Here’s a practical way to revolutionize your relationship with your family. But it requires some risk.

    by Dave Boehi

    Direct Link to article on FamilyLife: A Question that Will Change Your Marriage and Family

    What if your teenager asked you one day, “What can I do to help?”

    Probably two things would happen.

    First, you’d be stunned and shocked at the collapse of everything you know to
    be true in this world: Did those words actually come from my child’s mouth?

    Second, you’d probably wonder what angle your child is trying to play:
    What does he want from me?

    OK, perhaps that scenario seems impossible … so let’s bring this into the
    realm of marriage.  What if your spouse asked you, “What can I do to
    help?”

    What if you both adopted this type of servant attitude on a regular basis?
    What impact would that have on your marriage?

    Before I go too far, I need to credit Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point
    Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, for the thoughts in this column.
    Recently my wife, Merry, and I attended a Catalyst One Day conference on
    leadership, and in one of Stanley’s messages he challenged us to begin asking
    this same question to the people who report to us: “What can I do to help?”
    When a leader seeks to serve, it can revolutionize the culture of a church, an
    organization, a company.

    Then, as we were driving home, we listened to a recent sermon where Stanley
    applied this same theme to family relationships.  He started by discussing
    Ephesians 5:21, which states that one of the fruits of being filled with the
    Spirit is “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

    This attitude of submitting to one another “should be the hallmark, the
    driving force behind Christian families,” Stanley says.  Each person in the
    family is committed to “leverage my assets, my time, and my power for your
    benefit.”

    We do this “out of reverence for Christ.”  This is the Christ who set the
    example of submitting His desires and will in order to serve us and to fulfill
    God’s will.  This is the  Christ who “came not to be served but to serve, and to
    give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

    Think about that for a moment.  Jesus, the Son of God, did not come to earth
    so that people could serve Him.  Instead, he came to serve others.

    An overall attitude of selflessness

    This attitude of submission detailed in Ephesians 5:21 sets a clear context
    for the familiar verses that follow:

    Wives, submit to your own husbands, as
    to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head
    of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to
    Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands,
    love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
    (Ephesians 5:22-25)

    This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and
    misunderstood passages of the Bible.  But notice how the theme of “submitting to
    one another out of reverence for Christ” runs through it.  Wives submit to their
    husbands as the church does to Christ.  And husbands, given the responsibility
    to lead in a marriage, are to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and
    gave himself up for her.”

    We each have different roles in marriage, but as we work out these roles the
    overall attitude is one of selflessness—of regarding others as more important
    than ourselves, just as Christ did for us (Philippians 2:1-11).

    That’s why I like this question, “What can I do to help?” It’s a very
    practical way to reach out and meet the needs of your spouse.

    To some of you, the thought of asking that question may seem a bit scary.
    You don’t know how your spouse will answer.  Or you realize that helping your
    spouse may mean sacrifice on your part.  Setting aside your agenda so that you
    can meet your spouse’s needs.

    I learned this lesson a few years ago when Merry and our daughter, Bethany,
    returned home from shopping.  They had purchased some new drapes for our dining
    room, but I was doing something else (probably something really important, like
    watching a football game on television), and I figured I would hang the drapes
    some other time when I felt like it.  Perhaps the next weekend.

    Then Bethany approached me and said, “You know,
    Mom is really excited about these drapes.  Don’t you think you could go ahead
    and put them up tonight?  It would mean a lot to her.”  Somehow her words
    pierced my fog of selfishness and moved me to action.  I realized I needed to
    help and bless my wife.

    We face choices like these on a daily basis.  Am
    I going to plan my time around my needs, or around the needs of others?  Am I
    going to serve others or try to force them to serve me?

    Imagine what would happen in your marriage if you
    asked, regularly, “What can I do to help?”

    And then imagine the example it would set for
    your children.  It might even rub off on your teenagers.

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    © 2012 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.