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Putting Pride to Death

with Kimberly Wagner | July 16, 2013

Kimberly was known for her fierce spirit. It was one of the first things LeRoy noticed about her. But after marriage, Kimberly's fierceness often transformed into meanness and controlling behavior, and LeRoy retreated, emotionally and physically. Author Kimberly Wagner talks about her husband, LeRoy's, resignation from the pastorate, and God's move to break her pride.

Kimberly was known for her fierce spirit. It was one of the first things LeRoy noticed about her. But after marriage, Kimberly's fierceness often transformed into meanness and controlling behavior, and LeRoy retreated, emotionally and physically. Author Kimberly Wagner talks about her husband, LeRoy's, resignation from the pastorate, and God's move to break her pride.

Putting Pride to Death

With Kimberly Wagner
|
July 16, 2013
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Some wives are guilty of using their words to tear down a good man, but what does a wife do if her husband is irresponsible? How does she use her words in that kind of situation? Here’s counsel from Kim Wagner.

Kim: Well, she’s not supposed to beat him up over all those past losses, first of all; but appeal to him, on the basis of the truthfulness of the Word—to go to him in humility—I mean, honesty, with humility, is a huge foundation stone in a marriage. Say, “Honey, I want to be behind you. I want to walk with you through this, but would you be willing to consider a few things?” And ask some questions.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, July 16th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. If you’re one of those truth-tellers in your marriage, you may need to listen to some counsel from Kim Wagner today on how to tell the truth in love. Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, we’re talking, this week, about fierceness—about the fact that there is a good kind of fierce, and there’s an unsanctified kind of fierce. When the unsanctified comes out, it can be unpleasant for anybody who is in the path of the unsanctified fierce one. [Laughter]

Dennis: That’s well-said. And I’m grateful for our guest on today’s show. Kim Wagner joins us again on FamilyLife Today. She’s written a book called Fierce Women.

I think you’re on to something really important here, Kim. I think this subject is a needed subject to be talked about—to be understood by both women and their husbands—so that they know how to treat a woman who is strong—who possesses a persevering intentionality, a toughness—internal toughness—even though she may not be outgoing. But she, perhaps, can use her fierceness against her husband; and it can damage that relationship.


You and your husband, LeRoy, who is a pastor, have been married since 1981. You shared earlier how in the first five years of your marriage, how you turned that fierce spirit against him. Instead of using your tongue, like a paint brush, to encourage him, and edify him, and build him, you used it like an ice pick.

Bob: And there was a point, five years into your marriage, where he came to you and said, “I don’t think I love you anymore.” That’s a dramatic moment in anybody’s marriage relationship; but here’s a pastor and a pastor’s wife—had he stepped out of the pulpit, at this point in your marriage?

Kim: No. No.

Bob: He was still preaching. Everybody looked at you guys—I’m sure, externally—and thought, “They’re such a cute couple,” and probably just presumed that there was affection there; but there hadn’t been affection there for a while; right?

Kim: Right. And there would come seasons where it would wane and flow.

Bob: Right.

Kim: You know, we would go to a marriage weekend or a retreat. We would work on things for a while; but there were deep-seated root issues that needed to be dealt with— that it took a few years before we even started working on those.

Bob: And part of the issue was that you didn’t see issues in you.

Kim: Exactly; exactly. I was speaking, recently, to a group of women—where I usually ask women, when I’m talking on this subject—“Would you just be willing to repeat after me that, ‘It’s not all my husband’s fault’?” I lead them in that—to say that. So—this large group of women—all, repeat, “It’s not all my husband’s fault.”

Then, I hear this one woman, just a few feet away from me, say, “Well, I’m saying it with my mouth, but I don’t mean in it in my heart!” You know? I think that really a lot of women have just planted themselves there—that they’re determined: “He is the problem, and I’m not budging. I’m not moving.”

Bob: And there were years in your marriage where that was you—

Kim: Yes. Yes, I really—

Bob: “He’s the problem—my pastor husband—whom I fell in love with because he preaches the Gospel with passion and power. He’s the problem, and it’s not me”?

Kim: Exactly; exactly.

Bob: Did it even dawn on you that it might be you?

Kim: You know, I think I was so filled with pride that, no. I could point to so many examples, mentally, of where he wasn’t measuring up or coming through that it was just my twisted thinking; but I think a lot of women can be there.

Dennis: Were you controlling?

Kim: Yes, I was controlling.

Dennis: How?

Kim: Controlling in a lot of ways—just through how I would communicate—try and get him to do what I would want him to do—controlling in how we spent our time, decisions he would make at the church. I gave more than just good wifely input.

Bob: So, give me, then, an example of how that’s done in a controlling way versus how it would be done in an appropriate way.

Kim: Okay.

Bob: So, if a wife is listening and she goes: “I don’t want to be controlling. I wonder if maybe I am,”—if she’s offering her husband counsel. He says, “You know, I’ve been thinking maybe we should sell the car and get a different car.” She’s thinking, “Well, I’d like to speak into that.” What’s a controlling way to do that, and what’s the appropriate way to do that?

Kim: Okay, the fierce woman, who is living self-centeredly—

Bob: Okay.

Kim: —and for her own agenda, might say something like: “Sell the car? Are you kidding?! We don’t have money to buy a new car.” She would start running down the idea before he had time to even investigate it. She would shoot down his dream, right away. Now, in contrast to that, the fierce woman—who wants to empower her husband, come alongside him, be his true helpmeet—would pause, even if she thought it was an idiotic idea.

I was talking to a woman, last week, who her husband wanted to buy a sewing machine. Now, it’s usually the woman that wants to buy it, and it was a $4,000 sewing machine—

Bob: Oh my word!

Kim: —for a leather business he wanted to start.

Bob: Okay.

Kim: And she had a fit about it, and she regrets that now. She said: “How could I have rephrased my support? How could I have done that differently?” I said, “Well, you know, you could say: ‘I don’t understand all of this dream that you have. I am not completely on board with the sewing machine thing, but you know what? I know you, and I know how you are good at going after a project and tackling it. This is a dream you have; so I’m behind you. I don’t understand it, but I’m behind you. Let’s go for it.’”

Bob: Well, I’ve got to go back, though, to this $4,000 sewing machine; okay?

Kim: Yes.


Bob: Let’s say this wife is going: “Wait a sec! We’re already in $7,000-worth of credit card debt, and he wants to buy a $4,000 sewing machine.” You’re telling me I should say, “Honey, I support your dream”?

Kim: I am so glad you phrased it that way because there are—the woman I was talking about in that situation—they could make that investment—

Bob: Okay.

Kim: —and she has watched him be faithful with their finances.

Now, let’s go to the woman—who, maybe, he doesn’t even know the Lord. He does not live wisely. He is a foolish man—

Bob: This is about the fourth harebrained idea he’s—

Dennis: Right.

Kim: Right.

Bob: —had, and they’ve lost a lot of money on previous ones. What is she supposed to say?

Kim: Well, she’s not supposed to beat him up over all those past losses, first of all; but appeal to him, on the basis of the truthfulness of the Word—to go to him, in humility—I mean, honesty, with humility, is a huge foundation stone in a marriage. Say: “Honey, I want to be behind you. I want to walk with you through this, but would you be willing to consider—let’s consider a few things,” and ask some questions. Now, I don’t mean asking questions that are going to dump guilt on him.

Bob: You don’t mean put him on the witness stand and say—

Kim: Not interrogation.

Bob: —“What about this, and this, and this?”

Kim: Not at all.

Bob: Okay.

Kim: But leading questions that will help him to think through this—maybe, in a more sensible way. Now, maybe, he won’t. Maybe, he goes right ahead and makes the foolish choice. The hardest thing, for a woman, is to walk through those tough places—the tough love, where you do speak truth—I call it, “Grace talks”—having salty grace talks, where you speak truth in a gracious manner.

Now, there are those men who are caught in addictive lifestyles—where it is our responsibility, as wives, as a loving wife—true love is to come alongside our brother, like Galatians 6:1-2 says. Bearing his burden can include coming alongside and saying: “Honey, I’ve noticed this lifestyle of sin. I love you too much to leave you there,” and to appeal to him on that basis—to walk away from that, to get help, and to get accountability—and to let him know, “I’m going to let this go for a period of time. If you haven’t found someone to be accountable with and to help with this, then, I will go to our church leadership and talk with them about it,” because that’s biblical.

That’s Matthew 18—following that principle of including your pastoral help, your leadership in your church. It shouldn’t be a woman doing that battle on her own.

Dennis: Kim, you’ve done a good job of equipping a wife, who may need to add some nuances to her fierceness so that she can use it constructively. We’re about to find out that your husband, LeRoy, took a decisive and dramatic step; and we’ll hold on that for just a moment.

But would there have been something he could have done to have gotten your attention and to have invited you into a relationship—where you put down your tongue, that had become a sword, and instead build that relationship instead of being in a dark place—being in an enjoyable place of oneness, as a couple?

Kim: Yes; and he admits that now, Dennis, that—you know, I talk about how I failed him—but he admits, now, that he failed to step up to the leadership role, as a mature man—that he allowed himself to be beat up, so to speak, by me, verbally—and had never been exposed to that kind of treatment from a woman before.

Dennis: And so, he just retreated?

Kim: And he retreated. And now, I am so thankful for his leadership role where, if I’m having a day where—[Laughter]—

Bob: Yes?

Dennis: What kind of day?

Kim: Well, it’s not—it’s just—

Dennis: What kind of day?

Kim: —it just popped in my head. [Laughter] We were—recently, I was doing a wedding shower at our church. You know, how we girls—we put out all the pretty things. I had just dumped all the nuts in. The bride and groom-to-be have come over, and they are standing and talking to me. I’m watching LeRoy, out of the corner of my eye, grabbing the nuts out of the bowl—

Bob: Well, absolutely, they’re there. That’s what they are there for.

Kim: Yes, with his hands!

Bob: Yes.

Kim: I haven’t put the spoon, yet, in the bowl!

Bob: Spoons are just there as an ornament, Kim. [Laughter] They are not there for function. Nuts are easy. You just pick them up and eat them.


Dennis: So, what did you say, Kim?

Kim: And I’m watching this—well, when we get alone, as I’m on the way to the kitchen to get the spoon to put in the bowl, I look at him. I do smile, and I do it teasingly; but I said, “If you put your hands in that bowl one more time, you’re going to see the old Kim come out in fierceness.” [Laughter] And his face—he just looked at me and said, “I won’t put my hands in.”

Dennis: No, no, no, no.

Bob: Been there. Felt that.

Dennis: Not going to go there. Not going to go there. So, you’re saying it’s an issue of leadership with men. They—

Kim: It is.

Dennis: —can’t lash out and become abusive—

Kim: Right.

Dennis: —physically, verbally, emotionally. However—

Bob: They can’t retreat either.

Kim: Right.

Dennis: —they can’t retreat. They need to step up, and step into the relationship, and somehow find the ability to appeal—

Kim: Yes.

Dennis: —to his wife’s heart to have a real relationship.

Kim: And the way that LeRoy does this best—and I hope some men are listening—is when he sees me start to get worked up, he’ll say, “Honey, can we pray about this?” He’ll take my hand. Now, in the old days of my fierceness, he would pray; and I would glare at him. But after God broke my heart—graciously broke my heart—all he has to do is appeal to the Father—invite the Holy Spirit into that situation—and immediately it’s diffused. We have the help of the Holy Spirit then.

One commitment he made to me—once we began building on our relationship—one commitment he made is that he would never go again another day without praying with me. He has kept that commitment, whether we are in different countries, different states. He calls me, and we pray together. He prayed with me a few minutes before this broadcast. It is so unifying for us; but it also puts us in that position again of reminding us we are inviting the Holy Spirit into our relationship, daily. We are depending on Him. We are going to Him. It is not just communication with one another that’s open, but it is knowing that we’re communicating together with the Father.

Dennis: The reason prayer is so important is because it involves the bending of our wills—

Kim: Right.


Dennis: —before a Will—that’s a capital will. It is the Master—the King of kings, Lord of lords—and frankly, I don’t think Barbara and I would be married today if we hadn’t built that spiritual discipline into our marriage, back in the first year, over forty years ago. We found the same thing you guys have found out—that when two people bend their wills, there is a chance—

Kim: Yes.

Dennis: —of having a real relationship, at that point.

Bob: Kim, you shared with us that you and LeRoy had been married for five years with tension in your marriage—with isolation, with you having a sharp tongue, and with him retreating. He came to you, at one point, and said: “I don’t have feelings for you anymore. I don’t think I love you anymore.” He was a pastor. You were a pastor’s wife.

You guys tried to get some help, but things didn’t get fixed. There did come a point where he said, “I can’t keep doing this.” He made a—what had to be a surprising decision. When he came to you and said, “Here’s what I think God would have me do,” tell our listeners what happened and how you responded to him.

Kim: It was devastating, to me, when he resigned. He was a young man, pastoring a fairly large church in my home town. [Emotion in voice] It was a devastating day because I knew he was stepping away from what God had called him to—our dream of ministering together. I didn’t know if he would ever preach again—pastor again. It was devastating. He went into a very dark, depressed state. It was very a hard three years.

Bob: Did it awaken, in you, any of the—I mean, did you begin to see anything to go, “Maybe I’ve had something to do with this”?

Kim: God began breaking me, and it was a very humbling time. We had a very difficult living situation, and our children were little. I really couldn’t see any light for the future. I didn’t know—he worked in a very hard, secular vocation, and he was away a lot. It was just very hard; but God began breaking me just of my pride—but not yet related to my relationship with LeRoy—just a personal pride.


Bob: Did anybody know? Did you have friends—anybody in on the interior of what is going on in your marriage?

Kim: Yes, we had a close couple in the ministry—that were friends and that we would meet with him—really, in a counselor-type setting, seeking help.

Bob: Did anybody ever come alongside you—put their arm around you and say, “You know, Kim, your tongue might have something to do with this”? [Laughter]

Kim: Man, for more fierce women like that—that would do that kind of thing. Do you know, I only had one friend—and I am so grateful for her—and I think she’s the only one, probably, that had the guts to say to me: “You know, I think that you might intimidate your husband. Do you think that?”

And I—when she said that, I just kind of blew it off. I thought: “Intimidate him! He doesn’t even need me. What do you mean intimidate him?”

Dennis: The thought had never occurred to you?

Kim: Never occurred to me.

Bob: And maybe one of the reasons more women didn’t come to you and offer that counsel was because they were afraid you might say back to them.

Kim: Exactly.

Dennis: You weren’t welcoming the critique, necessarily.

Kim: Exactly. And so that’s what I’m talking about—that first, God had to break down my own pride and hardness of heart, really. He had to make me teachable.

Dennis: Kim, I’ve listened to your story here. You had to see your husband’s face—I mean, when you chipped away—and you write in your book—you emasculated him.

Kim: Yes. And I kept wanting him to step up and be the man. You know?

Dennis: So, your fieriness was, in a way, hoping he would somehow—

Kim: Yes.

Dennis: —out-duel you?

Kim: Exactly, and I think a lot of women want that. Yet, they are tearing down their husbands in the process. What they don’t realize is we can almost make our husbands into the very thing that we are repulsed by.


Dennis: Well, I guess, if there is a listener, who is in a marriage like this, the lesson is loud and clear: “You better listen to what God has to say to you through your friends, or a friend, or perhaps, through your spouse, who may be appealing to you to back off—to develop an attitude of love—of respect.” You know, I find it interesting, at the end of Ephesians 5, it commands women to respect their husbands. What I hear you saying: “You disrespected him. You chipped away at him,” and it almost cost you your marriage.

Kim: Yes.

Bob: It could even be that God would use a radio program to tap a listener on the shoulder and say—

Dennis: “This is a wakeup call.” If that’s the case, I would say, “You need to, first of all, respond to God; but then, you need to take a step back and go, ‘Where do I go for help?’” I think the local church is the beginning place; but, Bob, I think the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway is a great resource for a couple to get alone together, at a nice hotel, and to immerse themselves in the Scripture and to ask God, “What do You have to say to me?”

Back to your illustration earlier, when you speak at the conference, and you say on Friday night: “We don’t have anything to say to your spouse. We have something to say to you, however.”

Bob: That’s right. If you’re going to go to the Weekend to Remember—and I think you should—go and say, “Lord, what do I need to hear?” When you hear something you think your spouse needs to hear, resist the urge to—

Dennis: Elbow. [Laughter]

Bob: —lean over and say, “Are you listening, Sweetheart?”—tap your pen. Resist those urges and just say, “Lord, what do You have to say to me, here, this weekend?”

I think we have close to four dozen Weekend to Remember getaways happening this fall, in cities all across the country. We’d love to have you join us for one of these weekend getaways for husbands and wives. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link you find there for the Weekend to Remember to find out more about when and where a Weekend to Remember is going to be happening near where you live.

And find information, there, about the book, Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior, by Kimberly Wagner, our guest today. We have her book in the FamilyLife Today Resource Center. We’re happy to send you a copy when you order it online. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also order by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.

One of the things I love about the opportunity we have, here at FamilyLife Today, is we get to hear a lot of stories like the one Kim has been sharing with us today—stories of God doing a powerful redemptive work in the lives of husbands and wives in a variety of settings and circumstances. Not long ago, we sat down with Kim and Krickitt Carpenter. They have a dramatic story of God intervening in their marriage—both of them in a car accident—Krickitt experienced significant head trauma. When she came out of her coma, she did not remember her husband—didn’t know him, didn’t have any relationship with him, didn’t know she was married. They had to rebuild, from the ground up. In fact, their story was made into a Hollywood movie called The Vow; but in reality, the real-life story is more compelling than the one Hollywood came up with.

And we have our conversation with the Carpenters available this week. If you can help with a donation to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we’ll send you that conversation as a thank-you gift for your financial support. You can listen to it—pass it on to someone else who might benefit from hearing the conversation. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”. Make an online donation, and ask for the CD with the Carpenters; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make your donation over the phone; and again, ask for the CD with the Carpenters. We’ll get it out to you, and we’re grateful for your support. We just want you to know that. We appreciate your generosity and could not do what we do without you.

And we want to invite you back again tomorrow. Kim Wagner is going to be here, and we’re going to continue to hear about how God has brought her fierceness under His control—under the control of the Holy Spirit. So, I hope you can tune in tomorrow.

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. See you 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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