Posts tagged weekend to remember

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.

My mate is not my enemy



I have a confession to make.

I act like a spoiled baby when I’m sick. I whine and moan. I check my temperature every 30 minutes. I park myself in front of the television and expect my wife, Merry, to wait on me hand and foot. Never mind what plans she has for the evening — when I’m sick, her job is to take care of me.

But what happens when the roles are reversed, and she’s stuck in bed with nausea, or vertigo, or a sinus infection?

I act like a spoiled baby. I whine and pout. I glare at her. How dare she get sick? Doesn’t she know what plans I have? Doesn’t she realize the pressure she’s placing on me?

At some point during the evening, God convicts me of my selfishness, and I realize that I need to make a choice: Am I going to see Merry as my enemy? Or will I recognize again that God has given her to me as a gift … and stop moaning just because that gift has a fever and can’t cook dinner?

You may not realize it, but you make the same choice on a regular basis. The choice confronts you when you argue … or when your spouse doesn’t respond to your romantic overtures … or when you must decide who puts the kids to bed at night … or when you want to bake a batch of cookies and your spouse makes you feel guilty about your weight. Is my mate my enemy? Or a gift from God?

A life-changing perspective

If you’ve been to a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, you probably recognized the phrase I’ve been using: “My mate is not my enemy.” It’s one of the key concepts from the conference, and I’ve always been intrigued by the number of people who mention this statement on their evaluation forms after the event is over.

One person commented, “We were able to see each other differently. … We were able to recommit our lives together to God. We were able to address a long-time unresolved, silent, stuffed conflict with the hope of continued work on forgiveness and growth in our marriage together. I learned that my mate is not my enemy.”

And then there was the husband who wrote, “Wow! My wife is not my enemy after all! I am actually made complete in her — she is God’s manifestation of His idea of what is absent from my life. I cannot question anything about her because she was custom built just for me. God loved me so much that He gave … me Joanna.”

My mate is not my enemy. It’s a perspective that will change the way you look at your marriage. And it’s a choice spoiled babies like me face in some form nearly every day.

Copyright © 2006 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved. 

This article originally appeared in Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter.

 

Treasured memories or wasted time?



Stepping Up blog Dennis Rainey

The Encyclopedia Britannica gives a half page to the accomplishments of the son of President John Adams, Charles Francis Adams. Adams followed the political trail of his father and became a U.S. diplomat to Great Britain. The encyclopedia makes no mention of Charles’ family, but Charles’ diary does.

An entry one day read: “Went fishing with my son today — a day wasted.”

Another diary, that of his son Brook Adams, gives us a different perspective: “Went fishing with my father — the most wonderful day of my life.”

Interesting, isn’t it, how a little boy’s perspective could be so different from his dad’s.

But it’s true of me, too. I can remember tugging and half-pulling my dad out of his favorite chair while he was trying to read the evening newspaper. I wanted to play catch. He usually let me win the tug-of-war, sometimes reluctantly. Those were wonderful evenings.

There were fishing trips with Dad to Canada when I caught a trophy Northern Pike. And another outing to a local lake where he netted a small boy’s catfish — a fish so small that it went through the holes in the net. He always used to kid me about that fish — his laughter still echoes in my mind when I recall that skinny fish slipping through the net.

It’s interesting now as an adult how the mind can play tricks on me. Looking back, those days of vacation and moments of memories are among my most cherished possessions. Yet, now that I’m grown, it seems that playing catch and going fishing are not nearly productive enough. No measurable goal is apparently achieved. Until, of course, I get a few moments to reflect on the value God places on a little boy or a little girl.

Treasured memories

I was reminded recently that not all men today have those memories of time with dad etched on the slate of their hearts. Jeff Schulte, a former associate of mine here at FamilyLife, once wrote the following letter to his ministry partners, thanking them for their partnership in strengthening families. It speaks of memories of a different kind.

I can still picture my Dad bouncing me on his knee, coaching me in Little League, showing me how to shine my shoes, helping me reel in my first fish, and telling me stories about his early days as an undercover detective on the Dayton police force.

I can still hear him saying the words, “Son, I love you.” I can imagine him messing up my hair, wrestling with me on the living room floor, and sharing a hot dog with me at a Cincinnati Reds game.

I can still see him puffing up his chest when he talked about me to his friends. He was proud to be my Dad. He would do anything for me — I was his son — he was my Dad. I was a chip off the old block.

I can still see all this and much more, but I can’t see it in the reservoir of fond memories. Instead, I recall it from an imagination and yearning that wished then and wishes now that it were so. My Dad left home when I was 3. I never really knew him.

When I drive home from the office, I’ll often turn off the radio and in the quiet of the car I’ll think about a little blond-headed three year old somewhere who will grow up knowing his dad because you and I decided we wanted to make a difference.

I’m 26 years old. I still miss my Dad (even though that’s hard to admit). I even cry sometimes when I’m honest with myself about how I feel. Please pray for my Dad. I don’t believe he’s met Jesus.

The most piercing statement in Jeff’s letter are the words, “I never really knew him.” I couldn’t help reflecting on the number of children today who will replay a similar record in their minds. No, not just those from broken homes, but those whose homes have a father and a mother in name only.

Becoming a father

Some years ago at a Weekend to Remember getaway here in Little Rock I remember one man’s statement to me at the end of the conference. He grabbed my hand and blurted out, “I became a father this weekend!” When I asked him when his wife had given birth during the conference, he said, “Oh, no. She didn’t have a baby — we already have three children. You see, I had ‘fathered’ three children, but I wasn’t being a ‘father’ to them. And this weekend I decided I was going to become a real father.”

The little boy who went fishing with his dad, Brook Adams, lived most of his life as an agnostic and a skeptic, defying the roots of his Puritan ancestry. Near the end of his 79-year life he returned to his home church, overcame his shyness, and made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I wonder if God used the memory of the fishing trip with his dad, linked with the spiritual values his father taught him, to bring Brook Adams to faith in Christ.

So this month take a kid fishing and teach him one spiritual truth. Just one memory. Just one truth. It may be “the most wonderful day” of his life.

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