In my years of working with men, I’ve seen how the lack of solid boundaries results in half-completed spiritual lives. Guys, good boundaries help you finish the course. They clarify convictions. They provide moral clarity by assigning healthy, predetermined responses to situations before they arise. They draw lines in the sand that you won’t cross because of your love for Christ and your desire to see His desires actualized in all areas of your life.
Establishing boundaries is a discipline. To this end, Oswald Chambers once commented, ‘Impulse is all right in a child, but it is disastrous in a man. Impulse has to be trained into intuition by discipline.’
The paradox is that the things men tend to resist the most’limits, boundaries, rules, and restrictions’are the very things you need the most in order to experience real freedom. This kind of resistance is like trying to jump the fence without realizing that the Grand Canyon waits on the other side. You won’t ever know the terrors you’ve escaped when you find true freedom inside God’s boundaries. But then again, you don’t want to know these terrors.
When you understand that true freedom requires restraints, you’ll see that God doesn’t establish boundaries just to see if you can be a good boy and follow the rules. Instead, He gives you boundaries to keep you and your loved ones safe from moral and spiritual calamity’to make you a faithful husband, dad, and man of God. He put them there to help you experience the truly abundant life Jesus came to give.
In Proverbs 31:29-31, the husband grants his wife her proper prestige with these words:
‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.’
Men, we’ll not only draw prestige from the success of our marriage relationship, but we must also be sure to build up the prestige of our wife. Of course, this begins in the home.
‘Building up’ begins with words, but must be verified and reinforced with actions. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3, ‘Husbands’be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as’heirs with you.’ Acknowledging that your wife is your fellow heir establishes that she’s entitled to the same honor and respect as you. By contrast, you have no right to rob her of what you ought to give, and what God promised she’d have. Oneness isn’t merely a feeling; it’s built on actions.
Moreover, building up the prestige of our wives doesn’t end in the home. What begins there must be carried out into the community. Here again, actions speak louder than words.
Gentlemen, can we justify placing our wives anywhere but in the highest place of prestige in our lives? We must set ourselves to the task of building up our wives’both inside and outside our homes.
The current trend in our society is that more and more wives and mothers are reentering the workplace. Different families have different needs. And many have decided this is what best serves them.
Yet at the same time, some families are bucking this societal trend. They’ve decided it’s not in their family’s best interest to have mom working outside the home. And while this is a great decision for many families, it’s not a decision that comes free from difficulties.
Anytime you buck a societal trend, there’s a price to pay. For mothers who stay home to raise their children, one price they pay is a drop in social status. This is sad because stay-at-home moms work so hard and sacrifice so much. Current characterizations of stay-at-home moms tend to be patronizing at best, and at worst, downright derogatory.
As a result, guys, the choice to stay home with the kids can be hard on your wife’s self-esteem’even if it’s a decision she believes in and is thrilled about.
So if you and your wife have chosen to buck the trend, I encourage you to ask yourself the following three questions:
- What can I do to lighten her load?
- How can I encourage her and affirm the great value of what she’s doing?
- What practical steps can I take to make staying home with our children less physically and emotionally draining on my wife?