FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Living and Loving Your Role in Marriage, Part 1

with Paul Sheppard | May 22, 2008
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What is a husband's greatest priority? On today's broadcast, hear a message from Paul Sheppard, senior pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Menlo Park, CA, on the value of the husband's role in marriage.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What is a husband's greatest priority? On today's broadcast, hear a message from Paul Sheppard, senior pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Menlo Park, CA, on the value of the husband's role in marriage.

  • 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.

What is a husband’s greatest priority?

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Living and Loving Your Role in Marriage, Part 1

With Paul Sheppard
May 22, 2008
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Paul:  Each of us, then, as a husband and as a wife, have distinctive roles and responsibilities we didn't assign ourselves.  Because if you want to know the purpose of a husband or wife, don't ask the husband or wife.  Ask the Creator.  And the Creator told us, "When you enter into the institution I created for you, for your enjoyment and fulfillment in life, I want you to do it in this particular way as laid out in the Owner's Manual, which is your Bible."

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 22.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  If you're married, you're a husband or a wife, how well do you understand what the Owner's Manual has to say about your responsibilities?  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition.  Don't you wish you had had a guy like Paul Shepherd to sit down with you when you got married and say, "Now, listen carefully.  I've got some things I need to tell you about where you're headed."

Dennis:  No doubt about it.  And when you talk to Paul Shepherd, you'd better get a seatbelt, because Paul shoots it straight, and it's right to the heart.  He doesn't mince words, and I think that's what men appreciate most about him, Bob.

Bob:  Our listeners are going to have a chance today to hear a great message from Paul about not only what a husband's responsibility in a marriage relationship looks like…

Dennis:  Maybe a bulletproof vest, now that I think about it.

Bob:  All right.  We're also going to hear what a wife's responsibility in a marriage relationship looks like, and we stress these themes with our listeners because these are very practical matters.  If you don't know your job description, how do you do the job?

Dennis:  You know, a man gets married, and I think he assumes he's going to know what to do next.  But most of us spend the next two or three decades figuring out what that is.  Why not be told on the front end, and better understand what your job description is.

And of course, that's what we do at our weekend Remember Marriage conferences.  And every day here on FamilyLife today, we try to help build the Biblical blueprints into marriages and families so that folks know what their job description is.

Bob:  In fact, if you miss any of our programs, let me encourage you to go to our website, which is  We've done a major overhaul of the website in the last several months, and it's fresh and new-looking, and it's a great site to visit.  We've got past editions of FamilyLife Today.  You can stream those or download those.  You can read transcripts.  One of the things I like is that listeners are now reading the transcripts, and then there's an opportunity to add your comments and share your insights on what's been talked about on FamilyLife Today.

Dennis:  And Bob, I'm glad you mentioned that, because the Web, like this broadcast, takes donors, people who stand alongside us financially, to make them happen.  And this broadcast comes to you as a listener here every weekday because you make it possible for us to be able to do that.

And this month, the month of May, there have been a number of donors who have come together to put together some matching money, so that when a listener wants to say yes to us staying on this station and continuing these broadcasts, or someone who uses the website and wants to say, "Yes, I like this, how it supports me in my marriage and family.  I want to stand with you financially," their dollar is matched by another dollar.

And this month, we have had $635,000 given to be able to be matched by our listeners.  Now, you need to know, this is a stretch goal for us, and it comes at a very good time.  We need to be able to use all of this matching money to make this broadcast and our website possible for our listeners and for those who use the Web.

Bob:  Yes.  In fact, for us to take full advantage of this matching opportunity, we need to hear from as many listeners as possible, and you can donate online at, or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation over the phone.  And again, your donation's going to be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $635,000.  We've already heard from many of our listeners, and we appreciate those of you who have contacted us.  And we're hoping here in the next few weeks to hear from many more listeners.

Again, the website is, and you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to make a donation over the phone.

Dennis:  Well, we want to keep doing what we do best here on FamilyLife Today, and remember the seatbelt, or maybe it's the bulletproof vest.  Not sure, but Paul Shepherd is a good friend.  He is the Senior Pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in the Bay Area near San Francisco.  And Bob, Paul's just a good guy.

Bob:  Yes.

Dennis:  He has become a good friend, and he is passionate about marriages and families and, I think, most importantly, he's passionate about helping you apply the Scripture.  And so fasten your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen.  You are about to be instructed by one of the best preachers in America.

Paul:  God created marriage, and when He created it, He had something very good in mind.  How is it, then, that so many of us find ourselves in relationships that are challenged, to say the least, and in very bad shape in many other cases?

How is it that something designed to be so good has turned out, in so many cases, to – at least at this point – be not so good?

I want to submit to you, for your consideration, the premise that maybe it's that we have abused God's plan and purpose for marriage.  Years ago, I learned some principles of purpose that have stuck with me. Let me share a few of them with you.

The first would be that God – everything God creates has a distinctive purpose.  God does nothing without having purpose behind it.

The second principle would be when we don't know, or we ignore or reject God's purpose for a thing, there's nothing left to do but to abuse it.  Where purpose is unknown or rejected, abuse is the inevitable result.

Third principle – if you want to know the purpose of a thing, don't ask the thing.  Because the thing is the created.

Leading to the fourth principle – purpose is found in the mind of a Creator. 

And the fifth principle would be, purpose is the key to fulfillment.

Plug those principles into marriage for a moment, and I think you'll get my premise.  God created marriage, and He had a very definite purpose when He did so.  But where God's purpose and plan for marriage is unknown or ignored or rejected, then we have no alternative except to abuse our marriages.

If you want to know the purpose of a husband, don't ask a husband.  If you want to know the purpose of a wife, don't ask the wife.  For the fourth principle says, "Purpose is only found in the mind of the Creator."  God, who made husbands, knows what He wanted when He did it.  God, who made wives, knew what He was up to when He did it.  And fifth, "Purpose is the key to a happy marriage, to a fulfilled marriage."

Functioning in the roles and responsibilities God has given us as husbands and as wives is the key to experiencing the joy that He intended when He made marriages.

And so I want to ask you to commit yourself over the next few minutes to examining with me the job description God has given each of us as married people.  And I want you to focus in on your job description as a husband and your job description as a wife, and that's what will allow our marriages to be harmonious.

I want to talk to you for a moment, before I get into the job descriptions, about the necessity of harmony in life and harmony in marriage.  You know, in case you didn't realize it, men and women are different.  We all there?  I don't need to spend time making the case.  We're different.  Guess what – it's by design.  It is amazing to me that so many people fight, and when you find many people divorcing, what is one of the most common reasons given?  Irreconcilable what?  Differences. 

Differences don't have to be – and by God's design, they will never be – irreconcilable.  Differences are good.  If everybody was like you, Lord help us.  You're great, but only one of you.  We don't need any more.  We need something to come along and complement.  That's what harmony is all about. 

Sometimes we spend a lot of time trying to make someone like us.  That's unison.  I've asked Chris to help illustrate this on the keyboard, and so I've asked him to play a verse of something or half a verse of something.  I don't even know what he's going to play, but hopefully, it will be something we know.  And he's going to play a verse or half-verse in unison – the same note.  This is what your life would be like if you got your wish of making your spouse like you.

[Piano plays unison version of the first few bars of "Amazing Grace"]

All right.  Now, that was – I recognized it, did you?  First half of a verse of "Amazing Grace."  Wonderful hymn.  But notice he played the same note, he played them one octave apart, but the exact same note.  Now, we recognized it as "Amazing Grace," but it did nothing for us.  It got no rise.  Now I'm going to ask him to play "Amazing Grace" and introduce harmony.  And let's see how it's different.

[Piano plays harmonious version of the first few bars of "Amazing Grace"]

That's good.  Keep going.

[Piano continues to play harmonious version of "Amazing Grace"]

All the way through.  That works.

[Piano continues to play harmonious version of "Amazing Grace"]

Give Chris a hand, everybody.  Thank you.  Now, that was good.  See, I'm a musician as well as a preacher, and that resonates with me.  I want to stop preaching and go to heaven church right about now.

Harmony makes all the difference.  When you take difference, and instead of treating it as hostile, you treat it as that which gives you a wonderful blend of differences, that's what marriage is supposed to be.  Thank God your spouse is not like you.  Thank God your spouse doesn't have your gifts, your calling, your temperament, your roles, your responsibility.  Thank God they're different.  Someone has to come along to complement who you are, and that is what God had in mind.

Because the world would be boring, and there would be so little done unless we had people who were different and complementary.

And so we've got to learn, then, how to blend differences in such a way that we harmonize.  Each of us, then, as a husband and as a wife, have distinctive roles and responsibilities we didn't assign ourselves, because if you want to know the purpose of a husband or wife, don't ask the husband or wife.  Ask the Creator. 

And the Creator told us, "When you enter into the institution I created for you – for your enjoyment and fulfillment in life – I want you to do it in this particular way, as laid out in the Owner's Manual, which is your Bible."  The Bible is the Owner's Manual for living.  Most products you purchase come with an owner's manual so you can know how to operate it, and if something isn't working right, they have a section for troubleshooting.

I want to let you know this Book has the answers for making our marriages what God intends for them to be.

So let's get into job descriptions in the time that remains, because you've got some work to you.  Being married is a job.  Do you know why you get to have sex?  You get to have sex because it is a benefits package that goes with the job of marriage.  That's why we have to tell single people – I tell them in my church – tell all the single people in your sphere of influence, especially your children.  "You can't have a benefits package without a job."  Got to have a job.

You don't walk up to Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, wherever you work, walk in there and say, "I'd like to see your benefits package."  They say, "Well, which department do you work in?"  "No, no, no, no.  I don't want a job, but I heard your benefits package is really good."  They would call Security.  Get you out of there in a hurry.  And it's amazing that our culture thinks it's okay to walk around hitting people up for a benefits package.

Tell your single friends and your children, "When somebody comes asking and inquiring about the benefits package, ask them, 'Would you like a job?  Would you like a job?  Are you interest in an application?'"

No benefits package without a job  You have a job to do.  And God is interested in us pleasing Him by the way we will fulfill the roles and responsibilities He gives us in marriage.

Let me talk through some key points of the husband's job description according to the Owner's Manual which is the Word of God.  Typically, most of the time, I start with the ladies first, but in this case, I want to start with men – men who sometimes are very proud about the fact that they heard somewhere or read somewhere that they were the head.  So let me, permit me, ladies, to start with the guy who thinks he's in charge.  And then we'll come back around to you.

Husbands – some bullet points I find in Scripture that give you your responsibilities under God for making your marriage.  It's the, these are the notes that you add to the harmony that is to be your marriage. 

First responsibility under God is found in Ephesians 5:21, where we are told, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."  In that verse there are two aspects of your job description.  The first and most important is to submit your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  I'm talking about marriage now, as God created it.  If you want to be the husband you're designed to be, job one is to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  That's job one.

Ladies, when your single daughters or your single friends are looking for a man, tell them that you learned that the job, first job, was to check out how submitted he is to Christ.  "Don't tell me about his shoulders and his job and his this – no, no, no – is he under Christ?" 

Job one.  Job one.  Submitted to the Lordship of Jesus.  "Lord, you're in charge of my life."  That's when life begins, gentlemen.  That's when life begins.  "Okay, God, you're in charge."  See, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  You want to be a wise person, you start with two assumptions that are very, very true.  Number one, "There is a God who controls the universe and who is personal and interested in our lives."  Number two, "I'm not Him.  Therefore, I need to submit to Him." 

Paul put it this way in First Corinthians Chapter 11 and Verse 3.  He says, "I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ."  Head of every man is Christ.  Gentlemen, let me let you know something in no uncertain terms.  The day is coming when your knee will bow and your tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  That's going to happen, because the Bible said the head of every man, without exception, is Christ.

So you can either bow now and enjoy the benefits of living under his Lordship – and there are many, ending with eternal life.  Or you can bow later in judgment.  If I were you, I'd do it now.  When you do, my friend, your life will change forever.  For if any man be in Christ, he's a new creation.  Old things are passed away, and behold, all things are, become new.

Bob:  Well, that is Part One of a message from Pastor Paul Shepherd, and I love the illustration that he used there about somebody wanting to apply for a job, and he doesn't really want the job, he just wants the benefits.  And that's how a lot of young people are today.  They want the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities.

Dennis:  It's a picture of our culture, Bob. I mean, here in Little Rock, there's a yogurt company that has a byline that I think is kind of the picture of the society we live in.  It reads, "All of the pleasure.  None of the guilt."  We want the benefits, but we don't want the responsibility.

Bob:  Right.

Dennis:  And yet, if you look at the Scriptures, the Scriptures always tie the benefits to the responsibility.  And in Matthew, Chapter 7, when Jesus commanded us to build our house on the rock by listening to what he said and then obeying it, he was serious.  And if we want the privileges of being able to stand in a storm and have our homes survive tough times, it means we first of all have to be committed to Him…

Bob:  Right.

Dennis:  …personally, but then we have to be in a covenant relationship with one another, where we say to our spouse, "You know what?  No matter what comes against us, I'm committed to the King of Kings, and I am committed to making you queen.  I'm going to make you my bride for the rest of our days, the rest of our lives."  And Bob, it's on that rock and upon that commitment that I believe a thriving, successful marriage can be built in this culture.

Bob:  I know a lot of young couples who, as they have gotten engaged, I've encouraged them to read through Dr. Robert Lewis' book, "Rocking the Roles," to help them understand their responsibilities as husbands and wives in a marriage relationship.  Because I remember the first time I read through it, I'd been married for years, but I thought, "Robert has done a great job of putting words to what I need to be doing as a husband, but also what I want my wife to understand about what I need from her in a marriage relationship."  And he does a great job helping men understand what a wife needs from her husband.

And I would encourage our listeners, if you've not read Robert's book, "Rocking the Roles," get it from us.  We've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  Read through it together as a couple and spend time talking about it.  I think you'll find that exercise to be very helpful.

You can go to our website,, and if you click on the right side of the screen where it says, "Today's Broadcast," where the button says, "Learn More," that will take you to an area of the site where you can get more information about Robert's book and about other books and resources we have at FamilyLife to help you understand your assignment as a husband or as a wife, to help you win in these areas and strengthen your marriage.

Again, our website is  Look on the right side of the screen on the home page, and where it says, "Today's Broadcast," just click where it says, "Learn More."  You can order the resources you need from our website, or you can call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800, F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY, and when you contact us, someone on our team will make the arrangements necessary to have the resources you need sent out to you. 

Well, tomorrow, Pastor Paul Shepherd has some specific counsel for husbands and wives as we think about our responsibilities in the home, and I hope you can be here 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'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.  Help for today – hope for tomorrow.


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