18 Things Every Husband Should Know about His Wife

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Being a husband as a follower of Jesus has a high bar attached to it. It isn’t harder than the calling or role of the wife, it is just different. The image given in Ephesians 5 of loving your wife as Christ loved the church is a hard, almost impossible task (I say impossible because nothing is impossible with God and you have the Holy Spirit in you as a follower of Jesus).

It is easy to feel like a failure around this verse as you look at your own life as a husband. Do I really show my wife that kind of love? Am I that kind of servant?

Here’s a simple question that I’ve used to evaluate my own heart and how I’m doing as a husband towards Katie: Is your wife more alive in her identity in Jesus because she’s married to you? That’s what Ephesians 5 is all about, coming alive to your identity in Jesus. Your wife is a gift from God that you will present to God and give an account for. So, Is she more alive in her identity in Jesus because she’s married to you?

Many husbands struggle because they try to do things for their wife that they think she wants or needs but aren’t actually in the same neighborhood. Below are some questions that I think every husband should know the answer to at any point about his wife (note: your wife is not a static object so the answer will change yearly, monthly and maybe daily!).

If you don’t know the answer to these, just ask, she would love to tell you.

While these questions are focused on a husband towards his wife, here some questions I think a couple should ask each other on a regular basis (perfect for your next date night).

Know Your Wife

A husband should know his wife better than anyone else. Her likes, dislikes, what excites her and disappoints her, her story, hopes and dreams. He should know what she likes in terms of romance, affection and in the bedroom and strive to serve her in those areas, not for what he can get but because of what God calls him to.

Here are some questions to help with this:

  1. What food does she like, what are her hobbies, how does she relieve stress?
  2. What hopes and dreams does she have? How can you help her accomplish them?
  3. How is your wife doing right now?
  4. What romances your wife?
  5. What gets your wife in the mood? What turns her off sexually?
  6. What does your wife like in the bedroom? What does she dislike?

Understand Your Wife

1 Peter 3:7 calls husbands to live with their wife in an understanding way, but to do that, you have to understand your wife. This goes closely with knowing your wife but as her life changes, kids age and move out, this will change on a regular basis. A husband’s job is to stay on top of these things and know what is happening in his wife’s heart, mind and soul.

Here are some questions to help with this:

  1. Is your wife flourishing in her life right now?
  2. When is she most productive?
  3. How much sleep does she need?
  4. What does she need right now in the stage of life you are in to alleviate stress?
  5. How is she doing on cultivating friendships with other women?
  6. What areas is she hoping to grow in spiritually (ie. prayer, theology, doctrine)? How can you help her? What books can you buy her to read (hint women read more than men do)? Here are a few you can start with that Katie liked.

Honor Your Wife

Many men speak about their wife, to their wife and treat her like one of the guys. She is not, she is special, more special than any car, boat, possession or your child or career. She is your most precious relationship, a gift from God. Treat her as such. Honor is basic manhood. Let me say that another way, if you don’t honor your wife, you are a child, not a man.

Here are some questions to help with this:

  1. Are you respectful to your wife in private and public when you talk to her and about her?
  2. Do you allow your kids to speak disrespectfully to your wife?
  3. Does the way you talk about your wife demand that others look at her in a positive light?
  4. Do you talk about her and look at her so that others will look up to her?
  5. If I spent 10 minutes listening to you talk about your wife would I know that she is the most important human relationship you have?
  6. Do you pursue her daily, weekly and yearly? Do you plan weekly date nights that show your love and attention to her?

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Summer Reading List

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Summer is a great time to read books. The longer days, trips to the beach and the pool, time in the car. If you aren’t careful though, you can end up reading the wrong books or miss the opportunity. While I won’t get through all of the books on my list (or even finish all the ones I start), here a few in different categories I’m hoping to read:

History: I love history and recently have been enjoying reading more of it. This summer feels like a time to spend some extra time on history books.

Leadership: It is impossible for me to not read some kind of leadership book, so that will for sure happen this summer. Here are a few:

Soul: Leadership can become all about doing and tasks, spending time with people, meetings and sermon prep. Summer is a great time as a leader to work on your heart and soul, grow who you are.

Novels: I don’t think pastors read enough novels or books for fun. On vacation, these are my go to books.

Future sermons: Summer is a great time to work ahead on sermons and do some background work. This fall, I’m preaching through Acts so I’ll start working through some books on that.

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Links for Your Weekend Enjoyment

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Here are some interesting posts I found this week that I thought you’d find interesting:

The #1 social media question for pastors.

A lot of pastors don’t fully understand the role their social media accounts should play in their overall communication strategy. They ask the question about separate accounts because all they do is announce stuff that is happening at the church so they figure what’s the difference? Exactly! If you’re doing it that way there is no difference. Social media is great for making announcements, sending reminders, etc… and that’s exactly what the church accounts should be doing overall. But that is only the beginning of what it can do.

Is your leadership structure hurting your church’s growth?

I’m convinced bad governance is a key contributing factor as to why many churches don’t grow. And, conversely, I’m convinced that good governance is a key factor as to why some churches do grow.

What is marriage to millennial evangelicals?

To them, the Christian argument against same-sex marriage is an appeal to the authority of a few disparate Bible verses, and therefore compelling only to those with a literalist hermeneutic. What the article names as a “revisionist” idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem “new” to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.

Questions to ask before you start something new at your church.

If you are an engaged, commitment member of a local church then you have probably at some point said to yourself or a friend, “We should do this ministry.” Often times these types of thoughts and ideas give birth to very fruitful and faithful ministries. As church leaders pastors pray for increasingly burdened and active church members. But, there is more to it than this.

Why You Parent the Way You Do

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Recently I made a comment on Facebook about babywise and quickly learned that discussing parenting styles on Facebook is akin to talking about global warming and vaccines.

But I learned something in the process, something I didn’t expect.

I learned two things about Christian parents that day and I think it can be incredibly dangerous.

The first, when it comes to parenting, Christians are very relative.

In fact, let me make a bold statement. By and large, most Christian parents care very little about what the Bible says about parenting and what science says about parenting.

Parenting styles aside for a minute.

There were almost 50 comments on the thread (which I deleted because it hurt my heart and made too angry), but almost every comment started with, “Well for my kid…”

No one ever started a sentence with, “The Bible or scientific research says…” Or, “my goal as a Christian parent because of the Bible is…”

It largely boiled down to what is easiest as a parent.

Now, we couch that in language about how its working for our kids, but I know for years I fell into the parenting trap of what is easiest and most convenient for me.

No Christian would ever say they don’t care what the Bible says about parenting, but many of the ways we parent say otherwise. It doesn’t matter what your parenting style is, how you communicate with your child or how you discipline them. If you are a follower of Jesus, what the Bible says about those things is way more important than what you think works for your child. For the most part, you are guessing at what you think works for your child because you don’t know until it’s over and they’ve moved out. That’s why what the Bible says and what scientific research says is so important.

When it comes to scientific research, I realize some Christians can get weird about that and start to wonder if God was taken out of the picture. While that happens, at the same time, there are incredible discoveries being made about our brains, how we are created and wired and all of that comes from God, whether a Christian discovers that or not. While this might be another blog topic, I think Christians needs to stop fearing science and start seeing how it confirms our Creator and his great plan for us.

The second thing I learned about parents is, we don’t really want to learn anything new. 

Almost no one in the over 50 comments asked, “How did you come to that conclusion? What do you know that I don’t? What books have you read that led you to that?”

Not wanting to learn or be stretched is an incredibly dangerous place to live, but many Christians stay in that zone when it comes to a lot of issues.

Are there things that Christians should reject out of hand without researching? Yes. This is why it matters so much to know what the Bible says about parenting (stay tuned for another post on that).

Now, like the first, no Christian parent would ever say they don’t want to learn. In fact, most feel incredibly inadequate as a parent (I know I do more times than not), but I think in an effort to feel better about ourselves as parents and what we are doing as parents, we shut down anything that might be new because we don’t want to be told we may have been doing the wrong thing.

I know a couple of years ago when we were going through our adoption classes and reading The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family and The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, all I could think of was “how did we mess this up as parents?” What I learned in those resources and classes had way more to do with how I and Katie parented all of our kids than just how to relate to the kids we adopted.

As a parent who claims to be a follower of Jesus, don’t settle for “this worked for me or my friend.” We have way more wisdom than that out there. What does the bible say about parenting? What are you called to be and do as a parent? That’s where we should start.

Next week I’ll share what I think is the most important question for any parent to answer as it relates to your child. It is the question that shapes our parenting style, the books we read, how we communicate, discipline and teach our kids. It is that big of a deal and most parents never even think about it.

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The Entrepreneur (Church Planter) Roller Coaster

Recently, I’ve been reading some great books written by entrepreneur’s. Mostly because the application to church planters is uncanny. A few of my favorites are The Hard Thing about Hard Things, Chess not Checkers, The Everything Store, Creativity Inc.and How Google WorksIf you are a pastor or a church planter, you are an entrepreneur and the wisdom in these books are incredibly helpful to those tasks.

Even though most pastors don’t believe that.

Enter Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success Magazine and his latest book The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster: Why Now Is the Time to #Join the RideDarren share some of his best insights, but also many from his interviews with the world’s top CEO’s and leaders for his magazine. Simply fascinating. The insights were incredible. I felt like I kept highlighting parts of the book!

Here are a few that jumped out (if you are a pastor or planter, simply insert church/church planter when it says business and you’ll see the wisdom):

  • The first and most important factor in building a successful business is that you have to love it.
  • The mistake people make is that they judge one person’s “front of stage” persona with their “back of stage” reality.
  • Work is gonna suck 95% of the time. But that other 5% is freaking awesome!
  • After years of studying the success of the world’s leading achievers across a spectrum of disparate fields, my conclusion time and time again has been that those who are at the top of their game are really just people who have found something to love.
  • When you step outside the status quo, you become a giant mirror for those who stay, reflecting back their cowardice.
  • The higher you climb on the ladder of success, the more people will dislike you. Climb high enough, and people might even hate you.
  • We spend most of our lives pursuing success, but I’m not sure we stop often enough and ask ourselves: What does success mean to me?
  • The person who knows how to get, keep, and cultivate a customer gets paid the most. Period.
  • One of the fastest (and most common) ways to derail your roller coaster car and send it to a fiery death is to hire and keep the wrong people.
  • Your people are your most important recruiting tool.
  • Great leaders know that businesses are nothing but a group of people brought together to accomplish a mission.
  • You cannot shape or create the culture. The culture of an organization is not a whiteboard exercise done with executives sitting around a conference table spit-balling ideas. The culture of an organization evolves around the people who make up the company. The culture is the personality and character expression of the people in it. The only way to shape that culture is to focus on hiring people with the attributes you want your culture to have.
  • Great people want to work with great people. It’s self-perpetuating. It’s the number one thing people are looking for.
  • Great people want to be a part of something great.
  • People don’t go as fast as they can. They don’t work as hard as they can either. They aren’t as disciplined as possible. They aren’t as positive-minded or enthusiastic as they can be. They’re only as fast and disciplined and positive as you are.
  • The leader’s responsibility is to draw out the talent, drive, and capability of the people on your team. Your job as a leader is to grow your people.
  • Activity is not productivity.
  • The greatest threat to your productivity is keeping yourself from getting awash in low-value activities.
  • Any time you feel overwhelmed, there’s a good chance the culprit is a lack of clear priorities.

As I said, if you are a leader, this is a great book to have on your summer reading list.

5 Reasons Relationships Fall Apart

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Healthy relationships take work. Healthy marriages that people want to stay in don’t just happen. Although we think they do. We think two people magically just work together, never fight, never have an issue or disagreement to work through, but they do.

So, where do things go wrong? How can a friendship that was working so well, a marriage that seemed so right all of a sudden seem all wrong?

Here are 5 ways relationships go from working to broken:

  1. It’s too much work. Healthy relationships take a lot of work. It means being patient, listening, hearing someone out, putting your wants and privileges aside. That’s work.
  2. It’s hurts too much to face their past or do the hard work. As we’ll see later, almost every fight in a relationship is not about what you are fighting about. You are fighting with a past incident, a hurt you haven’t dealt with, a person you see in the person in front of you. They remind you of your dad, your mom, they said words similar to an abuser or someone who you were supposed to trust. Healthy people face their past and in the power of Jesus see it redeemed. Unhealthy people use their past and stay the victim instead of finding healing. This is hard work, this can be incredibly painful. Any argument you have to ask the crucial question, “Are we actually fighting about this? What are we really fighting about? Who am I really fighting with?”
  3. They’re lazy and selfish, they want the other person to do all the work and all the changing. Just like #1, being lazy and selfish in relationships is easy, serving, putting in the work, putting the other person’s needs and wants first takes work. Often too, we want the other person to put in the work to become the healthy person while we stay unhealthy. I’ll hold on to that incident and bring it up whenever it suits me. I’ll remind them of my hurt instead of dealing with my hurt.
  4. They think they are better than their spouse or the other person. Sometimes people are in an unhealthy relationship because they think they are less sinful than the other person. They look down on them. They wouldn’t say this but they hold the other person’s sin in contempt, thinking, “How can they not see that? Why do they struggle with that?” They turn their noses up at the thought of putting in the hard work to reconcile with a spouse or a friend. They will say it is the other person’s fault but deep down, they are the less sinful person they know.
  5. Confuse what reconciliation means. Reconciliation doesn’t mean you are friends with everyone, you might need to protect yourself from an abusive situation, and you may need to protect your kids as well. Reconciliation does mean that you don’t hold it against the person anymore; that you don’t bring up the past, you stop saying, “Remember…?”

So what do you do?

Be honest. Many people are not honest about their past, about their hurt or even where their marriage or relationship is. Almost on a monthly basis I’ll have a couple tell me, “We never fight.” That’s a lie. They are avoiding relational health when they think this. They are putting off the hard work of changing for a facade of peace.

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Links for Your Weekend Enjoyment

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Here are some interesting posts I found this week that I thought you’d find interesting:

5 things that separate growing & declining churches.

In reality, declining churches bend to the preferences of its members. Growing churches don’t. Instead, they focus on the principles (even strategies) that will help them reach new people. Is your leadership team principle driven or preference driven? There’s a world of difference between the two.

The top 20 leadership podcasts to listen to according to one leader.

18 behaviors of emotionally intelligent people.

Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that 90 percent of top performers have high emotional intelligence.

7 truths about hell.

Hell is the culmination of telling God to “get out.” You keep telling God to leave you alone, and finally God says, “Okay.” That’s why the Bible describes it as darkness: God is light; his absence is darkness.

How to grow your church through social media.

When we started Grace Hills Church, we didn’t have a bunch of money to drop on mass mailers or newspaper ads. So we turned to Facebook. Most of the first 35 people who showed up at our very first public meeting heard about us through Facebook, either directly from one of our posts, or from seeing something about us on their newsfeed from a friend. And more than two thirds of the people who are now a part of us found out about us either from Facebook or Google.

3 important church trends in the next 10 years.

Denominations still matter—and they actually, for example, do most of the church planting in North America. However, networks are growing in influence and impact. Ironically, some networks are going to become denominations (or denomination-like). For example, both the Vineyard and Calvary Chapel, some of the early forerunners of networks, basically function like denominations today. Networks are predominantly made up of nondenominational evangelical churches. The fastest growing category in North America is nondenominational evangelicalism—so growth here is inevitable.

10 ways to increase baptisms.

How to be a Better Communicator

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I watched the Preach Better Sermons conference yesterday. So much great stuff when it comes to preaching and growing as a communicator.

Here are some things I learned that are dynamite for preachers:

  • 90% of unchurched people choose a church based on the lead pastor & the preaching.

The First 5 Minutes of a Sermon – Jeff Henderson

  • If you don’t engage people in the first 5 minutes, it is very difficult to grab their attention again.
  • When you start a sermon, you have to assume the worst. You can’t assume that people are already are listening.
  • In the first 5 minutes, great communicators are shrinking the gap: the physical and emotional gap between the person speaking and the audience.
  • Connect with the audience first, then bring on the content.
  • Connection is the most important thing in the first 5 minutes, not content.
  • Communicate that you are there to help people, not impress them.
  • 5 tips for the first 5 minutes: be like able (smile), tell a story, create tension (make them wonder what the solution is), ask, “Have you ever felt like this?” (this creates understanding), and tease the solution (say, “there’s a way to get ahead in ____”).

Jud Wilhite

  • Preaching is a gift. Ask God to steward his gift in you.

The Pain of Preparation – Jeff Henderson

  • If we aren’t careful, we skimp on preparation.
  • If we don’t get ahead on our preparation, our preaching suffers and our church suffers.
  • The better you prepare, the better you preach.
  • Preparation starts with empathy. You have to be empathetic towards the people you are preaching to.
  • When you have empathy, it causes you to make sure you are prepared.
  • Questions to ask for preparation:
    1. What does my audience currently think about this topic? Where is the pain point?
    2. What do I want my audience to think about this topic?
    3. What is my single most persuasive idea?
    4. What do you want them to do?
  • Until you can say “because of that, this is what I want you to do” your sermon prep is not done.

Transformational Preaching – Derwin Gray

  • Consecrate yourself.
  • You preach out of the overflow of your time with God.
  • Always preach the good news. People need good news, not advice.
  • Be compelling and clear.
  • Too many pastors are not overwhelmed by Jesus so they look for other things to be compelling.
  • Preach convicting sermons.
  • At the end of the sermon, people should want to join Jesus’ cause.

Feedback:

  • What was working?
  • What could have made this better?

Crafting Memorable Phrases 

  • A sticky statement is one that someone can memorize and utilize in their life.
  • One sticky statement repeated several times.
  • Sticky statement is your big idea, it is your elevator pitch of your sermon.
  • Can people take your sermon and remember it?
  • To create sticky statements, you must P.R.E.A.C.H.
    • Give people a word picture.
    • Rhyming is key to a sticky statement.
    • Use an echo in your statement: Nobody expected no body.
    • Use alliteration (contrasting): your soul is more important than your stuff.
    • Contrast different things.
    • The hook is what makes it memorable and tells them what you want them to do.

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One of the Deepest Hurts in Your Church

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When I was 23, I was interviewing for a job at a large church outside of Washington D.C. The interview was going well and it looked like I was going to get the job. At the end of my final interview, Katie and I sat with a group of 12 people around a table and we’re grilled for 3 hours on everything anyone could think of.

Finally, the interview was coming to a close and the person in charge asked if anyone had final questions.

The lead pastor who had been there the whole time but had yet to say anything spoke, “I have one.” He said. He looked at me and said, “Josh, what is your deepest hurt?”

I’ll be honest, the question caught me off guard.

Who talks about hurts and wounds in an interview?

As I fumbled through my answer, not because I didn’t have one, but because I had never shared it. When I finished, he looked at me and said something I’ll never forget: “I’m afraid of someone who can’t identify their deepest hurt, who can’t talk about how Jesus has redeemed that and how they are moving forward because I don’t know when that hurt will rear its ugly head in a situation.”

That was the end of the interview.

Fast forward a few months and Katie and I are meeting with a Christian counselor. He talked with us about how our past affects our present and future in ways we often don’t realize.

We replayed an argument that we had and he asked each of us what from our past did that argument remind us of, what people, places, etc. Amazingly, that argument reminded us of a lot and the brokenness of our past and upbringing. He looked at Katie and said, “When you hear Josh say that, it is reminding you of this. That is the tape that plays in your head.” The same was true for me.

That tape may say, “You aren’t good enough, smart enough, capable enough, beautiful enough.” It might say, “You always screw up, you aren’t good for anything, you aren’t organized enough, strong enough.”

So, when we hear someone say something and it is close to what we heard growing up, we react not to the person in front of us but to the person or situation from our past.

Often, you will find that these feelings center around our desire for control, power, approval and comfort.

This is often where our deepest hurt is found. Often, but not always, it will center on your relationship with your Father so I often encourage people look there first. Something about it has a way of affecting so much of our life.

Once you uncover it, talk through it with someone close to you. Ask them if they see that in you. Do they agree? What evidence do they see in your life of this hurt?

You may need to have a conversation with the people you have hurt but also where this hurt stems from. This will be the hardest road you walk but is also the only way to swing the relational pendulum into the joy and peace that God has for you. Don’t run from this, do the hard work. Even if the person who hurt you scoffs at you or treats this like a small thing, keep digging into it.

I know it is hard to do this, I know that we dislike hurt and pain from our past, but we will never truly be free from our past until we face it. Know that in the cross, Jesus redeemed your past, present and future. He is there and has been there and will use for his glory, but we have to walk through it with him first.

Until this happens, you will play your life out of this hurt.

One of the problems we have and it goes unspoken in our lives is that we are so accustomed to this hurt we don’t even realize it. We are the girl who can’t stop buying something she can’t afford. We are the guy who can’t be kind or give a hug. We are the person who keeps everyone at arms length, we are the over-achiever. Slowly, our hurt becomes a part of our personality and who we are. It is incredibly deceptive, but that isn’t freedom, that is bondage in your sin.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • It feels nice starting a normal week of work.
  • I was traveling the last 2 weeks and living out of a hotel is not all its cracked up to be.
  • Loved being at Exponential, The Orange Conference and the Acts 29 West Regional Conference.
  • So cool teaching and getting to meet so many leaders.
  • I always leave those times encouraged and energized.
  • I loved meeting people from around the world who read my blog.
  • So humbling how my thoughts help others.
  • It is also always a little sad as I hear the discouragement and pain so many leaders are walking through.
  • I have been loving preaching through the Song of Solomon.
  • The conversations it is sparking in our church for singles and married couples has been awesome to see.
  • Not sure why pastors are afraid to preach on marriage.
  • I do know and it is sad.
  • Yesterday I talked about what to do when your marriage or relationships get hard and become work.
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  • The video should be up by Wednesday.
  • I have a newfound respect for authors.
  • I have spent the last couple months trying to nail down all of the permissions for the works cited part of my book.
  • Authors with hundreds of references in their books seem insane to me now.
  • They probably pay someone to do those!
  • It’s been fun over the last couple of weeks having family in town to visit.
  • It has been appreciated as Katie is recovering from her knee surgery.
  • I’m really excited about what is happening behind the scenes of Revolution Church right now.
  • We are doing some things that will make our team work smarter, be more cohesive and help our volunteers feel more cared for and connected to what is happening, and release our leaders to accomplish even more
  • Really excited about all of that.
  • One of the things I love about flying is how much reading I get done in the process.
  • I got to read Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership and The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace on the plane.
  • Both killer books and ones every pastor should put on their reading list.
  • I’m working on my summer reading list now, so I’ll let you know when I put that together.
  • Excited to celebrate mine and Katie’s birthday’s this week with friends since I was traveling for them.
  • Til next time…