Save a Marriage Today

A Hard Act for a Husband to Follow

Here’s a new way to think about leadership in your marriage.

Do you read bumper stickers? Of course you do. So do I. Some say that bumper stickers originated at the famous Rock City attraction at Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where visitors returned to their cars to find a “See Rock City” sticker applied to their rear bumper—without their permission.

If I were to create a bumper sticker—which I would never apply to anyone’s car without asking—it would help husbands think about their leadership and headship in a new way:

What if your wife were married to Jesus?

For many of the years that preceded my engagement to Nancy Leigh DeMoss, she wore a lovely ring on the third finger of her left hand, the finger on which people wear wedding bands. When I first saw the ring, I asked about it. She explained that she had worn it for years as a reminder that though she had never married, she belonged to Christ.

Early in her life, she felt the call to ministry as a single woman. A staunch champion of marriage and an encourager and counselor to many married women, Nancy never envisioned herself as a wife. But as a part of the Bride of Christ, she was devoted to love and serve Him with all her heart.

Several months after we began dating, we were having dinner with some close friends of mine, a couple who had known and loved my late wife, Bobbie. After a long and pleasant conversation, the husband was talking about how special Bobbie was, when he turned, looking straight into Nancy’s face, and said, “Bobbie’s a hard act to follow.”

My heart leapt into my throat, and I could feel the color drain from my face. This was one of the most embarrassing moments of my adult life. Yes, of course, Bobbie was special. We had been married almost 45 years and had a strong and wonderful relationship. Together we had two amazing daughters. Nancy and Bobbie had been friends. But this comment seemed so far out of bounds that a referee would have needed to take a taxicab to make the call. Nancy did not say anything. I didn’t either, but for the remainder of the evening the man’s comment had its way, grinding in my stomach.

On the drive home, I tried to express to Nancy how terrible I felt about my friend’s insensitive comment; Nancy graciously responded that she understood how difficult it must be for longtime friends of Bobbie’s to adjust to my having another woman in my life.

The next day, I was on the phone with my daughter Julie, who has always been one step ahead. (She was probably 8 years old when she asked me if there was another word for “thesaurus” and why sour cream has an expiration date.) When I told her about the “you’ve got a hard act to follow” comment, she replied, “Remember, Daddy, Nancy was married to Jesus. And He’s a hard act to follow!”

I gave a half-hearted laugh, realizing what a challenge she had just issued.

The Apostle Paul, who instructed the Christian husbands of Ephesus about headship and acting like Jesus, also wrote, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:4-5).

Do you see it? Paul agrees with our bumper sticker. What if your wife were married to Jesus? What would His headship look like? What effect might His leadership, love, and grace have on her spirit, responses, and reactions? Does your leadership have the same effect?

All good questions.

On FamilyLife Today®, Robert Wolgemuth, along with his wife, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and blended family expert Ron Deal, talk to husbands about how to lead as loving shepherds in such a way that their wives will want to follow them. And Robert’s book, Like the Shepherd, guides men on how to embrace the role of shepherd, drawing on the wisdom of the Bible to give men practical, powerful advice on how to take responsibility for their relationships and realize the Christian ideal of a healthy, happy marriage.


Excerpted from Like the Shepherd. Copyright © 2017 by Robert D. Wolgemuth. Used with permission of Regnery Faith.