Before I begin, I would just like to preface this by saying that I will be having a post specifically on women next week. I do not want men to think I am picking on them in any way and always want this to be a blog that uplifts both men and women equally. Please read this with an open heart and take it in love.
When you have a degree in counseling and blog about marriage, you tend to have many approach you to talk about what is going on in their home life. I love this and love the ministry God has given me, but over the last few years of this I have noticed an incredibly frustrating and sad trend. Woman after woman that I talk to is having marital issues not because they and their spouse are fighting or because a difficult tragedy has befallen them, but because their husband is not stepping up. I understand the issue of getting both sides and generally do this as often as I can, but I hear the same thing from the men as well. Guys that have trouble growing up, who can’t keep a job, who cannot keep their eyes from other women (either physically or digitally), and who just tend to put themselves first before their wives.
At first I put this off as a “younger” issue. My friends who I primarily talk to about these things have been in their younger twenties and I understand that young marriage can be hard and takes some adjustment. But then I saw it happening in marriages all around me, of all ages. And as my friends and I near (or have already entered) their thirties, I see little to no improvement in many of the couples that I have talked with. I have also seen the problem of men not stepping up all across the country. Others are noticing it too. An article on the New York Times website discusses that the number of men receiving degrees is significantly dropping as well as the number of men in the workforce. The Huffington Post has an article that discusses the problem with males stepping up and how it starts at an early age. The HP says that the United States “leads the industrialized world in fatherlessness” and goes into the overwhelming problems of younger boys with issues of ADHD, video game addiction, and internet pornography. Salon.com also adds to the discussion discussing the problems of excessive video game usage and the problems of pornography with young boys and men. They talk about it affecting men in their relationship commitment and overall growing up. Even President Obama made a call specifically for African American men to step up as fathers and husbands on Father’s day in 2009.
This is not just me, this is not just happening with those around me, it is an epidemic of men who are not being challenged and who are not being grown to be the best husbands that they can be. While I alone cannot solve this problem and really cannot even begin to understand the complexity of changing this issue, I can pray and have. And I believe God is calling His sons to step up; for husbands to become the leaders He called them to be. While I do not have the answers, I believe God has laid a few specific ways that you, as a man, can step up and better serve your family and the Lord.
While this seems like a simple concept, it is incredible how many times I see and hear of families that are falling apart because the husband is not working or is not working enough. I understand that there are many dealing with joblessness who desperately want to work right now, so please hear me that I’m not speaking to you. And if you are a family that has decided to have mom work while dad stays at home with the kids, I think that’s great. This is not directed at you. This is for men who are fully capable, but simply struggle with finding the right job or even seeking one at all. This is for the men that might have a job, but come home to zone out on the couch rather than spend time with the kids or love on their wives and help around the house. Some of the articles I noted above talked about the increasing number of men who are without jobs and who are more interested in the artificial world of video games and pornography than the real world of supporting and caring for their families.
The Bible is very clear on God’s expectation for us to work. The most convicting of which is probably 1 Timothy 5:8 where He says: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” God has called all of us to work in our different ways, whether that be at home or in a workplace, but all in all we are not to be lazy. I have seen so many divorces and heartbreaks that could have been prevented by a husband showing willingness to provide by finding and keeping a steady job. Do not wait until you find that “perfect” position. Seek out what you love, but in the meantime, find something that will do. Support your family and “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Col 3:23-24).”
Another place where I have seen a need for men to step up is in loving their wives and those around them. If you’ve read my blog for any extended amount of time, you know that one of my favorite scriptures passages is from Ephesians 5: 21-33. It sets up the picture of what marriage looks like and provides an amazing purpose for a marital relationship. If you read over this passage you might notice something very interesting. While many focus and get frustrated over the verse that calls women to submit, the majority of the passage is concerning men and their call to love. This doesn’t always come easy for guys. At least, in the “showing love” part of it. They may think they are showing love by their actions, but in reality, their wives are feeling frustrated and defeated by the lack of love they are receiving. I encourage you to check out the book “The Five Love Languages” and see the way your wife experiences and feels love the best. You can even have her take a quiz (and you can take it too!) HERE. But even if you do not know her specific love language there are ways you can show her you love her. First of all, tell her! Never let a day go by without telling your wife you love her. Tell her she is beautiful and compliment her on what you love most about her. Hold her hand in public, bring home some flowers or candy every once in awhile. Just find little ways to remind her that you care. You will never know how your far your small gestures will go.
In addition, love others. Men are often thought of as having a “hard shell” or not as social as women. But there are people all around you that need to be shown compassion and you are just the right person to do it. One of the best ways you can do this is by mentoring a younger man. Help the upcoming generation to make the best choices and to improve on the faults of the current. Help guide a young husband to love his wife better. Share your mistakes and what you did right. We need more men lifting up men and you, through Christ, are capable of doing just that!
The other major theme for men in Ephesians 5 is to lead. Verses 22-23 say this: “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” While having another submit to you sounds pretty cool, you have to think of all which it entails. Remember, “With great power comes great responsibility.” It is a high calling that God has put on men to lead their families. Spiritually speaking, this can be incredibly intimidating. I have watched Matt grow into the spiritual leader of our home over these past five years and it was not without a learning curve. He had to find how I was best led while also finding what was most comfortable for him. With Matt leading it does not look like a daily Bible study or a nightly prayer. Instead he encourages me in my relationship with the Lord, prays for me daily, and asks me about my spiritual walk. He has found a way to lead that not only encourages me, but the best way that he can lead our family. It does not have to look like a daily devotion time or keeping your wife and family in check, it simply needs to look like you seeking the Lord and helping your family to as well.
There are other ways to lead besides spiritually. Financially leading and making sure that your family is provided for (as we discussed above), leading your children and being an involved and caring father, leading your wife by being a source of strength and stability, and leading in your church and community as you reach out to others and serve in the place of worship and family of believers that God has blessed you with. Yes, this is an incredibly high calling and you cannot do it alone. God is there to walk you through every step of the way and will not leave you or forsake you. Let this be your personal verse:
Deuteronomy 31:6- Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Phew, you made it! I appreciate you reading and pushing through. Again, I hope that you were able to take this in love and in a way that pushes you to be a better man and a better husband. Change the perspective and idea of men in this world and allow God to truly use you in the roles He has placed you in. We all have work to do on ourselves and as I said before, I will be addressing the ladies in this next week. But focus on the growth that you need to make. Everyone can improve. Every man can be a better husband. What is God calling you to change starting today? I’ll leave you with this quote I found today that I found encouraging and insightful. Let God take you to where you need to be:
“It is curiously comforting to know that your calling is beyond your capability.” – Powlison