I was the same with my husband’s growth as well. He’s always been a great husband, but often struggled with putting God first. I would get impatient and try to push him to draw closer to God. I’d try to push him to read the Bible. I’d try to push him to go to church with me. I’d try to push him to pray with me. I’d try to push him to study with me. I’d try to push him to lead me. All my pushing only discouraged him and pushed him further away.
God opened my eyes one day as I was pushing my husband to read the Bible. As I was telling him why he needed to read it, he replied: “Well, it doesn’t seem to be working for you.” That moment I realized I needed to allow God to work in me if I was ever going to motivate my husband to put God first.
I gradually stopped pushing my husband and started focusing on God. I started working on the areas He revealed were displeasing in me. Then, one day, my husband expressed how much he appreciated me, and thanked me for being a godly example. He thanked me for being strong when he wasn’t. He told me to keep staying strong because it was making him want to come up higher.
He saw the desire I had for Christ, and prayed for that same desire. That moment I realized I had the godly husband I’d been praying for all along. I was only looking at what he was and wasn’t doing. I wasn’t looking at his heart. His heart wanted to serve Christ. His heart wanted to grow with Christ. He wanted to be the godly man God created him to be. I just needed to be patient as God worked in him.
I can now be patient with my husband and trust God is working in him, just as He is working in me. I can encourage him to grow instead of pushing and discouraging him.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself….
— Romans 15:1-3
I never need to worry about my husband’s growth. I can accept my husband right where he is at because Christ accepts me right where I am at.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
I encourage you to do the same with your spouse. Be patient with their growth. Accept them right where they’re at. Even if your spouse doesn’t have a willing heart, continue praying for God to soften their heart.
Meanwhile, pray for God to help you focus on their positive attributes. And be thankful for their weaknesses because God is using those weaknesses to perfect something in you. Keep praising God that He is faithful to work in you and your spouse, bringing you to oneness.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
--Philippians 1:6, NLT
While you wait on God to draw your spouse’s heart to Him, continue moving forward with God. Follow whatever He teaches you. Lay down the things He shows you, even if you feel it’s pulling you further from your spouse. The more you allow God to work in you, the greater influence you will have on your spouse.
You may not see the results right away, but keep moving forward and you’ll see God use you to draw your spouse closer to Him. The Bible says that we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). We are supposed to make the world thirsty for what they see in us. This is how we lead people to Jesus.
Make your spouse thirsty for what they see in you. Encourage them. Pray for them. Lovingly admonish them when they are falling into sin. But remember to always be patient with them. And be patient with God as He draws their heart, and yours, closer to Him.
And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
—1 Thessalonians 5:14