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A Helpmate or a Nag?


“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” (Proverbs 31: 10)

I would like to be thought of by my husband, Tom, as more precious than rubies, so I’m trying to be open to continual learning. One thing I had to learn was the difference between being a true helpmate versus a nag.

I always wanted to be helpful to Tom, but I found that I was often coming across to him as a nag. I finally discovered the difference. A helpmate comes along side her husband in the things he is already motivated to do. A nag tries to motivate him.

I will now share an example of both. My first example illustrates a time when I unintentionally became a nag. Tom and I had bought into another person’s vision for us and we began to develop a ministry around that idea. We got as far as creating a website and writing a two- day conference. Where I became a nag was when I kept asking Tom if he was ready to write his parts or practice the presentation. He said he would when he was ready. We just got frustrated with each other. Finally, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, Stop! So, I filed the materials and quit mentioning them. In time, Tom and I both realized that wasn’t our calling and we abandoned the project.

My second example illustrates a time when I was a good helpmate. Tom and I had always gone on mission trips together, but when an opportunity came up to go to Haiti for construction work, I did not feel led to go. Tom, however, was very excited about it and I was happy to help in any way I could. Tom admits that I’m more organized than he is, and he appreciates the help when I’m assisting him in doing something he’s already excited about. So, I read the emails and called our doctor to find out the time line for the necessary shots and how to get the appropriate pills. Then I relayed that information to Tom and he made the appointment. I also printed out the list of suggested items to pack, asked him which ones he wanted to take, and accompanied him on his trips to gather supplies. One day, I remained after church with some of the team members to help vacuum pack clothes to take to those in need. I also organized a prayer team. Each day, when Tom called to share what they’d done, I emailed up-dates to the prayer team. I enthusiastically agreed to financially support one of the children in the orphanage. Finally, when the team shared about their trip in church, I video taped their individual talks and sent them to each team member. Even though I was not physically present with Tom in Haiti, we still worked together as a team, using our strengths to best advantage. It was satisfying to both of us and we rejoiced together over all that was accomplished.

We need to find out what our spouse’s interests are and encourage them in those areas. We should prayerfully rely on God to motivate our partner and keep our focus on helping them to accomplish their goals.

Is it all right for a person to express their desires and concerns to their spouse? Of course, if they do so lovingly and respectfully. But then we need to step back and wait to see if they do anything about it. If our desires are in alignment with God’s will for us, He will eventually bring it to pass, one way or another, if we rely on Him. If our desires are not in alignment with God’s, then He may need to change our hearts. I have learned that God is the only one who can truly motivate someone. If the Lord is in something, the motivation will come. To summarize, we should cheer our partner on toward theirs goals, and be helpful in ways that they appreciate.

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