MAN UP, GENTLEMEN! Your Family Needs You!
By: Al Robertson
That thought hit me as Lisa and I were going through the worst time of our marriage. There I was, the father of two teenagers, the husband of a beautiful wife, and the pastor of an amazing church, and I was in danger of losing everything God had blessed me with. And I only had one shot.
I wondered, “Will God allow me to make up for lost ground? Is it too late to pick up the pieces and reboot our family?” I’m aware of the fact that Lisa made choices that put our family and our testimony in peril, but the truth is that she didn’t make those decisions in a vacuum. At the time, I was fully engulfed in pastoring our growing church. People were coming to me with their own problems – marriages were in danger of being broken, children were in rebellion against their parents, and a whole host of other problems that seemed to require my time and effort.
Unfortunately, I allowed Satan to deceive me into stealing time from my wife and children and giving it to others. I guess you could say that I was a Robin Hood kind of preacher, except that the ones I was robbing of what they needed most were not the rich. It was Lisa, Anna, and Alex who needed me most. They are the ones who needed my time and my attention. I didn’t see it at the time, but they were becoming poverty-stricken while I was feeding others. I had taken the bait. I was so engulfed in taking care of God’s family that I neglected my own. I failed to give the ones I loved the most what they needed most.
Fortunately, God destroyed the lie that I had only one shot to get it right. It’s true that I couldn’t travel back in time and undo the damage that had occurred on my watch as the spiritual and emotional leader of my family, but God opened my eyes to his grace and mercy. And the essence of his mercy and grace is, “It’s never too late to obey God.” So that’s what I began to do. I pleaded with God to help me get back up and start over. I begged him to empower me to be the spiritual leader of my family in ways that I had failed to do before.
And would you like to hazard a guess as to how he answered my prayer? Out of the ash heap of my broken marriage, God empowered me to love Lisa in ways that I didn’t know were possible. I began to lay my life down for her. I didn’t take a break from pastoring the people in our church, but I did make shepherding my family my number one priority. For the first time ever, Lisa became “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”
I won’t tell you that everything became perfect, but I will tell you that God healed our marriage in response to our faithful commitment to make our family our number one priority.
Over the years since that day, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the practical application for our experience. The best way I can say it is to paraphrase the words of Jesus: What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses or forfeits his very family?
There is nothing you can accomplish, no possession you could own, no degree you could earn, and no accolade you could receive from other people that would come close to being as important as the spiritual welfare of those you love the most. Bigger houses, trendier cars, fancier vacations, all lose their luster if your family doesn’t walk with God. In my case, it was the allure of being needed by the church. And while it was true that many people in our church needed someone, Lisa and the girls needed me more.
So, I live by this principle now: “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church….” It occurred to me that in order for me to do that, I would have to allow the Holy Spirit access to my heart. That’s because loving Lisa in the same way that Christ loved the church required me to do something completely foreign to my nature. It would require supernatural intervention. I would have to give myself up for her. I would have to put her and her needs above me and my needs. My goal would have to be for God to use me to lead her and the girls into holiness (Ephesians 5:25-33).
I would encourage you to take stock of your priorities. Remember this: when they lower your body into the grave, none of your “stuff” or accomplishments will matter one single bit. What will matter is the legacy of faith you wove into the fabric of your family. Maybe you’ve been a failure at leading your family to Christ up to this point. I don’t want to be too blunt here, but I would tell you to suck it up and begin your journey of faithful leadership now. You have no idea what God will do in the lives and hearts of men who decide they are going to take on the task of spiritual leadership in their family. It’s the most important thing you will do in your life.