Barbara Rainey, wife of FamilyLife President Dennis Rainey and mother of six, gives wives five suggestions for encouraging their husbands toward manhood.
Barbara Rainey, wife of FamilyLife President Dennis Rainey and mother of six, gives wives five suggestions for encouraging their husbands toward manhood.
Bob: If you're a wife who wants her husband to be the man God wants him to be, 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 Tuesday, June 14th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine. Today we'll hear from Barbara Rainey about how a wife can help her husband be God's man. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today; thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I get the sense that with all we have been talking about this month, about husbands stepping up to be the man that God wants him to be, and now listening to your wife talk about how a wife can help a husband step up, there may be some husbands and wives who have been tuned in who are thinking, “You know, we've got some work we need to do, but we know where we're headed. We've got a better picture of where we need to go as a result of all that we have been talking about this month.”
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 of whereby men could step up to the true nobility of manhood as God designed it.
Bob: We’ve been hearing from your wife this week as she has been sharing with wives about how a wife can help her husband step up and be the man that God wants him to be. We have already heard her share this week a little bit about a wife’s role in this whole process.
Dennis: She said there are five things that hinder manly development.
No. 1, 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. You know what? If you do that, you'll likely be a prophetess.
Bob: See a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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: In Part 2 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 2 of this message very instructive and very encouraging.
Dennis: Very practical.
Barbara: (From audiotape) 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, and 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; and 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 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; and 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,’ because it looked like he was the bad guy because he was the one that got up and slugged her. 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, “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.”
So we—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." So 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 when I 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 awful.
As a wife, we can come alongside our husbands and remind them 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; and 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 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, 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.
So there's so much that we can do as a wife in speaking the truth to our husbands, 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, so our situation is totally different; but I thought about that, 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 please 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, well, 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; and 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; and, 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, 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."
Recently, 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—because they've got these two little boys—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; and 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; and that's just kind of the place that I've landed, the place that's really ministered to me as I've gotten—had the privilege of doing a bunch of Bible studies. Recently we've been doing the book of Hebrews; and there are a couple of verses 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 4:15 and 16. It says, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but 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 husband's 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, when 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 2 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. He's in the gates. He's out and about in the marketplace, and it's his character, his life, his nobility as a man, that reflects back on his wife and her belief in him.
Bob: I can imagine that there are women, who have been listening to Barbara’s message, who are thinking, “You know, I need to listen to that again; or I wish I had taken some notes.” Actually, we have transcripts of today’s program available. You can go online and print out the text of Barbara’s message.
If you would like to listen to it again or download the audio as an mp3 file, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. That is FamilyLifeToday.com. If you have an iPhone™, there is an app for FamilyLife Today; just go to the App Store and type in FamilyLife Today. Once you have the app on your iPhone™, you have easy access to, not only the current FamilyLife Today program, but the past couple of weeks’ programs, as well.
You can also access our FamilyLifeToday.com Resource Center either from the iPhone™ app or when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. There is information about Dennis Rainey’s new book, Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. It is available from us online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call to get a copy at 1-800-FLTODAY (1-800-“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word TODAY).
We also have copies of a new Bible study for men called Courageous Living. It has been put together by the folks at Sherwood Pictures, the people that made the movie, Fireproof. They have a brand-new movie coming out in September. It is called Courageous. This four-part Bible study, written by Michael Catt and by Alex and Stephen Kendrick is designed to call men to courageous living. We have a special FamilyLife edition of that Bible study that is available. Find out more when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or again, call us at 1-800-“F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word TODAY.
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We want to encourage you to be back with us tomorrow when we are going to hear from a retired Green Beret, a pastor who believes that men need to stand firm in the faith. Stu Weber joins us tomorrow, and I hope you can be back with us as well.
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.
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