How to Out-Serve Your Wife
by: Tommy Inman
Tommy is a coach and teacher from Monroe, Louisiana, and serves as one of the shepherds at the WFR Church in West Monroe, Louisiana.
Come June 17th of this year, my wife and I will have been married 42 years. We have an amazing marriage that puts Christ first, and each other a close second. But it hasn’t always been that way.
I grew up in church. Always there … every time. And that’s understandable when you’ve been taught to believe that faithfulness is gauged by attendance. And I had the perfect family. It was my Mom and Dad, one older brother, and two older sisters.
My example for what a husband should be, of course, was my father. But he was much more than that. He was my idol … my hero. I wanted to be just like him.
Unfortunately, that was not a good thing. My father was a tyrant. A “god” in our family. He treated my mother like a slave. He would openly ridicule her in front of us, oftentimes forbidding her to speak. And these attitudes he justified with scripture. He often quoted Ephesians 5 stating wives were to submit to their husbands in EVERYTHING … as to the Lord.
As a boy who idolized his father, it was just natural for me to take on at least a form of this interpretation. As I got into my teen years I remember my father boasting to me about how he was cheating on my Mom. He would even have me listen to recordings of communication between him and the family friend he was cheating with. I was so brainwashed I had no problem with it. He was my Dad … he could do no wrong.
Then I left home for college and met the girl of my dreams. We got married and life was great … at least from my perspective. Although I was never as bad as my father, I still held onto attitudes cultivated for years in my mind. Ultimately, everything was about me and would have continued that way were it not for two life-changing events.
The first came several years after God had blessed us with three daughters. While visiting with one of my sisters and her family, my sister pulled me aside and shared with me something that would change me forever. Because of her concern for our daughters, she revealed that our father had sexually molested her and my other sister when they were young.
To say I was devastated is an understatement. I lost my father that day. My idol … my hero … my best man when we got married came crashing down before me. The curtain was removed, and I saw for the first time all the bad things he had done for years. I came away knowing two things: I would be diligent in protecting our daughters from him, and … I didn’t want to be like my father in any way.
Wanting to become something different from my father was a good decision, but I had no idea what that would look like or how to achieve it. That’s when the second life-changing event occurred. A good friend from church asked me if I would go with him to a Promise Keepers event in Dallas. I decided I would go with him. We spent the weekend in the old Arlington Stadium (the one with the big hole in the roof) with 75,000 other men listening to challenge after challenge on how to be the men that God had called us to be.
It was amazing! Then close to the end of the event, a man spoke on the subject “How to Out-Serve Your Wife.” His text for the sermon was John 9. He delivered a beautiful lesson on how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, then applied that attitude to how we should be toward our wives.
At the very end, he brought out his wife. It felt so strange to see a woman in that huge arena full of only men. Then he sat her in a chair, brought out a large bowl of water, sat down on the floor … and washed her feet in front of us all. You could have heard a pin drop.
She wept openly and stroked his head while he very gently and tenderly washed her feet. When he finished, he dried her feet, they had a special moment, and then she left the stage. Then he had us all hold our hands out in front of us, palms up forming a bowl, and told us to take whatever it was that was keeping us from out-serving our wives and place it in our hands. I began to envision all the things that had been programmed into me by my father for so many years. I saw the ways I had always placed myself first in our marriage. I took all of that garbage and placed it in my hands. Then he said on the count of three we were all going to release whatever we were holding right up through the hole in the roof. One … Two … Three … and I let it all go.
That experience brought me to the foot of the cross. You see, I realized that dying to myself when coming to Jesus meant not just between me and Him but to others as well. And others included my wife. At that point, I began trying to out-serve her. I finally had a picture of what a husband should really be and I have been trying to fulfill that ever since.
We’re coming up on 42 years together. It’s not a perfect marriage because we aren’t perfect people. But we serve a perfect Savior and He has revealed to us how to make it the best it can be … and I believe it is.