Men: Being the Spiritual Leader of Your Family – You Gotta LOVE Your Wife

This is the second in my series on helping men become the spiritual leaders of their family. You can find the first post and links to remaining posts as they become available HERE.

I remember a story that the pastor at a church I used to attend and then served as children’s pastor told from time to time. The story was of a street preacher. You know the ones standing on a random street shouting at people as they walk or drive by. Sometimes they have a megaphone or even a speaker system. This particular street preacher used to regularly shout, “Husbands, you gotta LOVE your wife.” If you want to be the spiritual leader of your family this is one of the first things you gotta do.

You gotta LOVE your wife. Street preachers like the one in my pastor’s story can be easy to ignore. They’re kinda wild and sometimes downright obnoxious. But, in this particular case, the street preacher makes a good point. You’ve gotta LOVE your wife. It is unfair for you to expect your wife to follow you, if you don’t love her. Not only do you need to love her, she needs to know that you love her. More about that in a little bit, but for now let’s just say that you need to love your wife. If you don’t then we shouldn’t go any further.

Take time right now, and every day, to pray for God to help you love your wife more and better.

She’s number 1, well number 2, but also number one. There is a mistake I often see in families today. Things are pretty good until kids come around. Then, suddenly, the husband or wife get’s pushed to the side. Suddenly, one or the other begins to feel like a second-class citizen. I get it. the kids NEED you. They require more attention. Still, we HAVE to remember that your wife MUST remain your number one. There should be no human relationship that outranks that with your wife.

There is one relationship that must outrank your wife. That is your relationship with God. You must focus on that. I’ll talk more about that in a later post. For now let’s just say that God is number 1, but your wife comes in at a close number 2.

The best witness for your kids. As dads we often think about ways to witness to our kids. We think about how to be a good example to our kids. We want to show our sons what it means to be a Godly man. We want our daughters to see what a Godly man looks like to help them choose a Godly husband. The best way that you can witness to your kids is to love their mother. Your sons will learn that this is how you treat a woman, especially their wife. Your daughters will learn that this is how a woman should be treated, especially by her husband. Hopefully this will help our sons be better husbands and our daughters to choose better husbands.

More than words. It’s easy to tell people we love them. However, it requires WORK to show them. I’m not taking about flowers or chocolates, that’s too easy. I’m talking about doing things that show your wife that you love her. There are probably things you already that show your love for your wife. From making sure the cars are in top running condition, or that the yard is well maintained her not having to worry about these things is HUGE. But, when you do things that maybe she normally does, that’s a game changer. When was the last time you send her away and cleaned the house? Or maybe prepared dinner? Or maybe do the dishes. I’m certainly not saying that these things are HER job. But, you might be amazed at how much she appreciates you doing them.

She’s YOUR wife, not mine. Ultimately, she’s your wife, not mine. I’ve spent the last 27 years getting to know my wife. I know what it takes to make her feel loved, even if I’m not always good at doing it. You need to take the time to learn your wife. Look for the things that cause her stress. She’ll when you work to reduce that stress. Find out what she enjoys, do those things with her and help give her opportunities to do these.

Tag, you’re it. Now, it’s your turn. I’ve given you some things to think about. Now, you have to go out and do them. You’re wife will never follow you as the spiritual leader of your family if she doesn’t feel loved by you. So, first step. Learn you wife. If you don’t do that, then nothing else you do will help you become the spiritual leader of your family that you want to be.

Matt Norman

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This is What Love Looks Like

So, today is Valentines Day. I was planning to post the second in my series helping men learn how to the spiritual leaders of their families. Then life threw me a curveball. You see this past Sunday, some really unexpected things happened. Through that I got a really good idea of what true love looks like, and it looks a lot like my wife.

It ain’t about flowers or candy. These are common gifts often given on Valentines Day. Heck, there is currently a box of chocolates sitting on my dinning room table that my son intends to give to his girlfriend. But, that’s not love. Anybody can do that. Countless millions of dollars will be spent on candy and flowers this week. Sadly, many of those couples will not spend another Valentines Fay together. You can certainly get candy or flowers for the one you love and, if they are into that, then you should. BUT, that’s not the best way to show your love.

It ain’t about words either. In our society love has become nearly meaningless. We love pizza. We love cars. We love super hero movies. We love our kids. We love our spouses. When we use this one word to describe our feelings for so many different things, how can it possibly express how we feel for the most important person on Earth. That’s why expressing out love has to be so much more than simply saying, “I love you.” You should say it. You should say it often. I think you should never end a phone call or leave your spouse without saying it. BUT, it can’t end there.

So, what happened on Sunday? Well, it started like any other Sunday. We moved in all the equipment, set everything up, and started service. We sang some songs and I got up to preach. I felt perfectly fine during the message. But, as soon as I finished and walked off I started feeling bad. I started having some abdominal pain and nausea. I walked over and told Kim that I wasn’t feeling well. I was able to pray to end the service. But, that was about as far as I got.

Just a couple minutes later, as everyone else started tearing down, I looked at Kim and told her that I needed to sit down. I was having severe abdominal pain and nausea. I was pouring sweat and Kim told me I was very pale. She told me just to leave, to go home. I tried to protest because somebody had to drive the truck with the trailer. She firmly told me to leave and that she would take care of the trailer. Finally, I conceded and left.

This was just the beginning. As soon as she got home, I went to bed. She brought me socks for my cold feet. She drove me to the ER, insisting on taking me to the door and then parking. She stayed with me in the ER and waited while I went to surgery. She missed dinner in the process. She stayed with me in my hospital room as long as they would let her. She tried to make sure I drank something, but I was too doped to even try. I just wanted to sleep.

The next morning she got the kids off to school and then rejoined me at the hospital. She helped me up to the restroom. She kept me company and helped me reposition when needed. She helped me with my breakfast and lunch. She brought me some clean clothes and helped me get dressed. Man, it felt good to get some regular clothes on, instead of just the hospital gown with… everything hanging out. When it was time to leave she gathered up all our stuff. She walked with me as the nurse pushed me, in a wheelchair out of the hospital. She then rushed out to the car, driving it up to the sidewalk so I could get in. She helped me get in and then drove slowly home… perhaps the biggest sacrifice she made the whole time.

When we got home she, and out son, went above and beyond to make sure I had what I needed and that I was comfortable. When it became time for bed she helped me get into the bed… then to get out. This was quite an ordeal. She demonstrated great patience waiting on me to decide how I wanted to sleep, where, and then how to get out of the bed. When I decided I couldn’t sleep in the bed, Kim and our son rearranged furniture in order to allow me to sleep in the recliner in the living room.

The next day she cooked me breakfast and brought it to me. She then took the kids to school and came back to make sure I had everything I needed. She helped me shower. What a simple and great thing. And it just went on and on from there.

What’s love got to do it? You might look at all of this and think, what’s love got to do with it. Some may say she was just doing what any wife or husband would do. Sadly, we know that this is simply not true. There are a great many husbands and wives that would not take such good care of their spouse. They should, but some wouldn’t. That’s love. We have been together for nearly three decades. At times we REALLY get on each other’s nerves. Sometimes were do things that are simply unloving. But, when it comes down to it, we love each other and when I needed her, she REALLY stepped up.

Matt Norman

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The State of YOUR Union

The Bible is clear that our most important relationship is with God. It teaches that to place anything, or anyone above this relationship is idolatry. It is also clear that our next priority should be the relationship with our spouse. In spite of this it can be easy for our attention to stray to other relationships, leaving our marriage to run on cruise control. This will damage our relationship and keep it from being all that it can be.

Our parents are important. One of the relationships that can detract from our marriage is that with our parents. I love my parents and still have a great relationship with them. In fact one of my favorite things is to have coffee with them on Saturday mornings. Jesus even modeled the importance of our relationship with our parents while hanging on the cross. In John 19:25-27 Jesus instructed John to care for his mother. He did this after being beaten and nailed to a cross and with a crown of thorns on his head. Clearly Jesus loved his mother.

Our kids are important. Many would agree that kids are a gift from God. As such we should care for them. In Mark 10:13-16 Jesus shows the importance of children as he REBUKES the disciples for running the children off. I know he is not talking about parenting in this passage, but it was parents that were bringing their children to Jesus for a blessing and he received them with open arms.

Leaving mom and dad. The first reference to marriage in the Bible is in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother…” This is in reference to the relationship between Adam and Eve. For the sake of the relationship with his wife a man will LEAVE his parents. As I pointed out earlier this is not to say that we are to end the relationship with our parents, but it does mean that our spouse now takes a higher priority. While this passage only mentions a man leaving his parents, it also applies to the woman.

Becoming one flesh. Genesis 2:24 goes on to say, “…and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” I’m not gonna discuss what it means to become one flesh. However, I think that it is important that we acknowledge the significance of this passage. If husband and wife are now ONE FLESH, then what does that mean for our relationship? Consider what it means that your arm and hand are “one flesh”. Consider what would happen if you arm could decide to stop sending blood flow to the hand. Suppose one arm decided that the other arm was more valuable than the hand. Eventually if the hand did not receive the blood flow and nourishment that it needed, it would die. If husband and wife are one flesh, then the same thing will happen if one or the other allows some other relationship to become more important than your spouse.

Where your treasure is. In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This is true of our relationship with our spouse. Do you invest more money is your hobbies than in your spouse? This same principle applies to how we spend our time. Do you have a regular golf date with your buddies? What about a regular, scheduled date with your wife? Do you get all dressed up to go out with your girl friends, but put little effort into getting ready to go out with your husband?

Think about it. Each year the United States President does a speech titled “The State of the Union.” I think that we need to regularly take inventory of the State of OUR Union. Take time to REALLY consider the condition of your marriage. Talk to your spouse. As them how THEY feel about the condition of your marriage. Take a weekend away with just you and your spouse. Use this time to reconnect and to evaluate the state of your union, together.

Regardless of what you do, the bottom line is not to neglect your marriage. A healthy marriage will not just happen. It requires work and the results are worth the effort.

Matt Norman

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Husbands, Be Men WORTHY of Respect

Yesterday I spoke to wives about how the Bible says they should respect their husbands. I told wives that how they behave toward us men is not about US, it is about THEM. If you are a reading this and you have not read the previous posts that I have written to husbands and wives this week, I encourage you to go back and do so. There are links at the bottom of this post to all 3 of the previous posts.

Now, Husbands. The Bible is clear that no matter how WE behave our wives are to respect us and follow us. However, this is not a free pass for us to behave however we want. I have often heard it said that men don’t grow up they just get bigger toys. I have even, half jokingly, said that this was my goal. BUT, here’s the deal; if we want our wives to follow us, we have to grow up a little. The Bible says that our wives are to follow us and respect us, regardless of how we behave or what we do. BUT, we can make it easier on them. We can be men worthy of respect.

From spiritual to financial to fitness/health and more, in each area of your life you need to be the leader for your wife and kids. This is not to say that you have to be a spiritual giant to lead your family in spiritual matters. This doesn’t mean that you have to start training for the Iron Man Triathlon to lead your family in fitness and health. This doesn’t mean that you have to become a millionaire to lead your family financially. Maybe you struggle with a daily quiet time, or with regular prayer. Maybe you struggle with your weight or other health issues. Maybe you are not good at managing money. The idea is to begin to take steps in the right direction, be consistent, and make gradual, continuous improvements. One thing that I have learned in ministry is that gradual, continuous improvements have a much greater impact than occasional big improvements. These big changes are fun and are valuable, but the smaller things will get us further down the road quicker in my experience.

Maybe you have failed spiritually and made choices that have taken you further from God.

Maybe you have failed financially and are struggling under the weight of past bad financial decisions.

Maybe you are over weight and out of shape, suffering from the results of years of bad health/fitness decisions.

Regardless of how you may have failed in the past today you can turn from those old ways. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and new things have come.”(1) It also says,”Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus.”(2) Our past bad decisions are just that, passed. The enemy will continually remind us of our past failures as we try to turn from them and overcome the consequences they create. But, we must ignore his lies and look forward. Imagine the danger that would come in driving your car only looking at the rear view mirror. You would never see the dangers that you are approaching or the progress that you are making. You would never be able to make a wise choice regarding the path you should take. We would never operate our cars this way, but we often live our lives this way.

Stop looking in the rearview mirror of life and move forward. Be the man your wife wants you to be. Be the man YOU want to be. Be a husband worthy of respect.

Husbands, You Gotta LOVE Your Wives.
Wives, Be Easy to Love.
Wives, Please Do Not Give Your Husbands the Respect They Deserve.

Footnote:
1: 2 Corinthians 5:17
2: Romans 8:1

Matt Norman

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Wives, Please Don’t Give Your Husbands the Respect They DESERVE.

Ephesians 5:22-24

Earlier this week, I spoke to Husbands about how they should love their wives. You can read that post HERE. Today I want to talk to wives about respecting their husbands.

Let’s face it ladies, men are not perfect. This includes your husband. Sometimes I am lazy. When it comes to my wife and kids I tend to speak before I think. I tend to get caught up in my own projects and miss things that probably are more important. I truly don’t notice that the kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes. AND the only time I think about laundry is when I am getting ready for work and don’t have a clean uniform. There are a lot of reasons NOT to respect your husband, BUT if you are a Christian woman, this is not an option.

Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

I know that this is not a very popular verse these days, especially in America.  Ladies, before you start to attack me, please read the entire post. This verse is not about equal rights. This is not an antifeminist post. This is simply a post about what the Bible says about how wives should behave towards their husbands. As I mentioned above, men are not perfect. If, somehow, you have married a perfect man and do not struggle at all with this verse, then you are free to go. You can stop reading right now. However, if you, like all the other women out there, have an imperfect husband, then I would ask that you continue reading.

First let me make some things clear. This verse does no say that your husband is “the boss”. It does not say that you are his slave. What is says is that you are to follow him. You see as husband and wife you are a team. Even with the best of teams, someone has to take the lead. Now, if that leader is smart he will work closely with those that follow him so that the entire team prospers. The truth is the vast majority of the time decisions need to be made jointly. BUT, there will occasionally be times when the two of you simply can’t come to an agreement. On these rare occasions, as the head of the family, it is the husbands duty to make these decisions. Is he going to make some bad decisions? Yes. Is he going to make the wrong choice sometimes? Yes. Is he going to make decisions that you would not make? I can almost guarantee it. As a Christian woman your job is to let him make these decisions and not to punish him if he makes the wrong one, or the one you don’t like. He will make bad choices, but he will learn from them and will make better decisions as he is given more opportunities.

Trust me when I say that your husband feels the pressure to lead your family. He feels the pressure to provide for your family. He feels the pressure of past mistakes and bad decisions made my himself and the family in general. With a few exceptions, your husband WANTS to lead your family and he wants to do it well. No matter how much he wants to lead your family, or how much potential he may have to do this well; he can not lead if you will not follow.

I have worked with women long enough to know what many of you are already thinking, “But you don’t know my husband.” I may not personally know all of your husbands, buy I AM a husband and I know how men think. When I spoke to husbands about loving you, I told them that it wasn’t about how you behaved or what you did. Likewise, respecting your husband is not about HIM or how HE behaves. Your job is to respect him and follow him. And don’t worry, I have some words for husbands about their role in this as well.

Matt Norman

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