Why Husbands Should Be Role Models

As Josh sat eating alone on the fireplace hearth, Caleb joined him asking, “What’s wrong little brother?” At first, Josh simply grunted, but when Caleb pressed him, he insisted that nothing was wrong. Caleb stayed by Josh’s side and soon, in the quiet companionship, Josh began to speak. “Why do you keep supporting the weak role that God seems to want men to play?” he asked. Caleb, understanding that Josh’s ego was involved, gently explained, “God gave men the toughest role, the one that only a man of strength can achieve.”

“How’s that?” asked Josh. “Well”, Caleb said, “Christ laid down his life for us. In return, God asks that we become Christ-like in our nature. That means to lay aside our ego and perfect ourselves by killing our old nature. Believe me, this is tough to do. It takes a real man to do it, Josh. God also asks that we place others ahead of ourselves not only so they are happy, but most of all so we are an example to them. This promotes love, respect and trust and brings a true bond to the relationship. Once those near us see this behavior, they listen when we teach or suggest a change. But most of all, we become those whom God can trust and use to help others.

Whenever we deal with others, we must have that person’s respect Josh, for if we don’t, we’ll never be able to help them or and are not those who make an impact. We can’t demand what we ask of others, we have to earn their desire to do as we ask. We need them to personally decide to listen to us and hopefully understand what we are trying to say. That means standing firm in our faith, forgiving mistakes, and not taking offense. It’s the only way to obtain love and trust. It’s easy to throw a harsh “macho” word at someone, or take umbrage with someone’s cruel words, but it’s tough to earn respect by being fair, kind, and forgiving.

God tells us that because we make mistakes ourselves, we can’t demand that someone else do something out of righteousness. But when we’ve earned respect, others will follow our lead, give their trust, and listen to what we teach. This is even more important for husbands Josh, because we have been given a responsibility by God. It’s the toughest, yet the most rewarding thing I’ve ever tried to do.

Josh, you need to lead, not demand, you need to earn the respect you may already be due, but have not yet shown you deserve. Be a real man. Get yourself in order; turn the other cheek; love without condition and give help, especially to another child of God. This starts at home, and once we can achieve this at home it will fan out to others. Josh, I don’t want to see you get married until you understand these things, but I’d sure hate to see you lose Debbie. She’s wonderful and so willing to follow the right guy. Forgive, and give, and you will be blessed. Trust me.”

Josh was silent for a minute. Then he said, “Caleb, I love you, and respect what you have built within this family. I wish I could be like you. It’s true that my own self-righteousness does make me angry with those who have failed me in some manner. It probably is my ego, but how am I supposed to change? I feel like a wimp when I give in to everything especially if I always have to be the one to make peace or to apologize first.”

“We love you so much Josh and because of that, we have the guts to tell you when you are wrong. And you’re wrong right now. I know a guy for whom I lost all respect. He was so wrapped up in himself that he could not accept that sometimes things happen because of a comedy of errors or because of one stupid impulsive move or angry moment that someone wishes they could take back. He was too quick to judge. How can someone like that minister to someone else? If I was like that guy, how could I minister to the needs of a wife or the needs of the children or family members who depend on me? It’s hard, and I mess up all the time, but Ann loves me and supports me in my faith. She forgives me when I mess up, but she also loves me enough to call me on my mistakes. And I hope you do too. And that’s what we need to do with others. God asks us to admonish one another, and to forgive one another” Josh replied, “Caleb, that’s what’s so frustrating to me, you always seem perfect. I can’t even begin to live up to that.”

Caleb quickly cut in, “I’m far from perfect, and often get discouraged, but you don’t see my faults, Josh because Ann and Sarah, everyone for that matter, cover my mistakes, never bring them up in front of anyone else. That encourages me to do better so I don’t disappoint them, and it also causes me to love them so much that I could burst.”

“But Josh, I can see that something’s happened between you and Debbie, and I gotta tell you buddy, it’s you who has to make it right. Right or wrong, like it or not, God has charged you with that responsibility if you plan to marry her. Look at a minister, for instance. God has charged him with looking after His sheep. If he steps on their toes he would be unable to help them. As husbands we are just like ministers in that God has asked us to become the priests of our household. God has charged us to make sure that everyone under our care stays on target with their faith. Why would they ever listen to us, if we act like jerks? But if you open up to Debbie and tell her that you’re having trouble and need her help, I’ll bet she’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with you and show you what she’s made of and believe me, you’ll be the better man for it.

Josh turned to Caleb with tears in his eyes, “Darn it Caleb, I sure hope I am up for it, I hate to have you think less of me, but I don’t know if I can do it. It just about kills my ego to think of always having to give in.” Caleb smiled gently at Josh and said, “Pray, offer, tithe, surround yourself with men who will talk to you about their own struggles…. for this is what fellowship is all about. This will strengthen you and I promise you, it will work and from it will emerge great peace and joy and nothing that life throws at you will harm you or those you love. And the best part is that instead of hurting your ego it actually boosts it…you’ll see! I promise! Think about it buddy”.

Caleb got up from the hearth to refill his plate and let Josh mull over what he’d said. He sighed with relief that he’d said what he should have said long ago. Please God, he thought, help Josh decide to do this.

Josh, left to his own thoughts, acknowledged that ever since he and Debbie became engaged, he’d been grumpy and demanding. He understood what Caleb was asking of him and knew that if he married, he would have to become more like Caleb. He honestly didn’t think he was up to it. It meant a lot of sacrifice and he was resentful, especially when it hurt his ego to be the first to apologize. I guess that’s why I’ve been so rotten to Debbie. Maybe I’m not ready to marry. Maybe I’m scared that I can’t do right by her.

Josh’s first thought was that if it hadn’t been for Debbie, he wouldn’t be going through this, but then he realized that he’d been the cause of their rift and if he held on to his present way of thinking, he’d lose her. He didn’t want to lose her. As he continued to think, Josh remembered how his mother and grandmother had laid a strong foundation of faith in his heart and that Caleb had been the role model for what he wanted and should become. He knew that he had to decide by which standards he wanted to live his life. He wasn’t the type to be a fence sitter. This was a decision that he had to make before he tried to patch everything up with Debbie. Debbie was not the problem. He was! He knew that now.

If Mom and Grandma, my Sunday school teachers and youth leaders, hadn’t been such strong examples to me when I was a child, where would I be today, Josh thought. Maybe, I’d be drinking, gambling, swearing, fighting, carousing, maybe even on drugs. Caleb is right, others did what was right for me, and if I don’t do what’s right for my wife and children, who will? Would I be happy if I were less of a man and left everything to my wife? Or will I never be worthy of a loving family and solid relationship because I refuse to take responsibility?

(Excerpt from the novel “The Granddaughter and the Monkey Swing”)

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