“Can we wrestle for a few minutes?”
My 6-year-old son is ready for bed. I have other things I need to get to. But just that day, I had written in my journal, I need to wrestle with Noah more. Make this a priority.
It’s amazing to me how often I encounter this moment of decision: me—or family? Do what I need to do (or just want to do)—or devote my time to my children or my wife?
This moment is a critical one. And for a husband and dad, it happens every day. What you do in that moment is more consequential than you probably realize.
Our natural tendency is to make the selfish choice. That is the number one thing that holds us back from being better husbands and fathers. What is more, it contradicts the role God gave us men to fill in the lives of our wives and children.
The love of God is the way of give. The spirit of God’s law is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your fellow man as much as you love yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). The spirit of sin is simply to love self first.
As husbands and fathers, we need to judge ourselves by this standard: Am I loving myself right now instead of my family? If you’re honest, you may not like the verdict.
However, here is the awesome truth: The roles of husband and father are the exact instruments we need to overcome and to grow in this critical area of character! When we men fulfill these roles, we demolish our selfishness like a sledgehammer crushing rock.
Think: God created the roles of a husband and of a father. Why? To shape His character in us! The Bible likens Jesus Christ to a Husband and God to a Father. God wants you to realize that in your family, you fulfill a type of God and a type of Christ! (Learn more about this deep biblical truth in our free booklet God Is a Family.)
At the core of these roles is the number one thing that can help all of us men conquer our selfishness and be better husbands and fathers: sacrifice.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5. A godly husband demonstrates his love for his wife through sacrifice. The absolute opposite of self-love.
How did you give yourself to your wife today? In what way did you truly sacrifice for her this week?
“For God [the Father] so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). A godly father demonstrates love for his children through sacrifice—giving them the best He has to give (see also Romans 8:32; Matthew 7:11; James 1:17).
The Bible mandates the major aspects of a man’s role: serving as his family’s protector, provider, guide, educator, disciplinarian and love-giver. All these duties revolve around our noble obligation to sacrifice.
Ask yourself: What is preventing me from truly fulfilling the roles of husband and father in my family? Yes, we have priorities that demand our attention outside the home. We must be providers; we should be builders within the community. This absorbs our energies and time. But if we are balanced and do these things out of godly sacrificial love, they actually enhance our standing as husbands and fathers.
Where the problem comes in is when we choose to put our self-indulgent interests first: me—not family! This deprives our families of the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits God wants to provide them through us as men. And it squanders our opportunity to use our family responsibilities to forge godly character.
What are some practical ways you can emulate the Husband of all husbands today? How can you give your one and only precious wife the marriage experience God wants her to have? How can you imitate the Father of all fathers today? How can you provide your children the family experience that will turn their hearts to their spiritual Father? (Malachi 4:6).
Make a list. Maybe it’s calling her to say you’re thinking of her. Fixing what’s broken. Expressing your appreciation. Picking up after yourself. Leading family Bible studies. Washing the dishes. Hanging that family portrait. Taking them out when you sense she’s overwhelmed. Helping with homework. Teaching a skill. Being Big Fun Dad. Going for a family walk. Tackling a family project. Giving an unexpected gift. Snuggling. Planning a getaway. Wrestling with your boy. Do something off of that list every day.
Make another list of the things you do that swallow your time and draw you away from being that godly husband and father. Disappearing into your study. Not listening. Being distracted. Burying your nose in the iPad. Spending too much time on the computer. Getting impatient. Fondling your phone. Bringing work home. Entering television purgatory. Getting lost in sports. Contributing nothing. Study that list. Ask yourself: Is anything here worth putting in front of my family?
And the next time you encounter that moment of decision—me, or family—make a different choice. Do the unselfish thing. Sacrifice. Just like the ultimate Husband and Father do for you.