We often talk about spiritual leadership only in the context of men: Husbands, boyfriends, fathers and sons are called to be “spiritual leaders,” and women are encouraged to look for men with these qualities. While it is absolutely true that we should unite ourselves to people who love God, we are all called to be spiritual leaders. Every Christian should be leading others spiritually through discipleship, evangelism and nonverbal witness—this is our testament to the world!
In a dating relationship, we can help one another lead spiritually by encouraging each other toward Christ. If you’ve wondered how to do this for your boyfriend, here are four ways to encourage his spiritual leadership and lead alongside him as your relationship grows.
Suggest Devotional Time Together
“Reminding” can quickly become “nagging” if we aren’t careful. Think about how you’d like to be kept accountable for your devotional time; what would be the most effective way to communicate this suggestion? “Do unto others” as you initiate the conversation.
It may take several times to help him remember your devotional time together. You may have to simply sit down with the Bible and wait for him, rather than hoping he will bring it up. If he pursues God, he will begin to catch on and take more initiative in this area.
Choose to study a book or passage that sparks conversation and leads to a good discussion. The more engaged you are, the more likely he will be to initiate further devotional studies.
Ask for His Thoughts
If you feel like you’re not having many spiritual conversations, you can jump-start these with the aforementioned devotions on each date (this is also a great way to guard against sexual sin). But to carry this into your daily interaction, ask your boyfriend for his thoughts on the Sunday sermon.
Ask what he thinks about certain theological issues—creation, marriage, or discipleship. Visit different churches each Sunday and discuss them. As you ask for his thoughts, you make him think about issues he may never have thought about before. You also reveal the priorities you want to set for the relationship.
Give Room for Growth
Even men who love God need a lot of grace for growth. They will be silly and immature at times. They will fail and sin against you. This may be especially hard if you had a great father figure in your life, to whom it’s easy to compare your boyfriend. But remember, your father has 20 or 30 years of life experience with your boyfriend. When your dad was 22, he was still growing.
So give grace as your boyfriend grows spiritually. Watch for his potential and encourage it. Of course, if he begins to seriously backslide in his walk with God, address it clearly and make sure he has accountability outside of your relationship (he should have that anyway, and so should you). Grace is a big motivator for growth.
Pray for His Heart
Finally, pray for your boyfriend. Ask God to give him a desire to lead. Ask Jesus to continue to work in him and transform him into the kind of man who honors God’s name. As you pray over your boyfriend, you invite God’s work into his life—which is the surest way to grow him into a true leader.