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WIVES AND HUSBANDS (17): MANNING UP (Ephesians 5:22-33) Mark Twain was known for his wit.

A Mormon acquaintance once pushed him into an argument on the issue of polygamy. After long argument, the Mormon demanded that Twain cite any passage of Scripture forbidding polygamy. Nothing easier, Twain replied. No man can serve two masters. Well in our study of wives and husbands we have found that there is no master in marriage other than Christ! But there is a leader. Leader one of four roles or functions assigned to husbands in Eph 5:2233, the other three being lover, leaver and cleaver. Our text for husband as leader is Eph 5:23: 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. Headship modeled after Christ has been our theme. So far we have seen 10 characteristics of leadership too numerous to summarize this morning, so please get the CDs if you missed any of them. Good for any leadership role home, work, any. Today we will finish with four more. I. Leader A. Not as Dictator, but as Example B. Not for Self, but for God C. Not for Self, but for Family D. Not as Superior, but as Equal E. Not Demanding, but Inviting (submission can only be chosen by the wife, not imposed by the husband) F. Not as critic, but as encourager G. Not as Controller, but as Partner (principle of delegation) H. Not Remotely, but There I. Not With Contempt, but With Respect J. Not Clueless, but Understanding K. Not as First, but as Last This one seems tricky at first. How can you lead if you are busy serving? The two seem incompatible at first. But Jesus did, so it is possible, and it is, in fact, necessary. In the last few years a term has been coined to describe this servant/leadership. It is a good term. It provides a much-needed emphasis on the fact that leadership is first and foremost about serving.
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Jesus was emphatic on this subject, both in precept and example. The teaching is found in Mark 9:33: And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, What were you discussing on the way? 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all. This is another way of teaching us that when we are leaders, wherever that might be, we must put the interests of others above our own never more true that in the home. Christ demonstrated this in the ultimate sense on the cross. Did he deserve the cross? No according to Heb 4:15 he was without sin. Even the thief on the cross recognized according to Luke 23:4 this man has done nothing wrong. So was the cross a tragic mistake a misguided human error? Once again, No. Jesus consistently predicted his death in his last weeks with the disciples, culminating in in John 10:17-18, 17) For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18) No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. Jesus purposely, willingly, lovingly, intentionally gave us the ultimate example of service. No one deserved to die less than He. No one deserved to be served less than fallen human beings. So, guys, whatever we are called upon to sacrifice and however little our wife may deserve it at the moment, Jesus example stands the ultimate humiliation. Its a lesson in humility we all need. I need it most of all. I get so wrapped up in my own plans and preparations that there are times when I get short with my wife for seeking help with something that she is doing. So many wives, like mine, complement husbands so well, it is easy for us husbands to forget the servant part of our headship. Former Kansas Sen. Robert Dole ran for president in 1996. His wife, Elizabeth, has held many very responsible positions in government. Shortly after her appointment as Secretary of Transportation, a magazine ran an article about the Doles with a picture showing the senator helping is wife make their bed. Senator Dole reported one male reader wrote an irate letter complaining that I should never allow a picture to be taken of a man doing such things around the house. I wrote him back: Buddy, you dont know the half of it. The only reason she was helping me was that the photographer was there. Now I dont know if Dole really made the bed or not, but I know that he had the right attitude and the reader was out
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to lunch. Unfortunately, most of us are more like the reader. Husbands get so used to being served that we take it for granted to our everlasting shame. Listen leadership is about serving. We err when we make it all about making decisions, and who gets the final vote. Jesus puts service first on the leadership list. Guys we have a lot of room for improvement. Headship means serving on a daily basis. L. Not Perfectly, but Progressively This point is obviously not taken from the life of Christ. He was perfect. But it is a necessary point because we husbands are not perfect. We come with flaws. One young lady went home to visit her parents one weekend. As parents do, they questioned her about her dating life. Her mother asked, Just what kind of man are you interested in?' The young lady pointed to her father and said, I want one like him, but with a few minor modifications. Her father grinned triumphantly. Her mother brought him back down to earth when she said, It's taken me 30 years to modify that one; it doesn't come in a 30-year-old model. Guaranteed he was still flawed. Were all imperfect. So a husbands leadership must necessarily be progressing since its not perfect. The test is it getting better? This has implications for both husbands and wives. For husbands the implication is that when flaws come we must learn from them, confess them and move on. We must acknowledge we make mistakes. We are not perfect. We must not get discouraged and quit, but neither must we get cocky and prideful. Wives, this means that you must allow for this without an I told you so attitude. Even if you predicted it ahead of time -- ease up. Let us own the decision, own the confession and own the opportunity to learn. Mistakes will be made. But dont jump on the I told you so wagon. A psychologist was lecturing a general audience one time and making the point that perfection is not found in the human species. To reinforce his point, he asked the audience whether or not anyone had ever heard of a perfect woman. No one ever had. So, then he asked, well, how about a perfect man? For a moment no one replied, but then a small, thin voice came from the back of the room, Yes sir, I heard of one. The speaker was a little taken aback, Youve heard of a perfect man? he questioned again.
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Yes sir, came the reply. Well, who was this perfect man? asked the speaker. The man in back replied, It was my wifes first husband. You can almost hear what that poor guy had to put up with, cant you? But you can be sure if she was criticizing the second, she had skewered the first as well. There are no perfect people, and we must we must exercise tolerance with each other. Pastors are not exempt. Paul told young Pastor Timothy of Ephesus in I Tim 4:15, 15) Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. I love that verse. It means that I dont have to be perfect to be a pastor or elder. In fact, I dont even have to look perfect. How could you see progress in me if you didnt first see flaws? The emphasis is upon progress. The goal is progress, but God Himself acknowledges that we are imperfect. Marriage is largely about cutting each other the same slack. But progress is the goal, guys. When you blow it dont ignore; dont deny; dont stop; dont give up; dont quit; dont excuse. Get up, confess it and move on. M. Not by Coercion but by Prayer Every marriage starts out with unrealistic expectations. Ive never seen an exception. Weve talked about the penchant women have for wanting to change their husband. Its almost automatic. Well men are no different. I saw a poem once that read: Everything was going fine, Matrimony dandy, Until this year my Valentine Sent dietetic candy. There is a quote that has been attributed to many sources. It says, Many a man who falls in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl. Unmet expectations the bane of every marriage. Things are never quite what we expect. Things that charmed us initially later tear us apart. After five years of marriage, Amber and Ed began having problems. They argued so bitterly that Ed decided he wanted a divorce. The attorney he consulted asked him, What first attracted you to this woman? Ed replied, Her forthrightness, straightforwardness and frankness. The counselor then asked, Why do you now want to end the relationship? Ed answered, Her forthrightness, straightforwardness and frankness.

No relationship is perfect. Every one has friction. So we seek change. Women manipulate. Men demand both seeking change. But just as we discouraged wives from going down this path, so we must urge husbands dont go there! So, how do we deal with unmet expectations desire for change? Let me suggest three steps. First, accept your wife for who she is. She is who you married whether you fully understood who that was or not. Somewhere in there is the person you fell in love with. Find her, love her, and accept her. Dont insist that she be someone else. You have a much greater chance to effect change from a position of acceptance than you ever will from a position of criticism. [Repeat] Second, change yourself. The truth is that a successful marriage will demand change on the part of both people. And nothing will invite change on the part of your partner like them seeing you change. Mike Mason states it beautifully in The Mystery of Marriage when he says, If people understood exactly how radical is the curtailment of independence in marriage, there could never be any thought of divorce. Divorce would be seen as a form of suicide. Then, if people understood the true depth of self-abnegation that marriage demands, there would perhaps be far fewer weddings. For marriage, too, would be seen as a form of suicide. It would be seen not as a way of augmenting one's comfort and security in life, but rather as a way of losing one's life for the sake of Christ. Man, that is a powerful statement. Marriage is a way of losing ones life for the sake of Christ. Did you know that when you got married? Probably not but you know it now. Make if part of your DNA. There is a great implication here. You may want change in your spouse, but the truth is, you cant. You cant change anybody else. None of us can. But we can change ourselves, and ironically, in most cases of good-intentioned people, that changing of self provokes a change in the other. We change others by changing ourselves. But there is a third point. I did not mention it to the wives, not because it did not apply, but because it applies so utterly to the head of the home. How did Christ lead? Not by coercion, but by prayer. How often do we find Him praying for his followers? He prayed all night before he appointed the twelve apostles from among all his disciples. He was praying for them just before he met them walking on the water. In Luke 22, he mentions a very specific prayer on one of the many occasions when the apostles were arguing about who was greatest. Speaking to Peter he says beginning in verse 31, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you (plural all of you all), that he might sift you like wheat (scatter you and
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render you useless), 32 but I have prayed for you (singular) that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. You can bet that time after time Jesus would have liked to have changed the behavior of these immature, struggling men. But he never coerced them always approached them gently. And He prayed! He prayed that great intercessory prayer for them and for us in John 17 the night before he was crucified. And then there is the reminder in Hebrews 7:25, Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Did you know that Christ is praying for you right now? Did you know that? Not coercing, but praying. Is that a model worth following, guys? Great leaders pray for their followers Great husbands pray for their wives. They trust God to do what they could never do anyway. Want change? Pray for it. Instead of making it the last resort make if the first. Praying will either cure her or it will make you better. Either way, you win and so does your marriage. N. Not as Spiritual abdicator but as Man of God One last point. A man who is the godly head of his home will not abdicate spiritual responsibility. He will never quit. He will not say that the spiritual development of his children is over to his wife and the church. He will not leave the devotions to his wife. He will make sure that prayer and Bible study is at the heart of his home. He will set the moral and spiritual tone for his family. He will not opt for football and hobbies over church. He will be active in a ministry that suits his spiritual gifts. He may not be great in mans eyes, but he will be great in the eyes of God. And he will never quit; he will never abdicate; he will never give up. He will be there spiritually, growing as a man of God. Leadership in these areas is not the womans responsibility. It is a mans responsibility. That is why Paul in Ephesians 6:4 addresses fathers when he talks about the training and discipline of children. It is a joint project, but the man leads. God bless the women who have diligently filled in for husbands who have abdicated. But that whole scene emasculates Christianity in the eyes of the children. No wonder they leave the faith when they leave high school (or before). Its sissy stuff to them. Just a game with little fairytale stories and morality tales. They see nothing manly about it. Its not real to them because its not real to us. Guys, we will have a lot to answer for one day.
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Want some statistics. When an unbelieving wife comes to Christ, there is a 29% change that eventually the rest of the family will come to Christ and get involved in church. 29%. But when a man comes to Christ, 95% of the time the family comes as well and gets involved. 95%. In Marriage and Divorce magazine a recent national survey showed that one out of every 21/2 marriages ends in divorce. But when a couple actively attends church together, commits their life to Christ, prays and reads the Bible together, the divorce rate drops to one out of every 1,105. That's the difference the Jesus Christ makes. The statistics speak for themselves. Choose against God and His Word and fail to take the spiritual leadership in your home, the odds are that you will be divorced within 10 years, or at live the rest of your life knowing that you are less than you can be. You will certainly cripple your family and point them away from the faith. Guys we have two choices. We can be a man of God, however imperfectly; however haltingly; however unfamiliar it may be to us or we can abdicate; quit; turn tail and run turn the throne over to our wife and say Sayonara, Baby. Its one or the other. There isnt any middle ground here. There just isnt. Youre in or youre out and way too many Christian men opt out. Its a travesty, and we will answer to God for it. A great old preacher, W. H. Griffith-Thomas said this: "We cannot make up for failure in our devotional life by redoubling energy in service. As water never rises above its level, so what we do never rises above what we are. We shall never take people one hairs breadth beyond our own spiritual attainment. We may point to higher things, we may allude to brighter worlds, but we shall only take them as far as we ourselves have gone." This is one of the reasons that being your pastor scares the daylights out of me on a weekly basis. I realize you can go no further than I have gone spiritually. And guys, your family your wife and children can go no further than you are going. Its become a man of God or abdicate. Paul Miller, in his book A Life of Prayer, nails the point at which most of us fail as husbands. He says that a husband will rarely even think to ask God for his wife to become more like Jesus when there is a problem such as her critical nature. Instead, he tries to talk to her, only to get the response, I would not be so critical of you if you didnt have so many problems. By raising the issue he just got more criticism, but rather than take it to his great, awesome God, his heart shuts down. He doesnt care anymore. He move on with life
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and flips on the television and tunes out. He is cynical about the possibility of real change in his life or that of his wife. Hes made people big and God small. Hes abdicated. This is why we are doing everything we know how in our church to provide the opportunity for men to learn what it means to be a Christian man to be men of the Word to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron. Our goal, our vision is that we not abdicate but that we become great husbands and great leaders of our families. It matters. It matters to our wives; it matters to our children; it matters to our society; and it matters to our great Heavenly Father. It matters eternally. Conclusion As we conclude these few weeks on husband as leader, let me close with this quote by John Piper. John is pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota who is intensely dedicated to bringing Christ into daily life. He is also an intensely godly man. He says this in his book Desiring God, A famous cigarette billboard pictures a curly-headed, bronze-faced, muscular macho with a cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth. The sign says, "Where a man belongs." That is a lie. Where a man belongs is at the bedside of his children, leading in devotion and prayer. Where a man belongs is leading his family to the house of God. Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God seeking vision and direction for his family. Thats our great challenge, guys, as husbands and fathers and grandfathers. That is what it means to man up. Listen, its 10 times harder than playing in the NFL or running a company or crushing a competitor. Ten time harder. But its a thousand times more rewarding, and its the Fathers will for us. So, lets man up for our wives, our children, our Lord. Are you with me? Lets do it. Lets pray.