Posts tagged servant leader

What makes a leader?



In creating the Stepping Up men’s video series, FamilyLife interviewed men in the New Orleans French Quarter, asking the following question:

“What makes a leader?”
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Some of the guys in the video were on target with their answers, others were a bit off. Below, we’ve pulled some quotes, not from just any guy on the street, but from some men who have been intentional about their leadership.

. . .

“If you look in Ephesians, Chapter 5, and you look at the list of qualifications, really, for a husband — you look at this picture of what it means to be a Christ-like leader — basically, to lead a wife as Christ leads the church. You find that the picture is not just about a guy who pounds his chest and says, ‘Me man; you woman — me speak; you do.’ He’s to lead in love. He’s to lead in the Word. He’s to lead in righteousness. He’s to lead in selflessness, and he is to lead in intimacy.

“Most guys don’t understand servant-leadership from that perspective. So, it’s very important that when we talk about the way a husband is supposed to lead, we don’t just take the culture’s definition of leadership and superimpose that on the Scriptures. We have to get into the Word of God to determine what biblical leadership in the home looks like; and then look for an individual who understands that, as opposed to just the cultural norm.”

– Voddie Baucham, from “Discovering Biblical Leadership,”  FamilyLife Today® radio broadcast

“The statue is of William Leftwich. It is a statue of a man, with one arm pointed to his left — his rifle is in that arm — his body is clearly running in the direction of his outstretched rifle. His right arm is crooked; and it is beckoning those who, although unseen, are behind him. His head is pointed back at them. You can tell he’s yelling something. Below that statue, it says simply, ‘Follow me!’

“And that, I think, is a phenomenal picture of leadership. It is: ‘If you want to know where to go, watch me. Follow me because I will be doing what I ask you to do, and I will be leading the way toward a mission that is worthy of being accomplished.’ This man, ultimately, died in Viet Nam because he went on every rescue mission for the Reconnaissance Marines that he sent out. One day, on the rescue mission of the men he commanded, his helicopter was shot down and he died. He was doing exactly what he asked his men to do. When he said, “’Follow me!’ they listened.”

– Donovan Campbell, author of The Leader’s Code, from “Characteristics of a Leader,” FamilyLife Today radio broadcast

“Two words — serve and lead — may seem like a contradiction, but they are inseparable according to Scripture. While the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:23 that ‘the husband is the head of the wife,’ he quickly puts to rest any notions that this leadership allows any form of selfish male dominance. He completes the sentence with ‘as Christ also is the head of the church.’ Then the passage goes on to say that husbands should love their wives ‘just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her’ (verse 25).

“This paints a picture of leadership that is contrary to how the world views it. A man is called to be a servant-leader — to take responsibility for his wife and children and to put their needs ahead of his own. He is called to demonstrate selfless, sacrificial love — the type of love we see in God toward his children.”

– Dennis Rainey, “5 Ways Men Need to Step Up”

The irresistible man (part 2)



(The first post on The irresistible man covered the first of a wife’s three major needs: security. This post will handle the other two: acceptance and emotional connection.)

Acceptance
irresistible man

Photo by Tina Vanderlaan

When it comes to acceptance, every man should take a page from the Song of Solomon and apply it to his marriage. You see, Solomon knew the importance of elevating his wife’s beauty, her appearance, her dignity, her worth, and her value as a woman. As you’ll see in a moment, he carefully chose his words to communicate how beautiful she was to him. Such praise and affirmation are essential for a woman to hear. Acceptance begins with an understanding of what your wife is feeling about herself.

Does she feel good about the way she looks? Her hair? Her clothes and shoes? Her weight? Her skin tone? Her body image? Her teeth? Her overall attractiveness? Chances are good that she compares herself to the airbrushed models of perfection she sees every day. From the covers of the magazines in the checkout line to the advertisements she watches on television, your wife is constantly made to feel inferior, unworthy, and unacceptable.

Solomon recognized his bride’s need for affirmation and didn’t hesitate to go beyond mere acceptance. He lavished praise on her. He said, “I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh” (Song of Solomon 1:9). Now, before you try that line on your wife, keep in mind the context. The picture was of Solomon’s finest mare, most likely an Arabian beauty, a dark creature of unquestioned magnificence. It was the finest horse that money could buy. This exotic creature would have turned heads—maybe even caused a stampede because of her exquisite beauty. In other words, Solomon used poetic language to tell his wife that she was magnificent.

But that’s not all.

Solomon quickly added, “Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels. We will make you earrings of gold, studded with silver” (Song of Solomon 1:10–11). He not only accepted her and saw her as a woman of great beauty, but he lavished jewelry on her. When was the last time you sprang for a new bracelet? A necklace? A ring? Like Solomon, let your wife know you esteem her greatly by giving her something extraordinary.

When Barbara and I were first married, I realized early on that she needed to be cherished for her beauty. When we started to have children, her body began to change. She wondered if she was still physically attractive to me. I worked at praising her beauty at that stage in our marriage. And now that we’ve moved into the empty nest years, I can’t coast. I understand how important it is for me to continue to praise her. The truth is, I think she’s spectacular!

In the same way, your wife longs for unconditional acceptance. She secretly hopes you’ll notice and commend her various qualities — her receptivity and obedience to God, her personality, her faithfulness in raising children and making a home. Because you are the most important person in her life, your affirmation and acceptance unleash an inner beauty and a confidence that radiate.

Emotional connection

Marriage is a partnership that takes teamwork. Some men fail in their partnership because they don’t make an emotional connection with their wives. Heidi, who attended one of FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember getaways, writes, “My husband does nothing to help me around the house. I am just plain tired. I do all the laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, everything after working all day … oh, we’ll stay married, but I just know we could be happier.”

Did you know that when you participate in family life by sharing in some of the daily duties, you connect with your wife on an emotional level? Men spell romance s-e-x, but women spell romance r-e-l-a-t-i-o-n-s-h-i-p. Working together around the house or in the yard (Barbara’s other domain) is a great way to communicate your love for your wife.

Another way to connect emotionally is to compliment your wife. Proverbs offers this pointer: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (16:24 NKJV). How often do you praise your wife for what she does? Consider a few of these compliments to brighten her day:

  • “Dinner was great! Thank you for always making creative meals, even when you’re tired of cooking.”
  • “I love the way you read books to our kids. That’s so much better for them than watching TV.”
  • “I’m grateful that you carefully budget our paycheck each month.”
  • “I admire the way you handled yourself with that rude salesman — you have such a winsome approach.”
  • “The flowers you planted make our home so much more inviting. I appreciate your hard work.”

As you work to make an emotional connection with your words and actions, go below the surface to the real issues of life. How? Start to talk with her. For some, this involves a conscious choice. Share with her, for example, what goes on at work — what you’re doing well, where you’re struggling, the people you’re working with, the people you encounter. Most women love hearing all of the details. You’ll also discover that she can provide wise counsel on different issues you’re facing.

Finally ask your wife questions about what she is feeling, and then listen to her. One way I do this with Barbara is to ask questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.” For example, I might ask her, “How did that exchange with our teenage son make you feel?” Making the effort to know specifics about her background, her favorite things, and her dreams all communicate to her, “I want to know you. I want to be your soul mate.”

A favorite question that I asked Barbara was, “What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done in your life?” Try that question on a date night with your wife, and give her time to think about her answer. You might consider sharing how you would answer the question. Here are some more questions to help you make the connection:

  1. What is one of your earliest childhood memories?
  2. What is one thing from your past that you struggle with?
  3. What was one of your proudest achievements before we met?
  4. What was your relationship with your dad like? How about your mom?
  5. At what time did you place your faith in Christ as your Savior; what were the circumstances?
  6. What would you say was our best family vacation, and why?
  7. What is your favorite book in the Bible? Hymn? Why?
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?
  9. What dreams do you have for our children?
  10. What do you long to experience with me in our marriage?
  11. What do you want to accomplish after the kids are grown?

As you study your wife and learn how and when to build security, acceptance, and emotional connection into your relationship, you will become an irresistible man. And let me make one last practical suggestion: When you come home from work, here are four of the most romantic words to say to your wife: How can I help? You’ll never go wrong asking this question any time of the day or night. Those words are music to her ears because they demonstrate that you desire to connect to her world. Why not try it — and mean it — tonight?

 

You just finished reading the Stepping STEPSeek - 10-point checklistUp blog post, “The irresistible man” (part 1 & part 2) by Dennis Rainey

What aspect of relationship do you need to work on: security, acceptance, or emotional connection?

STEPembrace

Plan a date with your wife and ask her one or more of the questions listed immediately above. Listen like you mean it.

STEPpassIf these personal exercises are helpful, tell a friend what you did. Share this article with him so he can connect with his wife.

Adapted by permission. Rekindling the Romance by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, ©copyright 2004. Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Copying or using this material without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited and in direct violation of the copyright law.

The irresistible man (part 1)



The next time you stop at McDonald’s, try this. At the counter, say, “I’d like to have a hamburger, fries, and a Coke, please.” Then listen carefully to the cashier. If she’s worth her salt, she’ll ask you, “Will that be large fries and a large Coke?” You see, a well-trained cashier would never ask, “Will that be small fries and a small Coke?”

What’s the difference?

Just millions of dollars. Changing one word—large instead of small—is called “suggestive selling.” That’s no accident. McDonald’s intentionally places a positive thought in your mind about buying the large size. Why? The company’s research shows that customers will, more often than not, sink their teeth into the larger order if presented with the larger option.

Understanding customer behavior isn’t small potatoes.

When multiplied by millions of orders a month, tens of millions of extra dollars a year flow into hungry cash registers — all because the company took the time to know the customers.

McDonald’s is so committed to understanding its clientele, it even knows most customers prefer to bite into a hamburger and taste the ketchup before the mustard.

irresistible man

Photo by Tina Vanderlaan

What does all this have to do with romance? Plenty. The success McDonald’s has experienced as the world leader of fast-food franchises came about because the company became a careful student of the customer. In the same way, one key to thriving in your relationship is to understand your wife. This is not to suggest that you should try to manipulate her. Rather, as you invest time and effort to understand your wife, you’ll discover how to define romance using your wife’s dictionary. I have to admit that I defined romance for years using my distinctly male dictionary. We men spell romance: S-E-X. However, I’ve learned when I want to communicate romance with Barbara, I’d better understand how she defines the word! As a husband does this, he understands the three nonnegotiables for a romantically satisfying relationship: security, acceptance, and an emotional connection. Let’s unpack these one at a time.

Security

If a man heard somebody breaking into his house in the middle of the night, what guy wouldn’t grab a baseball bat and defend his wife and his children against the intruder? That’s a given. But did you know that your wife is, in many ways, under assault every day? Look carefully, and you’ll discover there are all kinds of forces that have already broken into her life; they’ve already compromised the security of your home life.

Who are these intruders?

Often they come in the form of unresolved issues from the past — wounds from abuse, from family abandonment, from poor choices in the past, or from a divorce. These trespassers might not be obvious to you on the surface, but they can rob your wife’s sense of well-being years after the fact.

For example, when Barbara and I were first married, I had no idea that she had experienced some painful things growing up. Some of those wounds began to surface about 15 years into our marriage. I’m going to purposefully be vague because what she had experienced was not as important as how I responded. When the persistent invaders finally came out of the shadows, I did my best to comfort her and express the love of Christ to her.

Although I didn’t always know what to do, I didn’t run from her wounds. I didn’t deny she’d been hurt. I tried to let her know that she was loved and that our relationship was a safe place for her to begin to heal. And I asked God to give me wisdom to know how to encourage her. God does answer prayer.

Even as I shouldered the burden with her, I knew we could use some added help from a counselor, so we made arrangements for counseling. Barbara would say today that those days were very challenging, but going through the experience together enabled her to be liberated ultimately.

Past issues are not the only unwelcome guests that threaten a wife’s security. She desires to know her husband is committed to providing financial security in the home. Do you take the lead in establishing a family budget and pay off bills in a timely manner that creates security, or do you create fear with reckless financial decisions?

She wants a relationship built upon the bedrock security of a husband who refuses to follow his temptations. Are you a man in control of your passions, or do you lack self-control? And when she is subjected to a cruel or emotionally abusive co-worker, family member, or friend, she needs a husband who will defend her. Do you protect her emotionally from any person who is trying to take advantage of her by going to that person and verbally shielding her?

What vandals threaten her security? Does she struggle with the memory of an abortion, sexual abuse, or her parents’ divorce that robs her joy today? Are there unhealthy influences or relationships in her life? Does she fear the future: growing old, children leaving home, the loss of parents and friends?

If so, how do you plan to evict these home invaders?

Allow me to suggest that you do not try to “fix” it or “fix” her. Most importantly, I’d encourage you to pray with and for her. Do not underestimate the power of praying for your wife. Pray simply, but pray out loud. Take her by the hand and ask God for wisdom and help with the task. Proverbs 2:6 (NKJV) assures you that “the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Ask God to guide you.

Secondly, I’d encourage you to repeatedly verbalize your love and commitment to her. Your wife may be about to take on an emotional giant in her life and she needs to know that you are standing with her and for her. Remind her that you promised “for better or worse.”

Third, give her the freedom to process what she is experiencing emotionally with you. This kind of conversation means that you become a safe haven in an emotional storm. Let her talk without offering a solution. Comfort her with words of understanding that create hope.

It’s a wise husband who can look back into his wife’s life and evaluate how she has been affected by past events rather than sit back and be critical of how she was raised, or make negative comments about the parents who raised her. Instead, the prudent husband will serve as a healing ointment, a salve of love, one that fosters an environment where healing takes place.

Romance thrives in a secure relationship.

(The final post on The irresistible man will cover the other two major needs of a wife: acceptance and emotional connection.)

Adapted by permission. Rekindling the Romance by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, ©copyright 2004. Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Copying or using this material without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited and in direct violation of the copyright law. 

21 things a man needs to know about marriage (part 3)



This is the final installment in a three-part series. The full first part and second part of 21 things a man needs to know about marriage is here, but we’ve listed the first 14 things from those posts here.

  1. A man needs to know that the ultimate team is marriage.
  2. A man needs to know the difference between being a consumer and an investor in life, in relationships, and marriage.
  3. A man needs to know the Christ-like role of servant, husband, and lover.
  4. A man needs to know that marriage is meant to mature a man into Christ-like character.
  5. A man needs to know the meaning of love.
  6. A man needs to know that a marriage and family depend upon God as their maker.  
  7. A man needs to understand sexuality as God’s good creation, distinct from its counterfeits.
  8. A man needs to know that the key to great sex is exclusivity.
  9. A man needs to know that marriages typically have a one or two year “honeymoon era.”
  10. A man needs to know that living together and having sex before marriage uses up a good portion of the “honeymoon era” euphoria. 
  11. A man needs to know that commitment is a key to success in all of life, and especially in relationships with a woman.  
  12. A man needs to know that marriage is not easy.
  13. A man needs to know that the purpose of marriage is less to make you happy, than to make you holy.
  14. A man needs to know that God gives authority and responsibility to a husband to make the marriage thrive and last.

things a man needs to know about marriage15. A man needs to know that he can change his marriage by changing himself.  He can make himself a better husband by making himself a more consistent and devoted follower of Jesus.  If he wants to improve any aspect of his marriage, family or parenting, the solution lies in deepening his daily commitment to God.  The path to build a great marriage or heal a marriage is to humble one’s will, to let the Holy Spirit take control of him and to obey Christ.

16. A man needs to know that romance is created and sustained intentionally.  Thinking about what she likes, remembering what is important to her, setting things up the way she prefers … these are all critical.  In dating and various stages of life, romance can spontaneously happen, but for the long term, it must be deliberately planned and created.  If a man wants to be a leader, this is an area in which to lead.  It leads to good things.

17. A man needs to know that divorce is avoidable.  He understands that nothing is impossible for God, and he humbles himself to admit and repent from the ways he fell short in loving his wife in the past, so he can excel at loving her from this day forward.

18. A man needs to know that he can recover from a wife’s affair because he has the power to forgive.  Jesus forgave all his sin, and he is called to do the same with his wife.  Furthermore, he seeks to understand what led his wife to be unfaithful, even if it means admitting his own failure. Usually a man breaks his vow to choose, love, and protect her before a woman breaks her vow to be faithful.

Note: if you have an affair, you don’t have control over whether you can recover because you can’t force a wife’s forgiveness.

19. A man needs to know that even the worst things can be redeemed for deeper purposes.  Romans 5:3-5 reminds us to rejoice and find value in tribulation, loss, and suffering because tribulation brings perseverance, and perseverance brings proven character like that of Jesus, and proven character brings hope, and hope does not disappoint because God’s love is poured out to us by His Holy Spirit.

Face crises and trials and suffering straight on with Christ and a few close teammates. A man steps up by surrendering to Jesus Christ and persevering in making Him the center and Lord of his life.

20. A man needs to know that humbling yourself to your wife is the gutsiest and most successful way to heal her heart and your frequently-compromised relationship. A man with courage and wisdom will never overlook his wife’s hurt feelings.  And he’ll seek to overlook the disrespectful words she blurts out in reaction to how he hurt her feelings.

When you are in conflict, don’t wait for things to blow over.  Don’t try to point out her fault.  Don’t try to minimize the situation.  And don’t defend yourself.  Instead, be a leader.  Start the apology.  A great starting point is, “I was wrong.  I hurt you.  Please forgive me?”

21. A man needs to know that a wife wants you to lead her, but will tend to lead and control you if you don’t lead and initiate.  Leadership starts with your character and your devotion to Christ.  Your walk with God determines the quality of your love and leadership as a husband.

Seek God.  Read His word in the Bible.  Pray for Him to shape and lead you.  Humble yourself before Him.  Seek a mentor or group to help you grow and become a good husband.

Leadership of a wife is humility before God, initiating teamwork with your wife, praying with her every day and praying for your family.  Most guys I know well are like me in this: If you’re frustrated with your wife and your marriage, the solution lies in getting back into Jesus and His Word!

21 things a man needs to know about marriage (part 2)



This is the second in a three-part series. The full first part of  21 things a man needs to know about marriage is here, but we’ve listed the first seven things from that post here.

  1. A man needs to know that the ultimate team is marriage.
  2. A man needs to know the difference between being a consumer and an investor in life, in relationships, and marriage.
  3. A man needs to know the Christ-like role of servant, husband, and lover.
  4. A man needs to know that marriage is meant to mature a man into Christ-like character.
  5. A man needs to know the meaning of love.
  6. A man needs to know that a marriage and family depend upon God as their maker.  
  7. A man needs to understand sexuality as God’s good creation, distinct from its counterfeits.

things a man needs to know about marriage

8. A man needs to know that the key to great sex is exclusivity.  The modern consumer mindset tricks a man into thinking that more sources of sexual stimulation will satisfy him.  But like a drug, they thrill but do not satisfy.  Sexual entertainment, images, and illicit sex erode rather than enhance sexual joy in a marriage.

To be a great lover is to practice with only one woman for life.   It is to be generous, exclusive, and serving; not greedy, distracted, and taking.  A great relationship and sexual relationship are connected in marriage, and that only happens when a man’s sole target of sexual affections, imaginations, and enjoyment is his wife.

9. A man needs to know that marriages typically have a one- or two-year “honeymoon era.”  This is a period of semi-blind euphoria that makes the relationship magnetic and easier. It’s as if our Creator gives that to us humans to get us jump-started in marriage.  Couples should know that when the euphoria wears off and they eventually settle into normality, the different feelings they experience do not indicate that they married the wrong person or are not “in love” anymore.

10. A man needs to know that living together and having sex before marriage uses up a good portion of the “honeymoon era” euphoria. It often causes the onset of reality after marriage to begin almost immediately after the wedding, depending on how long the couple had been living and sleeping together.  Research shows that divorce and issues of mistrust are more common for those who cohabit before marriage than for those who do not.  Cohabiting is not a “smart start” or “good practice” for marriage.

11. A man needs to know that commitment is a key to success in all of life, and especially in relationships with a woman.  One way of defining commitment in marriage is that it means never considering divorce. If you know that you won’t be leaving or divorcing, it forces you to face differences and problems and work through them.

In marriage it is the security of commitment that allows a woman to feel peace in the relationship.  The assurance of a husband’s commitment helps a woman entrust herself to him emotionally and sexually.

12. A man needs to know that marriage is not easy.  Marriage is not automatic, and it’s often difficult.  The euphoria of romantic infatuation in the first years of marriage fades, requiring the mature resolve to behave lovingly and invest relationally to build a deeper bond than infatuation.  Marriage will take intentional and continual effort.

13. A man needs to know that the purpose of marriage is less to make you happy, than to make you holy.   Now it’s true that a good marriage to a good woman can make you happier than most anything else on earth.  But if your goal is to be happy, then you will be focused on yourself, and you will damage your character and your relationships.

If you aim to be holy — like Jesus, not like a monk — you will invite God to change you.  You will allow your marriage relationship to change you and crush your selfish will and defensive pride. You will experience true oneness in your marriage — you’ll be deepest friends, intimate allies, generous lovers, caring providers, complementary partners, spiritual enhancers. (Thanks to Gary Thomas for the idea)

14. A man needs to know that God gives authority and responsibility to a husband to make the marriage thrive and last.  He is to steward and shepherd himself and his wife’s union.  He is to be proactive at assisting God in healing her past wounds, creating oneness in their bond and assuring her (and their children) of his love for her.

Women are natural responders when men initiate in love, prayer  and humility.  Men must not be passive, arrogant, distracted, or controlling.  A man will not point the finger at his wife’s behavior or shortcomings, but will examine his history as a husband and ask God to change Him.  His heart, his care and his initiative is the key to his wife’s responses and the marriage’s health.

Be watching for part 3.

21 things a man needs to know about marriage



In a culture of counterfeits and mistruths, marriage needs to be re-branded as an awesome, noble, and challenging adventure.

Guys have been blindsided in our culture.  We don’t see the path to manhood, and we often don’t know how to view women, sex, relationships, marriage, and our role as husbands.

CoupleFacetoFaceWheatFieldA key to the problems guys and men face is that we don’t understand the North Star of relationships.   It’s the gold standard of selfless love, the blueprint for building a family and blessing your children.  What’s that North Star?  Knowing Jesus Christ and His purpose for marriage, and trusting in His strength to make a lasting relationship possible.

Marriage needs to be re-explained.  It needs to be re-branded as an awesome, noble, and challenging adventure. Our manhood, our happiness and our children’s future depend on marriage — yours, mine, and everybody else’s.

In a culture of counterfeits and mistruths, it’s important to understand what marriage is about.  As you read through the following list, ask God to remake you and help you understand what it means to be a man and a husband.  Let’s value marriage and relate well to our wives, whether we’re married yet, or preparing for that woman.

1. A man needs to know that the ultimate team is marriage.  It’s the union and oneness of man and woman in lifelong covenant.  It’s the team that anchors a family.   It’s a bonded relationship that mirrors God’s sacrificial, unconditional, lasting love for his children (those who by faith have accepted His sacrifice and adoption into his eternal family).

2.  A man needs to know the difference between being a consumer and an investor in life, in relationships, and marriage.  Don’t let an advertising-saturated consumer society make you act like a consumer in relationships.  Decide to add value to a wife, not take value.

Just like great quarterbacks serve receivers, and great receivers serve quarterbacks, we need to be investors, not childish consumers, takers, or complainers.  We are to be modeled after Jesus, the ultimate relationship investor.  He is the definition of a man … responsible, initiating, courageous, self-sacrificing, healing, peacemaking, justice-doing, other-centered, not self-centered, loving others in ways that add value and nobility to them.

Before he is married, a great husband will be a relationship investor who will build friendship that adds value into the life of a young woman, her self-esteem, and her potential to serve God.  He will channel his sexual desires and expression into devotion to God and commitment to one wife for life.  He will marry and be sexually exclusive — only having eyes, imagination, and sexual intimacy with one wife.  Ask yourself this question daily: “Would I want to marry me?”

3. A man needs to know the Christ-like roles of servant, husband, and lover.  He is to be an investor in his wife, and he sacrifices himself for her best. He defines his manhood as pursuing purity in Christ, chastity before marriage, and enthusiastic fidelity in marriage.

4. A man needs to know that marriage is meant to mature a man into Christ-like character.  It can help conform him to the image of Christ, reshaping his will and identity into union with, and deference toward, his wife.  This is like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who honor, defer to and glorify each other.

The friendship of marriage helps each spouse become a better version of themselves, closer to what God designed and redeemed them to be.  They must face the truth about themselves — their strengths and their imperfections.  They will face conflict and difficulty and must grow empathy and teamwork.  Selfishness must melt away if they are to become healthy, strong, and mature together.

5. A man needs to know the meaning of love.   God defines love not by how much you want to receive, but by how much you are willing to give of yourself—your will, your freedom, your time, your emotions, your forgiveness, your resources.  The model is Jesus, who demonstrated love for us by dying for us while we were yet sinners.

A husband does this by choosing his wife as a priority in his life over all other pursuits, possessions, and distractions — regardless of whether she is kind, lovable, or respectful.  Love brings out the best in her.  A man initiates love, rather than waiting for or demanding respect or kind treatment.  Love is not dependent upon feelings.  Decisions and choices to love can regenerate the feelings of love.

6. A man needs to know that a marriage and family depend upon God as their maker.  God is the authority.  He provides the blueprints for marriage and is the power source of love, wisdom, and health.  God can heal any marriage if the persons submit themselves to God and let Him change them.

7. A man needs to understand sexuality as God’s good creation, distinct from its counterfeits. He understands that sexuality makes sense in the context of union to God and the union of marriage.  Outside that context it’s often reduced to moralism, rules, suppression, secrecy, illicit imagination, temptation, and shame.  Or, commonly, it is reduced to a consumer experience — materialistic self-interest, physical gratification, entertainment, techniques.  This causes shallow, stunted human bonding, untold stories of abuse, damage, abandonment, and fragmented families.

Watch for Part 2 next week.

3 steps to leading your wife



I spoke recently with a husband who had been separated from his wife a year earlier. Although both the man and his wife were angry and bitter toward each other, they attended a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway to see if they could find any help for their struggling marriage.

The getaway had a profound spiritual impact on both of them. They began to understand the issues that had pushed them toward isolation, and they heard the practical steps taught in Scripture that could lead them back toward intimacy. For this husband, one of those steps involved a daily time of prayer and study with his wife.

By the time I met this husband, it was nearly a year since he had initiated that regular activity with his wife. “Since the getaway,” he told me, “we have started each day with a devotional time together. We read a passage of Scripture and we pray together. That one simple step has had a profound impact on our marriage.”

This was a husband who took a courageous step to lead his family. And it paid off.

Servant vs. leader

Much has been written in our day about the paradox of servant-leadership. When two of the disciples asked for positions of prestige in the coming kingdom, Jesus explained a different plan in Matthew 20:25-28:

“…You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

As pastor and author Robert Lewis points out in his book Rocking the Roles, the husband’s responsibility to be “head” of his wife does not give him the right to be a selfish, “lording” leader. Nor does it allow him the option of shirking his responsibility by becoming a “passive” leader. The divine design is for a husband to follow the road of loving leadership in his marriage.

Because many men have abused their authority as husbands and as leaders, we have tended to emphasize his role as a servant. Slowly, men are shaking off the passive detachment that has defined a generation of husbands. Men are beginning to assume their biblical responsibility to serve their wives, demonstrating their service through sacrificial action.

But in the process of emphasizing service, we may have oversold our case. Unless that sacrificial love is expressed by bold, biblically-ordered husbands who assume both leadership and responsibility for their homes, we will have simply traded one grievous error for another less obvious one.

As counter cultural as this will sound, God has designed marriage so that a woman is to be under the authority of her husband. It’s not because she is inferior to her husband in her decision-making abilities. She is gifted by God in very special ways as a woman. She has been created with equal value and equal worth. We’re not talking about ability or about value. We’re talking about function. God’s design is that a wife should look to her husband for leadership and direction for her life. She should want him to lead her, and should be ready to submit to his leadership as unto Christ.

Three steps to leadership

For the sake of our wives, we must once again assume our role as leaders who execute leadership with humble hearts and loving service for our wives. Here are some practical steps a husband can take as he seeks to take on the mantle of a servant-leader:

Start leading! As husband and wife, it’s time to sit down and begin discussing areas in your marriage where you need to start showing some leadership. Ask your wife to point out where you can be leading her and your family. It may be something as simple as initiating daily prayer with your wife. It may involve setting up a savings account to plan for future needs, and then making regular deposits.

Examine the major areas of your family and your life — your faith, your marriage, your family, your job, your relationships with friends, your service to the community, your physical health and well being, your stewardship over the resources God has given you, and your recreational time—and decide where you need to take some initiative and begin leading.

Learn to judge in righteousness. If your leadership in the home is characterized by righteousness and by the fear of God, it will be like a beautiful spring morning to all who live in your home. That makes it incumbent on you as a husband to be a disciplined student of God’s Word, so that you might exercise your authority in wisdom. To the extent that you lean on your own wisdom and understanding as the source of your authority, you will be abusing your role.

Again, it’s no wonder why our culture has given up on the concept of men leading in their homes. Not only have men used their authority for selfish gain, but we have also failed to lead in seeking the wisdom and counsel of God. It’s easy to understand why women have judged our leadership at home as a failure and have looked for a way to reinterpret the command of Scripture.

Do some strategic planning. Most successful business executives develop a strategic plan, mapping out where the company is headed over the next five to 10 years. Yet many of those same businessmen are clueless when it’s time to think strategically about the spiritual, emotional, physical, and social needs of their wives. Ask these men about their five-year plan for their marriages, and you’re likely to get a “deer-in-the-headlights” look.

During a FamilyLife Today radio interview, author Dan Allender described how he wrote a short-term mission statement for his wife. When he began explaining the idea, I thought it sounded presumptuous. But as Dan talked about encouraging and exhorting his wife to become all God wants her to be as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother, it was clear he was not being presumptuous. He was being the kind of leader his wife ultimately wants and needs him to be.

Gentlemen, it’s up to us. God has put us in charge. Have we prayerfully sought to map out a plan for the next five years of our marriage? It’s time to look ahead and make some plans.

As husbands, we have been assigned the task of leading our wives on our pilgrimage through earth to heaven. We serve them not when we do everything they ask us to do, but when we understand and cooperate with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. We never see our role as an opportunity for privilege, but as a divine responsibility to lead our wives as they grow in grace.

Adapted by permission from The Christian Husband © 1999 by Bob Lepine, Regal Books.

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