"It's your turn to take out the trash this week."
"I washed the dishes yesterday, remember?"
"You should pay the bills. I have too much on my plate."
Household arguments like those above are common to marriage. They might seem like no big deal, but they are rooted in something profound: a man's role in the home, the church, and society.
When a man lives up to his role, life-giving things start to happen. Children are not abused, and they grow up feeling secure and safe. Teen pregnancy rates go down. Drug sales and drug use plummet. Young people avoid jail. Divorces are avoided, and the tragedy of teen suicide loosens its grip on our young people. I firmly believe that every family and societal problem can get better when a man knows how to fulfill his role and takes action.
During the NFL season, teams spend Fridays completing their on-field preparation. They know that the adrenaline-filled, highstakes physical battle is just two days away. That's why a good Friday practice is vital. However, for NFL players, the most important preparation comes on Saturday morning and evening. And this preparation is more mental than physical. Players and their position coaches gather to review video footage of their opponents and hold the last practice, known as a "walk-thru."
The walk-thru and video reviews have a sole purpose: to ensure players are absolutely clear about their game-day roles on offense, defense, and special teams. A player who doesn't understand his role is a liability to his teammates. He might even cost his team the game and lose his job on the roster.
In the NFL, mistakes are sometimes called "a blown assignment." A running back fails to block a blitzing linebacker. A safety lets a receiver get behind him.
In life, we men cannot afford to blow our assignments. It's not merely a team that is counting on us; it's all of society.
What are our assignments, our roles as men? I can sum them up in five words: praise, protection, provision, proclamation, and presentation.
Let's look at each one in detail.
Praise is more than words. Praise is a man's heartfelt response to the God who created him. It's his first and most fundamental role in life—to offer God unabashed applause for who He is and what He's done.
Even long-time Christians underestimate the importance of praise. But the man who strives to let praise flow from his life to God's throne is poised to fulfill God's destiny for his life. He will achieve this destiny because his life is based on an authentic relationship with his Boss and King.
I understand that vocal and visible expressions of praise are tough for men. Why? Maybe it's a male-pride issue. Or a fear to truly release our emotions.
On the other hand, have you ever seen a bunch of guys cheering on their favorite sports team? We jump to our feet. We lift our hands. We shout until we're hoarse—all for mortal men who have done nothing substantial for us. They did not get us our jobs. They didn't heal our sick or injured bodies. And, most likely, they haven't given us wisdom to live by. The truth is, men do understand praise. Our praise is often misdirected.
Our homes and our churches need men who will lead the way when it comes to cheering the mighty works of God.
In too many churches now, the women praise ecstatically, while the men sit uncomfortably, waiting for the worship service to end. And the children take note: "Daddy doesn't like church."
What has happened? In short, the devil has deceived men and convinced us to shut down emotionally in God's presence. But David, a great king and a man's man, danced before the Lord and committed to proclaim His goodness among the people.
Men, if David can do it, we can too. The world is waiting for us to applaud God in the public square, in our homes, and in the house of God. When men offer praise to God, everyone takes note. We are the tone setters in our culture. Like it or not, what we do, everybody does. So, "Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV).
When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, his job was to keep watch and to protect everything entrusted to him from the devil's deception. Adam's role back then is a man's role now. We need to protect our "garden" from the deceptions, dark acts, and destructive works of the devil. Your personal garden is wherever God has assigned you to live, work, and play. The people who inhabit your garden, especially the women and children entrusted to your leadership, are your responsibility to protect.
Don't be like many men in our culture who, like Adam, have shunned the call to protect. Instead, they have become vultures, preying on those who need their strength. Some men have even demanded that the women and children protect them! Something is desperately wrong with this picture.
Bullying in our culture and around the globe is a problem growing with exponential fervor. Typically, kids who bully were unprotected by their own fathers. They act out with resentment toward their peers or toward those who appear weak to them. A society in which men drop the ball of protection is a society of aggression, crime, and hate. But when men use our God-given power to protect, we can turn the tide and bring the sense of safety everybody needs—the bullies and the bullied.
I've seen too many men in our culture, especially during the recent economic downturn, curl up in the fetal position and suck on their vocational thumbs. I'm tired of hearing men from church complain, "There aren't any good jobs out there. No one's hiring."
If no one's hiring, create your own job!
I've watched too many men demand that their wives go out and be the primary breadwinner. To me, that's a cop-out. It multiplies stress in already-stressed families and leaves too many children to parent themselves. Too many men are gripped with an unrelenting fear when it comes to being the breadwinner, and I'm convinced that the root cause is spiritual. Satan has struck fear in the hearts of men and blinded us to the power to provide that resides in us.
Some men are like adolescents—addicted to PlayStation 3 and lacking in entrepreneurial courage. They lack the will and discipline to keep the cash flowing into their households.
God gave Adam the best job he ever had, entrusting him with a sprawling estate of lush, fruit-bearing vegetation. He was charged with taking what God created and creatively multiplying it. That is still our task today: to reshape, cultivate, and re-create what God has already made. We work to meet a need, and then charge a reasonable price for the goods or services we render.
The question for every man struggling with his role to provide is the one God asked Moses, "What's in your hand?" What skills, relationships, experiences, education, and passions has God placed in you? Figure it out and use them. God has a job for you. You can provide for yourself and your family, but you must be connected to the Job Creator who makes the work fruitful.
A man of few words is usually a wise man. But a man who has nothing to say at critical times is a weak man. It's amazing how, throughout history, God has used a man who was willing to speak up when the times demanded a voice of righteousness and justice. Though Moses was afraid to speak, he said what God told him to say to Pharaoh—and the children of Israel walked on dry land through the sea. Many centuries later, Jesus spoke out against the religious oppression of the Jewish leaders in His community, and Christians around the world now walk into the presence of God through the red blood of Jesus. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the injustices of racial segregation and the oppression of the poor in America, and now I can live in any neighborhood I choose, eat wherever I can get a dinner reservation, and educate my children on any campus in the nation.
When men speak up rather than being passive, the social, political, and spiritual plots of the devil are exposed and defeated. Imagine if Adam had spoken up when the devil tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Bible says, "She also gave [fruit] to her husband with her, and he ate it" (Genesis 3:6 NKJV).
I know I may be in a long line of inquisitors, but I want to ask Adam two questions: "What in the world were you thinking?" and "Why didn't you speak up?"
Adam blew it big-time. He failed to speak up. He should have warned Eve to avoid even a conversation with the serpent, much less letting him tempt her to eat fruit that God had deemed off-limits. Twice in Genesis 2, Adam spoke. The first time was when he named the animals. It was an expression of his God-given authority. The second time was when he was taken with excitement at the gift of his wife. He named her Eve—a second expression of his God-given authority. Having authority from God to speak up is a real privilege. We can only wonder why, at the golden moment of opportunity to defeat Satan, Adam fell eerily silent.
A man's role in society is to speak up when danger is in the environment, to denounce injustice, and to declare with unashamed guts what God has made clear in His Word.
Frankly, we have a generation of Adam look-alikes. They would rather talk about their favorite sports team than the things that truly matter. We have little to say, it seems, about the things devouring our children and our families and our world: the rise of crime, the abuse of women, and worldwide atrocities affecting the poor and downcast. We watch our young daughters prance out of our homes nearly naked and we say nothing. We watch our wives entertain advertised lies about the value of physical beauty and we say nothing. We watch crooked businessmen execute crooked deals, look for our cut, and shut our mouths. We stand by silently as digital pornography invades our homes and the lives of our sons and daughters.
A generation of men who have no truth to proclaim can do nothing to protect and cover our women and children. This leaves a nation (a world!) wide open for the wolves to devour. We must regain our collective courage, open our mouths, and proclaim with authority biblical truth to the criminal and immoral ideologies consuming our culture. We have to man up and speak up.
We husbands are commanded in Ephesians 5:25-27 to present our wives spotless and blameless. The original statement speaks to the sacrificial love of Jesus toward the church, which He gave His life for.
The Bible says that Jesus will present the church to Himself, pure and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to present to ourselves wives who've been so impacted by our love and by our leadership that they've become beautiful brides to us, just as the church is to Christ!
I tell men everywhere I go, "You get out what you put in. If you want a good-looking wife filled with godly character and a heart open to your leadership, you have to pour into her sacrifice, love, and the Word of God." Translation: Spend some money on her and some time with her. Date her. Share with her the wisdom of God that you're learning. And you'll find yourself with an amazing, beautiful woman with a quiet and gentle spirit.
As Billy Bajema, tight end for the world champion Ravens puts it, "It's time for men to step up and make their families a priority. I want to raise my kids to know and serve the Lord. I want to have a strong marriage that leaves a legacy for our kids."
Like the five points on a star, a man who embraces his five-fold role will shine brightly in the culture and make a significant impact everywhere he goes.
He will provide all-important covering for his wife and children.
Adapted excerpt from Cover Her ©2013 by Rod Hairston. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Strong Family Press. Rod Hairston has mentored college and National Football League athletes and coaches for more than 20 years. He earned two Super Bowl rings for his work as team chaplain for the Baltimore Ravens, a position he held for 14 years. He has also worked extensively with athletes and coaches at UCLA. Rod is senior pastor of Messiah Community Church in Owings Mills, Maryland.
1. Rod Hairston believes that our tomorrows will be shaped by how well men step up and cover their loved ones today. He calls us to cover in our homes, our churches, our communities, and beyond. Read more in his book, Cover Her.
2. Listen to Rod talk about “Creating a Safe Marriage” on FamilyLife Today®.
3. Dig deeper into what it means to step up and live a courageous life with the Stepping Up® video series.