- Are you open to reading helpful resources on manhood and discussing them with me?
- Does your behavior around your family engender respect or fear?
- God’s Word teaches that husbands are to be servant/leaders in their homes. What do you think that means? Which aspect do you feel you have the hardest time succeeding at—being a servant or being a leader?
- What do you think keeps you from being a servant/leader? What have you tried in the past to overcome this barrier? Why do you think that effort fell short of the goal?
- How would you summarize what spiritual leadership should look like by a husband? How do you think you are doing in that area? What barriers do you find get in your way of being the spiritual leader in your home?
- Do you have accountability with other godly men? How do you think having such accountability helps you (or would help you) in your role as husband?
- How do you think you can be a servant leader in your home even if your wife is not accustomed to you having that role?
By Branden DesCarpentrie
I read a biography of James Hudson Taylor a few years ago. Taylor was the 19th century British missionary to China who founded China Inland Missions. God granted huge favor to his ministry which resulted in 18,000 conversions and many other humanitarian efforts. What struck me about Taylor was his approach. Rather than forming a little European community in China or subjecting those he came in contact with to his own culture, he did something unique for missionaries at that time. He immersed himself into the Chinese culture – their dress, their cuisine, and of course, their language – in order to more effectively bring them the love of Christ.
So are these characteristics evident in my life? As a father and husband: Do I treat my home as a land to conquer or a people to love? Too often I see myself as someone who wants to impose his own will without taking the time to understand the very people God has given me to shepherd. Not being willing to listen, understand their language or learn their point of view, I often subject them to my own kingdom. I am a foreigner at home, teaching my wife and kids – the “natives” – the right way to do things and what they should feel. I fool myself into thinking God has given me the authority to dictate rather than compassionately lead.
Unfortunately, this is not the biblical model. Paul writes, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22b, NIV). He demonstrated this very concept at Mars Hill when he observed the altar to an unknown God in Athens in Acts 17. He took what he observed from their culture and used it to relate to them in a more understanding way. Ultimately, to more effectively explain the gospel.
To be a Godly leader in my home, and an effective mentor, I would do well to immerse myself into their “culture” to win them over to Christ-likeness rather than subject them into my own kingdom. But what are some practical ways to do this? I can really listen to what they are saying and ask good questions to make sure I understand them. I can focus on the heart issue instead of simply modifying their behavior to my standards. Bottom line? I can observe what makes them feel loved and esteemed and put that into practice.
By Branden DesCarpentrie
Tonight I am taking the woman I love out for Valentine’s Day. What did you do to romance your spouse? Maybe you purchased a dozen red roses, went to an extravagant restaurant or perhaps you got her some lingerie. Let me encourage you now…find out what really makes your wife tick. Simply ask her what makes her feel romanced and start to practice it. Now, you might be wondering what all this has to do with romance. Let me explain.
Several years ago, I found myself sleeping in my wife Julia’s old bedroom at my in-laws. We were not there to visit. In fact, we lived only a few minutes away. We were there to say goodbye to a woman whose memory still makes me smile – her mom. I was awakened to join my wife, my father-in-law, her sister, three brothers and my two sisters-in-law. As a family, we tearfully shared her last breath that night, knowing she was drawing in her next one on the other side – cancer free.
In the weeks and months following the loss of her mother, my wife coped with a huge pain-filled void in her life. The loss also exposed another large void, one I had never before realized but that was now painfully evident. Julia had lost her biggest cheerleader, the person who gave her encouragement – something she craved in order to feel loved. I had never been that to her…in fact my gift seems to be finding what’s wrong, not right. This trait came in very handy at my job, but not so much at home. Now, instead of getting fed a daily dose of encouragement and attentive conversation, she was left with me, and because of this, our romantic relationship suffered.
Julia needed that cheerleader. Her mom wore that “uniform” before, but now I had to put it on… and it was an uncomfortable fit. It was time for me to tell her she was doing a good job, ask her how her day went and care enough to listen well. I needed to give credence to her dreams, laugh with her and honor her efforts as important.
So here I am today, three years later, writing these words and still struggling to be what came so naturally to my mother-in-law. However, here is what I’ve found: In the times when I’m walking in the Spirit and am able to encourage her like she needs to be encouraged, I find a woman who is more prepared to engage with me romantically.
Well, I am off on a date with Julia, ready to cheer her on like she deserves. For my wife, true romance begins with encouragement.
By Branden DesCarpentrie
Every morning I walk past it. It hangs on our bedroom wall next to the bathroom door…my poem. The verses are romantic and filled with prose expressing how beautiful my wife is, how much she means to me, and how incredible I think she is. When my two oldest children were just babies, we did not have much money at Christmas, so I wrote this poem, matted it, and framed it for her. I thought I was a genius. After all, who writes a poem for their wife after 6 years of marriage? I was expecting tears of joy and thankfulness for how romantic I was. She opened it, read it, and was very polite…but not much more. We hung it on our bedroom wall, and it moved with us to Little Rock.
A few weeks ago (and years later), we were reminiscing, and I finally asked about her less than gushing reaction to my penned feelings. She looked at me and gently said, “That’s because the words were not reality. They were beautiful, but what you expressed in the poem didn’t match how you treated me.” What she said hurt, not because it was unkind, but because it was true. During that time in our married life, the best of myself was given to our kids and my job. What was left was given to her: short temper, weariness, poor communication, insensitivity…the list could go on.
Here is what I learned after 12 years of marriage. A jerk who can write an occasional rhyme is not nearly as impressive to your wife as a man who consistently uses kind words. An absentee husband with flowers on special occasions does not mean as much to your wife as a man who makes regular time for her. Begrudgingly doing the dishes once a week is not the equivalent of regularly communicating how much you value her.
So back to the poem on the wall. Now that I am a bit better husband, I have thought about replacing that poem with another one. But I have decided I like it…it reminds me of this: don’t expect my wife to fawn all over me for a five minute romantic gesture after months of ungodly behavior.
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered (Proverbs 17:27).
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4: 29).
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…(Ephesians 5:25)