Asking For Directions

Stephen Arterburn

Men, God has a way of showing us that we don’t know as much as we think we do. And He will certainly act when we need to be shown that we don’t know better than He does.

 

That’s what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar, who had to learn a serious lesson in humility. Talk about a severe act of mercy: For seven years, this once proud king was struck with a mental illness that caused him to roam the pastures outside the palace and chew grass like a cow. After paying the price for his pride, the once self-sufficient and self-centered king said: ‘Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble’ (Daniel 4:37). In this confession, three things are key for me: the words ‘everything,’ and ‘all,’ and the phrase ‘his ways.’

 

These words speak to the king’s new understanding of God’s control and to the choice he wants each of us to make: God’s way or my way. Too often we neglect to ask God, ‘How do you want me to handle this?’ or  ‘What does God’s Word call me to do in this?’  How should I respond to this situation in a manner consistent with God’s word?

 

The reasons for not asking these questions boil down to one of two issues: ignorance or arrogance. And neither is something I’d recommend. Men, neither will benefit you, and both carry very high price tags.

Your Wife’s Weaknesses

Stephen Arterburn

Men, your wife’s weaknesses can create impasses that threaten oneness in your marriage, can’t they? Okay. So the next question should be: what can you do to address these impasses and facilitate unity? Surely, as her leader, you could demand that she straighten up and fly right? But it won’t help. In fact, it will probably make matters much worse. Surely you can find a more effective way to help her when she needs your support. Why not lay down your rights as the leader and graciously love her through these impasses?

 

Your wife’s weaknesses are as much a part of her as her gifts are, so you must not trample upon either of them. You love yourself and handle your own weaknesses with mercy and grace, don’t you? You hope others will make allowances and work patiently with them as you do, right? So allow your wife’s weaknesses to be expressed as freely as yours are. Then, in grace, work together in kindness and diligence at the impasse.

 

Guys, if your approach has been to crow like a rooster over every one of your wife’s imperfections, the time has come for you to eat some crow. Confess your unloving attitude to God and to her, and watch what happens. If she’s like 98 percent of all women, she’ll draw closer to you, and your relationship will continue to grow for as long as you appreciate and accept her’imperfections, weaknesses, and all. 

The Lone Ranger Myth

Stephen Arterburn

Men in the farming communites of yesteryear counted on one another for everything. They helped one another build barns, retrieve stray animals, teach and mentor children, even bury and grieve deceased loved ones. The very survival and success of their community depended on the mutual caring and support of the men in it. But today’s man has been programmed to believe that caring, supportive relationships are largely the domain of women. In fact, men often look with suspicion at other men with close male friends. Yet in order to meet basic emotional needs, which are both authentically human and masculine, men need deep, caring relationships with other men. A man who doesn’t have at least one other man he can be accountable to regarding his failures, hurts, and temptations is a prime target for masculine anger. The angry man in our society is caught between mythical masculinity and true masculinity. He feels pressure to achieve, earn, conquer, and win—and to do these things as a “Lone Ranger.” Yet he also feels the need to love and nurture those he loves, and to be loved and nurtured by those who love him.  Men, too often our attempts to reconcile these pressures in our lives are futile. Consequently, we remain perpetually torn between invincibility and vulnerability, between being aloof and involved. Take heart! Exposing myths and identifying problems is a tremendous move toward healing! We’ll move in that direction together in the days ahead.