Remove The Plank!

Steve Arterburn

Who is more at fault: the woman who deprives her husband of physical intimacy, or the husband who deprives his wife of emotional intimacy? This one’s a no-brainer, guys. It’s you — the husband. You’re the leader of the home. You set the example. You create the environment and set the tone. You show your family how to walk with Christ through your servant-leadership. And your initiative in this regard will go a long way in eliciting the response of others. In other words, this issue usually comes down to a matter of leadership.

 

So what’s your first step in this? I think the Lord’s words in the 6th chapter of Luke provide a clue. My paraphrase goes like this:

‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your wife’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your wife, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? Don’t be a hypocrite. You must first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your wife’s eye.’

The bottom line, guys, is this: If a husband isn’t willing to serve his wife by making it a priority to be intimate and tender with her outside the bedroom, how can he possibly expect his wife to readily respond to his desires inside the bedroom?

Unconditional Affirmation

Steve Arterburn

Men, as you both articulate and demonstrate acceptance to your children, be sure to avoid making that acceptance conditional. Don’t make it dependent upon some accomplishment, such as academics, athletics, Scouting, or civic work. Achievements in those areas are definitely commendable, and you should be sure to communicate that to them. But if your son or daughter only hears affirmation when he or she performs, they’ll leave home conditioned to perform in order to continue hearing the words of acceptance they so desperately want and need from you.

 

When children are blessed by their father, they’re steadily released to become their own person. Then, when the time comes, the father can say, ‘My days of training and influence are complete. I am always here to help you should you need something I can provide. But I am now stepping down from my position over you to assume a position beside you. Instead of your teacher or corrector, I am now counselor and friend. I believe you are well prepared to achieve everything that is your desire and calling. You have my blessing, not because of what I believe you will accomplish, but because of who I know you are.’

 

Guys, that’s what your children desperately need from you. It’ll help them immeasurably as they endeavor to be mature and productive people in this world; to be good husbands and wives and fathers and mothers; and to live faithful, obedient, and joyful lives in Christ.

Motivation for Recovery

It is said that we are motivated by the desire to avoid pain (losing our job, marriage, reputation; etc.) and the desire to acquire gain (having peace of mind; hearing our father or wife say, ‘I’m proud of you,’ etc.). So what motivates you to work your battle plan each day?

A daily motivational review is a tool we discuss at Every Man’s Battle. It may include desiring intimacy with God, being tired of lying and covering up, wanting peace of mind, refusing to support something that is ruining human life, etc.

At the risk of pontificating spirituality, I’d like to look at an area of motivation that helps many of us in our recovery process, namely, wanting to know and experience the love of God.

Imagine you are hiking in the mountains and you slip off the edge of a cliff. You grab hold of a bush with your hands, but you’re now dangling over hundreds of feet below. You’re safe for the moment, but you can’t hold on for long. You must have help that is immediate, good, and adequate.

Now suppose help appears. Someone reaches down and says, ‘take my hand and I’ll pull you up. ‘Will you do it? The answer depends on the helper. Suppose it’s someone you deeply offended at one time? He may be strong enough to help, but will he? Or suppose it’s a ten year old Boy Scout with 20 merit badges? You know he will do everything in his power to help, but does he have enough strength? What will persuade you to trust the help offered? You must be convinced of the good will, reliability, and strength of the helper.

All of us are holding on to something or things we think gives meaning and substance to our lives. It may be your sexual behaviors. But sooner or later our hold on those things weakens because they don’t solve our crisis.

So what is offered to us in this life that is good enough, strong enough, and durable enough to hold our lives together for the whole journey? What is it that can motivate us to live the life we really want? What is it that can motivate us in our recovery process?

The Apostle Paul says it is the love of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 3:16-19 he prays that we be rooted and grounded in that love ‘ like a deeply planted tree or well-founded building that cannot be shaken. And he prays that we will be able to comprehend how wide, long, high and deep this love is ‘ i.e., that we will come to know the love of Christ in such personal ways that it will motivate us to live the life He meant for us to live.

What is this love? Is it some great ideal to which we should aspire? Is it an abstract concept: so high or lofty we can’t possibly ever experience it? Or is it a mood or sentiment?

No, God’s love is concrete and personal. It delivers us, lifts us up, and sustains us. We don’t earn it or stir it up by some goodness or loveableness in us. It comes to us even though we’re  imperfect and sinful. Think of how Jesus treated moral failures. He appointed the Samaritan woman as his first missionary. She went back to her town and told the people about Jesus, and many believed because of her testimony. He defended the sinful woman who anointed him with expensive perfume by saying, ‘wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.’ He restored Peter to leadership after denying him three times. Mary Magdalene, of whom seven demons had been cast out, he honored as the first witness of His resurrection. And the prodigal son was given a welcome home party.

It’s difficult to believe you’re worth anyone’s love, least of all the almighty God’s. Yet, with all the wrongs in your past, the mistakes, the detours, the moments of sin and selfishness, God loves you. No mistake we make in life disqualifies us from God’s love because nothings can separate us from His love.

So lay hold of this staggering, mind-blowing truth that God loves you just as you are, and not as you should be, because none of us is that. And let that motivate you to become the whole, integrated, connected man He created you to be.

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Brad Stenberg