Men: Don’t settle for easy
As a husband and father I find that my natural tendency is to take the quick and easy way. What I mean is that I often don’t give considered thought to a situation or circumstance, I just do what’s easiest.
But I have come to find that in the end, the quick and easy way is often the way that leads to the worst outcome.
For example it’s easy to:
- Leave your wife to deal with her emotional struggles. She’s an adult after all, right?
- Let your kids chart their own course. You figured it out on your own, didn’t you?
- Absorb yourself in your hobbies. You need some “me time,” right?
But the results of doing the easy thing in all these examples is usually far from the outcome we would prefer. In fact, if the easy way is taken repeatedly, the outcome can be disastrous.
Let’s look at what’s beneath the surface of each of the examples above:
When my wife is struggling emotionally
I tend to feel overwhelmed by it. It doesn’t seem logical. It doesn’t make sense to me. I try to reason her out of it or fix the problem. But when I do she tells me that I’m “not being sensitive” or “not caring for her where she’s at.” The truth is that I AM TRYING to live with her in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7), but I’m not a woman, so I find it hard to understand her.
When that happens, I’m tempted to throw it back on her and leave her to deal with the emotional struggle on her own.
But when I head in that direction, I’m misunderstanding my calling in that situation. I’m not supposed to fix anything or make anything better. I’m supposed to love her – like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25-26). I’m supposed to sacrificially give myself by wading into her emotional pain or confusion to be with her in it. Doing that is not easy, but it is loving. It tells her that I’m for her, I’m with her, and I care about what she’s going through. It tells her that I don’t think she’s broken and I have to fix her, or that she’s a bother that I tolerate. It tells her she’s a treasure that I want to care for and protect.
That’s hard… but it’s the path that leads to a deeper relationship with my wife and a marriage that is truly built on love.
When my kids are trying to navigate life
There are things my kids face during the course of an average day that are truly childish. They are children after all. But that doesn’t mean those things are not important. Granted, they may not be important in the grand scheme of things, or from an adult perspective, but they are important to them.
When my kids come to me with anything from a broken toy to a petty situation concerning their peers, I’m tempted to send them to talk to their mom. I’m tempted to tell them I’m busy. I’m tempted to give them lip-service without really caring.
But when I think of it in that light, I’m missing a tremendous opportunity. My children come to me with the issues of their lives because they need me to care for them in that circumstance. That may be a word of guidance or caution. It may be an attitude of delight in the way they are handling a situation. It may be an opportunity to teach them something valuable about life. When I do that I’m showing my kids that they are truly important to me, important enough to deserve my time and attention.
That’s hard… but it’s the path that leads me to deep relationship with my kids and mutual respect that will last into the teen years and beyond.
When I want to consume myself in my hobbies
There are times when I am eagerly looking forward to engaging in things I love to do. For me it’s things like reading, writing, carving, fishing, etc. I’m sure you have a list of your own. They are things that bring me enjoyment and like anyone else, I want to do what I enjoy.
When I’m about to dive in to one of those areas of interest and my wife or kids or a friend suddenly have a pressing need, I’m tempted to ignore the need and do what I was planning regardless. I’m tempted to rationalize or make an excuse why I can’t be of help at that moment. I’m tempted to indulge myself without concern for others.
I’m not about to say that hobbies or personal interests are bad things. But when I make them a higher priority than investing in my family or helping a person who is truly in need, I’m missing the boat. I’ve been placed in my family to be a servant-leader, a man who serves those under my leadership in such a way that they become more successful at life. And I’m here to serve others as well. I’m to give and give and give so that they are provided for and equipped for the life God has for them.
That’s hard… but it’s the path that will enable me to sit on my porch in my rocker when I’m 95 years old and see that my life made a difference.
It’s natural to settle for easy
It’s natural to want to avoid difficulty and hardship and hard work.
But what comes naturally is usually the very thing that has us in the “stuck” place we are. It’s what makes for mediocre marriages and lukewarm faith. It’s what causes our lives to be squandered instead of invested.
We cannot have the families we desire or the rewards from life we want by walking the easy road. We have to become men of discipline, men of courage, men who valiantly make our lives about the good of others. We are to be like Jesus: men of sacrifice who care for others before they care for themselves.