As you walk into American churches today, you see many of the programs and ministry outreach efforts performed by … women. In many cases, these same women are also the spiritual heads of their households, raising the children and doing the heavy lifting. The biblical model God gave us—that men should be spiritual leaders in the church and home—seems like a throwback to olden days.
Here’s what I believe: Countless married Christian men have become “spiritual sissies.” They have their tail between their legs, and their wives feel they have no other choice but to grab them by the collar. Many of these men have sat on the sidelines emotionally, spiritually, and functionally until their wives carry the load and call the shots. In many cases it’s not because the wife wants it to be this way, but because she doesn’t see any other choice—her husband simply isn’t manning up.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not being a chauvinist with these statements. Women have a major role to play in God’s kingdom and the home, and they are equally gifted in areas of ministry and the home. As a matter of fact, the Bible gives us many examples of women God used mightily for His kingdom.
But men, where are you? Where are we? The stereotypical view of a Christian man today is someone too frail to stand up for God, their marriage, and/or their family. It’s time to man up, God’s way!
When I was married in 1990, my wife was far more mature than I had ever thought about being. (Some might say she still is.) But since I became a Christian in 2003, our roles have reversed.
During the first thirteen years of our marriage, my wife was raising me. She always had to mold me, scold me, and hold me just like a young child. And I came to the point where I actually liked it. The day before I got married, my mom made my bed. The day after I got married, my wife made it.
I had just gone from one mom to another. I was the biggest sissy around. My wife was my mom, not my soul mate. She spent many years training me to become a man. It didn’t work too well, because that isn’t the biblical model, and I think over time she finally stopped trying and just let go.
In the early years of our marriage, when people asked us about having children, I would jokingly say, “She has to raise me first.” I later realized that it wasn’t a joke! I was so far away from being a biblical husband, like the one Paul talks to in Ephesians 5:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies (vv. 25–28).
After I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I began to read what the Bible says about being a Christian husband. I found out that I wasn’t even close! And sadly, neither were most of the men I’d met in church. But knowing I needed to change didn’t mean I knew what to do. I had thirteen years of bad habits to get rid of and a comfortable routine that would tempt me back way too often.
On top of that, I had a wife to convince that I had changed, and I had to close my ears to Satan telling me I couldn’t do it. Becoming the husband God wants me to be has been the biggest challenge in my Christian walk thus far.
I had made a lot of mistakes and had let my wife down more than once. So for me to start practicing spiritual leadership in the home … well, it was going to take time, a lot of prayer, and actions that were much different than I had shown in the past. As she has always said, “Actions speak louder than words.”
A Vicious Cycle
Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33).
I’ve noticed that we tend to read this passage like this: Men read it as, “I will love my wife when she respects me,” and women read it as, “I will respect my husband when he loves me.” That’s a lose-lose, vicious, endless cycle!
So we have husbands and wives, arms folded, back to back, telling each other that they will do what God commands when the other one breaks and starts doing what they are supposed to do. Guys, that’s not what Paul was talking about!
In verse 25, Paul says to love your wife “as Christ loved the church.” The way Christ loved the church was sacrificially, till death, even when He knew not everyone loved Him. In the same way, men, we are to love our wives sacrificially. In other words, we love her whether she respects us or not!
So, men, love your wives! Start doing something different than you are currently doing. Stop the vicious cycle, and be the man God has called you to be. Sacrificially love her. Give up your time to spend it with her. Give up your rest to give her rest.
And what you will see develop over time is respect! The closer you get to looking like Jesus through His Word, prayer, and lifestyle, the more she will respect you. Make it your goal to out-serve her, to go above and beyond, to show her in every way that she is loved.
If you man up God’s way, you’ll be amazed at what God will do in your family. And your wife will be amazed at what God does in you!
Jody Burkeen is the founder and president of MAN UP! God’s Way Ministries (ManUpGodsWay.org). This ministry was birthed out of a desire to change the way Christian men “do” Christianity.
Ten Ways to Love Her More
- LISTEN TO HER without interjecting. (Proverbs 18:13)
- SPEAK TO HER without condemning. (James 1:19)
- GIVE TO HER without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26)
- PRAY FOR HER without ceasing. (Colossians 1:9)
- ANSWER HER without arguing. (Proverbs 17:1)
- SHARE WITH HER without pretending. (Ephesians 4:15)
- ENJOY HER without complaining. (Philippians 2:14)
- TRUST HER without wavering. (1 Corinthians 13:7)
- FORGIVE HER without punishing. (Colossians 3:13)
- PROMISE HER without forgetting. (Proverbs 13:12)