A Measure of Success

How do you describe success?  Sadly in the world today it’s very hard to do so without looking at your bank account, job title, size of your home or your fancy car.  Being a man in the world today, it is even more difficult not to get caught up in “being successful.”

I was speaking with a woman the other day who was elated that her son recently received a promotion.  As we continued our discussion, she mentioned that she could “now tell all my friends how successful he is, and I don’t have to be ashamed.”  First of all, how sad that she would be ashamed of her son if he didn’t measure up to the rest of the pack.  Receiving a promotion for working hard and taking pride in your work is great, and I’m not going to say there is anything wrong with that.  As I continued to think about her son, however, I began to imagine what his life might look like.  Is he spending 60+ hours a week at the office?  Is his travel schedule taking him to cities most of us only dream of visiting while his family is home without their leader?  Is he missing “just one more game” or the school play?  When is our drive to be successful enough?

Or should we measure success a different way?  Are you the father that won’t miss any of his son’s football games?  The dad who is always available for his daughter’s tea parties?  The man who is serving in his church?  Or the husband that sits down on the couch and asks his wife how her day was while rubbing her feet?  Would this be the description of someone “successful?”

I hope and pray that the son the of that woman measured up to this success.  I hope and pray for myself that I can as well.

Be Strong. Act Like Men.

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A Measure of Love

If I were to ask you how you love your wife you may have a pretty hard time putting words around that. Better yet if she were to ask you the same question you would probably start looking for the remote and try to subtly change the topic. Fact of the matter is we’re men, and we don’t typically think about the HOW we are loving our spouses. Sure we can say, “I Love You,” or even describe what we love about our wives, but that will usually be a description of what WE get from that love. Don’t be alarmed; we are selfish beings.   It’s part of who we are, but there is a solution.

Read 1 Cor 13 again (I say again because I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, not another over-played usage of the ‘Love’ chapter.”). In fact, it is a great place to go to remind yourself HOW you should love your wife. Challenge yourself to start being a servant in your love and not only a recipient of her love.  My marriage has always been great, but if I am honest often times that was due to what I taking from it, not what I was putting into it.

Having God at the center of your marriage is key, but He will not work alone. You are expected to continue to put the effort into seeking  His direction and working on growing closer together and towards Him. Get this right, and I promise you won’t start looking for the remote next time she asks to describe your love.

 

Change of pace….

We’ve talked about fighting fair by creating mutual rules of engagement. We need to be prepared to tackle those issues that will arise in a marriage, so having defined an approach to conflict is a great idea.
But…what if you are already stuck in a cycle to negativity and hurt?

I’ll give you an alternative. Set your problems aside for a little bit. Don’t talk about them at all. Don’t bring them up…not even once. Put your energy into trying to connect. Spend your time and energy doing specific relationship building activities. Things that you enjoy together.

It sounds backwards. Solve the problems; and then everything will be better. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to work? I challenge you to step outside of the traditional thinking. By focusing on building good will with your spouse and creating a positive connection – you might find that your issues become smaller while creating a greater feeling of oneness in your marriage.

”If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” – Ecclesiastes 4:10

Stand up together and enjoy each other!

 

Personality vs. Character

“The difficultly with marriage is that we fall in love with a personality, but we must live with a character.” – Peter Devries

What is meant by character?

“Personality” is easy to understand. Your “personality” is how people experience you. It’s your public persona. But what is “character?” And why is “character” so crucial in your marriage?
Character is who you are when no one is watching.

You see, when you and your spouse met, you met each other’s personalities. You showed your spouse and you were shown by your spouse your public personas. You didn’t tricked each other. It’s just your personality; how you display yourself to others.

Marriage lasts too long in too close quarters for anyone to sustain a public persona. Personalities eventually give way to an inner self that gets revealed for the first time. And there you each stand, naked as if no one is watching. But someone is watching. And that’s when you meet for the first time…again!

You and your spouse don’t meet the person who charmed each other’s friends, bought gifts for each other’s parents, and always smiled from ear to ear. No, this time it’s a meeting of your characters. It’s not only that you’re meeting each other for the first time, but it’s that you’re meeting YOURSELVES for the first time.

Most people wouldn’t be caught dead treating anyone the way they treat their spouse. Most people don’t recognize their own behavior. “I’m just not myself with him/her.” Well then who is that person?
The reason so many people fail at marriage and an attempt at marriage renewal is not that they don’t like their spouse. It’s that they don’t like themselves. And while everyone else in their life is like a mirror reflecting their personality; their spouse is a mirror reflecting their character. And most people don’t like what they see.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

 

Walking Together

“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” Amos 3:3

I’ve been considering its application to my relationship with my wife. It reinforces the hierarchy of the relationships in a marriage and family. We must – first walk with Christ. We must – second walk with our spouse. If we fail in either of these areas; then we are not going to be successful leading our marriage or family.

Our marriages involve two imperfect people that are not always compatible. Conflict is inevitable. You and your spouse will not always be in agreement. In these moments – we need to love and respect each other as God’s commands us to do; and then leave room for God to move in our marriage and family. It is important that you walk together with your spouse. It is even more important to walk with God.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

Be Strong. Act Like Men.

How do you define relationship?

Relationship (noun):
a) a connection, association or involvement
b) connection between persons by blood or marriage
c) an emotional or other connection between people

I participated in a work related team building event yesterday. The facilitator talked about the importance of building relationships. Our team consisted of people that I knew and those that I did not know. We had to come together quickly to resolved physical challenges as a team. A self-focused attitude was not going to produce success.

I would contend that…especially in our “me first” society…most people enter a relationship with what they can get out of it, rather than what they can give to it. What do individuals think that being in a relationship is going to provide for them? A cure for loneliness? A person to make them happy? A person to meet their needs? A change from what they’ve experienced in your life?

Where have people developed these relationship expectations? Stories, romance novels, television, friends, nursery rhymes, films, magazines, comics, cartoons, your own family, songs, ballads, fairy tales, myths, legends and so on.

Relationships…just like a team…requires a shared purpose. Just as one needs a purpose in life – something to aspire to, to feel a sense of achievement, growth and self-worth – one needs a purpose in a relationship. An individual without a sense of purpose is lost in life like a couple without a purpose is lost in a relationship. That purpose is how one is able to measure growth and progress. More importantly, that purpose provides a common interest, vision and goal in which both individuals can jointly work towards and share in its successes and failures.

The purpose of a relationship is not to have another who might complete you, but to share your completeness with them.

Be Strong. Act like Men.

Fullness of God

We focus mainly on pursuing an Ephesians 5 marriage. We’ve talked about the instructions for Christian living in Ephesians 4 plenty. It is important that we following the instruction that Paul shares with the people of Ephesus.

I need to confess that I have overlooked an important message in Ephesians 3. I couldn’t sleep Monday night. I was struggling with how I approach my role as a husband at times. I will often read through Ephesians in moments of difficulty because it challenges me to center myself back where I need to be. It seemed almost highlighted in my Bible:

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

How can I possibly live God’s instructions as a husband without being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”?

Simple answer – I can’t. Neither can you.

I’ve realized that I am not capable of implementing God’s command to be forgiving and love my wife through my own effort. I must have the fullness of God to be truly successful. I am going to attempt to unpack this a little more in tomorrow’s post.

Be Strong. Act Like Men.