Posts tagged the Christian husband

Courage and fear: are they always opposites?



The qualifications for being a husband are simple but not easy. A man has to be a man, not just physically but in the full sense of the word. And a man has to be godly.

In their book The Silence of Adam, Larry Crabb, Don Hudson, and Al Andrews point to the interconnectedness between godliness and masculinity. “The only way to be manly,” they write, “is first to be godly. In our day, men are looking for their manhood more than they are seeking God. Too many men make the mistake of studying masculinity and trying to practice what they learn without paying enough attention to their relationship with God.”

Understanding the unique way in which you were created doesn’t make you fully a man. Getting married and having a family doesn’t make you a man. Success in the marketplace, great wealth and power, the honor and praise of the culture — these are not the measure of real masculinity. To be fully a man, you must commit yourself to the pursuit of godliness.

It’s almost a paradox, the idea of a godly man. Not because a man is incapable of godliness, but because of what is at the root of the idea of godliness in the Scriptures. We are called to live out our masculinity with courage and in fear. Courage and fear are not always opposites.

The Fear of God

There is a difference, however, between fearing God and being afraid. In fact, Moses, after receiving the Ten Commandments from God, appeared before the Israelites, who were filled with fear. “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin’” (Exodus 20:20).

“There is a fear that is slavish,” writes John Piper, “that drives us away from God, and there is a fear that is sweet and draws us to God. … God means for His power and holiness to kindle fear in us, not to drive us from Him, but to drive us to Him. His anger is against those who forsake Him and love other things more.”

In his book One Home At a Time, Dennis Rainey says, “God is not feared today. In fact, He is mocked by our immorality, our treatment of unborn human life, our broken commitments, and the selfish, ‘me-first’ attitude that characterizes so much of what we do. Even in the Christian community, we are strangely silent about the fear of God. There is little teaching on judgment for sin, and the place of eternal torment called hell. We haven’t rejected God. But we have conveniently recreated Him in our image. We have reduced the Almighty to our level.”

Today there is such an emphasis on God’s great love for us that we have forgotten what it means to fear him. We don’t see him as a consuming fire, but as a kindly grandfather who chides us when we are mischievous, but always with a twinkle in his eye and only a faint sternness in his voice. Don McCullough writes “We prefer to imagine a deity who happily lets bygones be bygones, who winks at failures and pats us on the back to build our self-esteem. But according to Scripture, ‘God is love.’ And love devoid of judgment is only watered down kindness.”

Act like men”

Paradoxically, that fear of God ought to be the basis of great courage in us. As men who fear God, we learn that we are not to fear other men. “Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul,” Jesus taught, “but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Our fear of God should produce boldness in the face of opposition from men.

Tucked away at the end of his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul gives a solemn charge to those men who are leaders of the church. “Be on the alert,” he writes, “stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14). In those five simple statements, he calls the men who lead God’s church to a foundational quality of masculine godliness. He calls them to be men of courage.

In fact, some translations of the Bible take the clause “act like men” in I Corinthians 16:33 (andrizesthe in Greek) and translate it “be courageous.” Earlier, Paul had chastised the Corinthians for acting like babies. “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food,” he wrote, “for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able” (1 Corinthians 3:2). By the end of his epistle, Paul exhorts his readers to act like men. The expression “act like men” is a call to maturity, to conviction and to courage.

In our hearts, we know we ought to fear God, but our sin nature keeps us from doing so. In the same way as men, we know instinctively that we ought to be courageous, but again, we are caught in the conflict between flesh and spirit — between what we know we ought to do and what we often choose to do. Instead of acting with courage, men today too often choose not to act at all.

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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.

12 things I teach the men I mentor



Here are some of the topics (not comprehensive) and related resources that I teach those I mentor:

1. The truth about who God is … to fear Him and know His character.  Read the book, The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer

2. The danger of pride, arrogance, a self-focused heart, and the importance of maintaining a teachable heart.  Read:  Humility: The Beauty of Holiness, by Andrew Murray.

3. The necessity of basing one’s life, convictions, and decisions on the Scriptures.  Read:  The Book of Proverbs (one a day for a month).

4. How to handle adversity and suffering.  Read:  Job and I Peter

5. The importance of embracing personal purpose and mission.  Read: The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren, and Matthew 28:19-20.

6. How to love your wife , lead her spiritually and help her develop as a woman.  Read: The Christian Husband, by Bob Lepine.

7. How to spiritually lead your family. Read: Growing a Spiritually Strong Family.

8. The importance of relationships in life.  God, wife, family and male friendships.    Read:  The Great Commandment in Matthew 22:36-40.

9. The importance of the fifth commandment in the 10 Commandments — honoring your father and mother.  Read: Exodus 20:12 and The Forgotten Commandment.

10. How to guard their hearts.  Read: Proverbs 4:23.

11. Life skills — dealing with debt, schedule and priorities, ethics at work, and other issues. Read: Building Your Mate’s Self Esteem.

12.  The importance of a legacy that honors and glorifies God.  Read: I Peter 4:11.

For more information on mentoring (either being mentored or being a mentor) check out FamilyLife’s eMentoring pages.

 

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