My blog's been hijacked by my husband.
So, girls, grab your guys once again.
This one hits where it hurts, but it's rreeeaaaalllllyyyyy good!
The First of the Three P's
The First of the Three P's
When I thought about writing a few posts, I was thinking it would be primarily for men. Since I suspect nearly 99% of the people who read this are ladies, I guess I may not be reaching my target audience! But in reality this stuff applies to all of us. I do hope some men are able to read this and benefit though.
One disclaimer before proceeding. This is merely my perspective. I realize there are other vantage points and I don’t mean to offend anyone by what I say. Rather based on my personal experience, what I see around me, and what I know of other families who are similarly situated to ours, these issues seem to be very prevalent, if not ubiquitous. So I don’t intend to judge, but I do intend to challenge.
Of the “Three P’s”, priorities is one that is foundational. Without it, the other two (presence and prayer) will suffer or be virtually non-existent. Not that long ago, I would have said my priorities were in line. At least I would have said that prior to an incident (actually a few of them) that opened my eyes to see the truth.
Without sharing too much, the incident involved an abdication (not delegation – there’s a difference) of responsibility for important matters in our home. Due to a lack of leadership, Joy had to fill in the gap (or gaps) without my support or direction. She was left to fend for herself – abandoned by her husband (not physically but in other ways). Something God never intended men to do to their wives.
I don’t think I intentionally neglected this area (or any other area) of our family. Comparatively, I was probably doing pretty well. But there is only one standard and by His standard, I was falling short. That’s hard for a man to admit! It makes the hair on our neck stand up when we’re challenged, particularly in this area. It sure made mine stand up! But it was true and I was blinded to it. I had a wake up call, and hopefully others may as well.
When I think of priorities I think of a list. Some things on the list take precedence over others and there’s one thing at the top which trumps all of them. The one up top is the one that you devote the majority of your time and energy to. When pressed to choose between others, this is the one you don’t sacrifice.
A friend once said to me, give me your calendar and your checkbook and I’ll tell you what’s important in your life. How does your calendar and your checkbook look? Where are you spending the bulk of your time and energy, and why?
Many men in the church say that God and family are the top priorities in their lives. But when you look at their lives, it really makes you question whether that’s true. The disconnect between words and actions does not go unnoticed by others, especially our wives and children.
We claim to love God but don’t regularly lead our families in prayer or devotions (or spend much time in the Word ourselves). We claim to put our families first but aren’t at home for dinners or on weekends, and even if we are, we’re usually distracted. We express our love oftentimes through material possessions rather than time and affection, sending a mixed message about what is truly important.
One of the excuses I have used, and seen many other fathers use, is that we need to provide for our families. We have bills to pay, man! Mortgages, tuition, food, power, car payments, loans; the burden is mighty. So if we don’t work (or maybe if both spouses don’t work) how will all of this be taken care of?
To a certain extent, I would agree. Some families (particularly these days) struggle to make ends meet. But many families I know are well provided for and yet there is a discontent that pervades their lives. They want more! More compensation, more recognition at work, a bigger house, nicer clothes, more security, better vacations, shinier things, more comforts.
So in the midst of abundance - where God has more than adequately provided for all our needs - we are still dissatisfied. And as a result, we have dissatisfied children. We wonder why our kids complain and moan, when in reality they are reflecting our grumbling spirit.
The Word tells us that “Godliness with contentment is great gain”; that “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content”; we ask God to give us neither poverty nor riches but simply our daily bread. As I write this, I feel even in my own spirit a sense of insincerity with respect to these verses. Who among us is honestly content with our daily bread? If we’re honest with ourselves and others we would admit that we want so much more. We’re discontent and our priorities are skewed as a result.
Idolatrous hearts and the praise of man (rather than the fear of God) drive us to find satisfaction in things other than Christ, and we suffer. Families are wasting away because of it rather than resting in a merciful God who has redeemed us from all that!
And to justify our covetous hearts we somehow equate God’s blessing with financial prosperity. As if our success is a tangible sign of God’s favor. There’s no doubt God has blessed certain families who have in turn given abundantly to Kingdom purposes. But you usually hear the opposite. If God blesses me, I can give or serve the Kingdom more abundantly. We should remember there’s always a cost to pursuing worldly treasure!
The question we should ask is what (or better yet Whom) are we pursuing and why? Are you pursuing God or His blessings? Do you want more of Him or just more of His stuff? I see a lot of men pursuing the latter at the expense of the Former. The result is an emptiness within many families. A chasing after the wind that will never fulfill. Moreover, families that are supposed to be salt and light, simply look like everyone else in the world with very little distinction.
The bottom line is my priorities were off, and I saw the impact it was having on my family. The good news is that our God is a God of redemption. The years the locusts have eaten have been restored. He has upheld our family in incredible ways ever since I made significant shifts in my priorities. For me, that involved leaving a lucrative position, slowing down at work to focus my attention on my family, and ministering to them spiritually and emotionally. And somehow the bills still get paid! Incredible how that works.
One last thing, since Joy and I have worked on and strengthened our relationship, my relationship with our girls is noticeably greater. Not that it was bad before, but it’s so much fuller now. If our relationship with our wife is suffering, then our relationship with our kids will suffer also. They go hand in hand.
So I would encourage husbands and fathers – please take a look at your priorities! If they need to be readjusted, make some changes. Talk to your wife openly about these issues. Be humble enough to say “I’m sorry!” where it’s appropriate. Be open to thoughts and suggestions from your spouse.
Renew your love for Christ. Pursue Him with the passion you profess with your mouth, and don’t let yourself get distracted with the cares of this world. You may need to make some serious changes in how you live and it will be very difficult and uncomfortable I assure you. But He will be there every step of the way.
Finally, let your wife know she’s the love of your life.
Let your children know that you would move heaven and earth (if you could) to fight for them - that they are treasured in your eyes.
Love them sacrificially. I promise you will never regret it!