"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
As a husband and a father, I believe a couple of the greatest responsibilities I have on this side of heaven are to love my wife the way Jesus loved the church and to raise and train up my children in the instruction of the Lord. Easier said than done, right? One of the greatest struggles we have as men is being the kind of husband our wives deserve, being the kind of father our children deserve. It begins with our struggle with pride and selfishness. We like to have power over things; we like to control things. It is pride; it is selfishness. And if we find ourselves struggling within our families, it is probably because our pride and our selfishness has spilled over into our relationships with our wives and our children. Many times I am more focused on what my wife is doing to fulfill me rather than what I can do to fulfill her, and that is selfish! That is prideful! The answer to our struggles with pride and selfishness is Jesus. The answer to our struggles within the family is Jesus. Paul tells us very clearly in Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." He goes on to say in Ephesians 5:28-33, "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Peter echoes Paul's words in 1 Peter 3:7, when he says, "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, that nothing will hinder your prayers." I believe as husbands it will take four things to enjoy right relationships with our wives: 1. It will take Christ-like love. 2. It will take selflessness. 3. It will take respect. 4. It will take unhindered prayers. You can and you should embrace your role as a husband. You can and you should enjoy your role as a husband. Believe it! Claim it! Live it!
I also thought about my relationships with my children. How can I be the kind of father that my children need me to be? Of course, a lot of worldly answers came to my mind. I need to work harder and longer hours so I can make more money to give them the things they want and need. I need to try and buddy up to them and become their best friend. I need to let them slide more often when they make mistakes. I need to "chill," as my children say. I wonder, as a father, have I been more worried about how good my son is going to be on the ball field or how good my daughter is going to be in art class than I have how much my sons and daughters know the Lord??? That is the main difference in being their father and being their friend. I know better...I know the truth. I was fortunate to have a dad who showed me how to be a dad. I was even more fortunate to have a dad who showed me the Word of God. The Word of God is clear in showing me what being the right kind of father is all about, just as the Word of God is clear in showing me what being the right kind of husband is all about. Paul says in Colossians 3:21, "Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged." He says in Ephesians 6:4, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Moses reminds us as men in Deuteronomy 6 that God's commands are to "be upon our hearts." He says that we are to "impress them on our children," "talk about them when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up." He says that God's commands are to be written on "the doorframes of our houses and on our gates." I believe as fathers it will take four things to enjoy right relationships with our children: 1. It will take encouragement. 2. It will take teaching and training. 3. It will take time. 4. It will take love and discipline. You can and you should embrace your role as a father. You can and you should enjoy your role as a father. Believe it! Claim it! Live it!