A Suitable Helper

A lot of people, when they hear the word “helper”, immediately think of a servant, low-status, or even inequality. If we asked the average woman if she valued being a “helper” to her husband, we would probably be the recipients of strange looks. For many, being a helper means doing menial work—work that is of no benefit to the one helping. But God doesn’t see it that way. When he fashioned Eve out of Adam’s side he was making a woman perfectly designed to complete and strengthen Adam. As a result, her fulfillment of her created function would only complete and strengthen her (Genesis 2:20-22). The marriage relationship, when ordered properly, brings glory to God and great joy to the spouses. But notice how God never tells us exactly what being a “helper” looks like. He just tells us that he made a helper for Adam. She came with no specific job description.

Before I got married I thought being a helpmate to my husband was a list of already defined tasks. So when he would ask me to help him with things that were outside of my “perfect idea of a helper” I would become easily annoyed. I didn’t know how to help him personally. All I had was a perception of helping him, not an understanding of what he desired and what made him tick.

Being a helper to our husbands is something far more profound than being the most gourmet cook or immaculate cleaner—although that can be very good. Rather being a helper means knowing our husbands intimately, his desires, his needs, and even his weaknesses. It’s often a lot easier to cook, clean, and run errands, than to really understand what it means to be a “suitable helper” to our husbands. We can do all of the outward acts of service and miss the heart behind the helping.

When God created Eve for Adam he was fashioning a woman who was designed for him, to be a helper specifically for him. This is why no two marriage relationships look the same—one husband might be helped by his wife cooking the majority of the meals and preparing his lunches. Another husband might love cooking and be helped by his wife keeping an orderly home. The point is that we learn what helps our husbands and not be drawn into comparing our marriage with others.

Helping our husbands biblically also frees us from the slavery of comparison. It’s so easy to look at another relationship and judge it based on our own. But if we know our husband and serve him based on his own unique personality, then we will have no problems with the way our friend exercises her role as her husband’s uniquely suited helper. God specifically designed us for our husbands, and vice versa.

Although he is talking about submission, I think John Piper’s definition is a good guide in thinking through what being a helper to our husband’s means:

“Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.”

Our calling as wives is to use every drop of our God-given giftedness to help our husbands thrive in their callings before God—be it secular or vocational ministry. And this is no light task. It requires much prayer, wisdom, and excellence on our parts. More importantly, it requires a daily, utter dependence on the One who created us to be our husbands suitable helpers.