“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7
A humble husband has a hungry heart for the Lord and seeks to follow Christ’s commands. He submits to His savior Jesus, before he expects submission from his wife. A humble husband hears from God, before He seeks to direct his family. It is from a position of humility that his prayers are not hindered. Indeed, heaven hears and answers.
Furthermore, a husband who walks in humility is considerate and caring of his wife. He makes her feel special daily, especially on her birthday, wedding anniversary and special days in-between. Humility is respectful and loving, always watching for ways to honor God’s gift—his wife. Love and respect are twin traits of humility that tower over pride.
A humble husband is quick to admit he does not know everything, thus he values his wife’s opinion and advice. Before a major decision, he leads his bride in prayer to their heavenly Father for His wisdom and direction. She is comforted knowing that he is accountable to Almighty God, as the spiritual leader of the home. Humility invites trust.
A humble husband sees Jesus as his model of humility that leads to obedience, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). Humility follows Jesus wherever He leads.
Powerful prayers flow from the heart of a humble husband. He engages the enemy on his knees on behalf of his family. He understands his responsibility in the home to represent God well. His attitude toward Almighty God strongly influences his wife’s and children’s attitude toward the Lord. He totally trusts the Lord and leads his family to do the same.
How is your heart: haughty or humble under Christ’s authority? Have you accepted your role as the spiritual leader of your home? If so, engage with your wife as joint heirs of God’s gracious gift of life. Learn to love her, like the Lord loves her. Admit your wrongs, ask her forgiveness and serve her well—so your prayers will prosper for God’s glory.
“The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again… Love her as the LORD loves” (Hosea 3:1).
Do I daily humble myself before the Lord and my wife? Does she normally feel love and respect from me?
Related Readings: Genesis 24:67; Deuteronomy 8: 3, 16; Luke 18:14; Colossians 3:19
Boyd Bailey is the author of Wisdom Hunters daily devotional and two devotional books, Infusion and Seeking Daily the Heart of God
Find Wisdom Hunters on FaceBook.
A Prudent Wife
“Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.” Proverbs 19:14
A prudent wife is a gift from the Lord. Jesus is the perfect matchmaker who brings together husbands and wives who need each other. A wife, assigned by the Almighty, is a good thing that brings godly gain. “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 19:22). Wise is a husband who receives this gift from God and does not resist her unique qualities, but invites her to be a compliment to his character.
She is a gift who reflects the glory of God in her attitude and actions. She is wise to watch out for her husband’s well being by advising him to only take Spirit-led risks. Her noble character is a reminder of Christ’s blessing that comes from obeying His commands. “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones” (Proverbs 12:4).
A husband is proud to present his faithful wife.
So, where does a man look for a wife from the Lord? Start with a prayer, “Heavenly father who is the woman you have for me and where do I find her?” When we wait on a helpmate endorsed by heaven, we receive God’s best. But, if we rush into a relationship driven by selfish desires, we risk missing the right mate. Wisdom waits on God’s choice.
Wisely you pray for a woman who has experienced a father and mother who love each other unconditionally and who are slow to speak harshly and quick to forgive. Look for a young lady whose dad has dated her and given her confidence and love. Growing up in a grace-filled family is a strong foundation for a new marriage secured by heaven.
A discerning wife has been trained in the wise ways of God. She had the benefit of being brought up in a God-fearing family who worshiped regularly at a Bible teaching church. You take an unnecessary chance when you cling to a future wife who is away from the Lord. So, seek out a wise woman who loves the Lord more than you, who is your best friend and who makes your heart flutter.
A woman of faith is found in places of faith.
Receive the Lord’s wife for you and you receive His favor. Favor in your work, in your emotional stamina, in your physical health and in your spiritual well being.
Thank God for His gift of your wife. Let Christ reign and change you, and trust Him with her. Love and enjoy one other. “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love” (Ecclesiastes 9:9a).
Do I thank the Lord often for the gift of my wife and for His favor in and through her?
Related Readings: Genesis 24:12-27; Malachi 2:15; Acts 18:1-3; 2 Corinthians 6:14
Boyd Bailey is the author of Wisdom Hunters daily devotional and two devotional books, Infusion and Seeking Daily the Heart of God
*Look for Wisdom Hunters on FaceBook.
By: Bill Lawrence
Sometime ago I heard about a seminary student who had graduated, and he was an unusual seminary student in that rather few of the people who graduate from seminary really have multiple job opportunities. Most of the time we scratch and scramble. I had to go find my own. I actually had to start a church to get a job. So life was a little bleak there for a while for me. But this student had multiple opportunities and one of them, the one that really, really intrigued him was the one that he discovered a venerable elder that led this particular church. A man, oh, well past seventy, white haired, grandly earned, who had great character in this man's mind and he wanted to go and be there because he knew he didn't know much and he thought this elderly man would be of great help to him. And so he took this church and he went and he got his books all unpacked and he got his office all set up and he got his life all arranged and just as he's gotten everything in place his telephone rings and it's his first phone call and he picks it up and it's this elderly, venerable leader calling, who said to him, "Pastor, I have decided to trust you. I've had a problem for over 45 years. I've never told anybody else about it, but I want to tell you about it." Well, that was quite a shock. He had not expected this from this man and so he sorts out this mostly empty calendar and puts off as long as he can this appointment. When finally he has to agree to a week from today, they would have the appointment and so he spent the whole week concerned and wondering, and trying to think through what his counseling, 2 unit counseling course had taught him about these things. Not much I assure you. And so, there he is sitting in his office at the appointed hour, hoping against hope that the man would not show when KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! There's the knock on the door and he opens the door and ushers the gentleman into his office and sits him down in the chair and he begins to talk about this and that and the man interrupted him. And the man said, "I came to talk about my problem." You see, this young pastor had been told to put his counselee at ease but his counselee did not want to be put at ease. He wanted to get to the point of reality and so young man swallows hard and says, "OK, tell me your problem." and the response is, "Well, I've had a problem for over 45 years. You see every day my wife and I have had a fight. For over 45 years every day my wife and I have had a fight."
Now that's something of a shock. We all know that the elders in our church never have fights with their wives. And so, you know, that's quite a jolt in and of itself. He doesn't quite know what to do with it and he's sorting his way through it and he says, "Well, what about today? Did you have a fight today?" And the elderly gentleman said, "Of course! I told you every day for 45 years my wife and I have had a fight. Of course we had a fight today." Well, OK, well, uh, hmm, hmmm. "Well, how did it end up?" And the gentleman responded with, "It ended up with my wife crawling to me on her hands and knees." Now that's a bit of a startling twist, an unusual type of situation; and the man still confused and desperately trying to sort his way through the whole situation says to the elderly gentleman, "Well, what did she say?" To which the man responded, "She said, 'Come out from under that bed and fight like a man!' "
Now you just may have figured out that did not exactly happen, but obviously it makes a point. Actually it raises a question and the question is very simple: Is there a man in the house? Is there a man in your house? Is there a man in my house? I think if there's anything that troubles us in our country it is the need for men at home.
The Turkish business man whom I mentioned to you comes from a very distinguished family in that country and is married into a distinguished family from another country and has CNN in his home. I said to him, "Well, from out here, what do you think, what do you see about the United States that hits you?" The first thing he said was, "The United States must resolve its problem with its family structure. The second thing, by the way, is the United States must educate people in its ghettos. And the third thing, by the way, is the United States must resolve the issues relating to health among the poor." Since he sells health insurance in his own country, there may be a connection there. But isn't it interesting that a highly trained, (this man had studied business in Germany, speaks German, he speaks English) that a highly trained, highly cultured man from a strategic family in a country of 60 million says to me, (Istanbul Hilton Hotel, sitting across from one another drinking Coke) "United States of America needs to solve its problem with its family structure."
There are many keys to our problems in our family. There are many ways that we could go about looking at these problems and at these issues and there are many, many, many needs. And though the needs are not one-sided, for the problems are never JUST the man, when we struggle and wrestle with family; yet, on the other hand, there is no doubt from the Biblical perspective that man is primarily responsible for the health and well being of the family. It is man who is directed to love his wife and be a loving leader. It's interesting that every parenting directive given in the Bible is addressed to fathers. It is certainly not that mothers are incidental. The story of Moses and Jacobed, his mother; and the story of Samuel and Hannah, his mother; and the story of Jesus and Mary, His mother, give very clear evidence that mothers are very, very strategic and essential to the health and well-being of the family. If it were not for the courage of those three women we would not have a Messiah. So it is not as if mothers are secondary. It is as if, fathers however, play a particularly primary and strategic role. And husbands have the responsibility of being men. Men not only outside the home but men within the home.
And this morning we are going to look at a man, a man who is well known to us; his name is well known to us. He had two names. His first name was Abram; later God changed it to Abraham. We're going to look at this man Abram and we're going to look at him from two perspectives. We will start with this this morning and Lord willing finish it next Sunday I believe.
We will look at Abram the man and today I want to show you this man. I want to show you a man who is a twentieth century man. I want to show you a man who in every sense of the word proved himself to be a man. In fact he's extraordinary; he is unbelievable in the nature of his character and his being. He is tremendous; he is a most unusual man among men. Very few men in all of history who could match this man. He's a wonderful man to have everywhere, but at home. I begin with Abram the man and I find a man who is spiritually responsive. I invite you to turn with me to Genesis, Chapter 11. If you want to read on this whole sequence, you can read and you can read throughout the week from Genesis 11, starting with verse 27 through Chapter 18. You could read further, we could go further but this is the unit that I want to cover, because you see there's a problem with being a man. And the problem with being a man is that the demands are so great on us; the task is so overwhelming; the stress and tension and pressure in our lives is so much that it's beyond us. It's beyond us to be able to give our energy, our strength, and our health to accomplish the things that we need to do with our lives, to make a investment of our lives, to provide for our families, to be the relaters, and the leaders that we are called to be. This is an overwhelming task, especially when we have to come home because we have a very confused view of what it means to come home. We think home is a place where we come to rest. The fact of the matter is, home is a place where we come to lead.
And so being a man is a very demanding thing, extremely demanding. And I want to say this because I'm also going to be telling you that even though I believe in marriage, struggle, and breakdown, I've never yet seen a marriage fall apart in which there were two innocent parties. Never seen it. Yet at the same time I've never seen a marriage where a man could not have saved it. There are exceptions to that, of course, I'm sure. But for the most part, for the most part, if men would learn to listen. There are those situations where a woman is determined. I mean, I think of an exception that I have had a times had to deal with, a woman who says "I am a lesbian." Now that's pretty difficult to deal with, but much of the situation, men, if we become sensitive can make a real difference.
But I want to begin with Abraham the man in Genesis 11 and I want to point out a man to you who is spiritually responsive, spiritually responsive. Verse 26, Genesis has a pattern of telling us about what's going on and they'll call it "the generations of". It's the family line it's what is really being talked about. And you have in verse 27 the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram; that's why he's mentioned. Abram, Nahor, and Haran and Haran became the father of Lot, and in those few simple words the table is set. We've been introduced to Abram; we're going to learn something about his personal background; and we're introduced to his nephew Lot. We have but one more person to meet and we shall meet her in a moment or two. "And Haran died in the presence" verse 28, "of his father Terah." I can never read those words without feeling a great sense of pathos, a great sense of hurt. I imagine in my mind a man, perhaps in his 30's, perhaps in his 40's; I don't know how old he is. But I imagine in my mind a man who is become ill, mysteriously so, unable to figure out what is going on but his energy is dissipating. His father is called, perhaps they all lived together as a clan; probably so and his father is brought into the room and sits there and watches. And maybe Abram also sat there and watched; but clearly his father watched his son breathe and struggle. Would take hold of his hand and tell him how he loved him, and would reach out to him and try to comfort him and talk to the primitive medical people and say, "What can you do for my son?" And they try this and they try that and nothing is happening and there is the little boy Lot, who is not allowed in perhaps or maybe comes in for one last word. And there in the presence of his father, he died. Painful! And how much this must have hurt the oldest brother, to watch his father go through that suffering and that grief and how the oldest brother now realized Lot became his responsibility. And all of this happened in the land of his birth, Ur of the Chaldees.
Now what do we know about Ur of the Chaldees. Very little. Excuse me, very much! Maybe we don't know very much but archaeologists know a great deal. It's interesting that Ur of the Chaldees was the "Big Apple" of its day. It was the New York, it was the biggest city, it was the most metropolitan place. Two thousand years before Egypt rose to ascendancy, the Sumerian culture was coming into being. The Chaldeans were becoming a powerful people on the face of the earth. They were at that point in time, the Sumerians, were not a very assertive people. They were a creative people; they were not a militaristic people as much as other ancient peoples. But they were people of power and influence through intellect, through the arts, through creativity, and through their religion, because they worshiped the moon god. From Ur of the Chaldees came the Code of Hammurabi which is a legal code that underlies a great deal of western legal thought. So it was a culture that made great contributions to us.
Ur was a spiritual center. The moon god dominated. Religion was not a matter of personal preference. It was very interesting again to go through a museum in Istanbul and to see some of the clay pots, not clay pots but clay shards, the little cuneiform, small pieces of clay not much bigger than a 3X5 card and to see all this cuneiform handwriting, the writing of the ancient world and to read the translations. And there are always the sales of this and the purchase of that. They are the sales of homes and the purchase of property and the deals that were made and the arrangements that were made. Always done in the name of the god somehow. And always done with the temple being the primary point of focus because the priests of that day were the bankers of that day. The one thing you don't want to do if you want to mess up your business, you don't want to try to be in a place where if you need to make a loan you're crosswise with your banker. Isn't that right? And to worship a strange god would put you in a very awkward place.
So it was a cultural center, a spiritual center, a financial center and you wanted to be a part of the establishment. But something happened to this man Abram. The Bible doesn't tell us exactly what happened. The closest we get is the description that Stephen gives in Acts 7:2 in which he says, "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham." Somehow, sovereignly, God chose to appear to this man, this man whom he is going to call His friend; this man with great frailty, this man with great struggles, this man with great great confusion, this man with very limited faith, yet very great faith, yet very confused faith. This man, this real man whose faith is so much like the faith that so many of us as men have God appeared to him and said to him, "I want you to leave your family. I want you to go to a place that I will tell you. I want you to take everything that you have. I want you to leave everybody behind including Lot and I want you to trust me." Now all of that is described for us in Genesis 12:1-3.
Interesting thing is that Abram was a spiritually responsive man. Hebrews 11 gives us an account of how Abram responded. I won't turn to it but in Hebrews 11:8-9 we read that Abram listened to God and the language that's used there is very graphic. It's as if while God is speaking, Abraham is packing his bags. He was just instantly responsive. This was a man of great faith. This was a man that many of you wives would love to have, that same kind of faith in your husbands. You wish your husbands had that kind of faith, the kind of faith that would trust God. You've cried for that at times in your life. Well, this is the kind of man that Abram was.
Now the interesting thing is that Ur of the Chaldees was the center of the ancient world in its day. They even had running water in Ur of the Chaldees. Isn't that fascinating? And yet Sarai, not yet Sarah, but Sarai left Ur of the Chaldees to go with her husband. Now what made that woman make that decision? Genesis 11, verse 30, "And Sarai was barren; she had no child." God had made a promise to Abram, "That I will bless you; I will multiply your seed; I will make nation out of you." And Sarai was barren; she had no child.
You know on a few occasions in my life I've met with couples who were unable to have children and I have met with women who have had miscarriages, many miscarriages. The pain, the hurt, the grief, the struggle. Oh, by the way, do you know what the name Abram meant? Exalted father. Every time she said his name she was reminded of her inability to have children. It was a horrible pain for her and when God's promise came along that promise is what, I am convinced, is what motivated her. And this whole promise, Lot and Sarai, become the thrust, the theme, the table is now set. You have a nephew, and you have a wife, and you have a husband. And the wife was unable to have a child. And the nephew becomes the surrogate child, the surrogate son. Yet God had said leave that nephew behind with your other brother and cut off all back, all contact of this nature with your family. Not so much contact but leave them because God was planning a new beginning. And Abram was spiritually responsive though he couldn't do everything God wanted him to do. He is so much like so many of us as men. We're spiritually responsive, we pray, we want to, we struggle, but we can't do everything God wants us to do. There is a decision on the job we cannot make; there's just too much at stake. There's a contract we have to sign; there's just too much at stake. There's something we cannot take the stand on; there's just too much at stake.
Abram was a man who made great decisions, but just not quite enough. Yet he's spiritually responsive. Beyond that the man is financially responsible. In Chapter 12 he arrives at the land God where God had promised him, and we read in Chapter 12, verse 10 there was a famine in the land. There was a famine in the land. "So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there for the famine was severe in the land."
Now when we get to know Abram better we're going to discover he had a great wealth. He was a very wealthy man. Wealth in those days was not measured in CD's or stocks or mutual funds or Swiss bank accounts; it was measured in BAAA and MOOO: sheep, goats, oxen – that's how you measured wealth. And a man's wealth was both very portable, very visible, and very liable to loss; because a famine would mean loss, loss, loss. And so this man Abram said, "I've got to be financially responsible." and so he went down to Egypt and though, though – he's just like so many of us you know, we will make, we will make financial decisions at a higher level of priority that we make spiritual decisions, won't we? And there are times when we feel constrained to choose because financially so much is at stake that we cannot, cannot, cannot make the spiritual decision because we have the family to support; we have needs to meet; we have a wife who is dependent on us; we have a child who is dependent on us; or we have others who are dependent on us.
And so he went down and amazingly enough he made several thousand out of a bear market. He redeemed a bear market and turned it into a bull market and made tremendous wealth, tremendous wealth, advanced his wealth tremendously. He, what's so fascinating about Abram is that of course through his wife's capacities he ends up getting in good with Pharaoh but still he was a man who could make those kinds of connections. We're talking about an unusual man. He was an unusual man. He ended up in the presence of kings; he did it a couple of times. He was a very unusual man and a very powerful man and a very financially responsible man. Furthermore we get to Genesis 13 we discover that he was a very personally generous man. Once they had to leave Egypt and they did have to leave Egypt in Genesis 13, we discover that now they had so much that the land to which they had come was not able to support them, the land of Canaan as it was called in those days, modern day Israel. That land was not able to support Abram and his nephew Lot when they put all of their resources together. Just was not enough grazing space for them to stay together. So what began to happen was the hired hands, Abram's hired hands, and Lot's hired hands began to have conflict with one another and Abram was a man of peace. He did not want conflict; he did not want this tension and he did not want to win. It was not important to him to win. At least it was not important for him to win over his nephew. So rather than go for the jugular and rather than go after being a winner, he gathers Lot together with him. Verse 7 tells us of Genesis 13, "There was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock and the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land." And this was a difficult situation because if that strife got to be too great, they had so much wealth that if those Canaanites and Perizzites saw a way to take advantage of it. Just like anybody else does, if anybody sees a weakness in your position in your business you know what's going to happen, don't you?
And so Abram says to Lot, verse 8, " 'Please let there be no strife between you and me and our herdsmen for we are brothers. The whole land is before you. Separate from me. If you want to go to the left, I will go to the right. If you want to go to the right, I will go to the left.' Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of Jordan that was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah). It was like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go up to Zoar, (apparently a very fertile place). So Lot chose for himself the valley of the Jordon and Lot journeyed eastward and they separated from each other." This is a man who was personally generous who does not seek for himself.
Spiritually responsive, financially responsible, personally generous–one last trait of this man that we'll see this morning, he was a man who was physically protective. Genesis 14 at verse 14, Genesis 14. Now the setting is this: Lot moved to Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah had become under the control of other kings who were stronger than their own government and this king exacted taxes from them. People in Sodom and Gomorrah said, "We're not going to pay these taxes." So the kings all got together and they came down and they said, "You are going to pay these taxes." They came in; they sacked Sodom and Gomorrah; they took a number of the prominent citizens–that meant Lot with all of his wealth, and they took them away as tribute for themselves. They were going to take them for themselves.
Well, in Genesis 14, verse 14, Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive. Look at, look at this; look at Genesis 14:14. This is amazing. "He led out his trained men born in his house, three hundred and eighteen." Now let's talk about this guy. Do you know anybody with a 318 private man army? Born in his house? I mean, no wonder he made such an impact. No wonder he made such an impression. He had immense loyalty. If these men were born in his house, he'd not been in the land of Canaan long enough for them to have been born and matured. They came with him from Ur of the Chaldees. They came with him. He generated unbelievable loyalty. He could build a team that was fantastic. He had tremendous personal charisma, impact, power! He had more than appearance; he delivered! He was an unusual man! And he went out and in some rear guard action he delivered his nephew.
So now we see the man. What a man! Spiritually responsive, financially responsible, personally generous, physically protective – what more would you want to have around the house? Well, I want to tell you – a lot more. Because Abram is not at all unlike many twentieth century men. Wonderfully successful, wildly successful outside of the house but when we come home it's another story. We've seen Abram the man. Lord willing, next week I want to look at Abram, the missing man. And I want to show you that he led partially; I want to show you that he obeyed partially; I want to show you that he believed partially. And I want to show you that his wife had the same struggles that modern American women have with their men, once we come around the house.
Father we ask You this morning that You'll help us as we think through these issues and as we consider our family needs within this society. Lord we know that just a handful of us in this room can in no manner turn our nation around but we know that the handful of us in this room can touch with handfuls in other rooms across our country, can begin a process. And I pray for us as men, I pray for us as men, that we will grow in our faith; that we will grow in our courage; that we will grow in our trust; that we will grow in our commitment; and that we will become not only leaders of our families but changers of our nation. For Your glory and in Your name. Amen.
By: Bill Lawrence
The modern American man is a man among men. Now this has always been the case right down from colonial days until now. In colonial days the American man was a man of conviction, willing to leave his roots, take his family, move to a new, wild, untamed country and there establish a society that would be focused on his beliefs about God.
The great among them: John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Colony; Cotton Mather, the outstanding pastor of that time; Jonathan Edwards, a world class philosopher and thinker, all communicated the conviction of colonial America. In the revolutionary days a nation of just a few hundred thousand was graced by a collection of world-class minds that created, designed and created some of the greatest documents ever put together in all of history. Documents that define freedom and responsibility, the tension of health. Documents that declared equity and justice and respect for humanity under the hand of God Himself. And out of that, there was the courage to stand for the conviction that they held. In the days of Manifest Destiny there was a commitment, not every thing we did was right by any means, but there was an intense commitment to fulfill the dream of a nation coming into being. And when that commitment was challenged during the Civil War days there was that lone strong tree of a man standing in the storm of anger and fear holding that conviction and that courage together through commitment that kept us united.
As we came into the twentieth century we came in with a confidence, a confidence in our conviction, in our courage, in our commitment. A confidence that enabled us to fight two world wars and to stand for justice throughout this entire century and even today a handful of our young men and some women stand at risk.
And now we enter the twenty-first century. Perhaps Peter Drucker is right; perhaps we're already in the twenty-first century. And now we see the creativity that marks us that's unique as we lead the way in the era of knowledge toward a technology that's designed to make life more effective, more efficient.
Now don't misunderstand me. It's not my intention to leave women out of this conversation because the American man has never gotten anywhere without a woman beside him, very often in front of him, perhaps more often behind him moving him along. But my primary focus this morning is on men. Women will benefit from my focus because what I want to talk about this morning is a follow-up to what I started last week. It's to raise the question: Is there a man in the house?
It's a very strategic question because, you see the modern American man is a man, a man everywhere but at home. Because when the modern American man comes home, unlike colonial American man, when the modern American man comes home he becomes the missing man. Too often the American man is a man everywhere but at home. We see it in the divorce statistics. We're tired of these statistics; we're tired of hearing all of this, all of this stuff. We're just, we're just up to here with it and yet at the same time we can't deny it. We have to do something about it.
We see it in adult men and adult women, but most often we see it in adult men: longing for, even craving the love of a father and the model of a man who has that conviction, who has that courage, who has that commitment, who has that confidence. The question I need to ask this morning is why is the American man a man everywhere but at home? And I would like to suggest that we fall into a historical reality and I would like to suggest that we want to build our own identities and be in control of our own destinies and we can do this everywhere if we work at it but at home. That's one place where we can't quite pull it off. You can work, think, create, carve out, design, move through your careers. In fact, that's where the majority of the energy of the modern American man goes; it goes into our careers; it goes into our success; it goes into our achievements. And it's there that we hammer out our identity and it's there that we feel we become somebody.
But the problem is then we have to come home. When we come home,we come home to a woman assuming we're married. Or we come home to loneliness and emptiness assuming we're not. But when we come home we come home to a place and a time for intimacy and it's there that we break down. For with all of our history of conviction and courage and commitment and confidence the modern man finds it very difficult to make connection in intimacy.
You see, in the one thing we cannot control is a woman. We can fake it out at the office; we can fake it out in a sales presentation. We may be able to hammer it out in negotiations. We can be tough on the playing field, but when we come home she sees right through it all. And that's frightening because, see, fig leaves never work at home.
See we have a deal going out on the street. The deal is: you don't bother my fig leaves, I don't bother yours. You mess around; we'll take care of that. See that's what we grow up, that's how we grow up. I don't know where you grew up but I grew up in a neighborhood that taught me that fairly early on. You got your fig leaves; I have mine. You leave mine alone; I leave yours alone. That's about the only handshake deal that's going on and even that's being challenged today.
Now the fact of the matter is, you see, as Christian men we add God to the equation. The problem is we seek to be in control to define ourselves, to fight and win rather than to relate and to love. And the problem is too, that we have to live on two different kinds of fields or turfs you might say. The tough turf of the business world out on the street and the tender turf of the home and the family and the transition can often become very difficult and confusing. And that's why we're missing men when we come home.
So we add God to the mix and we use God words to define ourselves. We see God. We want to please God, but we mix this all up with the reality that we are seeking success and satisfaction. And the fact of the matter is the average male wants to manage his career to get success and satisfaction and that means more to him ultimately than being what God has called him to be.
As long as we're in control we're delighted to have God involved, especially when He blesses us. You know, "I have been blessed." That's a great saying. Problem is, God has no intention for us to be in control. That's one of the reasons why he gave us the wives he's given us, for those of us who are married. I mean, there's a design there; there's an intention there. My former colleague, Paul Meier, of Meier-Minirth has said, "We get the mates - we deserve the mates we marry." I don't think I do. I think I've done far better than I deserve.
But you see the best thing from God's point of view in our lives, is not our achievements or our success or our satisfaction but our trust. Because it's trust that makes us men, real men. It's trust that enables us to be men of courage and men of strength on the street and men of compassion and men of tenderness and love at home. And that's what God is all about. That's what God is all about in our lives men. God is all about teaching us how to trust Him. That's what He's all about. That's what everything is about in our lives. God is all about teaching us how to trust Him. We've entered into a covenant relationship with God and He is all about working in our lives to bring us to the place where only the supernatural can be done and only He can do it, and that's what He's all about in our lives.
And I want us to see this in the life of this ancient man, Abram, who becomes Abraham. We looked at him and saw four traits that marked him: spiritually responsive, financially responsible, personally generous and physically protective. Those are four fantastic traits. I tell you if you want four traits in a man you've got them right there. How many of you women would line up for a trade in right about now? You know, where's the dealership? Let me drive this one down. I want to trade him in, what do you think he's worth? Spiritually responsive, financially responsible, personally generous, physically protective but when Abraham came home, Abram the man became Abram the missing man. He was missing for three reasons. He led partially; he obeyed partially; and he trusted partially. In each of the reasons why when he came home he led partially, he obeyed partially and he trusted partially, each of the reasons, each of these reasons finds one common root. And the common root that you find in these three reasons is this: Abram failed to be the spiritual head of his home. Financially he was there, physically he was there, but emotionally he was missing because spiritually he was missing and his wife paid a terrible price.
Genesis, Chapter 12. Some of you may have noticed that I surfaced this passage last week. Did any of you who were here last week notice that? I've had other women almost interrupt me in the middle of my presentation at Genesis 12, because, you know I presented it as a very successful event for Abram, and if you look at it financially it was. Like many financially successful men Abram took a bear market and made a bull out of it you know. And like many financially successful men he did it at the expense of his family, specifically his wife.
In Genesis, Chapter 12, we discover Abram is a man who leads, excuse me, who obeys only partially, who obeys only partially. He becomes the missing man. Let me back up. I think I would rather say here he leads only partially. Genesis 12:10 he leads only partially. He's been obeying God; he's left his home; he's left all of the stability of his past; he's entering into a new territory; he's entering into a new world. And he comes to the place where God directed him and in Genesis 12:10 there's a famine in the land. And so what Abram did was say to his wife: now look Sarai, we're here because God directed us here. I know that we have all of this wealth; all of our wealth is in livestock and it really needs rain. It really needs feed and I know this really looks difficult but here's the thing – we trusted God this far, we're going to keep on trusting God.
That's what he did, isn't it? Is that what he did? He didn't do that? You mean when he led his wife in the will of God away from all of the comfort they had known in the greatest city of their day, the most magnificent city in the world at their point in time, and he led her into this barren, sort of at least at times barren, certainly barren when they got there, frontier land, which is what it was, the frontier land with several warring tribes trying to establish control over this particular economic commercial bridge leading from where he had come, Ur of the Chaldees, down to Egypt. He followed God but he didn't keep on following God.
Now there was a famine in the land in Genesis 12:10. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there. Beginning of a problem. I don't know how many conversations I have had with guys in business across 30 years now. Thirty years of talking with them, interacting with them and I don't know how many times I've heard them talk with me with great regret and say, "I made a decision, but I didn't ask the Lord." Ever make a decision and not ask the Lord? "I made a decision, but I didn't ask the Lord."
You know these conversations, sometimes I'm working with a guy and I'm trying to say well look, wait a minute, things aren't as bad as they look. Look at this, look at this, look at this, you couldn't have known about that. Then he says to me, "I didn't ask the Lord." What am I going to say? See I meet a lot of Christian men who want to be committed to God, who want their families to walk with God, who have their kids in Christian schools, who are concerned about the public schools, who are concerned about the church, want to be part of the church, want to be committed. I meet a lot of Christian men who have all of that going for them and THEN I see how they manage their careers.
And it's let's go down to Egypt and make a good deal. Watch the deal. "And it came about, when they came near them," in verse 11 of Genesis 12, "when they came near to Egypt he said to Sarai, his wife, 'Hey look, I know you are a beautiful woman.,'" Now hold on here just a second, you know the last time I was standing in the customs line was really not the time for me to tell my wife how beautiful she is. You know it's basically OK, let's get the passports together; let's get through this thing as fast as we can. And there is just a warning signal here that you women need to pay attention to and that is, anytime your husband gets, you know, lovey-dovey at the wrong time, watch out! The problem is, you know, you love this guy and when he says that to you, whether it's the right time or the wrong time, you know what happens to you.
"You're a beautiful woman. It will come about when the Egyptians see you", in verse 12, "they will say to you. This is his wife and they will kill men but they will let you live." Well Abram, why are you taking your wife into this circumstance? Why are you doing this? Well, look man, I've got this livestock; I've got this three hundred man private army I've got to take care of; I've got, I've got, I've got all of this wealth invested; I' have all of this on the line. I have to provide. I've got this nephew of mine I have to take care of. I have to provide for my family. Don't you understand that?
Well, what about God? Well, when we have some rainfall, then I'll, you know, I'll go back! "Please say you are my sister so that it will go well with me because of you." Now that word "well" by the way is a very significant word in verse 13, Genesis 12:13. If you will look at Genesis 12:1-3 you will find that God makes an agreement with Abram. It's a one-sided agreement. It's God's unconditional commitment to the man. It tells him to go from his country, from your relatives, from your father's house a land which I will show you. I will make you a great nation. In verse 2 it says "I will bless you." Genesis 12:13 the word "well" is the same exact word as the word "bless" in Genesis 12:2. What's Abram doing? He is getting a blessing. But he's not trusting God for it. He's not trusting God for it. God is not his career manager. Oh, he's trusting God for his family where they live; he's trusting God for the movement of his family from one part of the world to another; he's trusting God up to a point. But now as a leader he is failing, because when it comes to his career management, he is not asking God, "What do you want me to do about my career? What do you want me to do about my investments? What do you want me to do about our financial security as a family? What do you want me to do?" And instead he's saying to his wife, "Say you are my sister."
Oh by the way you know she was his half-sister in an interesting situation, one we wouldn't have today, but she was his half-sister. On the other hand, she was his whole wife. A technical issue of course. I mean, we must understand that this is half-sister, whole wife. I mean. Yes!
"And it came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw the woman was very beautiful." He was not having illusions. He knew he married a beautiful woman. "And Pharaoh's officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house." He is moving to make her his wife. "He treated Abram well," verse 16, "for her sake. Gave him sheep, and oxen, and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels. But the sovereign Lord struck Pharaoh in his house with great plagues and Pharaoh says," in verse 18, 'What is this you have done to me? Why didn't you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say 'She's my sister.' I took her for my wife. Here's your wife; take her and get out of here!' And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him and they escorted him away."
You know the primary factor here is? Abram becomes the missing man here because of his personal ambition. He wants to be successful. He says to his wife, "Your looks for my life. Your assets to save my skin and insure my success. Your beauty, your charm, your wit, your loyalty for my pleasure." Now none of us is doing this. But how much of the stress of the marriage at times do we just dump on our wives?
The first several years we were married, well let me back up. When I met Lynna and we were dating, she was at that point in time in training to be a medical assistant and she finished that program and we got married. And she got a job here in Dallas and I found out not only could she basically run a doctor's office, not only could she do lab work, not only could she stick people with needles, not only could she process various kinds of tests and make appointments, but she could also keep books. And that's great because the last thing I wanted to do was to mess with the checkbook. So, that was hers. That was hers. She could do that.
That was hers. So she took it. So about every three months I would come around and ask her, "OK, what kind of shape are we in?" And every time I had a conversation with her about money she cried. About 5 years into the marriage I asked her one day, "Why do you cry every time we talk about money?" Only 5 years into the marriage. You know, one would think that two or three times one might wake up! And she says to me, crying, "Because you accuse me of mismanaging our money." Well it never entered my dumb, thick head that that was a possible message I could send. She had this skill; I was busy finishing seminary, moving, getting a church started, getting everything underway. You know, gotta study, gotta prepare, gotta plan, gotta put this thing together, gotta get these things started, gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, GOTTA. Just presume on her.
We do a very intense program at Dallas Seminary for couples who come and spend 6 days with us and we use a tool called Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis. You may have been through it. With the TJTA there's nine different things that that test evaluates. It's not a test on which you make any major decisions. We use it in pre-marital as well as post-marital work, counseling and so forth. Never make a decision based on that. That's only a window into which you look and then or a doorway into the relationship and you ask a lot of questions and then you make decisions, but never a decision made on the basis of that kind of an analysis.
But still in all there's some fascinating things that's on there and one of the things that's on there is the impulsive-disciplined axis. Very fascinating to see. It's not constant but it's very interesting to see in how many marriage you've got men who are fundamentally impulsive and women who are basically disciplined. Now the opposite is also true, but it still is very interesting to see. And most of our marriages when they come to spend time with us, they're probably about 15 years old, 10 to 15 years old and it's very, very interesting because you look at that piece of paper and you know what you say? You say, "He's dumping everything and she's carrying it all. She is running around after him picking up everything he's dropping. He's dropping financial decisions; he's dropping time management; he's dropping in-laws; he's dropping major issues about children; he is dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping and she is picking it all up and she is carrying it all." And you can just see them and in my mind's eye I can see them: he's running, rushing to do this, pursue his career, be successful, do all these things, drop that, drop that, drop that and she grabs it and picks it up, grabs it and picks it up, grabs it. Gradually she's falling behind because she can only carry so much. And it's amazing how when you bring that up it's like a dam breaks and a flood comes. The anger that's there because she's been used. She has not become Pharaoh's wife but it's your loyalty for my success. See there are a lot of modern Abrams.
I'm not personally a believer in defined roles in marriage. I'm really not. I'm a believer in certain very core essential realities. Husbands are to lead with love. They are to provide emotional stability; they are to help their wives find the difference between up and down; they are the gravity within the relationship. And the research tells us that the most successful career woman in America who marries a husband, marries the husband to find that emotional stability in that man. It has nothing to do with that woman's ability to go out and be a success in business. It has nothing to do with that. It has nothing to do with if she's a good engineer or medical doctor or a nurse or a salesperson or a technical person of some kind. It has nothing to do with whether she's brilliant in math or sensitive in psychology. It has nothing to do with any of that; all of that just goes all the way aside when you get married. When you get married a woman marries a man to be an emotional strength and stability and for a source of encouragement and to have courage within the marriage. That's what marriage is about.
But men don't marry for that reason. Men marry to have somebody to adore them and admire them, stroke them and, and other things, better than that. Men really do want, in our hearts, to be the man at home. We just don't know how.
Learn from Abram, the first, the lessons we are going to learn from him. And the first lesson is this: set aside as men, we must set aside our personal ambition, to come home and lead by serving. As men we must protect our wife from exposure to the stresses and pressures and demands of a marriage that they were never meant to carry. You know the problem with Lynna and me is not that she can add and I can't. That is totally beside the point. The problem is that I didn't provide the leadership to give her the sense of direction needed so she knew what to do with the addition. That was the failure. The failure was not in saying you have a skill and we have a time management issue within our marriage. So you invest your skill this way. The failure was in my not being there to understand what was happening day by day by day by day. To understand what it meant to manage our money. That was the failure. A serious failure in leadership. Now, I hope gentlemen, that those of you who are math whizzes run the whole thing and have made great success out of your money. Do not miss my point. Because most of us as modern American men are in some way exposing our wives to stresses and tension they were not meant to bear because we fail to trust God, especially in the management of our careers. What is your career costing your wife? That's the real question.
I gave you a specific so you might have something concrete to consider. But the real question is this: what is your career costing your wife that she shouldn't be paying? Secondly how will you choose to trust God so your wife stops paying that price?
Father, I ask that for each of us as men there is an overwhelmingness about what it is we're doing. Being a husband is beyond us and that is why we wrestle with this and why we throw sometimes so much of our energy in other directions because these are things we know we can do, we know how to do. We've even been successful at them or they mean so much to us we need to be successful at them. But in this whole process how to be the godly man you have called us to be when we come home; that's the struggle for us. Teach us from thi man Abam. Teach us. Help us to learn. To Your glory and in Your name. Amen.
By: Bill Lawrence
Following the bible.org model, this outline and accompanying audio message from Dr. Bill Lawrence of Leader Formation International are designed to assist users of bible.org to grow and teach quality principles of leadership in an appropriate context for their respective audience. This outline can help you in grasping the themes of each study as well as guide you in your own teaching preparation. You can gain important insights and learn new Bible study and teaching method styles used by others, like Dr. Lawrence..
When it comes to women's emotions, many of us as men are at a loss.
We are completely at sea, awash in the confusion of what we see as irrational tears.
Many of us hate it when women cry because we don't know what to do about whatever it is they're crying about. The only thing we know is that somehow it must be our fault that they are crying, but we cannot figure out what it is that we have done. As a result we feel confused, distressed, disturbed, frustrated. We can't stand it and we want them to cry. Only when we say that they cry even more.
Although we may never say it, Archie Bunker's, "Stifle it, Edith!," seems like a very proper response. And many women do learn to stifle it because they don't want to make their husbands feel uncomfortable and frustrated.
Now if we are married, then we learn that there are patterns to our wives' emotions, i.e., normal times to cry, times of normal expressiveness.
They may not seem normal to us, but they are consistent. We can expect them, prepare for them, adjust to them, even disappear until it's over.
There also are other times when it seems perfectly proper to cry, times when even we cry.
Times of joy when some great and wonderful thing happens. Times of sadness when a friend suffers or when injustice occurs. Times of concern when we are under great pressure and struggle mightily. This is especially true if we or our wives are ones who feel the needs of others and identify with their hurts. Tears come in response to the natural ups and downs of life, especially the downs.
Fear over a child's illness.
Hurt over an aging parent's gradual erosion into death.
Pain over the loss of a dream in the failure of a business.
Women may grieve for the days of freedom before life became so restricted, before children and financial limitation and the radical change of identity that being a wife and mother bring. If a women is living with a man who makes no real effort to understand her, she may even regret giving up her freedom and become angry over it all. Then she may stop crying. I can tell you the one thing worse than a wife who cries is a wife who quits crying. I can tell you that one day you're liable to come home and find a very angry woman confronting you with papers in her hand and an ultimatum in her voice. For the first time she may have found the courage to tell you what she's been trying to tell you all along. Now you are ready to respond, but it may be too late.
Few things create greater emotion in a woman than the desire to have children.
Most women enter marriage with the expectation that they will become mothers. They've made some kind of careful evaluation and determined that they are marrying the man whom they want to be the father of their children. They fully expect that when the time comes they will conceive and have children, and it is a great anticipation for them. But if it happens that they cannot have children, this is an unbearable disappointment to them. Often they make this discovery through the terror and trauma of a miscarriage.
I recall two experiences I had that helped me understand this when I was pastoring.
One occurred when a couple came to me because they could not have children. They had been married in their mid-thirties and were running out of time and were greatly afraid they would never have a child. Though they were both highly rational people, they were very emotional over this issue.
The other occurred when a couple left our church because I did not come to visit her when she had a miscarriage. We had given them great support with at least one other staff member directly involved with them, but that wasn't good enough. The pastor hadn't come, and she was going to another church where the pastor cared. I understood her feelings and apologized to her, but that wasn't enough, and they left.
This, of course, is not a new struggle. This struggle is as old as time, and we see it today on the ancient pages of Scripture in the marriage of Abram and Sarai.
This morning we enter directly into their marriage tent and listen in on two of the most revealing conversations a marriage can have, the conversation of a frustrated woman and her equally frustrated husband.
Abram the Man continues to come home and be the Missing Man. In the first instance, we saw him to be the Missing Man because of his career, his personal ambition and drivenness.
Today we see him to be the Missing Man because of his male ego. He wants a son just as much as his wife. He just shows it in a different way.
1. Sarai had already paid a high price for her husband's career.
a. She had put everything at risk at his direction.
b. She had paid a terrible price for being his wife.
c. She had left her family and her roots and all she had ever known because of the promise of God.
d. Yet, there was no way this promise was ever going to come true.
e. She had to do something about it.
2. Sarai made a suggestion.
a. This suggestion was culturally acceptable.
b. Everything that belonged to her slave belonged to her.
c. If her slave had a child by her husband, the child was Sarai's.
d. This is surrogate motherhood ancient style.
e. This suggestion was not spiritually acceptable because it was not God's choice.
f. God promised a son, but God wasn't delivering on His promise.
g. So Sarai took matters in her own hands.
3. Sarai was in distress because she wanted a child.
a. Abram meant Exalted Father.
b. Think of how Sarah felt when someone asked him how many children he had.
4. We can hear Abram talking to Eleazar: Cry, sigh, and cry!
Why can't a woman be like a man? Why can't she accept reality?
5. If Abram would have said no to Sarai, she would have accepted it.
a. She had lost perspective due to her emotions.
b. She got no help from Abram.
6. Abram failed to meet her need emotionally because he chose not to trust God and wait for His promise.
7. In the process of his spiritual breakdown, Abram completely misunderstood Sarai's needs.
a. Men, one of our biggest problems is our failure to trust God in the things that matter the most to us.
b. Most often, this means our careers, because this is where we find our greatest satisfaction and identity.
c. When we fail to trust God, we also fail to support our wives' emotional needs.
d. These two realities go hand-in-hand.
e. When we fail to trust God, we are off fulfilling our desires in our own selfish ways.
f. Our time and energy is taken up with our own interests, and we have no strength to hear our wives or take them seriously.
g. Even when they seek to tell us about their needs, we tend not to hear them or to dismiss them or to discount them because we are so totally focused on ourselves.
h. Our male ego kicks in, and our wives suffer as a result.
Abram became the second man to say, "Yes, Dear," at the wrong time.
Sometimes, when they are in such a state, wives say one thing and mean another.
Clearly this is what happens with Sarai.
1. Now the deed is done, and Abram has acted out of his male ego.
2. Now Hagar despises Sarai.
3. She must have hated being a slave.
a. I wonder if she were a special gift to Sarai from Pharaoh.
b. Think of what it was like for her when she was Sarai's slave in Pharaoh's palace.
c. She was in a place of honor and recognition.
d. She might have been a slave, but at least she was a slave to a rising and powerful woman.
e. Then came the day when she had to pack up and leave Egypt in disgrace.
f. She left all the glories of Pharaoh's palace for a tent in the wild frontier territory of Canaan, a backwash in the middle of nowhere.
g. She had no status, no hope, no future, no role.
h. But now she is the mother of the master's child--and she hated her mistress.
1. Sarai cursed Abram (16:5)
2. Abraham refused to become involved in the consequences (16:5).
3. Hear him talking to Eleazar again.
I did what she wanted me to do.
How can anyone live with a woman like that? I QUIT!
Sometimes men say the opposite of what they mean.
The word is out that Sam is retiring, and you want Sam's job, yet you feel it would be inappropriate if you made that too obvious, so you suggest Bob for the position. When the boss gives Bob the job, you are furious and storm into his office complaining bitterly about the unfair treatment you are receiving. And the boss says, "Why did you suggest Bob if you didn't mean it? That doesn't make sense." So men can also say what they don't mean.
4. Abram completely missed Sarai's emotional needs.
a. He should have put his arms around her and told her no.
b. Instead, he did what she said and only added to her fears.
Now, none of us will ever do something quite like this, but there are things we can do.
Of course, if a man has an affair, he does untold damage to his wife. If a man puts his career before his wife, he does untold damage to his wife.
But there are other things we can do.
Is your wife ever irrational, crying for no reason at all, crying when she shouldn't, crying when you do what she tells you to do, crying when you follow her direction? Perhaps that's because there are times when there is no man in your house?
That has certainly been true in my house. She wanted me to paint, but I didn't want to.
We may be men everywhere but at home. I've had strong men come to me and talk about their wives. There is no communication between them, only coldness, yet he's doing exactly what she says. And that may well be the problem. What he needs to do is to provide leadershp and assurance and be a man around the house.
I have one simple question to ask you.
WHAT IS YOUR EGO COSTING YOUR WIFE?
By: Sue Bohlin
Many of the concepts in John Gray's blockbuster "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Mars" make sense because they are based on God-designed differences between men and women. Probe's Dr. Ray Bohlin and his wife Sue discuss these differences, as well as how God's commands to husbands and wives demonstrate the gender-related needs of their spouses.
[Note: As far as we are aware, John Gray is not a believer in Christ, and we do not endorse everything in his book. However, we take the position that "all truth is God's truth," and in this article we use information from his book that is consistent with what Christian writers (see endnotes) have also discussed. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day!]
[Sue] Counselor John Gray made a ton of money—and found a ton of grateful fans—in writing his best-selling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus1. This book explored the intrinsic differences between men and women in a way that has helped millions of people understand why relationships between the two sexes can be so frustrating!
[Ray] In this essay we'll be examining some of the insights from this book, then looking at what the Bible says about how God wants men and women to relate to each other. It's no surprise that since God created us to be different, He knew all about those differences thousands of years ago when He gave very specific instructions for each gender!
[Sue] The whimsical premise of Men Are From Mars is that many years ago, all men lived on Mars, and all women lived on Venus. Once they got together, they respected and enjoyed their differences—until one day when everybody woke up completely forgetting that they had once come from different planets. And ever since, men mistakenly expect women to think and communicate and react the way men do, and women expect men to think and communicate and react the way women do. These unrealistic expectations cause frustration. But when we understand the God-given differences between male and female, we have more realistic expectations of the other sex, and our frustration level drops.
[Ray] Speaking of which, we do realize that it can be very frustrating for some people when gender differences are painted in such broad strokes, since there's such a large spectrum of what women are like and what men are like. Both men and women come in different shapes and sizes but by and large, we feel that most will identify with these characteristics.
[Sue] With that said, let's look at some of the differences between men and women.
[Ray] Men get our sense of self from achievement. We tend to be task-oriented, and being self-reliant is very important to us. You put those two together, and you get people who hate to ask for directions or for help. I'll wander in a store for 15 minutes trying to find something on my own because accomplishing the task of getting a certain item isn't going to be satisfying unless I can do it on my own. For us, asking for help is an admission of failure; we see it as a weakness.
[Sue] Women get our sense of self from relationships. Where men are task-oriented, we are relational-oriented. Our connections to other people are the most important thing to us. Instead of prizing self- reliance, we tend to be inter-dependent, enjoying the connectedness to other people, especially other women. For us, both asking for help and offering it is a compliment; we're saying, "Let me build a bridge between us. I value you, and it'll bind us ."
[Ray] Men usually focus on a goal. We want to get to the bottom line, to the end of something.
[Sue] But women tend to enjoy the process. Not that reaching a goal isn't important, but we like getting there too. That's why driving vacations are so very different for men and women; the guys want to get to their destinations and beat their best time with the fewest stops, and we sort of treasure the time to talk and look and maybe stop at the outlet malls along the way!
[Sue] We believe these admittedly broad-brushed differences are rooted in God-created traits. In fact, some Christian authors like Gary Smalley and Stu Weber have addressed them in their books as well.2 Ray, why don't you continue with the next point about men—something that's bound to be real surprising?
[Ray] Well, yes, men are competitive. Big shock, huh? Whether we're on the basketball court or on the highway, we just naturally want to win, to be out front. Many of us are driven to prove ourselves, to prove that we're competent, and it comes out in a competitive spirit.
[Sue] And it's not that girls aren't competitive, because of course we are; it's just that we tend to be more cooperative than competitive. When girls are playing and one gets hurt, the game will often stop and even be forgotten while everyone gathers around and comforts the one who went down. It's that relational part of us coming out.
[Ray] Men are often more logical and analytical than women.
[Sue] And we tend to be more intuitive than men. This isn't some sort of mystic claim; there was a study at Stanford University that discovered women catch subliminal messages faster and more accurately than men.3 Voila—intuition.
[Ray] This difference is evident in brain activity. Men's brains tend to show activity in one hemisphere at a time . . .
[Sue] . . .Where women's brains will show the two hemispheres communicating with each other, back and forth, constantly. That means that often, men and women can arrive at the exact same conclusion, using completely different means to get there. Our thinking has been accused of being convoluted, but it works!
[Ray] Men are linear. We can usually focus on just one thing at a time. That's why you've learned not to try to talk to me while I'm reading the paper. I really struggle to read and listen at the same time.
[Sue] Yes, I've learned to get your attention and ask if I can talk to you so it'll be an actual conversation and not a monologue! God made us women to be multi-taskers, able to juggle many things at once. It's a requirement for mothering, I've discovered. Many times I'd be cooking dinner and helping the kids with homework and answering the phone and keeping an ear on the radio, all at the same time.
[Ray] Men tend to be compartmentalized, like a chest of drawers: work in one drawer, relationships in another drawer, sports in a third drawer, and so on. All the various parts of our lives can be split off from each other.
[Sue] Whereas women are more like a ball of yarn where everything's connected to everything else. That's why a woman can't get romantic when there's some unresolved anger or frustration with her husband, and he doesn't see what the two things have to do with each other.
[Ray] One more; men are action-oriented. When we feel hostile, our first instinct is to release it physically. And when we're upset, the way for us to feel better is to actively solve the problem.
[Sue] Women are verbal. (Another big surprise, huh?) Our hostility is released with words rather than fists. And when we're upset, the way for us to feel better is by talking about our problem with other people.
[Ray] When men are under stress, we generally distract ourselves with various activities to relax. That's why you see so many men head for the nearest basketball hoop or bury themselves in the paper or TV. But there's another aspect of the way we handle severe stress that can be particularly frustrating to women who don't understand the way we are: a man withdraws into his "cave." We need to be apart from everybody else while we figure out our problems alone. Remember, a man is very self-reliant and competitive, and to ask for help is weakness, so he will first want to solve the problem by himself.
[Sue] We women handle stress in the exact opposite way, which of course is going to pose major problems until we understand this difference! When we're stressed, we get more involved with other people. We want to talk about what's upsetting us, because we process information and feelings by putting them into words. But merely talking is only half of it; we talk in order to be heard and understood. Having a good listener on the other end is extremely important. No wonder there is such misunderstanding when people are under stress: as a friend of ours put it, "Men head for their cave, and women head for the back door!"
[Ray] John Gray gave some great advice when he said that when a man's going into his cave, he can give powerful assurance to the woman in his life by telling her, "I'll be back."
[Sue] Works for me! What's next?
[Ray] A man's primary need is for respect. There are a lot of elements involved in respect, which he needs both from his peers and from the significant women in his life: trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval, and encouragement. A man needs to know he's respected. He also needs to be needed. That's why it's so devastating to a man when he loses his job. He gets his sense of self from achievement, and he needs to be needed, so when the means to achieve and provide for his family is taken away, it's emotionally catastrophic.
[Sue] It's good for us women to know that, so we can be grace-givers in a time of awful trauma. I think that just as a man is devastated by the loss of his job, a woman is devastated by the loss of a close relationship; both losses reflect the God-given differences between us. Just as a man needs to be respected, we primarily need to be cherished. Cherishing means giving tender care, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance. We need to know others think we're special. And just as a man needs to be needed, we need to be protected. That's why security is so important to us. A man needs to be able to provide, and a woman needs to feel provided for.
[Ray] One final difference. For men, words are simply for conveying facts and information.
[Sue] But for women, words mean much more. Not just to convey information, but to explore and discover our thoughts and feelings, to help us feel better when we're upset, and it's the only way we have to create intimacy. To a woman, words are like breathing!
[Ray] We have been examining how God created men and women to be different. So it's not surprising to find how many of our uniquenesses and needs are addressed by God's commands and precepts in the Bible.
[Sue] In this section we'll consider women's needs and issues, and look at how God's commands fit perfectly with the observations we've made. In the next section, we'll look at men's needs.
As I said above, our primary need as women is to be cherished—to be shown TLC, understanding, respect, devotion, validation, and reassurance.
[Ray] And in Ephesians 5:25, we read God's command that addresses this need: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her." When we think about the way Christ loves the church, we see a sacrificial love, a tender love, and a love that is committed to acting in the church's best interests at our Savior's own expense. God doesn't just want men to love their wives like they love sports—He wants us to love our wives in a way that makes them feel cherished and very special. He wants us to love our wives with a sacrificial love that puts her needs and desires above our own.
1 Peter 3:7 gives further instruction along this line: "You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way." The Greek literally reads, "Dwell with them according to knowledge." The only way to live with your wife in an understanding way is to seek to know her. And when a husband listens and responds to what his wife shares—remembering that women are created to be verbal—she will feel cherished and understood and loved.
The last part of 1 Peter 3:7 continues, "live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman." This isn't a slam on women. When we read this verse, we ought to think along the lines of a fine china cup. It's definitely weaker than a tin cup, but that's because it's so fragile, delicate, and far more valuable. When we serve dinner on our china, we're very careful in handling it, and extremely protective of washing and drying it. We treat our china with tenderness and gentleness because of its fragility and value. That's how we cherish it. And that's how a man is to treat his wife—not roughly or carelessly, but with tenderness and gentleness, because God made women to be treated with special care.
[Sue] The flip side of needing to be cherished is our need for security. We need to be protected and provided for. Even when a wife works, she wants to know that her husband is the main provider, or at least truly wants to be and is working to that end. The burden of being forced to provide for our families is bigger than we should have to bear.
[Ray] God created that need for security within women. That's why He puts such a high value on the provisional aspect of a man's character. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." God wants us men to be diligent workers and providers. He created us to bear the burden of providing; women are to be protected from that burden whenever possible.
[Ray] Men's primary need is for respect and support—to receive trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval and encouragement.
[Sue] I think God intends for wives to meet that need by submitting to our husbands, as we are commanded to do in Ephesians 5:22 and 1 Peter 3:1. Submission doesn't mean giving in or being an overworked doormat; it's a gift of our will. It means submitting to God first, then demonstrating that submission by choosing to serve and respect and be our husband's Number One supporter. Even when a man is more of a jerk than a Superman, he needs the respect of his wife, even if she has to ask the Lord for His perspective on what areas of his life are worthy of respect!
It's interesting to me that in Ephesians 5, at the beginning of the passage on marriage, Paul exhorts women to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, and then closes this section by saying, "And let the wife see to it that she respect her husband."(v. 33) Submission and respect aren't the same thing, but they're both necessary to meet a man's God-given needs. In the middle of this "marriage sandwich," so to speak, is the awesome command to men to love their wives sacrificially and tenderly, as Christ loves the church. What I see is that submission and respect is a natural response to that kind of love.
[Ray] Another aspect of men's constitution is that we're action-oriented, whereas women are verbal.
[Sue] Yes, and that's why I'm very intrigued by the wisdom of Peter's admonishment to women, where he says,
You wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. (1 Peter 3:1-2)
To men, words are cheap—and if they're coming from a woman, all too plentiful! What impresses a man is what a person does, not what they say. So here the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to basically tell us to shut up and live holy lives, which is the only language that's going to have a true impact on a man.
[Ray] Another characteristic of men is that we tend to be self-oriented, as opposed to women who are more relational.
[Sue] It's interesting to me that Paul exhorts men to love their wives as they love themselves and their own bodies (Ephesians 5:28,33). And he does this without condemning them for that self- orientation; he just uses it as a point of reference to demonstrate how powerfully men are to love their wives. From what I've observed at the health club about the way some men love their bodies, God wants men to indulge their wives with some major pampering!
[Ray] One last comment. While men and women may be constitutionally different by design, we do share one important and serious flaw: our sin nature. Both genders are prideful and selfish. And that is one reason we find commands to both men and women to serve the other sex. But in the midst of our service, we can certainly enjoy the differences God planted!
3. Smalley, Hidden Keys, p. 17.
©1995 Probe Ministries
J. R. Miller, 1909
"Be men of courage; be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13
When Paul would stir up Christians to their best, he bade them to be men of courage. He meant that if they would be manly and act manfully, they would be worthy Christians. No ideal is higher than just to be a man. What is manliness? There is no one exact model. No two men are precisely alike, for every man has his own individuality, which modifies the expression of his life. Besides, no man at his best—is any more than a fragment of a man. We find some lines of beauty in almost every man—but in no one do we find all the qualities of ideal manliness. It has been suggested that if it were possible to gather, through all the centuries, from all the individuals of the whole human race—all the fragments of manly character that through the ages have existed in all, and combine these in one composite character, that would be the ideal man.
While men differ in their individual lives, there are certain great qualities which are essential in all noble manhood.
Truth is one of these. God desires truth in the inward parts. He desires truth in all the life. It is a great thing to be able to say of a man—that you may depend absolutely on any statement he makes to you. What he tells you of another person or of any event or occurrence, you may be positively sure is a fact. Anything a man promises to do—he should do. He should never break a promise to anyone, however trifling the thing promised may be. Failing to keep one's word, may be counted a little thing—but it is really a great thing. If it is only a penny you agreed to pay—pay it the day you said you would. If it is only a postal card you promised to write tomorrow—write it. Let your word be absolutely kept in the smallest matter. Fulfill your lightest engagements. Do always precisely—what you said you would do.
Honesty also is essential in manly character. And the time to begin to build honesty into a character, is in boyhood. A dishonest boy will not grow up into an honest man. We should make it absolutely impossible for us—to touch or even to think of touching or even desiring anything that is not our own.
An explorer in the Arctic regions tells of burying a box of fish in the ice, meaning to send for it later. He did not return to the place for a considerable time. Meanwhile a famine came on. The people knew where the food was concealed. Yet in all their suffering, no one touched it. "Why did you not eat the fish?" asked the explorer in surprise, when he came back and found the food still where he had left it. "It was not ours," was the answer, "and we could not touch it." That is the law of honesty. What is not ours, we should never think of appropriating, whatever our need!
Justice is another essential quality of manliness. Justice is part of love. We should never wrong another. The Golden Rule should dictate all our treatment of others. We should never take advantage of another's ignorance of values, to drive a sharp bargain. We should never put blame upon others, when probably the fault was ours as much as theirs. Or if it was the others fault, it is the Christian way to take it upon ourselves. We always judge unjustly—when we judge harshly. We do not know in our judgments of others, the secret cause of the unbeautiful thing—the mood, or temper, or fret, which displeases us so in them. We blame others, too, when, if we knew the facts, we would pity them. Or it may be something we condemn in another, which, if we saw it in its full light, would reveal beauty, a splendor of self-sacrifice.
Some young men censured one of their number for his stinginess, because he dressed plainly and lived cheaply. Later, they learned that he was caring for an invalid and suffering sister, and that it was in order to provide comforts for her—that he stinted himself. Then they honored him as a hero. We may set it down as a rule that harsh judgments are never just. If we would always be just to each other, we must never judge them—but must love them rather, dealing charitably with them, leaving judgment to God, who knows all, and never can be unjust.
Purity is another quality of manliness. The New Testament has a great deal to say about purity of life. We are not passing through a pure world. It is full of evil and defiling things. Yet the problem of Christian living is to go through the world, keeping our garments clean. "But," someone asks, "how is it possible for anyone to do his work in this world, living amid unclean things, and never take any stain on his own life?"
Someone answers in this way. Just out of reach from his window, the writer says, stretches a wire which carries a heavy current of electricity for light and power. If he could lean far enough out to touch it, death would come to him swifter than a tiger's leap. Yet the doves light on that wire every fair day and are not harmed. Why would the wire mean death to the man if he could reach out from his window and touch it, and why is it a safe resting place for the doves? The secret is that when the doves sit there they touch nothing but the wire. But if the man reaches out of his window and touches the wire with his fingers, he would also be touching the walls of his house, and would thus form a circuit and the deadly current would flow through his body.
We may touch the worst evil in he world without harm or pollution—so long as we are given wholly up to God. But if our own hearts are clasping it and cherishing sin—we cannot move safely through this evil world. Jesus said of his disciples, when he sent them out to carry the gospel to men, "When they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all." Mark 16:18. A man who is given up wholly to Christ can go through this world serving his Master and blessing his fellows, and nothing shall harm him.
Beauty is another quality of true manliness. It is not enough for a man to be true, to live honorably, to be just, to be pure and clean—he must also have in his life whatever things are lovely. All God's works are beautiful. He never made anything that was not beautiful. It is sin which spoils everything. There are many lives that are not lovely in every feature. You see things in others which you cannot admire, things which are not beautiful. Fretting is not beautiful. Bad temper is unlovely. Discontent, jealousy, irritability, unkindness, selfishness are unattractive. It is the work of grace to make lives beautiful. All that grace does in us—is toward the fashioning of beautiful Christian character in us.
On a florist's signboard are the words, "Ugly corners made beautiful." The florist had reference to what he could do to beautify an ugly spot or a piece of landscape. He would trim out the weeds, plant flowers and shrubs, and transform a wilderness into a garden. That is what grace can do in our lives, our homes, our communities and in the world. Some men seem to think that the fine and graceful things are only for women, not for men. But Christ was a man, a perfect, complete man—and there was not a single unlovely thing in his life. He was strong—but also gentle. He was just—but kindly. He was firm—but patient. He was righteous, and his indignation burned like fire against all hypocrisy, all oppression of the poor, all injustice—but his tenderness never failed. Fine manliness is beautiful, like Christ's own. "Yes, He is altogether lovely! This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16
We should seek ever for beautiful things, and wherever we find anything lovely, we should at once take it into our life. We should make our religion beautiful in every feature. Only thus can we truly honor Christ in this world. Our lives are the only Gospels many people read. Let us be sure we do not misrepresent the Master whom we would recommend, and show to the world wrong examples of him.
Love is also essential to manliness. There is no complete manliness, that is not loving. God is love, and we grow into true Godlikeness only as we grow in lovingness. One writer says, "If we knew our brother as God knows him—we would never dare to despise him any more." Men should love one another. They should be friends to each other. They should help each other to live. Some of your brothers find it hard to be good, to be true, to be beautiful in spirit. Some men have fallen into bad habits and it seems that they cannot overcome them. They want to—but the chains are steel. Help them.
Some men get discouraged. Their work is hard, their battle fierce, and they scarcely ever hear a word of cheer. Fulton, the great inventor, near the close of his life, wrote this pathetic sentence: "In all my long struggle to work out the principles of the steam engine, I received innumerable jeers, opposing arguments, prophecies of failure—but never once an encouraging word." There are many men battling hard, striving to live well, to attain something worth while—who are left unhelped, with only discouragement, and with rarely ever a word of cheer. There is nothing that Christian men can set themselves as a task, that will mean more to their brothers than to become encouragers, givers of cheer. Someone suggests a new Beatitude: "Blessed are the cheer-makers, for they shall be called the sons of the morning."
Lalways unmanly, because it is always unchristlike, undivine. Then it is also a mistake. It always does harm in two ways. It harms the person to whom it is done—and it also harms the person who does the unloving thing. Charles Kingsley says, "Whenever we have failed to be loving, we have also failed to be wise; whenever we have been blind to our neighbor's interests, we have been blind also to our own; whenever we have hurt others, we have hurt ourselves much more."
We do not begin to understand what our lives mean to others, who see us and are touched by us. It is possible to do too much advising or exhorting of others—but we never can do too much beautiful living. One can send a blessed influence out through a whole community, just by being a splendid man. He may not be eloquent or brilliant; he may not be a statesman, an architect, a distinguished leader, a noted physician, surgeon, or a gifted orator; but simply to be a worthy, noble, good man—for ten, twenty, thirty years in a community, is an achievement gloriously worth while. Men who are living nobly do not begin to know how many others are living well, too, just because they are.
The noblest thing a man can do in this world—is to be a man, such a man as God has planned in his thought for him to be. He need not be a famous man, a man noted among men, one whose praise is sung on the streets—but a man who is true, brave, pure, just, beautiful and loving, a man who lives for God and for his fellows.ove is an essential quality of the finest manliness. Unlovingness is
What place should prayer have in a Christian's life? Should we pray little or much? Should we confine our praying to certain days--Sundays, for example; or to certain hours or moments of our days--mornings, for example? Should we pray only about certain things, certain affairs, certain portions of our life? Are there things we have no permission to take to God in prayer? Should we pray only in certain places--in our accustomed room at home, or in places 'set apart for divine worship'? Is there any place, where we may not pray?
There is a verse of Paul's which seems to answer all these questions. "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17. That means, pray always and everywhere. There is nothing we may not take to God in prayer--asking for His help. There is no hour of the day when we may not turn to God--and find Him ready to hear and bless us. The gates of prayer are never shut!
To pray without ceasing--is to do everything with prayer. This does not mean that every piece of work we undertake, must be begun with a 'formal act' of prayer--stopping, kneeling down, and offering a spoken petition. To pray without ceasing is--to have the heart always in converse with God. It is to live so near to God--that we can talk with Him wherever we go--and seek His help, His wisdom, His guidance. God is our Father, with infinite love in His heart for us, ready and eager to help us and bless us in every way!
True prayer is not a matter of times and places. Wherever we go--we are with God. Whatever we are doing--our hearts may go out to Him. "Prayer is the Christian's vital breath--the Christian's native air!"
There is no habit that we should more sedulously form, than that of talking with God about everything we do. We are often told that we should begin every day with prayer. That is very needful and beautiful. The first face our eyes seek in the morning--should be God's! His too, should be the first voice we hear; and to Him, our first words should be spoken! Ten minutes in the morning, yes, ten minutes, spent really with God, will change all our day for us.
It is often said that we should 'count that day lost' in which no kindness is done, no deed of love to anyone, no help given. But sadder far--is a day without prayer! It is a day without God, without heaven's light shining into it--a day unblessed! That morning you forget to pray--is a sad morning for you!
We should form the habit of praying at every step, as we go along through the day. That was part of Paul's meaning when he said, "Whatever you do, in word or in deed--do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." He would have us include every word we speak--as well as every deed we do. Think what it would mean to have every word that passes our lips winged and blessed with prayer--always to breathe a little prayer before we speak, and as we speak. This would put heavenly sweetness into all our speech! It would make all our words kindly, loving, inspiring words--words that would edify and minister grace to those who hear. We can scarcely think of one using bitter words, backbiting words, unholy words--if his heart is always full of prayer; if he has trained himself to always pray before he speaks.
But we are to do all our deeds, also, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That means that we should do everything for God, to please God. If we could get this lesson learned, if we would really pray without ceasing--how beautiful our lives would be! How well we would do all our work!
Only think of a man in business doing all his day's business in a spirit of prayer--breathing a little prayer as he makes a bargain, as he writes a business letter, as he talks with other men. Think of a woman amid her household cares--taking everything to God for His blessing, for His approval, for His direction. These are not by any means, impossible suppositions. Indeed, this is the way a Christian is to live, should always live--doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
"In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6
"Pray at all times and on every occasion." Ephesians 6:18
It is well for us to learn this lesson--to take everything to God in prayer, to pray as we go from task to task. We may form the habit of putting up little 'sentence prayers' continually. When you feel an inclination to speak bitterly, or to answer sharply; when you have been stung by another's speech or act; when you are tempted to refuse a request for help, to do some selfish thing, to pass by a human need, to speak an untruth--lift up your heart in the prayer, "God, help me to do Your will." Or if you meet a sudden temptation and are in danger of being swept away, look up and cry, "Lord help me!" We do not know what we miss--by leaving God out of so much of our life!
We often wonder . . .
why we fail,
why so little comes of our efforts,
why we do not get along better with people,
why we are not happy,
why joy is so lacking in our experience,
why we are so easily fretted and vexed,
why we are so discontented,
why we fall so easily into surliness and bad temper.
It is because we cease to pray!
It is impossible to tell of the blessing of such a spirit and habit of prayer. Those who have not learned to "pray without ceasing" have no conception of what they are missing. If we all had learned this lesson--what a company of overcoming Christians we would be! The world would have little power over us--we would tread it under our feet! We would be strong--where now we are so weak. We would be victorious over temptation, where now we fail so sadly. If you knew that God was always actually walking with you--how strong you would be! There is no lesson we need to take more to heart--than this lesson of unceasing prayer! All the best things of Christian living--are the fruit of silent meditation.
Life is not easy for any of us. We can live nobly, purely, Godly--only by being much with Christ! We will rob ourselves of Divine blessing, of beauty of character, of power in service--if we fail to make room in all our busy days--for quiet retreats from the noise and strife, where we may sit at God's feet--to hear His words, and lie on His bosom that we may absorb His spirit, to prepare us for the toil of the day!
When we prioritize, we make time for the things that are important and take time for the things that are essential to have a good relationship w/ God. There is not always time for everything. We as men have to make the most of our time and sometimes make the tough choices about what is really important. Setting a good example for our families. Studying the word is more important than watching "the game", video games or waisting time on the computer.
I have a unique situation where I spend 2 hours on the road praying and listing to teaching tapes. This gets my day off to a great start. I am able to lift the day to God and ensure a safe & happy day for my children, a great day for friends & family, and a successful day of business @ my job. I feed my mind and my spirit and get to work ready to claim the victory .
We must study to stay sharp and know the word. God's word instructs us to study.
Acts 17:11 receive the word with readiness of mind and search the scriptures daily
2 Timothy 2:15 study to show thyself approved unto God for a workman needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.
I Peter 3 :15 be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that you have.
Proverbs 15:28 the heart of the righteous studieth to answer. A wise man studies and weighs his answers.
We gladly take the time to study & pray if we want to receive blessings from our father for us and our families.
Psalm 90:12 teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Unless we come to understand life's shortness and place proper value on the time we have, no matter how long or short it is, we will never gain a wise heart.
It is important as men that we take time to study God's word and go before God on behalf of our families, job etc. We make time to study, pray & go to God, we then recieve blessings from our Father.