Barbara Rainey gives wives five suggestions for encouraging their husbands toward manhood.
Barbara Rainey gives wives five suggestions for encouraging their husbands toward manhood.
Bob: I’m guessing, “If you have tuned in to listen to FamilyLife Today, then you’re a wife who wants your husband to be the man that God wants him to be;” right? Well, if so, one of the things you can do is to cheer him on. Here is Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: When he makes decisions that are especially responsible, and you know they are, thank him for making those decisions. Thank him when he makes a decision that's especially difficult—that goes against the grain of all the other men he knows or just goes against his own selfish nature. We need to encourage that decision and cheer him on when he does that.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, October 25th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey. I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to hear today from Barbara Rainey about how a wife can help her husband step up to be God's man. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I get the sense that we have had some husbands, and some wives, this week, who have been listening, who are going: “You know, we have got some work to do; but because of what we’ve heard this week, we at least know where we're headed. We have a better picture of where we need to go as a result of what we’ve heard you guys talking about this week.”
Dennis: We have encouraged men to step up to mature manhood. We gave them five steps: first of all, the boyhood step; the adolescent step; the mature manhood step; mentoring step; finally, the last step, patriarch. We laid a process out whereby men could step up to the true nobility of manhood as God designed it. Then, we’ve finished out the week, Bob, by featuring a message by Barbara, my wife, talking to women about how they can encourage their husbands to step up.
In Part One of this message, we heard a little earlier, she said there are five things that hinder manly development. Number one—and I really agree with this one: Feeding his childishness. I’m telling you, if you want to mother a man, you can do it; but in the process—
Bob: You will turn him into a boy again.
Dennis: —you’ll send him down on the lower steps. Number two: Enabling him in his weaknesses and addictions. Yes, there are a lot of men who have married wives who they hoped will just overlook their many addictions and not confront them. Sometimes, there needs to be tough love.
Third: Treating and speaking to him like he is a boy. Ultimately, this is contempt. It's a woman who speaks down to a man.
Fourth: Having negative expectations of him; in other words, not expecting him to do the right thing but expecting him to do the wrong.
Dennis: You know what? If you do that, you'll likely be a prophetess.
Bob: It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy; won’t it?
Dennis: That's exactly right. The last one is: Turning his heart away from God. Bob, of all these, I think this is probably the most lethal.
Bob: Yes. In Part Two of this message, Barbara is going to turn from the things to avoid and focus on the things a wife can do to help her husband step up to manhood. I think a lot of the wives listening are going to find Part Two of this message very instructive and very encouraging.
Dennis: Very practical.
[Previously Recorded Audio]
Barbara: By contrast, I want to give you five things that we can do to encourage our husbands to step up.
The first one is, instead of being selfish and childish: We need to choose maturity for ourselves. The first day we were here, Dennis and I went for a walk. We drove down to the old hotel that's down at the bottom of the hill and where the Bow River goes by. We were going to go walk over there by the golf course. We drove our car down there and parked in the parking lot. There's tons of people—all these tourists—the buses, and everything.
While we were sitting there, this family rode up. It was a mom and a dad. Initially, I just saw two kids. There was another one that must have been lagging behind, but they were all on bikes. They all had helmets, and they stopped right in front of our car to kind of regroup or whatever. While we were sitting there, the two kids kind of went a little bit past their parents. They were up in the woods. I saw the girl, who was the older of the two—she was probably 10 or 12. She was right behind him, and she was on her bike. She just jammed her bike into his tire—did it again, did it again, and she did it again. He looked over his shoulder. The windows were up and so I couldn't hear; but I knew he was saying: "Quit! Leave me alone!" or whatever.
She just did it again, did it again, and, finally, he had all he could take. He dropped his bike on the ground, turned around, and came over and shoved her or beat/hit her—I can't remember exactly what he did—but he got back at her, anyway. Of course, her bike went on the ground. She started crying, "Mommy!" and the whole bit. You know, and so Mom gets—Mom's got to get involved.
So Mom comes over, and she's trying to figure it out. I leaned over to Dennis—I said, "I would love to get out and say, ‘She started it, not him,’” [Laughter] because it looked like he was the bad guy because he was the one that got up and slugged her. [Laughter] But he had been sitting there, taking it, you know, she'd been—who knows how long this had been going on. It could have been going on an hour. She could have been doing stuff, or he could have started it early that morning when they got out of bed. He could have said something to her, and she was finally getting back at him.
Anyway, it was just an interesting parallel to this because I thought: “You know? What would have stopped that is if one of those kids had chosen to be mature instead of acting like what they were—which is children.” The parallel for us is that we, as wives—somebody has to choose to be mature in the relationship.
Maybe, your husband's not being mature—maybe, he is being an adolescent in some ways—or maybe, he's even being childish in some ways—but it's not going to solve it to get off your bike and go slug him if he's the one that's ramming you with the bike tire. Somebody has to choose to be mature.
The second thing we can do is speak the truth to him in love. This is the one that I want to talk about the most because, you know, I think sometimes, as wives, we get intimidated, or we get fearful, or we think, “You know, if I say what I really think, it's not going to make any difference."
Some of us are more prone to be manipulators than others are—some of us are more prone to be sharp with our tongues and with our mouths than others are—but we all have our tendencies. We all have our ways that we try to kind of work the situation or work the circumstances to our benefit. But I think, as a godly wife, to help our husband become the man that God wants him to be, we need to learn to speak the truth in love, and not without the love, because the love is the important part.
Proverbs 16:21 says, "The wise in heart are called discerning and pleasant words promote instruction." If we want our husbands to be taught—if we want them to learn—then we need to make sure that our words are pleasant when we speak them to him.
There are lots of ways that I have done this in our relationship. A lot of times it's a circumstantial kind of thing where I speak the truth. There are many, many times in our years of marriage when I have reminded Dennis that God is in control. Just a simple reminding him of what he knows to be true; but in a certain situation, he may not feel like it is true. It could be any number of things in our relationship—or in the ministry, or in his life, personally—where he feels like God's forgotten him, or God's not in control, or something's happened and it just feels—it just feels awful.
As a wife, we can come alongside our husband and remind him that God is in control: “God has not forgotten about you. God still loves you, and He still has a plan, and this may be a part of it.” I think, in our circumstances with our husbands, we need to remind them of the truth about God and what God's Word says is true—that He is in control, and He's not forgotten us.
With our family, there have been many, many, many times in our marriage when I've come to Dennis to speak the truth to him about what's going on in our family because there are a lot of times when he's not as connected as I am with the kids or with what's going on in our family. I'll come and speak the truth to him about his travel. I'll say: "You're just traveling too much. We've got to cut back. We've got to figure out a way to do this so that you can do what God has called you to do, but we don't sacrifice the family."
Or I'll say: "This child is feeling like he or she is not getting enough time with you. We've got to figure a way that you can spend more time with this child." Again, it's communicating the truth in love—reminding him that he needs to do this with our kids, but doing it in such a loving way that he knows that I'm for him.
It may be that, with your husband, speaking the truth is not just reminding him of what he needs to do, but because you know who he is and you know what his weaknesses are, it may be that your husband's weakness is unbelief. It may be that your husband’s real struggle, spiritually, is not believing that God loves him. You can bolster that—and come behind him and come alongside him—and remind him of the truth about who he is, who God is, and how God feels about him and cares about him. There's so much that we can do, as a wife, in speaking the truth to our husbands—in grounding them, reminding them, and keeping them on track.
One of the things that I've always loved about the story of Esther is that—when that whole situation developed in the book of Esther and all of the Jews were to be exterminated, she found out about the plot, and she was to go before the king, her husband—
the thing that I've always admired about the story is the way that she chose to handle that. She prayed and fasted for three days before she went in to see her husband.
Now, we don't have that kind of a relationship because our husband is not the king and you don't have to wait for him to ask for you to come, like she did. Our situation is totally different, but I thought about that. She really prayed about bringing this difficult matter before her husband's attention. How many times do I pray that God will help me communicate wisely when I've got a difficult thing I want to bring up with my husband? Not very often because my tendency is—because we're so familiar with each other—is just to blurt it out.
I think there's a lot for us to learn in that. We may not have to fast and pray for three days, but we do need to pray. We do need to ask God to give us wisdom and favor when we go with our husbands with—go before him with a difficult issue or we want to talk to him about something that we know is going to be a really hard conversation.
The other thing that she did—she prayed and fasted—and then she went before her husband—and she said, "If it pleases the king, I have something that I want to ask." In other words, “Is it okay for me to ask you this right now?” There have been many, many times when I've gone to my husband and I've said: "You know, I've got something that we need to talk about. When would be a good time?" because right then may not have been the best time. It may be that we need to go out to dinner and talk about it; or it may be that I need to wait a day or two because he's in the middle of something, and he just doesn't need another burden. It may be that I can go ahead and talk about it; but it helps to ask permission and to say: "You know, I really need to talk to you about something that's really important for me. When would be a good time for you for us to have this conversation?"
I think, as wives, we can learn a lot from Esther. I think praying about these difficult things—that we want to speak the truth about—is one and asking for permission for when to have this conversation is another.
Then the third thing we can do to encourage our husbands to grow to maturity is to praise him when he does step up to manhood. Praise him when he does step up to manhood. When he does do family devotions, thank him for it. Don't just go: "Oh, he's supposed to do it, anyway. Why should I thank him?" Thank him for it. When he prays with you, tell him how much that means to you for you to pray together as a couple. When he makes decisions that are especially responsible, and you know they are, thank him for making those difficult decisions. Thank him for whatever sacrifice he made to provide for you or to provide for your children. Thank him when he makes decisions that are integrity-based. Those are important decisions—those are important milestones.
And just as we want to cheer our kids—we were talking about that at breakfast—about when our kids make a really good decision to do something that's right and to face the peer pressure, we need to cheer our kids. I think we need to cheer our husbands.
When he makes a decision that's especially difficult—that goes against the grain of all the other men he knows or just goes against his own selfish nature—we need to encourage that decision and cheer him on when he does that.
Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear." Our words are really, really powerful with our husbands. I think encouraging him and praising him, when he does what's right, is one way that we can help him step up to manhood and be the man that God wants him to be.
The fourth thing is to believe in him that he can become a godly man. That sends a lot of signals, and I think that we need to continue to believe in our husband that he can become all that God intended him to be because He is obviously not finished with him. God's not finished with us, either. There are a lot of things that God still has for our husbands to do until He takes him home.
Luke 1:37 is one of my very favorite verses in Scripture. It always has been. It says, "With God, nothing is impossible." All of us have areas with our husbands that we think are pretty impossible—things that have been the same for the 10, 15, or 20 years we've been married. We think, "You know, he's never going to change." Well, maybe, some of those things aren't going to change; but maybe, they really can. Maybe, if we believe in him—and trust God, and accept him as he is, and allow God to work in his life—maybe, God really will change those things. I think it's important that we have to be the one to believe in him; otherwise, it's not going to happen if we don't.
Then the last thing we can do is by pursuing godliness ourselves. We need to choose to become godly wives. Our husbands will never become godly husbands if we don't choose, first, to become godly wives. Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Our daughter and son-in-law were making a decision. I referred to it the first night—about where they were going to go for their residency. I was so proud of them for the way they processed that decision. They looked at what situation—would not only be good for Michael and his residency—but what would be good for them, as a family: “What would be good for Ashley? What would be good for those little boys? Where would we find good churches?” They evaluated that whole decision—not just in that one area of where the best residency program was—but: “What town would be a good town to live in? Where would we find good churches?”—and all of those kinds of things.
What they did in the process of making that decision is they practiced this verse, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." It's true for us, as wives, too. If we're seeking first to become what God wants us to become—if we're seeking first His righteousness in our lives—if I'm seeking to become righteous and I'm seeking to become what God wants me to be—then God is going to add these other things.
He's going to work on my husband because I'm not going to be in the way, at that point. I love that verse because I think it, again, brings us back to the central issue. The central issue is really me: “What's my attitude?” and, “Am I becoming the woman that God wants me to be?”
I've been doing a Bible study the last year in the book of Hebrews. I've been doing Precept® studies for the last four or five years. That's just kind of the place that I've landed—the place that's really ministered to me—as I've had the privilege of doing a bunch of Bible studies. Recently, we've been doing the book of Hebrews. There are a couple of verses there that have been especially meaningful to me that I want to share with you, sort of by way of closing.
Let me read these verses to you. It's Hebrews, Chapter 4. The verses are 15 and 16. It says, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, and yet without sin."
I think our temptation, as wives, is to do these things—to want to control; to want to change; to make him understand, in our own power, by getting even; by playing the insult-for-insult game; by manipulating. I think we have a temptation to go into those ways of trying to change things, without trusting God. God knows what our weaknesses are; but He wants us to trust Him that He can do the changing without our help, which is always a trick for us, because we want to help.
It goes on to say—and I already read this, but I want to read it again—verse 16 says, "Therefore, let us come boldly before the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy”—when we sin—when we give in to the temptation, we need the mercy—“and find grace to help in time of need." I need grace to be the kind of wife that God wants me to be so that my husband can become what God has designed him to be. I need God's grace in my life because I can't do it on my own.
One more verse I want to read, in closing, is Galatians 6:9, "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." It is a process. It is very much a process of our husbands growing up. Our men will grow up to manhood, and they'll do really well. They'll be making good decisions, and they'll be acting responsibly; but they'll, sometimes, step back into adolescence.
Our responsibility—when they step back into adolescence, and they do something that's childish, or they do something that's foolish—is not to come in and berate them, and be motherly, and treat them like boys—but to call them back up to manhood. We can do that by being mature ourselves and being godly ourselves because that temptation will be there for them to step back down into adolescence or boyhood; but we want to be the kind of wives that can call them up. Hang in there. We will reap if we don't lose heart.
Bob: Well, we've just listened to Part Two of a message from Barbara Rainey on how a wife can help her husband be the man God wants him to be. You talked earlier this week about Jezebel, who was a negative influence on her husband. Is there a biblical example you can think of—of a wife who did the opposite?
Dennis: Well, Jezebel was an evil influence. I think the Proverbs 31 woman is a positive influence: “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." Think about this next verse here, verse 12, that really is a contrast with Jezebel. "She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."
Then, at the end of Proverbs 31, it says:
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom,”—in other words, she knows the power of words and uses them well in the life of her husband—"and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also praises her, saying: 'Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
It doesn't say that there, Bob, but one of her works—I think the Proverbs 31 woman—one of her works is her husband.
Dennis: He's in the gates. He's out and about in the marketplace. It's his character—his life, his nobility, as a man—that reflects back on his wife and her belief in him.
Bob: You know, what she does really does inspire him to be the man that God has called him to be. I think there are guys who—they want to be that guy. In fact, you wrote the book, Stepping Up. We put together video resources around that book—the Stepping Up™ten-week series that a lot of guys have gone through—and the Stepping Up one-day event kit: it’s a video event kit that we’ve put together that more than 1,400 churches have hosted—this one-day event. More than 30,000 guys have gone through it.
This is something that a church could host anytime—whatever fits in their schedule. But our team is really hoping that a lot of churches will rally together on the day before the Super Bowl in 2014 and host these one-day events for men for a couple of reasons.
One is that’s a day that works for a lot of guys. For whatever reason, it’s just the right day to get a group of guys together. Then, secondly: “Wouldn’t it be cool if, on one day, we had a movement of men challenged and equipped to step up to be the men that God calls them to be?” I mean, think about it, the next day—the day of the game—there are going to be 82,566 people in the stadium, watching the football game. What if there were 82,566 guys, the day before—or more than that—spending the day being challenged, and encouraged, and equipped to step up to be godly men?
That’s what we’re hoping will happen this year. We want to partner with any of our listeners who would like to make that happen in their church or in their community. Here is what I’m talking about when I say “partner with you”—if you will contact us today—
go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, you can download a certificate—or we will send you one through the mail. The certificate will get you the Stepping Up video event kit for free. All you have to do is get at least ten guys rallied up to go through the material with you together. It doesn’t have to be on the Saturday before the Super Bowl. You can do it whenever it works for you. We’re just suggesting that that might be an ideal day to get guys to huddle up and go through this material.
So, you get the certificate—you call today or you go online today to download it. The offer’s only good this week—so you need to act today. Then, you talk with your pastor and see if Super Saturday works for you or if there’s a better day that would work for you. Start to get guys lined up. When you contact us to order manuals for this event—if you’ve got at least ten manuals in your order—you include the certificate and the video kit comes at no cost to you; okay? We’re trying to do all we can to help this be a success.
Get in touch with us today—download the certificate. Let’s circle the day before the Super Bowl and see if we can’t make something big happen that day; alright?
With that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. I hope you and your family can worship together this weekend. I hope you can join us back on Monday when Barbara Rainey is going to be here. We’re going to talk about the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays. We’ve got some ideas for you on how to make the holidays more meaningful for you and your family. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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