FamilyLife Today® Podcast

“Barbara Shares “The Wrong Way” Women Can Help”

with Barbara Rainey | October 24, 2013
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Barbara Rainey talks frankly to women about the five things that hinder manly development.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Barbara Rainey talks frankly to women about the five things that hinder manly development.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Barbara Rainey talks frankly to women about the five things that hinder manly development.

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“Barbara Shares “The Wrong Way” Women Can Help”

With Barbara Rainey
October 24, 2013
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Bob: Have you noticed that, from time to time, a teenager can be selfish or foolish?  Barbara Rainey says it is not just teenagers. Even husbands can be selfish and foolish. They can act like teens.


Barbara: The question is: “Will they leave adolescence and become a man?” A lot of it depends on us because there are a lot of men who never leave adolescence. Oh, they may become a man. They may father children. They may get married, but their essence is still very much an adolescent.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, October 24th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine. Today, Barbara Rainey helps wives understand what a woman can do to help her man to step up to manhood. Stay tuned.


And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. You know, we have been talking this week about men stepping up to manhood. I’m thinking, “You don’t have to have a woman to help you step up to manhood.” 

Dennis: But it sure helps.

Bob: It sure does; doesn't it? I mean, for most of us, for most guys listening—

Dennis: Well, there are a lot of single guys, who are listening, and who have been listening over the past week. They have listened to us talk about men moving from boyhood to adolescence, to manhood, to mentor, to patriarch. A single man can do this.

Bob: That's right.

Dennis: He does need people believing in him, along the way. If it is not his wife, it does need to be, I think, an older man who comes alongside him and cheers him on and invites him to step up. But a wife—let me tell you—the man who is married to a woman who understands this and who can call her husband, in wisdom, to step up—that man is a fortunate man. He's blessed by God.


Bob: Well, there's a reason that, in Genesis, that wife is called a “helper” because guys need help; right?

Dennis: We need help in stepping up—no doubt about it.

Bob: While you have been speaking to men about how a man needs to step up, your wife Barbara has been coaching women on how to help a husband step up to manhood. She's got great counsel for our wives.

Dennis: Plenty of practice.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: She's had plenty of practice. [Laughter]  I need all the help I can get. You know, it is so true, Bob. If our wives understand this concept—and they can give grace to their man when he fails—but understand how powerful they can be in affirming him when he does make a right choice and does step up—and believing in him, and cheering him on, and in recognizing him, even in front of the kids, for his spiritual leadership and for his growth—that's when a man, I think, begins to grow and mature at an accelerated pace.


Bob: We're going to hear Part One of this message where Barbara talks about the pitfalls to avoid, as a wife, in helping your husband step up to manhood.

[Previously Recorded Message]

Barbara: I want to tell you a story, as we start, about a situation that I saw in Little Rock, a couple of months ago. I was out driving, doing errands one day. As I was driving down the street, I noticed—sitting over in the McDonald’s® parking lot, right by this four-way stop—at this table, there was this little bitty person. He was sitting at a table. It looked like he had a little box in front of him, and he was facing the street. There was a car parked right next to where he was sitting. I didn't really—I thought it was odd. I thought to myself, "I wonder if he's sitting there, begging—wanting people to come put money in this box?"


Anyway, I sat and watched, while I was at this red light, and then drove on by. I just thought about that for a couple of days afterward—every once in a while, I would find myself thinking about this man—sitting at a table. It’s not something we see real often. Well, a couple of days later, I was driving down the same road; and I passed him again. Only this time—he was sitting at the same little table with the same little box—but he was sitting on the median between—because it's a divided road. He was sitting on the median, facing one direction. Behind him was this same white car. Sitting next to the white car, this time, was a woman who was sitting in a chair.

I realized, as I went by, because there were a couple of stoplights so I had a little bit of time to observe as I headed down the street. I thought, “I bet that woman is his mother, and I'll bet you she's put him out there to beg.” Because it was in the spring, I had my windows down in my car. As I drove by, I heard her say: "You dummy! You missed that one."


I'm not really sure what she was talking about because I don't know who was going to stop. There was no way you could stop and do anything because of the location. It was a terrible location if she wanted him to beg for money. I don’t know who was going to be able to stop on the road, but it really made me angry. It felt cruel. It felt mean. It felt demeaning.

I went home and told Dennis about it. I said: “I would like to know who that is. I wish there would be a way we could figure out who that is, and get that man some training, and give him in a real job. He doesn’t need to be sitting out, doing that.” But the fact that his mother—and I’m assuming it was his mother—had brought him out there and set him up to do that just really bothered me. I thought about it for days afterwards.

I haven't seen either one of them since. I don't know if she's taken him somewhere else. I don’t know anything about the situation and don’t know how I would find out; but that really stuck with me because I thought, "Gosh, what an incredible influence that woman is having in that man's life for bad—for negative."  She's not setting him up to win. She's not setting him up in a place where he can succeed and he can become the man that God has intended him to be. She's put him in a place to fail because there was no way he was going to succeed where he was.


I thought about the parallel to us, as women, and what an incredible influence we have in the lives of the men that God has given us to influence—our husbands, and our sons, and other men within our sphere of influence—but primarily, our husbands and our sons. We've got an incredible opportunity to be an influence for good in their lives.

Well, I want to talk about two of the problems, real briefly, that we have, as women, in helping our husbands become all that they are intended to be. Now, there are lots and lots of cultural issues. There are lots of things that can be a hindrance for us and for our men; but primarily, I want to just look at two. It will be real brief, and you don’t even need to write these down; but just briefly, there are two problems, in our culture, I think, that hinder us from being the kind of influence that we need to be with our husbands.


One of them is that our men don't know what it means to be men. The whole change in our culture in the last 20 or 30 years has so affected so many men that they don't really know what it means to be a man. They don't know what it means to lead or how to lead. They may not have had a good model at home, growing up; or they just don't have a clue of what it means to be a strong male leader or, especially, to even be a godly leader. There are a lot of men that just don't have a clue of what that looks like, and they don't know how to get there.

The second problem is ours; and that is we don't know, either. A lot of us didn't have a good model, either. We didn't have a strong father, or we didn't have someone that we could look to. We didn't come from a strong godly family—a strong godly background. So, we don't have any idea what they're supposed to become, either. You've got two people, in many situations, who are lost. You've got a lot of confusion in trying to build a family with a strong husband—and a strong father, and a strong leader—in the family because neither one of them knows what to do.


Let me tell you real quickly what the five steps to manhood are. I'm just going to list them: The first one is boyhood, which is real obvious. That's a pretty set stage, physically and emotionally, where boyhood is. The next stage is adolescence. The third stage is manhood. The fourth stage is mentor. Then, the fifth stage, for a man, is patriarch.

From the time a male is born, as a little boy, there are stages that he needs to go through in the process of becoming the man that God has created him to be.

I want to focus, for a few minutes now, on what we, as women, do that hinders our husbands from becoming all that God intended them to be because it's obvious that they're going to grow out of the boyhood stage and it's obvious that, without our help, they're going to become adolescents. The question is: “Will they leave adolescence and become a man?”


A lot of it depends on us because there are a lot of men who never leave adolescence. Oh, they may become a man. They may father children. They may get married, but their essence is still very much an adolescent. To become a man, they need someone—they need a wife—who is going to believe in them and help them on that journey to becoming all that God intended them to be.

There is a saying that: “Men are not born; they are made.” I think that's very true. Men are not born—they're not born a man—they become one. They need a woman, who believes in them and a woman who knows what the goal is, to help them get there.

I want to look at five things that we do—as women—that keep our men from becoming the kind of men that God wanted them to be. How does a wife keep her husband from growing up through those stages?


The first one is by feeding his childishness by being a child herself. I want to read a verse out of First Peter 3 that's kind of a verse that's a good verse for this thought on being childish. It is First Peter 3, Chapter 9. It says, "Not returning evil for evil or insult for insult but, on the contrary, giving a blessing."  I think a childish relationship is one that gives an insult for an insult instead of giving a blessing in return.

There is a couple that I know, or have known in the past, where I've seen some of this in their relationship. Sometimes, when I'm around this couple, I wonder if they're really going to ever make it—if their marriage is really going to go the distance—because, in this relationship, this couple often relates to one another in an insult-for-insult relationship. He'll do something that she's not real happy with. She can't get him to change—she can't get him to quit doing what it is that she doesn't like—



so she goes out and goes shopping and spends a whole bunch of money to kind of get back at him—or she'll go do something else to kind of get even.

There are a lot of these kinds of games that husbands and wives can play, where they are acting on an immature, childish level. The wife gets her feelings hurt. He doesn't do what she wants him to do, and so she gets back by kind of insulting him back in one way or another. It can be all kinds of things. One of the most difficult things is to be mature and decide, “We're not going to relate in a childish way back.” I think one of the biggest things we, as wives, can do that hinder our husbands from growing up is being childish ourselves. We need to decide that we don't want to be childish in this relationship—that we're not going to continue to give an insult for an insult.

The second thing that I think we do to keep our husbands from growing up is enabling him in his weaknesses and his addictions. We don't speak the truth.



Romans 13:14 says this, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts." A provision is something that is usually used for food. Years ago, that word was used for that—it was used for when you talk about getting provisions for going camping or something. You meant you were going to get food for the trip. When you think about it in that context—making no provision for the flesh—it means don't feed his weaknesses. You know what his weaknesses are—so don't feed his weaknesses.

I had a friend, years ago, when we first got married, whose husband was in the ministry. This couple—we were pretty good friends with. When we would go visit them, I noticed, several different times, when I was in the kitchen with her, that she kept the refrigerator stocked with beer for him because she knew he liked it. I'm not saying that that's necessarily wrong; but I felt like, at the time, “You know, that's really kind of odd,”—because he was in the ministry. I just thought it made a statement.



He also liked going to movies. She really fed that interest of his. She'd buy movie magazines and different things because she loved him, and they were newly-married. She thought: “This is the way to really let him know that I love him. If my child liked to play with Legos™, I'd buy him more Legos. Well, my husband loves to go to movies.” So, she bought him these magazines. He'd want to go to movies late at night. She'd say, "Fine;" and he'd go.

Over time, he eventually fell in an area and had to leave the ministry. I've often wondered, in hindsight, how much of her enabling, in a sense, these areas of his life contributed to that rather than trying to help him sort of pull away from that. I don't know if it did or it didn't; but the point is that, as wives, we can feed our husband's weaknesses. We can enable him in areas that he might already be weak in anyway, or we can help him to be mature and to turn away from those things.



A third way we keep our husbands from growing up is by treating him like a boy or speaking to him like he's a boy—speaking down to him. Romans 12:3 says that we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. I think when we, as wives, start treating our husbands like he's a boy or like he's an adolescent, I think we're thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.

I know that's the case with me. I'm starting to think, “When I start relating to Dennis that way—when I start getting picky about stuff with him and I have that attitude—it's really a fault with me. It's really my problem because I'm having an attitude—thinking that I'm better in some way than he is.”  That's not healthy. It's not going to build him up for me to think more highly of myself than I should. Treating him like a boy and speaking to him like he's less than what he is, is not going to encourage him to grow up into manhood.


The fourth one is having negative expectations. There was a woman, at a FamilyLife conference, one time, who was sitting in the back of the room, next to her husband. This was—I think it was on a Sunday afternoon—I can't remember. It was near the end of the conference, at any rate. One of our speakers was sitting in the back because it wasn't his turn to speak. He was waiting for the session to be over, and then he was to speak next. He was sitting in the back of the room. He could see, of course, all these people in front. He didn't pay any attention to this couple because they were just one of hundreds sitting there.

But, at one point, the husband of this wife leaned over and put his arm around her shoulder—leaned over, and whispered something in her ear. She kind of reacted—sat up, turned and looked at him, and said something back real gruff. He jumped up, out of his seat, went down the aisle, walked out the back, and threw his notebook on the floor. Of course, this speaker guy—that was in the back—saw all this happen.


He thought: "Gosh! I wonder what that was all about." So, he got up, followed the guy out into the lobby. The guy just kept on going, went out the front door of the hotel, and into the parking lot. Our speaker friend followed him all the way out into the parking lot, and finally caught up with him, and said: "Obviously, there's a problem. Would you like to tell me about it?  Is there anything I can do to help?"

The guy just was fuming. After a few minutes, he decided to tell him the story. He said: "I was sitting there. I finally got up enough courage to lean over to my wife and tell her that I wanted to be the spiritual leader of our family. She leaned over and looked at me and said, ‘You'll never be the spiritual leader of our family.’" He said, "It just made me so mad that I couldn't stand it;" and so he left.

That's the kind of influence that we, as wives, have. You know, we can get so hurt, and we can get so disappointed for so many years, that sometimes it feels like our husbands will never be the kind of leader we want them to be; but if we say those words, we'll never get them back.



Those words are going to do more damage than we would ever imagine. That's the kind of negative expectation that we can subtly begin to have of our husbands because they're not perfect. They're going to make mistakes. Over the years of living with them, it's easy to come to those conclusions: "He just is never going to do family devotions," or, "He's never going to pray with me like I'd like for him to pray with me."

If he finally gets up the courage to try to initiate in some of those areas, and we say something like that, we're going to set him back years and years; and he may never do it. I think, as wives, we need to be really careful that we don't develop negative expectations—and believe the worst of our husbands and where they are headed—because you never know what God's going to do in his life.

And then, fifth, is turning his heart away from God. We, as wives, can turn our husband's heart away from God if we're not careful.



In this, I think about Solomon's wives and how it said of him, in the Old Testament, that his wives turned him away from God—because he had a great heart for God in the younger years of his life—but near the end of his life, his wives had turned him away from following after the Sovereign Lord. A wife can do that—we can turn our husband's heart away from God. We need to be careful that we don't do that because he'll never become what God intended him to be.


Bob: Well, we've been listening to Part One of a message from Barbara Rainey on how a wife can help her husband step up to godly masculinity to be a mature man. In Part One of that message, she talked about things to avoid—things not to do—

Dennis: Right.

Bob: —and to the negative—the pull—because, actually, a wife can have the wrong influence on her husband rather than the right influence.


Dennis: She can. That last point Barbara was speaking about—about turning his heart away from God—reminded of an Old Testament story about a king whose name was Ahab. It says in First Kings 21:25, "Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord,"—

Bob: Wow!

Dennis: —no one, ever, like him—who sold himself to evil. It goes on to say, "because Jezebel his wife incited him." 

You know, I think women, sometimes, can forget how powerful they can be in a man's life to either encourage a man to do what's right—to stand on conviction and to stand firm—or, as Jezebel did, create an appetite—lure a man toward evil. Ahab ended up being a worthless king because he listened to an evil wife who led him in an evil direction.


It doesn't take away his responsibility, at all; but I just have this point for wives: “Think of your words and how you can use your words to help your man step up. Recognize where he is—what step he's standing on, what he's doing right, cheer him on as he does those things—but then, in the future, incite him to do what's right—encourage him to do what's right, and don't be distracted by his failures.”

Bob: Most of the wives who would be listening to our program wouldn't be inciting their husbands to evil the way Jezebel did. She had an evil intent in her own heart, but it's so easy for any of us to subtly—

Dennis: Nag.

Bob: —yes, just do little things, without thinking, that can be destructive as a husband or a wife is on a path toward spiritual maturity. I think what Barbara has outlined here is helpful.



I have to believe there are a lot of wives who would love to think that their husbands would go through some of the material that FamilyLife has put together—the book you’ve written on Stepping Up—the ten-week video series that we put together for guys to go through—and then, of course, we’ve got our sights set on the day before the Super Bowl in 2014.

There are going to be 82,566 people in the stadium for the Super Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday. We thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get more people than that to show up at local churches, on the day before the game, for a Super Saturday—a one-day Stepping Up™event?” We’ve created a video event that men can host in their local church or in their community that calls men to step up and embrace their responsibilities, as men. It calls them away from foolishness, away from adolescence, and toward manhood.


This week, we are talking to a select group of guys who listen to FamilyLife Today. These are guys who have heard what we’re talking about and they say: “This would make a difference for the men in our church and in our community. I will partner with you guys to make this happen where I live.” If you’re one of those guys—if you’re ready to step up and say, “Okay, I will gather together some men; and we’ll go through the Stepping Up one-day video event,”—here’s what we’re going to do for you.

We’re going to send you a certificate, this week—that will get you the video event, free; alright? Let me explain how it works. You get the certificate—you go online at You can download the certificate online, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We’ll mail a copy of the certificate out to you. Then, you go to your pastor and say, “I’m ready to help make this happen.”


We have a coaching team, here at FamilyLife, that will help walk you through whatever you need to know to help make the event a success—get you resources and materials that you need. You can look online—we’ve got more information. You can watch some video clips online.

Once you’ve got, at least, ten guys lined up to go through the day with you—and we’re hoping you’ll get 20, 30, 50, or 100. Some of you are in churches where you could get 1,000 guys together. Once you’ve got those guys lined up and ready to go through, you call to order manuals. If you’re ordering at least ten manuals, all you have to do is include the certificate and the video comes to you, at no cost.

That’s because we want to help make this happen. We want to partner with you in discipling men in your community and in your church. Go to this week—because this offer is only good this week—download the certificate. It doesn’t cost you anything. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—and, again, do it this week. It doesn’t cost you anything—we’ll just mail the certificate out to you.


Once you get the ball rolling and you’ve got guys lined up, get back in touch with us to order the manuals. Include the certificate; and we’ll send the kit out to you, absolutely free. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were tens of thousands of guys going through this material on the day before the Super Bowl? We’re hoping that that will happen this year. We hope you will partner with us in that.

Okay, tomorrow we’re going to hear Part Two of Barbara Rainey’s message for wives on what a woman can do to help her husband step up and be the man that God wants him to be. 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 hope see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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