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Dear Esther: September 9 2013

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Sep 9, 2013

Dear Esther,
Let me begin by thanking you for your ministry. I apologize ahead of time for the length of this email. I am in need of some godly counsel. I am a born-again follower of Christ. My husband professes to believe, but I am afraid he’s been rather slack in his spiritual leadership of our home. We have two children: a special needs daughter (9) and a young son (3). Apart from the occasional “giving thanks” at meal times, he has shown no leadership regarding spiritual matters.

If I am sick, the entire family stays home from church. No family devotions. No discussions of the Bible. No family/spousal prayer time. So I must do these things with my children. I realize it is my job to be his helper. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict him, not mine, so I refrain from “nagging” him about such matters. About two months ago he broke down to me and said he knows he should being doing more to nurture his relationship with God, i.e. studying his Bible, praying, but that it was very difficult to stay focused when his work environment was so corrupt. He worked at a factory, swing shift.

Having said that, my husband has made a decision recently that leaves me very troubled and unsure how to proceed. About five weeks ago he quit his job. At first I thought it might be an answer to prayer: If he was no longer around the bad influences so prevalent in such a work environment, then he could get “on track” with God. I said to him, “You know, this could be a good opportunity for you to grow closer to God while you look for a job that He wants to use you in.”

He agreed. However, he has made no effort whatsoever to even look for a job nor has he made any efforts to become closer to God. He may pull out his Bible for a verse here or there, but I’ve seen no effort to study, discuss or even be in church. He stays up most of the night playing a video game on his PS3, at which time he actually yells and stomps at the game while the rest of us are trying to sleep.

He’ll play it during the day and demand that no one else should be on the Internet because it interferes with his game. He’s made off-hand comments to me, and my son that he isn’t going to go back to work. You see, my daughter receives SSI for her cognitive challenges and I am paid through a Waiver to provide special services for her to meet specific goals. We are not without income, so I think he feels no urgency to work.

My concerns are obvious, I’m sure. Not only does his refusal to provide (but instead be content living off his special needs daughter’s funds) go against all my convictions, he is in disobedience to God. Scripture tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8, that such a man has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. How do I respond to this? God tells women who have an unbelieving husband that he may be won without a word, by a gentle and quiet spirit. But, my husband is not unbelieving, per se. I don’t know what to call him.

I’ve taken my concerns to my dad, who is also the minister of the congregation we attend. He is unwilling to say or do anything because he knows of my husband’s, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do” attitude. His own dad has said he cannot talk to him for the same reason.

Truth be told, I’m not sure there is anyone my husband respects enough to listen to. I’ve asked my dad if we should take the matter before the elders but he is hesitant. I’m not sure what my dad is thinking. I feel like it has all been placed on my shoulders. My dad says to let God handle it in His time, which I cannot disagree with. I know God has me, and my children, in His care and that He loves my husband more than even I do.

Still, I wonder why God tells us in Galatians 6 to restore someone in a spirit of gentleness if all we are to do is wait on Him. I am getting the impression that my choices are: Get a public job myself, therefore making myself less available to my daughter and my son and let my husband live off my income; 2. Separate from my husband and take matters into my own hands 3. Sit and wait.

I find this whole ordeal very distressing because I want so much to be in God’s will in every area of my life and those three choices seem to conflict with that. Furthermore, I am finding it increasingly difficult to respect my husband and I find myself feeling bitter toward the other men in my life who seem to have abandoned me (and my husband’s soul) in this matter by refusing to even talk with him.

Please advise. I am praying that God give you the wisdom I am unable to see at this time.

Blessings and Maranatha,


Dear MS,
Thank you for your kind words. It is my blessing to be of help. God is going to work out all of this although at the moment you are faced with many uncertainties. Your situation is distressing, I agree. It is symptomatic of the weak lukewarm condition of the church that Jesus so emphatically taught not to be like, but so many are. Many so-called Christians and the Christian church as a whole has grown so far away from what the Lord intended, it is a sure sign that the last days are upon us (Revelation 3:16).

When those closest to us, especially those who are professing believers will not take a strong stand when a situation is obviously a rooted in spiritual apathy, then there is no leadership. You have taken all the proper steps to address your situation. You are obviously a dedicated woman of God and only wish to right what is wrong. Your husband’s massive slip into irresponsible, adolescent behavior leaves you in a very frustrating position. Your father’s unwillingness to step in as your father, but also as the minister of your church is troubling.

But today, this is more the norm than we would like to believe. I get so many letters from readers who are desperately searching for a good church where there is strong biblical leadership, where the Bible is taught and the congregation is a true family—where one another’s burdens are shared with proactive concern. The American Christian church has especially become celebrity-eccentric where those at the top rake in the money and rarely share with those in need within their own congregations or ministries.

I have seen this first-hand myself and it is very disturbing. And all it takes is a few minutes of surfing on the Internet to find one charlatan after another raking in the cash for selfish-gain. A local Christian radio station in my area used to carry a popular pastor’s radio show once a week. This pastor makes millions every year telling people that, they too, can be rich (as he promotes his “prosperity” gospel asking for hefty donations).

I learned from the station manager that the show was no longer running because this very wealthy pastor did not want to pay the station a mere $30 a week to air the show. It turns out someone else was paying to sponsor the show and when he could no longer do it, the popular (wealthy) pastor would not fork out a dime so his dogma could continue to be aired in this area. (Actually he did us a huge favor). But nevertheless that is an example of the disturbing direction many professing Christians “leaders” are taking. Money and power are chosen over serving the Lord and feeding the flock with sound biblical teaching.

I am not saying your father is a money-hungry pastor, not at all, but he certainly needs to live what the Scripture teaches and take a strong stand of leadership. Since he is not, we must believe that the Lord will work things out in ways that only He can—so please do not lose hope.

Nevertheless, it would not be out of order for you to carefully and lovingly approach your father once again, and this time express your concerns that he is not meeting his obligation as a church leader or as a leader of your family (extended). Tell him that this is heartbreaking for you; that you need him and you feel abandoned by those you love the most when you need them the most. Try to reach out to him again to help address the immediate situation with your husband before it turns into a full-blown financial crisis. Ask your father to tell your husband that he cannot sit at home every day and not look for work.

Mention to your father that this is important not only to you but for setting the right example for the men, the fathers in the church that he pastors. Perhaps you can suggest to him that he needs to start a class for men teaching biblical leadership, and classes in discipleship for everyone at the church. You could even get involved and help him form the classes and the curriculum. If your husband had a guideline to follow he might yet snap out of his lethargy and realize he is wasting his time and hurting his family.

Your father could also make an announcement to the church that your husband needs work and anyone who has yard work, handyman work or anything else, to call him. If your husband refuses to look for a job every day and take work offered him you and your children may have to leave the home (as a last resort). It is unlikely that you could get him to leave. Explain that you will move out and get a place of your own using the SSI money. Your husband will be left to pay the rent and utilities and not live off your daughter’s SSI money and will be forced to get work.

Hopefully you can find a place that is comparable to what you have now, but only after you have exhausted all options to bring your husband to a place of responsibility. This action is extreme, but it may be necessary if your husband refuses to seek work or take work offered to him. Keep the best interests of your children in mind. You can best discern how much “change” your children can handle and what they need most. Find people from your church who could help you move, if it does comes to that, so you don’t incur any extra expenses. If you have any close friends this is the time you need to ask them to do anything they can to help you through this.

Separating is a drastic, last step, but if your husband does not respond, you cannot live like you are now, indefinitely. You need to determine how long you will go on the way things are and then act when that deadline comes due. Your respect for him is already dwindling and it will only get worse if he does not take action to reconcile with the Lord and support his family.

You have listed three options: 1.“Get a public job myself, therefore making myself less available to my daughter and my son and let my husband live off my income. 2. Separate from my husband and take matters into my own hands 3. Sit and wait.”

The first option is out. Your children need you. You say you have some income and that income is to be used for your daughter and her special needs under your care. It is not disposable income for your husband to live off of while he refuses to work. Your husband cannot be at home playing video games while you are out trying to make a living. But as I have already said, separating from him should be a last option. He is obviously a lost soul at the moment and has to some degree given-up and is hiding behind video games and whatever else he is into.

I would be careful not to give him too much slack, since so many weeks have already passed. Quitting his job without having something else reliable to go to is selfish, reckless and immature. It is also a sign of a troubled man who does not have the best interest of his family at heart or someone who is involved with an active personal relationship with the Lord. It becomes very difficult to have an intimate loving relationship when these dynamics are present.

The secular world would blame this on “depression” but this type of behavior goes much deeper. It is clearly a spiritual disconnect. This situation will either bring your husband closer to the Lord, where your husband begins to take his faith and leadership role as a husband and father seriously, or he will move further away from Him. At the moment the outcome is hard to decipher, but we know all things are possible with the Lord and surely your prayers are reaching Him, and He is involved in the situation behind the scenes.

It is important not to focus too much on the situation with our natural eyes, but rather with our spiritual eyes. It is true by our example and love, that a wife can open her husband’s heart to the faith, and although your husband has expressed some faith he still falls into the category of the lost because of his very weak, if any, commitment to the Lord. But only the Holy Spirit can get to him, so the best thing you can do is keep fervently praying and take the necessary steps to let him know his irresponsible attitude can only hurt your family and cannot continue.

“The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing” (Proverbs 20:4).

Your third option to “sit and wait” is okay as long your husband is given notice that this cannot go on much longer. I would say “sit and wait” for a designated time that you decide with the Lord’s guidance. And keep praying for the Lord to deal with your husband’s complete spiritual healing.

If after approaching your father again and if he refuses to help, one practical thing you can do is seek out another church where you might find a pastor who has strong leadership abilities and see, if he would be willing to meet with you and your husband. I would not worry about going outside your home church to get help considering the circumstances. Sometimes when we are presented with a crisis, much more is going on which the Lord wants to expose than we first realize.

If this had not happened you may not have known that your own father is weak when it comes to living what the Word of God teaches in the area of responsibility and leadership, not to say he isn’t a wonderful man in many other ways. This may be the very thing that motivates him to take a new and stronger approach in his pastoral role. If not, perhaps you need to get involved in another church (if you can find one).

From what you have shared, your husband knows he is not walking with the Lord and his floundering is getting worse, not better. This is when other brethren should be ministering to him regardless of your husband’s “hard to talk to” attitude. Your father, especially, should be experienced with reaching those who are hard to talk to if he is sharing the Word of God with the lost.

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

You mention your husband’s father. He too, should intervene and deal with his son that this behavior is shameful and unacceptable. Your husband is controlling others with his self-righteous attitude by alienating them but this is where the men in the family and in the church must look beyond that and minister to him, anyway.

You don’t want to enable your husband’s dysfunction, but you also want to be loving and understanding as much as possible. This is not an easy task. Waiting on the Lord is never easy but when we do we can always be certain that we are not compulsively reacting to a negative situation in ways that we might regret later. Your total trust in the Lord is very necessary at this time. You know this. He will not let you down. It is evident that some of the issues you describe need to be dealt with and unfortunately those of us who are not the culprits suffer while those we want to be able to count on have let us down.

Weigh your options carefully before you make any changes. Your husband’s attitude of, “No one is going to tell me what to do” is also a great sign of prideful selfishness and the absence of a genuine relationship with the Lord. No true Christian can function that way and be in fellowship with the Lord. A stubborn and rude spirit is in need of repentance. Your husband is in great need of deliverance and sometimes through a crisis, a lukewarm quasi believer will emerge as a true and faithful servant of the Lord. That is my prayer for you and your family.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing and how things are developing. The Lord is going to resolve this. Continue to be prayerful, and think things through carefully (as you obviously are) before expressing yourself or taking any action.

In God’s love,


”Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Zechariah 12:3,9:
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.


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