Gentleness may not be the coolest of qualities among young men — and this is a travesty. Gentleness is a mark of a gospel soaked man. A man that is gentle, is one that has been smashed by the gospel. A prickly dude appreciates the gospel, but hasn’t been devastated by it. Especially among young pastors, we need to be reminded that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit, not hardcore-ness (Galatians 5:23). Brashness, flexing, my-way-or-the-highway-ism, and a kind of bulldozer-ocity are not marks of a godly man but a fool. A bully, not a pastor. Sure, there may be tons of passion in that man, but that kind of man needs to be saddled. A wild colt is of no benefit. Though — they do make for great glue. Lately, I’ve been troubled by the attitudes of many church planters. They parade themselves as steamrollers, but not shepherds. I’m all for telling a wolf “the way it is” but even that is to be done in gentleness (2 Timothy 2:25). And sadly, I’ve been there too.
WHAT IS GENTLENESS?
The Tyndale Bible Dictionary provides some great words to describe gentleness: humility, courteous, unpretentious, tender, unharsh, mildness, kindness, and an unassuming attitude. How many men fit that bill?
JESUS DOES. HE IS OUR MODEL AND MEANS
Jesus does. And in the gospel, Jesus invites us to learn from Him — to learn this way of life.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart… (Matthew 11:29).
The good news is that gentleness is not naturally ours, it comes supernaturally from Jesus. James instructs us that gentleness comes down from above (James 3:17), and that the inverse, harshness, pride, assuming attitudes etc., these are demonic (James 3:16). Gentleness will not come from our hearts, but by the life of Jesus being lived out in us (Galatians 2:20).
PAUL WAS A GENTLE GIANT
We tend to think of the Apostle Paul as an “in your face” kind of guy. Because he rebuked Peter face to face? Ok — he did that. But I’m sure he still helped Peter with a spirit of gentleness, as he instructs to do in the same letter (Galatians 6:1). But what is often forgotten about Paul is his incredible gentleness. Paul was wrecked by his own sin. Wreckage is the soil of gentleness (the end of Romans 7, the “chief of sinners”, “unworthy to be an apostle”, etc., all show Paul’s personal devastation over the gospel). Look at how he describes his ministry to the Thessalonians:
1 Thess. 2:6-8…we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
He was gentle among them like a nursing mother. If you have children, you have seen this first hand. The young mother doesn’t berate her children, she doesn’t chastise them, nor does she get fed up. She is patient, kind, tender, helpful, loving, nurturing, and attentive. She sacrifices sleep, time, and her schedule — to serve. There is much for us to learn here.
WHAT MARKS OUR LIFE & MINISTRY?
Paul’s words here were a milestone for my ministry and life. God doesn’t request that we be gentle — He kindly demands it.
- The Bible calls not for quarrelsome men, but gentle one’s (1 Timothy 3:3).
- God wants us, especially youngsters, to chase after gentleness more than coolness (1 Timothy 6:11).
- The Spirit wants us to speak evil of no one, not pick fights, and be courteous to all (Titus 3:2).
- The Bible demands a lifestyle of gentleness, even to the biggest jerks (1 Peter 2:18).
THE GOSPEL LEADS US INTO GENTLENESS
We ought to be the most gentle of all, because we see how gentle God has been with us. While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us rebels. God has been kind to us, when all we earned was His wrath. To this day, in the midst of our struggles, Jesus is still gentle with us. He leads us besides still waters. He makes us lie down in green pastures. His shepherding staff is our guide. He doesn’t snipe us, He shepherds us. The gospel reminds us just how weak we are, and the second we are tempted to think of others as lesser-thans, we must remember that we are sinners too. God wants us to realize our weaknesses, so we can be gentle with the wayward and ignorant — who we deem to warrant our silly wrath (Hebrews 5:2). The wayward and ignorant don’t need cold body language, angry tones etc., they need to see the heart of God — from us. We need to show them the kindness of God, because that is what leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). We don’t wink at unrepentant Christians, but we also don’t napalm them. We rebuke with gentleness. I’m praying for a generation of gentle pastors. A generation of men who are so struck by the holiness of God, that they are brought low, face to the ground, humbly devastated to serve God’s church. I’m hopeful for a generation of pastors and churches, that not only take other peoples sin seriously, but also our own.
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Through my time playing 5A Texas high school football, participating in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University, and later serving as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, and now serving at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I have encountered some incredibly gifted leaders. Men whose personalities seem larger than life; men that have the unique ability to influence everyone around them, not because of their rank or title, but purely based on their personality and proficiency. Men that people talk about affectionately when they are not around and drive hundreds of miles just to hear them speak and possibly spend a few moments with them. You have probably known these types of men as well; men that inspire in their leadership.
Interestingly, over the past twenty years, the study of “leadership” has emerged at the forefront in Western culture. I even took several “leadership” classes in college. And why shouldn’t leadership take such a prominent role? With the direction that Western culture is heading, the church needs all the great leaders she can get. However, despite the emphasis on leadership training, leadership conferences, and leadership books, there is still a great lack of Christian leaders that fit what I described above.
A Picture of Christian Leadership
I think there are several factors contributing to the leadership void in the church. Part of the problem is that influence is attractive and Christians (and false teachers) can crave to be “Christian leaders” for the sake of being “Christian leaders” because of all the prestige and power that comes with it. There are a lot of people that I perceive to be in this category. I do not know their hearts, but frankly, this is often how many come across to me.
Some have pondered that the leadership void exists because leaders are “born and not made.” I don’t think so, because God “uses the foolish of the world to shame the wise” (1 Cor. 1:27). Like the slave that was thrown in jail (Joseph), or the runaway shepherd that had trouble speaking (Moses), or the brash fisherman who so easily succumbed to the fear of man (Peter), God has always used the people that were least expected to lead for His purposes.
Also, I believe God calls every Christian man to lead in some capacity. It is men who are to be the heads of their households and who are ultimately responsible to God in how they lead their families (Eph. 5:22-23). It is men who are held accountable for making sure their children are taught the Word of God (Deut. 6:7-9). It is to men that Christ entrusts the leading of His church on earth in the office of “elder” (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1). And it is men that have fallen into false teaching, shirked their duties, and have failed to pass the baton of faithfulness to the next generation.
At its core, Christian leadership involves godly character and sound biblical teaching. It involves godly living and the relaying of prepositional truth to the next generation. That is what Paul says in the Pastoral Epistles:
- Paul says to Titus, “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Titus 2:6-8).
- He instructed Timothy similarly to “practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:15-16).
In both cases, Paul emphasizes that leadership by men in the church be centered in character and on sound biblical teaching.Therefore, I believe that Dr. Mohler is right when he says in his book The Conviction to Lead, “For Christian leaders this focus on conviction is of even greater importance. We cannot lead in a way that is faithful to Christ and effective for Christ’s people if we are not deeply invested in Christian truth. We cannot faithfully lead if we do not first faithfully believe.”
Ultimately, I believe Dr. Mohler nails the Christian leadership void on the head. Christian men by and large across our country are doctrinally weak. The simple truth is that many men in the church are not being trained in the Scriptures, and they are still drinking “milk” and not eating “solid food (1 Cor. 3:2).” And because they are not trained in the truths of the gospel, character building often focuses on moralism instead of the person of Christ and the grace He offers. Thus, many Christian men simply cannot lead effectively because they do not have the character or the convictions to do so.
A Challenge to Christian Men
So, since Christian leadership is based on prepositional truth, and since all Christian men are called to lead, all Christian men should aspire to be experts in the Word of God. This means that we should all aspire to be life-long learners. We should be men that are not content with what we already know. This is just as true for the seminary professor as it is for the mechanic and the farmer. No matter the profession, our minds must be continually captivated by God and the knowledge of His Word. We must keep pressing to know Him and His Word more.
Furthermore, we should not just be content with knowing prepositional truth. Our goal should be to influence as many people as possible with that truth as we strive to observe the Great Commission. This means that we may need to study how we can best leverage our abilities and gifts for the kingdom of Christ. It may mean we should “add some more tools to our tool kit” that will help us learn how to lead well.
- A great place to start is by reading Dr. Albert Mohler’s book, The Conviction to Lead. It’s a book that you could easily pick up in an afternoon and learn the foundation of Christian leadership, which Dr. Mohler convincingly argues, is “convictional.”
- I also recommend The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. In the book they talk about the necessity of raising up and training new leaders (something that ironically, I think many secular organizations are doing better than the church). I think this helps fill in the gap of the “how-to.” It explains the biblical model of how to structurally influence others for the kingdom.
- Finally, I would recommend Dr. John MacArthur’s Called to Lead, which studies the leadership methods used by the Apostle Paul. There are other phenomenal leadership books published by Christian authors, but these are the three that have influenced me most.
Lastly, pray that God would be shaping your character more and more to be like our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Pray for God to provide you with opportunities to lead for His name and for His glory alone. Pray that God would bring young men into your life that you can train in character and the truths of the gospel. If you are a young man, pray that God would provide a godly leader to train you (hopefully your dad is already doing this) – a man that can take you into his home and show you how to follow Christ as a husband and a father.
Men, it is a critical time in the life of the church. It is time to step forward and lead the way as God has commanded. It is time to stand stalwartly for the truths of the gospel in a culture that is swiftly lining up in opposition to Christ. The good news is that Christ promises that the “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against” His church (Matt 16:18), which means that Christ will preserve His Church until He returns through the faithfulness of godly men. May you be counted as one of them.
This post is dedicated to my dad, Preston Abbott, who was not afraid to marry a widow with a son and who took me into his home as a young man and showed me Christian character and taught me biblical doctrine.
This post first appeared at CBMW and is posted here with their permission.
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It has been said that a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.
An arrogant negativity, as it were.
There are also other characteristics that define cynicism, such as a lack of trust, lack of grace, ungrateful, arrogant, bitter, jaded, hopeless, skeptical, pessimistic, etc. I could go on giving words that describe the cynic, and paint word pictures for you that you potentially would be all too familiar with, as I’m sure you have your own pictures that arise when you think of the Cynic in your life — maybe you see yourself.
I think though — and I could be wrong here — that the route of cynicism is mere brokenness. The cynical man has been jaded by life’s circumstances. His positive outlook on life has been chipped away at over the years by failed relationships, unmet expectations, and unforeseen events. People have hurt him along the way. Things have happened in his life that have all but crushed him. He is not even close to the success he hoped to achieve when he was younger. His mistakes are piled as high as his regrets. He now views the world through a foggy lens of negativity, and he’s absolutely certain — or hopeless — that it will always be this way. For this type of man, things will never change. He is hurting. He is indeed broken. He feels cursed.
He needs a King.
In reality, cynicism is idolatry. It’s a displacement of God for yourself. It’s a response to the circumstances of life where you are the center of everything. The cynic has a view of man, events, or the future that denies God’s goodness, sovereignty, grace, and power. Again, he may not speak this way in his theology, but he lives this way in his heart.
Allow me to explain myself.
The gospel shows me that I am a broken man. Without Christ, I am nothing. The cynic, however, is a pretender. He knows this to be true in his mind, but this truth is not being watered in his heart. Or maybe, it can no longer be watered. His heart has been hardened by his experiences. This man’s experiences has led to his brokenness. The gospel, however, shows us that we are and have always been broken apart from Christ.
The cynic needs a fresh or new reality to take place in his life. He needs to be reminded — like we all do — that brokenness is not a state that we “arrive at” because of the circumstances in this world. We are broken. He have always been that way.
Our hope must forever and always be grounded in the King. It is King Jesus who takes our brokenness and fills it with hope — a hope that transcends the circumstances, events, and relationships of this world. In fact, when Christ becomes the King of our world, our circumstances, events, and relationships are seen with a new perspective. A fresh perspective. A redeemed perspective.
After all, it was Jesus who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
This is what the cynic needs.
Rest. Restoration. Redemption. Newness. A King.
When we realize and embrace Christ’s Kingship over our lives, then we come to understand that our lives are not our own. We have been bought with a great price (1 Cor. 6:20). When we realize this, our cynic minds become humble, gentle, tender, and hopeful minds.
Cynic, I encourage you to trust in that truth. Believe in that truth. Hope in that truth.
After all, to hope in the hope of this world is no hope at all.
This post first appeared at CBMW and is posted here with their permission.
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Do you remember Geoffrey the giraffe? What about the painfully catchy tune, their retail battle cry and hymn?
I don’t wanna grow up; I’m a Toys-R-Us kid.
If you learn one thing from this post: Never trust a giraffe.
Theology from a giraffe is never a good thing. From my limited experience, most talking animals are bad theologians: Barney, Chuck E. Cheese, Chester Cheetah, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and The Serpent in Eden. This theology from the 80s is, sadly, a still small voice echoing in the lives of professing adults. While the slinky has gone the way of the perm, refusing to grow up is still in stock.
As a pastor, and former college minister, I see the leprous effects of the Peter Pan Syndrome in young men. They are men biologically but boys theologically and practically. They graduate from high school, kite around for a few years, wish they had a girlfriend, wish they had a job, wish they had a wife, wish they didn’t eat dinner with mommy every night—but do nothing about it. You can blowout birthday candles all you want—wish, wish, wish upon a star—but it’s time to act. “As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed”(Prov. 26:14). Stop wishing. Start working. Neverland is never somewhere you want to live. The post-Edenic lure of perpetual boyishness, fun, frivolity, and zero responsibility is the ultimate space for “lost” boys —not for men who have been found and are relocated “in Christ.”
In the book, The Demise of Guys, they highlight a survey where 20,000 men were asked what they consider to be the cause behind the motivational failures we see in men today. The overwhelming answer was, “Conflicting messages from media, institutions, parents, and peers about acceptable male behavior.” I understand why the world is confused, but men in the church ought to find robust clarity from God’s word. The Christian man, ultimately, is a disciple of One: Jesus of Nazareth. While media, sitcoms, movies, and peers vomit their views of manhood (or lack there of), it’s the Christian man who is not transformed by the world but is “transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”(Romans 12:2).
God’s call on the growing-up-ness of men is unavoidable. Paul instructs us, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). And King David’s deathbed words to Solomon are gold, “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn” (1 Kings 2:2–3). Manhood is distinct. King David is calling his son to be a man, not a boyish, and not womanly. Seems clear. Or is it?
The potential problem here is the misfire on what a man really is. In short, to “act like men”, means, to act like the Man. We must see that we are being transformed into the very image of the God-Man, of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). The Spirit shows us from David and Paul that true manliness is found in the soil of Bible-rooted faithfulness to God. Ray Romano isn’t our model, nor is George Costanza; the proliferation of profound idiocy is paralyzing men in our nation and our churches. In the what’s-down-is-up nature of the Kingdom, to grow up is to be infant-like in our desire for God, his word, and his glory. Childlike but not childish. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Pet. 2:2–3). The eradication of the Peter Pan Syndrome will only come as swiftly as a man exults in Jesus. Knowing the awesomeness of Jesus is napalm to Neverland. Light it up.
Jesus is the true pattern of masculinity. Manhood is Christ-centered, rugged cross-bearing, and vacant tomb-empowering. There isn’t a whiff of Peter Panism in Christ. What we see from Jesus in the Gospels is radical servanthood, utter sacrifice, a love for God and neighbor that drives to action, and an unflinching commitment to the glory of God and the salvation of sinners. And this, the pattern of Jesus, is where God, by the Spirit, is growing us. Jesus, even as a little boy, was already about his Father’s business. It’s a sad state when a twenty-five year old, born again man, is still wondering about God’s will for his life. It’s all in the Book, friend. God won’t tell you which cereal to eat, but he will tell you to get up and get going—to get about the Kingdom’s business. And the good news of the gospel is that we have been crucified with Christ, we don’t live alone anymore; he’s taken up residence in us. His life is now our life. We’ve got more hope than we realize. We are growing up into the image of our Galilean and Galactic Emperor. We dowant to grow up because we are children of God.
Before you leave this section of the World Wide Web, here’s a couple theological and practical elements to help knock out the Peter Pan Syndrome.
Get a Job Already
Stop waiting for your dream job and learn to make a latte. Don’t let those britches that mama bought you get too big to flip burgers, collect shopping carts, sell shoes, or stack lumber while you are waiting for the job you really want. You don’t have the luxury—or the biblical freedom—to sit around, lick the cheeto dust off of your fingers, and wait for that company to call you back. No, no, no. You must, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15–17). By all means, have fun—God is pro-fun!—take a Sabbath. But when you need a Sabbath from all of your sabbathing during the week—you don’t have a good theology of Sabbath. In my experience, pride keeps young men from jobs. Who cares if it only pays minimum wage for the time being? I’m no mathematician, but some dollars coming in is better than zero dollars.
Part of God’s will for you is to learn the discipline of sacrifice in the daily grind. Working a job that isn’t your dream gig is a wonderful training ground for the rest of your life where, God willing, for you to love a wife and children. And you must lovingly provide for them. Emotionally, spiritually, economically. And this love is a nail-pierced, putting others before yourself, kind of love. What does this have to do with a job you don’t want? Learning to be faithful at Target—when everything is going against the grain of your life plan—is helping you be faithful in the future. Rest assured, many things will not go the way you’ve planned, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Prov. 19:21). God is at work in you—in everything. When little boys get upset, they take their toys and go home, but biblical men keep their hands to the plow; they plod faithfully, trusting the sovereign God. And it might be that bussing tables will teach you more about life than Netflix.
Whether Marriage or Singleness—Get After It.
Peter Panning about life, habitual binge video gaming, and cashing the allowance from your parents after you’ve hung your degree above your elementary school shuttle run ribbon isn’t helping you with the ladies. It’s just not. God created us to tend and till (Genesis 2), not to just chill. Yes, there are seasons of transition, but don’t let it drift into a five year whiner winter. You ought to be preparing for maturity, for a gospel mirroring marriage, or for a radically Christ-exalting singleness.
If you want to be married, living like a lost boy will keep you from being the, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Prov. 18:22) kind of guy. And it may be that you feel called to a life of singleness like Paul shows us 1 Corinthians 7—praise the Lord. It’s an error to automatically link singleness with boyishness—but you know it’s not unheard of.
If you feel God’s call on your life as one of singleness, are you readying yourself for counter-cultural service to Lord Jesus like Paul speaks of? Do you have a weighty concern for the glory of Jesus? “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:32). Are your thoughts occupied with the fame of Jesus? Are you expending an abnormal amount of mental sweat for the Kingdom of God? This is the gift of singleness. Are you there? Are you serving at your local church? Are you a committed churchman? How will your singleness triangulate with the fame of Jesus? Start prepping now. Speak to your local church leaders, meet with your pastors, share this vision with them. See what the Lord has for you.
If you desire the gift of a wife—and brother, she is a gift!—though you may not be ready to care for, lead, serve, and love a wife right this second, are you trending in that direction? You only need the fruits of the Spirit, a passion for Jesus, a zeal for the local church, a humble disposition of sacrificial service and care, and the guts to approach a woman. What about knowing how to change the oil? While that may be helpful, it’s not essential. Godliness is essential. A gospel-formed pursuit of holiness is the way to get prepared for marriage. The Lord knows what tomorrow has for you.
Act like men. Act like Barnabas. Show yourself to be Pauline. And above all, be Christian. Repent where needed, and live the atomic truth of Romans 8:1. Repentance turns lost boys into godly men. Walk in a manner worthy of the new and abundant life you have in Christ the Lord. “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). And believe it or not, even Geoffrey the Giraffe settled down, got married and had two kids of his own—with God, all things are possible.
This post first appeared at CBMW and is posted here with their permission.
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If you embrace these 10 myths about lust, you will find no remedy for your lust. Instead, you will dive into a “black hole” of sin. Embrace the truth; reject these 10 myths about lust:
1. “I lust because I’m human.” No, you lust because you’re a sinner.
2. “I lust because others dress immodestly.” No, you lust because your wicked heart enjoys the immodesty of others.
3. “I lust because I’m not married.” No, you lust because you love sex more than God.
4. “I lust because I desire marriage.” No, you lust because you desire sexual immorality. Desiring sexual immorality is the opposite of desiring marriage. A desire for marriage is a desire for sexual morality within marriage.
5. “I lust because I cannot help it.” No, you lust because you willfully choose sin over holiness. You’ve developed a lustful habit. Repent and turn to Christ habitually. Live out the holiness He requires until new holy habits are formed.
6. “I lust because my spouse is not as interested in sex as I am.” No, you lust because you desire sex more than you desire God.
7. “I lust because my spouse does not appreciate me.” No, you lust because you believe God is too small to meet your needs abundantly.
8. “I lust because I believe God’s image-bearers are beautiful.” No, you lust because you reject God’s creation (Gen. 1:26-27). Those who lust objectify God’s image bearers, reducing His divine image to a mere object of immoral non-consensual one-sided sexual gratification.
9. “I lust because sexuality is pervasive in my godless culture.” No, you lust because you want to be like your godless culture.
10. “If I fulfill my lusts, they will go away.” No, the remedy for lustful desires is for you to deny yourself (starve your lust), pick up your cross, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).
The only answer for a lustful heart is constant repentance and faith in Christ. We must believe God rather than man, whether “man” is everyone else or ourselves. God is more beautiful and more valuable than fulfilling our lustful desires. If you embrace and meditate on His beauty, all sin will appear ugly and detestable.
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Scripture is pretty clear on how men should love their wives—like Jesus loved and served the Church (Eph. 5:24). Christ, in his pursuit of us, gave his life for us. Jesus sets the stage from the beginning concerning what this pursuit should look like, so why do we have so many dudes in our churches that are failing in this endeavor?
There is no other relationship, in any other environment in this world, which so closely reflects Christ and the Church. There is no other replacement for you as a husband. There are no audibles you can call. There are no other options. You are option one. You are the only one that can make her feel loved, cherished, pursued, and valued. It’s all you. There’s no one else. Period.
Therefore, because we are men, and because we are husbands, and because no one else can pursue our wives for us, we need to begin to act like our marriages are the number one aims of our lives. Therefore, we must begin to embrace a war-like posture in this arena. We can’t go into the game soft, sluggish, and pudgy. Our marriages are under attack. No one can fight for your marriage except you.
In this article, I want to give you a few practical tips about how we can begin to do work on the most prodigious pursuit of our lives.
Are you ready for this?
PURSUE YOUR WIFE SPIRITUALLY
Above all else, pursue Jesus. From your pursuit of him, everything else will follow (Jn. 15:5). The wrong thing to do here, I think, is to function as a pastor (or mentor) to your wife. Many people err on this, thinking they have to sit down and do exegetical Bible studies with their wives and family every single morning, teaching them and equipping them, as a pastor would his church.
There is an aspect of “love your wife as Christ loved the Church” in this thought, but I think it begins more with you, as the husband, and I think it ends with you, too. Here’s what I mean: Before all else, focus on your relationship with Jesus, not your wife’s relationship with Jesus. Focus on your prayer life. Focus on your heart.
When it is real and genuine, and not out of obligation or duty, then your wife will follow suit. When it feels more manufactured than anything else, then you need to reevaluate and go do some work with God.
So, have a fervent prayer life by yourself, and then go pray with your wife.
Get up early and get in the Word, and then read Scripture with your wife.
PURSUE HER EMOTIONALLY
Often times, men fail here in big ways. My pastor, Trent Stewart, calls this face-to-face time. Other people have called it quality time, as opposed to quantity time. In other words, we do spend time with our wives but only in a quantity form or side-by-side way.
We come home from work after long days at the office, eat dinner, tuck the kids in bed, and then crash out of exhaustion. We either veg-out in front of the television or our iPhone screens. Instead, try veg-ing in front of one another. Close the computer. Turn off the television. Put away your iPhone.
Get in each other’s faces—just brush a little bit first.
Men, I say this with emphasis: We MUST have face-to-face time with our wives. We have to connect with them emotionally. We have to be able to open up to them, have them open up to us, and then try our best to not “fix” them. Face-to-face time is not about us coming to their rescue concerning all of their problems. It’s about real, authentic, one-on-one time about life, family, and anything and everything else you want to discuss.
PURSUE HER PHYSICALLY
I shouldn’t have to encourage you here, right? Wrong! So many marriages are failing in this area as husbands and wives resort to being roommates, instead of one another’s sacred beloved (Song of Sol. 6:5). Pursuing our wives means we pursue them face-to-face—both emotionally and physically. What is more, when we pursue our wives emotionally and spiritually, that often sets the stage for intimacy in the bedroom.
Don’t be the guy who comes out of the shower buck naked with a cape trying to pull off the Captain Morgan pose and think that’s going to work.
Believe me, it doesn’t.
Again, it starts with Jesus. It’s all about him. Sex is a gift from God, and when used in the right context, it can be the most joyful experience and gift in your marriage.
It doesn’t come easy, though.
PURSUE HER PRACTICALLY
Finally, you have to pursue your wife practically. First of all, you have to go on dates. If you have multiple kids, then dating is much harder. You have to be proactive in finding a babysitter, etc. It becomes a littler bit more work, then. When you don’t have kids, it’s a little bit easier, but still a good bit of work. It takes a man with a little bit of drive to continue to pursue his wife after their marriage vows—kids or no kids.
Additionally, you have to plan family vacations. Make sure that’s the first thing on the calendar. Plan them early in the year, ask off for them early, and have a vacation every single year. I would encourage married couples with kids to get away at least 2-3 times a year together. I know that might seem like a little bit of work, because it is, but don’t neglect the intentional face-to-face time you need to have for extended amounts of time.
Get away and have fun together—like you once did.
There is no “how to” manual here, and this is not a “do this and your marriage will succeed” article. It is, however, something in which I think we can all do better. We can all pursue our wives in greater ways spiritually, emotionally, physically, and practically.
And as a final thought, maybe we can pursue them randomly at times, too.
When was the last time flowers randomly showed up for your wife in the middle of the day?
When was the last time you randomly bought her a gift?
When was the last time you randomly had an adventure together?
When was the last time you randomly had incredible, spontaneous sex?
When was the last time you randomly cleaned the entire house for her?
When was the last time you randomly did something she loves to do?
When was the last time you intentionally, with a war-like posture and mindset, got serious about pursuing your wife?
Remember, only you can roll up your sleeves and go hard every single day for your bride.
This post first appeared at CBMW and is posted here with their permission.
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