acknowledge that you’re only responsible for your own life, and are called to live at peace as much as it depends on you. You can’t control other people’s thoughts and actions, you can’t ultimately change their minds or hearts to desire to act and behave godly.