I have been working on a special project for a couple of years now, but more intensely over the last several months – the completion of a 30 day “engagement” as I call it for husbands (kind of a cross between a devotional and a mini-course) with the passage in Ephesians 5:25-33 about how to be a godly husband. A lot of it has come out of my private counseling I do. I had a group of about 20 guys beta testing it through the month of September, and initial feedback has been very encouraging. Here is the introduction to the study:
I almost lost my wife early in our marriage, and I’m ready to take credit for it. What I don’t get credit for is the way our relationship turned around over several years to the point where it is today. This book is not about me, but about what God has taught me about being a husband, some of which continues to unfold before me. Just delve into His Word and take it seriously, and it will get to the heart of a matter quicker than any other approach to self-improvement you can find.
Even before I had learned a lot of what you will find in this book, God gave me the awesome role almost ten years ago of helping marriages find their footing. So I’ve been learning through practice, reflection, prayer (“crying out to God” when things were really tough), and teaching this material for some time. I say I don’t get credit for what I have learned because I constantly see men who don’t pick up on the same clues that God and my wife gave me. “Why don’t they see what is happening?” I find myself asking. So I began to consider that God was giving me something to say to help these men find their way.
All of us Christian men know the famous passage from Ephesians 5 that addresses marriage. The easy part to remember is about wives submitting to their husbands. And the husband’s role? “Love your wives as Christ loved the Church…” is about as much as we can confidently remember, and then it begins to get fuzzy. We hear a message on it once in a blue moon and we remember a few vague ideas: lay down your life, servant leadership, consider her needs, one flesh. That’s about what we get out of it. We may have even read a book on marriage. It got more in depth, but, boy, was it a lot of stuff, and I can’t do all that now, and I’ve got most of that down anyway. Besides, it’s mostly my wife’s fault anyway.
So here is what God has given me as a fresh approach: one month to internalize and reform everything you can about being a godly husband. Why is that unique?
Instead of trying to cover everything under the sun on marriage, we are going to cover one thing well – the 8 verses that Paul addresses to husbands (25-33) of Ephesians 5.
- You will memorize this passage to get it “engrafted” on your heart.
- You will journal and do homework to interact with the passage.
- You will have assignments for processing the material with your wife.
- You will go through it with another man, both as an accountability aid, but also to help you with blind spots.
The easiest one to forego is the last item above, but this one may be the most critical. Just yesterday I was counseling a woman from my congregation who was frustrated with the inability of her husband to “get it.” I told her that, as bad as divorce is, the way to divorce-proof the Body of Christ is not to keep preaching against it, but to create a culture of what I can the three “mutuals”: mutual edification, mutual accountability, and mutual submission. No man can expect to be able to save his marriage alone, even if he says he is doing it “with God’s help.” Until we are in each other’s business, as it were, we don’t have a prayer. Do I exaggerate? Probably, but I think I’m in pretty safe territory doing so.
So over the last many years I have been mentored by several godly men, counseled by a few spirit-led counselors, taken my fair share of biblical classes and inspired conferences. What I want to do is distill it all down into small, bite-sized portions, packaged in a way that you can chew on it, alone, with God, with your wife, and with a buddy. You won’t retain everything in here either, but the test of whether this process has done what I have set out to do is whether something (if only one thing) important lodges in your heart and your wife sees a permanent change in you and sees you begin a process of permanent change.
A tall order? Sure, but we serve a God who takes on only big challenges.
“For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Phil. 2:13
If there are any small groups out there interested in doing this study, let me know.
Now I have to decide what form to publish it in. Some guys think I need to do a video of me explaining it to a small group of guys. Yet another project…