FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Living and Loving Your Role in Marriage, Part 2

with Paul Sheppard | May 23, 2008
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Think you already know everything you need to know about submission? Well, think again! On today's broadcast, pastor Paul Sheppard, popular speaker for "Enduring Truth", a popular daily radio program, gives men some practical pointers for living out their roles as husbands. Paul also has some great advice for women who seek to biblically submit to the men they married.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Think you already know everything you need to know about submission? Well, think again! On today's broadcast, pastor Paul Sheppard, popular speaker for "Enduring Truth", a popular daily radio program, gives men some practical pointers for living out their roles as husbands. Paul also has some great advice for women who seek to biblically submit to the men they married.

  • 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.

Think you already know everything you need to know about submission?

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Living and Loving Your Role in Marriage, Part 2

With Paul Sheppard
May 23, 2008
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Bob:  If you're a wife who wants to cultivate a healthy relationship with your husband, there's someplace you need to connect first.  Here's Pastor Paul Shepherd.

Paul:  You can't be the wife God's called you to be if you're a Lone Ranger disconnected Christian.  Church is a body.  Body parts don't function independent of the others.  You never saw a thumb running around.  Where did we get this independent Christianity, this do-it-yourself kit Christianity?  It's not in the Bible.  Make sure you're connected, ladies, with the Body of Christ.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, May 23.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  You know, it takes a community – it takes the Body of Christ – to keep a couple pointed in the right direction in their marriage.  Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition.  We're going to hear Part Two of a message from Pastor Paul Shepherd.

Dennis:  Yes, and Bob, Paul kind of reminds me of one of those go-carts that I used to drive when I was a kid.  Only had one speed – just put the pedal to the metal.  It was all the way to the floor.

Bob:  Take off, baby.

Dennis:  You just tore around the turns and the curves, and was it fun!  Well, you know what, you're going to have fun today on FamilyLife Today.

Bob:  There are going to be some turns and some curves, though, because…

Dennis:  That's exactly right.  He's going to mention a word that, well, ladies don't really like that much.

Bob:  But you know, as we'll hear in his message, wives are not the only people in Scripture called to submit.  Everybody has to submit at different places in life, don't we?

Dennis:  In order to do your job – and that's what he's been talking about – he's been  talking about how we become employed when we get married, and then we get the benefits.  And with all of that comes responsibility.  Well, you're about to have your responsibility as a husband and a wife spelled out.

Bob:  And I already stirred things up, so I'm going to turn it over to Paul and let…

Dennis:  Let him handle it.

Bob:  That's right.  Paul Shepherd is the Senior Pastor at Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in the San Francisco Bay area.  He is also the speaker on his own daily radio program that is heard on some of these same stations, and we think this is a great message on a husband's responsibility and a wife's responsibility in marriage.  Here is Pastor Paul Shepherd.

Paul:  Job one is to submit yourself to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  When you do, my friend, your life will change forever.  Submit to Christ.

The second thing is to submit to others in the Body of Christ.  It's right there in Ephesians 5:21, submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Second job you have, gentlemen, if you want to be the husband God designed you to be, is to submit to Jesus, surrender your life to Him, and then submit yourself to the influence and the blessing and benefits that will come through fellowship with other believers. 

It's good that you know Jesus now.  Who else who knows Jesus knows you?  Who else who knows Jesus is in your business?  Who else who knows Jesus is in fellowship with you, is in prayer meetings with you, is in covenant with you, is in partnership with you?  Who else who knows Jesus can speak into your life that which you need to know?  Who else who knows Jesus can sharpen you?  Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  That's how you get your life fine-tuned to do the Will of God.  You allow God to use other people in that process.  So don't just tell me about your private walk with God.  You meet with Jesus on your own terms in your own way.  No, no.  You need to meet with Jesus with His Body.  You need to be part of a church where you actually go.

You go and you get involved.  There's a pastor who knows he's your pastor.  There are people who know you're their brother in Christ.  That's the only way to live a life and to be a husband that pleases God.  Submit to Christ.  Submit to others in the Body of Christ.  Then, as you move further, drop down to Verse 25 of Ephesians 5, He begins to talk about some specific responsibilities in your relationship itself.

So the third bullet point on your job description as a godly husband is to love your wife unconditionally.  For we're told in that verse, "Husbands, love your wives."  Now, that word translated "love" there means "love unconditionally."  Means that you see her through the eyes of God.  You view her as God views her.  You honor her as God honors her.  You respect her as God respects her.  And therefore, you are committed to acting in her best interest no matter what.  It's an unconditional love.  It's not a "because of" love.  It's an "in spite of" love.

The foundation of marriage is unconditional love.  So love your wife, gentlemen, unconditionally.  That's what God calls us to do in His Word.  Love her in spite of.

In practical terms, what does that mean?  How do we practically apply that to our lives?  Well, let me just give you one.  You can think of many more.  Instead of criticizing the things about your wife that you don't like, let your love cover her faults.  The Bible says in one place that love covers a multitude of sins and faults and shortcomings, missing of the mark.  Instead of pointing it out every time she falls short of your expectation, your love, your unconditional love, you can train yourself to say in the fear and the presence of God, "I've got that covered.  I kind of feel like criticizing her, but no, no.  I've got that covered.  I don't need to make her feel bad about that."  Sometimes it's something she already feels bad about on her own.  She doesn't need you chiming in. 

"I've got that covered.  My love covers that.  I've got enough love, baby, where you can't do enough to be uncovered.  I've got a broad blanket of love that God has put in my heart – His agape love.  Where did it come from?  He gave it to me, and He just told me to pass it on.  And so I cover you in the blanket.  I don't want to expose your weaknesses.  You are flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.  If I make you feel bad, I'd feel bad.  So I've got you covered."  Love her unconditionally.

Fourth is to love her sacrificially.  It goes on to say, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her."  Gentlemen, we are called to sacrifice for our wives.  We are called to give of ourselves – give ourselves up, if necessary.

Now, I mean you can take that in the literal sense if you want, but that's not the only way to take it, because most of us, thankfully, won't have to give ourselves up – die – for her.  Most of the time, we're going to get to hang around.  But, by the way, if you hear a noise 2:30 in the morning, brother, in order to do this, don't send her downstairs.  Say, "I went to the ARCO Arena, and they told me that I was to give myself up."  Don't tell me, "Well, she can fight better than me.  She took classes.  She knows…"  No, no, no.  You go in Jesus' name.  Go in Jesus' name.  Just pray as you go.  Even if you want her right behind her, you be the point man.  If there's any shooting to be done, you take the first bullet.

But the fact is, most of us won't have to sacrifice in that way.  But you sacrifice, not by the way you die, but by the way you live – willing to suffer, if need be, so her life can be better. 

Practically speaking, how do you do that?  Find out what her greatest desires, her greatest needs are.  And give yourself to making sure that, with all that lies within you, you're going to see to it that that happens.  How far out of your way are you willing to go?

Not convenient love.  Convenient love is shallow.  If you want the roots of your love to grow deep, you've got to let sacrifice characterize your love.  Love stays shallow if it doesn't pay a price.  Love is built to pay a price.  God so loved the world that he gave the most precious thing, His Son.  And His Son so loved us that he gave the most precious thing, His life.  What have you given?

Number five, love her carefully.  Ephesians 5 goes on and tells you about the importance of carefully loving your wife.  It says, "He who loves his wife loves himself."  After all, no one hated his own body, but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.  Love your wife – Number 5 – carefully.  Carefully.  That is with respect, with care, with appreciation. 

Simply put, treat her well.  Treat her so well that she'll wonder if she deserves it.  Treat her so well that she's almost embarrassed as to how much care you give, attention you pay.  And we'll have to do that, many of us, out of sacrifice.  Because we are, we tend to not be detail-oriented about the same things our wives are.  So you have to train your brain to pay attention.  Because we're headline people, and they're fine print people.  We figure if we hit the headline, we've got it.  And she's looking for fine print.  Love her carefully. 

Six and finally, gentlemen, love her supremely.  Love her above all others in your life except God Himself.  Make sure she knows that she's head and shoulders above everyone else in terms of your priorities and your commitment.  The job does not come before her.  The people on the job do not come before her.  The people in the church – your ministry – doesn't even come before her.  Love her supremely.  Your priorities as a godly husband are, "God, and I walk with God first, and being the husband of a happy wife is my second priority."  Then ministry and work and all of that falls out from there.

Well, ladies, I'm an equal opportunity preacher.  What notes do you contribute to the harmonious chord of marriage?  There were six for your husband.  There are four for you.  He's the leader, he's got more. 

Number one, submit to Christ.  Same thing I said to the husband applies to you.  Every person is to be lined up under Jesus Christ, for every one of us will give an account of himself – or in this case, herself – to God.  You're going to meet your Maker one day.  That's not a slogan, that's a reality.  We shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ.  You're going to give an account one day, and so you want to be submitted to Him right now.  Not later, but right now – right now in your life is the time to fully yield and say, "Jesus.  You are Lord!  You are in charge of my life!  From this day forward, I will be a Kingdom-first Christian."

I always say there are two kind of Christians – Kingdom-first – you know, Jesus said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness."  Kingdom-first Christians or Brylcreem Christians.  Brylcreem Christians – you remember that slogan, some of you who are over 40?  They had a commercial about Brylcreem, and their slogan was, "A little dab will do you"?  We have too many Brylcreem Christians.  A little dab of Jesus, but not enough to change our lives, not enough to change our priorities.  Just enough to make us feel comfortably religious.  That won't stand the test of Judgment.  Submit yourself to Christ, ladies, number one.

Number two, submit yourselves to others in the Body of Christ.  Same two bullet points on your job description as on his.  Make sure you're connected, ladies, with the Body of Christ.  You can't be the wife God's called you to be if you're a Lone Ranger disconnected Christian.  The church is a body.  Body parts don't function independent of the others.  You never saw a thumb running around. 

Where did we get this independent Christianity, this do-it-yourself kit Christianity?  It's not in the Bible.  Christianity is a team effort.  It's a body effort.  You don't live for Christ by yourself.  You live for him in the context of fellowship, because you're a member of a body.  So let the body bless your life.  Be connected.  Be committed so that your life can be blessed.

Number three, ladies.  Third bullet point on your job description is to help him without mothering or manipulation.  Now, I jump to Genesis to make this point before I get back to Ephesians 5.  Genesis, Chapter 2 – look at God's design.  You want to understand what God had in mind, look at the law, just practice the law first mentioned.  What's the first thing He said about you?  He said you were to be a helper suitable for your husband. 

So you help him, and the "suitable" part means you do it in a way that fits with his needs.  He doesn't need to be mothered, and he doesn't need to be manipulated.  So you help, but you help in a way that honors God and respects the dignity of who God made your husband to be.  Who told you, ladies, that it was okay to nag your husband to death?  Where did you get permission to drive him crazy?  It's not in the Book.  Owner's Manual said, "Help him" – not, "Make him cry out for help."  Help your husband. 

You are a helper.  Give input.  I'm going to get to the last point, submission, in a moment, the one you're tense waiting for.  And let me tell you that you can't be properly submitted until you're first giving help.  You don't submit as a doormat.  You don't submit as someone who says nothing, just walks around like a Stepford wife.  That's not a helper.  You've got to share with him how you think, how you feel.  Share with him the resources of your mind and heart.  Don't let him make decisions without your input.  If he didn't need you, God wouldn't have created you.  You're there as a helper because the man needs help.  So for God's sake, give him the help that he needs.  But do it without manipulating.  Don't play games.  God's not honored with that.  Don't mother.  If he wasn't properly mothered, let Jesus fix that.  Don't say, "Jesus, I've got it covered." 

Fourth and finally, ladies, on your job description, submit to your husband's God-given authority.  When it's all said and done, the husband has to answer to God for the welfare of his family.  And your notes of harmony are called to first give your input.  Tell him what you think, how you feel, give him your perspective.  If he's one side of the brain, give him the other side.  And harmonize.  Let him know, "This is a good thing that I'm giving you input.  You've got the final call under God on these family decisions.  I've got to ultimately yield."  What does "submit" mean?  It means to voluntarily yield to the authority God's given him

I learned about yielding when I moved to California.  I grew up in Philadelphia, spent the first 31 years of my life in Philadelphia.  In Philadelphia, they drive crazy in the city.  In California, they drive crazy on the freeway.  I came out here and learned about yielding, because I discovered very early that these people think the ramp leading to the freeway is a place where you step on the accelerator.  And I learned because I got into almost a few accidents had I not accommodated for the fact that they didn't yield.  They had a yield sign.  They shot right by it.  Never saw it.  What were they supposed to do?  They were supposed to see that I was there and give way.  Tuck in so that there's no crash. 

That's what God calls you to do.  Give your input, give him the benefit of who you are, what you think, how you feel.  Influence him as best you can – without manipulation – and then say, "But, honey, I'm going to pray for you and support you, as you – under the fear of God – make decisions that are in our family's best interest.  And I know you're not going to do any damage, any harm to us, because you love us.  You care for us.  And you know that you've got to answer to God."

Speak the truth in love, but speak the truth.  And you voluntarily yield yourself, after giving your input.

So when it comes to Biblical roles and responsibilities, it has nothing to do with cooking and cleaning and dishes and all of that kind of thing.  It has to do with the principles by which the relationship is governed.  And each of us answers to God.  Husbands, you love your wife so that God will be pleased.  You don't say, "Well, I'd love her if she'd act like somebody who deserved to be…"  No, no, no, no.  Wives, you don't say, "I would submit to him if he was the man you just got through talking about.  If he would just do that, I would gladly submit."

No, submit to him as unto the Lord.  And the goal is, one day, husband, one day, wife, you want to hear the Lord say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Bob:  Well, we've been listening to Part Two of a message from Pastor Paul Shepherd.

Dennis:  I'm a little dizzy from going around the circle.

Bob:  Some of the corners, some of those curves?

Dennis:  Well, he really, he really laid it on the line, though, didn't he?  And you know, here's my challenge to every husband and every wife listening.  He just outlined a number of points for both the male gender and females as well.  Pick one, just one.  In fact, the one you think God has for you to apply in your marriage with your spouse.  And then can you push back long enough to just think, "Can I do this, not that I get the applause of my spouse, but that I can picture the Lord God smiling on me because I have been obedient to him."

Bob:  And that's ultimately, when we talk about this subject, that's the issue.  It's not, "How is this working out for you pragmatically?" – although that's not unimportant – but the ultimate issue is, are we living as husband and wife in a way that pleases God and that reflects something about who He is in our relationship? 

It's one of the things that is spelled out in Dr. Robert Lewis' helpful book, "Rocking the Roles," which I've recommended to a lot of young couples who are just getting married to help them understand what's at the core of their responsibilities to one another in a marriage, and again, ultimately their responsibility to God in their marriage relationship.  And we've got the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if you've never read it, let me encourage you to get a copy, read it.  Read it together as a couple.  Use it to spark discussions between the two of you.  And I think you'll find it very helpful in your marriage.

Again, the title of the book is "Rocking the Roles" by Dr. Robert Lewis.  You can go to for more information about the book or to order a copy online.  Again, the website is  Look on the right side of the screen when you get to our home page, and you'll see where it says, "Today's Broadcast."  If you click where it says, "Learn More," that will take you to an area of the site where there's more information about all of the resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife on this subject.  In fact, you can find out how you can get a complete unedited copy of the message we've been listening to this week from Paul Shepherd.

Again, the website is  If it's easier to call 1-800-FLTODAY for more information about the resources we have available, you can do that. 1-800-358-6329.  That's 1-800, F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY.  And when you call someone on our team, we'll make arrangements to have the resources you need sent to you.

And that's going to have to wrap things up for today.  Hope you have a great weekend.  Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend.  And I hope you can join us on Monday, when Jim Coy is going to join us to share with us what he has found in his research about some of the heroic stories behind the awarding of the Medal of Honor.  And I hope you can join us 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 Monday 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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