Stressed out man working late on his computer

Providing For Your Family

It’s pretty likely you’ve heard someone make a statement something like this: “A man is supposed to provide for his family.” And many men take that literally by working hard to make money to be able to financially “provide” the material things his wife and kids need (i.e. roof over their heads, food to eat, cars to drive, clothes to wear, and so on). It is a very noble thing for a man to do this for his family. Nonetheless this mindset is more of a timeless tradition of the American dream than it is the instructions of Jesus.

When Jesus was asked by a Jewish teacher of the law, “Of the 613 commands of the Jewish law, which one would you say is most important?” Jesus replied (paraphrasing from the gospels):

“A new command I give you: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind, and all of your strength. Then allow that love to flow through you so you can love your neighbor in the same way God loves you. There is no law, commandment, or responsibility greater than these!”

paraphrased from the gospels

More than just a roof over their heads

Follow me on this. If Jesus stated that the most important thing in life is to love Him with our entire being, and to allow His love to flow through us to others, then one might conclude this is how he wants us to live every aspect of our lives. Am I saying this applies only or most specifically to the responsibilities of a man, husband, and father? Certainly not. What I am saying, though, is that in God’s created order of marriage, family, and society, it begins with the man, husband, and father. As we go, so goes our marriage, family, and community.

“Providing” God’s way

In this enormously important scripture, God has laid out what should be our priorities in every aspect of life, starting with ourselves.

Love God with all my heart – SPIRITUAL

We often hear people say (or maybe have said ourselves), “the man is supposed to be the spiritual leader of the marriage, family, home, and so on).” Do we really know what we’re saying with that statement though? In the word “leader,” God didn’t mean a man is to lead in a top-down way like we see in all aspects of society. No, leading God’s way insists on a. man leading by serving the needs and interests of those he is responsible for. Being in the front of the line, not at the top of the pecking order! For a man (or woman) to love God with all their heart, they must prioritize growing in intimate relationship with Jesus above all other priorities in their lives. Everything else must submit to this priority. And by God’s design, it’s amazing how much better everything seems to work out!

Love God with all my soul – EMOTIONAL

At least a million times I’ve heard men say something like, “I’m just not emotional. My daddy was that way too.” That is a pitiful excuse and justification to keep the man from fulfilling his greatest responsibility – to love his wife and children as Jesus loves him. Unfortunately, way to many men settle for “loving” their wives and kids by providing well for them materially: nice house, nice clothes, nice vehicles, nice toys, nice vacations, nice jewelry, nice restaurants… the list is endless. The problem is that not one of the things on this list requires any emotional vulnerability or authentic expression of unconditional love. As a result, generation after generation, men justify their lack of involvement in providing a healthy emotional environment in their home by hiding behind how well they materially provide for their family — and the claim that they just aren’t good at feelings.

Love God with all my mind – DEVELOPMENTAL

To develop means to grow in all areas of life – to be a continuous learner. The problem with this in how many men relate to their wives and children is that they will only develop themselves in the areas that are most important to them. I’ve had many men in my counseling office tell me there’s no way they can understand the Bible because of their struggle with reading and retention. But you ask them about the finer details of their vehicle, favorite sport, hobby, career, golf game, etc., you’ll never get them to shut up talking about every nuance No trouble with retention there for some reason.

Love God with all my strength – PHYSICAL

Ok. Now we get the part that comse most easyily for men, husbands, and fathers. The physical aspects of life:

  • Working hard to make money.
  • Providing for the physical needs of his family.
  • Fixing things and solving problems.
  • Participating in (or expecting) the physical fulfillment of sex.
  • Critiquing how their wife and kids need to improve.
  • Criticizing what their wife and kids are doing wrong (in his eyes)
  • Instructing in how to do things in life (change a tire, dress a deer, fix something that’s broken)
  • The list goes on.

Love my neighbor as God loves me – RELATIONAL

In some versions of the Bible, the author uses the phrase, “and love your neighbor as yourself.” When combined with John’s words in John 13:34-35, to love someone as yourself is clarified to mean, “to love your neighbor in the same manner God loves you.” Men are good at relationships related to what they enjoy or succeed at. But oftentimes, they’re not attentive to what they are teaching their children and modeling to their wives in how to build healthy relationships. They reproduce unhealthy or immature ways of communicating and interacting with people (especially those who are different than they are), how to engage in healthy conflict, and how to resolve conflict in productive ways.

We teach what we know.
We reproduce who we are.

Promise keepers men’s ministry

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