80/20 Obedience

Steve Arterburn

One man is silent when called to speak. Another’s speech is seasoned with anger, bitterness and everything negative rather than grace.

 

Men, the gospel of our Lord calls each of you to a higher standard. Each of you, however, has become too highly skilled at setting aside God’s clear instructions for our lives, are choosing a path of disobedience instead.

 

Don’t amend God’s word with the latest trends, and don’t ignore the call of God’s Spirit to our own plans and purposes. Selective obedience isn’t true obedience. In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster. Even if you seek to follow God 80 percent of the time, the 20 percent of the time you don’t will sink you every time.

 

As the apostle Paul warned Timothy, many men serve their own interests by having ‘a form of godliness but denying its power.’ For instance, men know when they are sexually violating God’s will, but they continue to indulge their sin anyway. Husbands know when they’re tearing down their spouses, but they continue the verbal tirades. Fathers know when their kids are just dying for some time with Dad, but other demands always take priority.

 

By way of contrast, when God’s man is tempted to enter that 20% zone, he does what God would have him do’even if it’s less convenient or not as immediately gratifying. Guys, one of the great ironies of the Christian life is that freedom comes through obedience. Dare to live freely in joyful submission to your Lord today!

Get It? Good!

Steve Arterburn

When Rick Warren, my pastor, finishes making a point, he’ll often ask the congregation, ‘Get it?’

To which everyone responds, ‘Got it!’

He then punctuates his point with a hearty, ‘Good!’

The most important word picture Jesus painted of God is that of a loving Father’merciful, yet strong. That’s why God, at times, appears unconcerned with preserving our dignity or catering to our emotions. He’s in the character carving business, and if there is some discomfort along the way, then so be it.

For the man who is willing to trust God’s way and be God’s man, even when it hurts, great reward awaits. It’s important to God that we understand this part of it too. It’s like the experience of a big win in sports’a hard-fought victory that sticks with you. You’re changed by it. And the next time you’re in the heat of battle, you know what to expect. You’re better for the experience.

Throughout your life, you’ll inevitably come to forks in the road. And sometimes, one path may look easier than the other. Never make your decision based on that. In fact, when standing before that fork, it’s often the more challenging path’that is, the path that’ll test your character more’that’s the better path.

Those paths that look so daunting at the start are often the same paths we’re later glad we took. For as Romans 5:4 assures us, perseverance creates character, and character produces hope.

Get it? (pause) Good!

Integrity Equals Security

Steve Arterburn

Proverbs 10:9 contains a wonderful promise for you’a promise worthy t think on. The text reads like this: ‘The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.’

 

In other words, the immediate, day-to-day benefit of the man who walks with an undivided heart before God is security. 

 

And why wouldn’t it be? The man this text describes has undivided loyalties. His choices are clear. He has no hangovers of character to nurse. When he’s away on business, he’s the same person as when he’s at home. He’s the same guy on Friday and Saturday nights as he is on Sunday morning. He’s a father who says what he does and does what he says. He’s a husband his wife can trust, respect, and follow.

 

This is a man who has matured beyond the point of needing instant gratification. Imagine it! Feeling good is replaced by feeling right about yourself before God. And when you feel right about yourself, no matter what your circumstances or your mood, you are content and connected to God, your family, and your purposes as God’s man. Now that’s security without stress. That’s the blessing of walking with integrity before God.

 

Now let me ask you this: does that sound as good to you as it does to me? It’s God’s desire for your life, men. So let it become your desire as well. Let it become your prayer, your passion, and your pursuit.

Finding the Balance

Steve Arterburn

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” But wisdom is proved right by her actions. Matthew 11:19

Have you ever flirted with danger? Recently six officials in the White House were told by their doctors that their “stress levels were so high, they were flirting with danger unless they slowed down.” While actual people were not named, it reminded me that each of us flirts with danger at times.

Like when driving your car, you step on the gas and fly down the highway towards your next meeting risking your safety and risking that you won’t have a tire blow out, let alone see a policeman with a radar gun. Or maybe you put your money in some volatile investment, or you keep piling on the work and don’t know how to say “no”, and risk burnout.

One of the key ingredients to lowering our stress level is finding the proper balance in our life. It keeps us from flirting with danger. In the Bible, wisdom and folly are described as two different women. Folly calls out, “Let all who are simple come in here! Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious! But little do they know  that her guests are in the depths of the grave.” On the other hand, Wisdom says, “Instruct a wise man, and he will be wiser still.”

Each day, we choose whether to flirt with danger by living in an imbalanced state or to walk in wisdom. I challenge you today to think about what you are doing and to walk in wisdom.  

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Helping Your Man to Communicate

Excerpted from the book The Secrets Men Keep by Steve Arterburn

When Esther started dating Robert, she felt there was
something different about him.He was
quiet and stoic, never really getting excited about too much of anything except
when it came to his favorite West Texas football team.When they were playing, he became a
different person, full of energy and expression, yelling his lungs out whether
they were winning or losing.But other
than those games, very little sound came out of Robert.

It was his lack of expression that caused his proposal for
marriage to mean so much.Robert
planned the evening out on a ski boat in the middle of a lake.He had flowers, wine, and fried chicken he’d
picked up at a local diner.After they
ate, he held her hand and said three words she’d never hear again: ‘I love
you.’Then he asked her to marry him
and she said yes.She was saying yes to
a life of quiet devotion.

Over the years that followed, Robert was faithful to Esther
and provided her with a comfortable living.
He worked hard, took her on two vacations a year, and was generous with
how much he budgeted for her clothes and other personal needs.When she was sick, he took care of her, and
when she was excited about something that happened that day, he listened
intently.But up until the day he died,
he had only said ‘ I love you’ one time’the night he asked Esther to marry him.

Esther and Robert are an extreme case of a man’s difficulty
in expressing himself’and in particular his feelings to his spouse.Their story is radical in terms of Robert
never telling his wife he loved her, but it’s not that far out when we consider
the number of men who struggle with how to communicate with women.Like Robert, many men choose to express
their feelings by working hard, remaining sexually faithful, and being a good
father and husband.And while wives
appreciate those efforts, they still long to hear their husbands verbalize not
only their love, but also what they think about and feel.Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen as much
as it should.

If you’re married to a man like Robert, what can you
do?Here are three secrets for
communicating with us guys Dr. Barbara De Angelis wrote in her New York
Times
best seller.I’ll share my
thoughts following her main points:

  1. Men
    communicate best when they have a focus for the conversation.
    Most guys feel at ease in conversation
    when there’s a clear reason or context for the dialogue.At work, we converse to get a project
    done.At home, we talk with our
    children to help them out with a situation.Obviously, this doesn’t mean we need a clear-cut purpose
    every time we speak with others’that’s both unhealthy and absurd.Communicating is one of the fundamental
    elements of being human, and that connection with others includes simply
    shooting the breeze.Yet De
    Angelis’ point suggests that, within the context of relating to women, we
    are often at our best when the point of the conversation has been clearly
    defined.

  1. Men
    internalize their thinking process and only communicate the end result.
    Women tend to think out loud by
    talking; men tend to think silently by considering.Problems arise when both sides forget
    this mode of operation.To avoid
    broken communication lines, talk with your husband.Ask him if he’d prefer a time gap
    between the presentation of a subject and the conclusion you may be
    seeking.
  1. Men
    don’t have access to their emotions as easily as women do.
    It’s not that we aren’t
    emotional.We just don’t wear our
    hearts on our sleeves the way most women do.Because we’re generally more logic based, we’re often slower
    to react with emotion.But don’t
    buy into the belief that you don’t truly feel something unless you express
    it outwardly.If you often thrust
    this expectation upon your husband then you need to realize that just
    because he may not show emotions the same way you do doesn’t mean he
    doesn’t care or is unimpassioned.

‘Every living person, man or
woman, is good at communicating about what’s interesting to them,’ writes
Patrick Morley.I’ve never met a man
yet who couldn’t communicate articulately, thoroughly, and for extended periods
of time that for which he possessed a passion.
Same for women.Men and women
both like to talk about what they like to talk about.If those don’t happen to be the same things at the same time
(what are the odds?), then someone has to yield.

Maybe men and women need to make
each other the focus of their interests.
If both sexes like to talk about their interests and passions, then
maybe they’d spend more time talking and listening if they were more interested
and passionate about one another.When
a wife says, ‘What do you want to talk about?’ the focus is on the wrong
objective.Communication is a
by-product of passion, something that happens without effort.

When husbands and wives purpose to
become more passionate about one another, communication will take care of
itself.

To gain a better understanding of your husband, I recommend
the book The Secrets Men Keep.
Also I strongly recommend you attend a marriage workshop or a seminar
together.A seminar can be less
intimidating than counseling and it can provide a channel for better communication
and intimacy within your marriage.Try
our Healing is a Choice Intensive.

Relating to Competent Women

Steve Arterburn

There’s something built in to us men that wants to say, ‘I know the way!’ And I’m not just talking about driving directions. I’m talking about the way through life. So, when a man encounters a woman who seems to know the way all by herself’if she’s successful and ultra-competent’it literally can scare him. It can tempt him to pull back and say, ‘Whoa’who, or what, is this?’ When in the presence of a woman who is already successful in life, a man can be tempted to feel like he has no place, like he’s simply not needed. Have you ever felt like that?

If you meet, live, or work with a woman who doesn’t seem to need your strength, protection, or provision, you can be tempted to feel useless. Where do these feelings come from? Man was created to live in a perfect world, to know the way through life and to provide strength for the woman that was his co-partner in life. In addition, there would be things the woman was created to contribute to the relationship. Together, they would complement one another. They would both be successful without a trace of intimidation.

But we don’t live in a perfect world. Yet we men still ‘feel’ those hardwired preferences and inclinations. The challenge then, men, is to learn to manage yourself appropriately in an imperfect world. Guard feelings of intimidation. Join forces with the successful women in your life. You’ll be better together!

Respect

Steve Arterburn

Everyone knows Rodney Dangerfield got no respect. His twin brother forgot his birthday, and his bank offered him a gift if he’d close his account!

 

Can you relate? Men’especially married men’often feel their need for respect has somehow gotten lost amidst the world’s preoccupation with love. It’s not that men are against love. It’s rather that they perceive it differently than women. For a man, love is spelled r-e-s-p-e-c-t. They usually express and receive love via respect. And that’s something women often miss.

We men, however, are guilty of forgetting the flip side of this coin. We prefer to mope around doing Rodney Dangerfield impersonations, taking solace that our friends are equally disrespected. But the truth is there may be a good reason why we’re missing out on respect from our wives: maybe we’re not loving them well!

‘Husbands, love your wives’ is a repeated instruction that the apostle Paul gives us in the book of Ephesians. It isn’t rocket science. To get respect requires giving love. And whether you’re single, a newlywed, or married forty years, loving that special someone involves a universal yet entirely unique ingredient: loving her the way she wants to be loved.

Don’t do the typical ‘man’ thing and toss out generic signs of affection. Discover’or in the case of you relationship veterans, remind yourselves’what things matter most to her, and what she appreciates receiving from you the most.

Spiritual Leadership

Steve Arterburn

 

 

In an article in Psychology Today, psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple wrote that twenty years earlier, when he first began to practice, no one ever complained of a lack of self-esteem or of hating himself. Now, he wrote, hardly a week goes by without a patient making that complaint. One young man concerned about his low self-image came to visit him. In fact, the young man and his mother said this condition caused him to beat up his pregnant girlfriend, which resulted in a miscarriage.

The doctor said to him, ‘It couldn’t be the other way around, could it?’

‘What do you mean,’ replied the young man.

‘That your behavior,’ said the doctor ’caused you to have a poor opinion of yourself.’

The patient, of course, wasn’t too happy with this suggestion.

I like the question Dalrymple posed to this young man, and I think it bears consideration. When a man sees himself as inadequate it is for one of two reasons:

Either he literally doesn’t have the ability necessary to be adequate (for example, I am inadequate to perform brain surgery)

Or, he has the ability but has retreated into a passive place.

Have you allowed your passive behavior to create a self-image of inadequacy? Perhaps you don’t feel adequate to lead your family or to love your wife. I think a change of behavior would go a long way toward dispelling this image. Sometimes the head and hands have to lead, to show the heart where to go.

The Importance of Asking

Steve Arterburn

Every married man is joined to a person more complex than a NASA space shuttle. Besides the fact that the human brain is infinitely more complex than anything else known to man, it’s also had several decades of outside influences by the time a woman marries.

Think of all the things that could’ve influenced your wife in her developmental years: praise and criticism, wealth and poverty, health and sickness, a large or a small family, school experiences, sexual experiences, intelligence, abuse, self-image, male and female role models, models of marriage. The list goes on and on.

Every woman’s life map is different. As a result, no two women are alike. Wouldn’t it be nice if husbands and wives, on their wedding day, in addition to exchanging rings and vows, could hand each other a book titled My Life So Far? And in it would be a closing chapter entitled ‘How to Meet My Needs.’

But this doesn’t happen. So what can you do? How can you begin by better learning your wife’s needs? The best place to start is simply by asking.

If you have a track record of insensitivity, you’ll need to start this process with an apology and a sincere request for connection. Tell your wife you want to know her and begin asking questions’about herself, her hopes, desires, dreams, and fears. Her world may just open up to you, if you’d only ask for entrance.

Communicating With Women

Steve Arterburn

When Esther started dating Robert, she felt there was something different about him. He was quiet and stoic, and never got excited about too much of anything except when it came to his favorite West Texas football team. When they were playing, he became a different person, full of energy and expression. But other than those games, very little sound or passion came from Robert.

 

One day Robert took Esther out on a ski boat. He had flowers and wine. And after dinner he held her hand, and while processing said three words she’d never hear again, ‘I love you.’ Esther said yes to a life of quiet devotion.

Don’t get me wrong: Robert was a good man. He was faithful, hardworking, and generous with his wife. He cared for her when she was sick and listened intently when she told him of things that happened to her. But until the day he died, he’d only said, ‘I love you’ one time’the night he proposed to her.

Robert’s an extreme case of a man’s difficulty in expressing himself. But Esther and Robert’s story isn’t that far out when we consider the number of men who struggle to communicate with the women in their lives.

Do you choose to express you feelings by working hard, remaining faithful, and being a good father and husband? Your wife may appreciate these efforts. But remember: she still longs to hear you verbalize not only your love but also what you think about and feel.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries