Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Do you wish your husband would open up and talk with you more? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says some women need to consider this.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Your husband needs to know that if he tells you what he’s really thinking that you’re not going to smash him for it.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for Thursday, April 19, 2018.

Women from every state in the country have signed the True Woman Manifesto along with women from dozens of countries around the world. Why would they sign this document? Find out for yourself at ReviveOurHearts.com and listen now as Nancy continues teaching through the True Woman Manifesto.

Nancy: I got a call early this morning about a couple that I know who have spent years serving in ministry—not currently, but in the past they have—and are now in the middle of a divorce. Four children are caught in the crossfire. The friend who called said to me, “The truths that you’re sharing today on Revive Our Hearts could save that marriage.

I know a little bit about the situation, and my immediate response was to say, “Well, they could have saved that marriage.” And my friend wisely said, “It’s not too late. That marriage could still be saved.” Now humanly speaking it doesn’t look like it will be, but that marriage could still be saved. And in this case it is a husband who is abandoning his wife and children.

You say, “How does speaking to women help save a marriage like that?” Well, any time, whether you’re a man or a woman, when you live according to God’s principles and take His calling in your life personally, then that is going to impact not only yourself but those of the opposite sex as well.

So when a wife says, “I want to be God’s true woman,” that is going to impact her husband. When a man wants to be a true man of God, that’s going to impact his wife. We so tend to focus on what the other gender needs to do to make the marriage work—what my husband needs to do, what my wife needs to do. We just need to get our eyes off of all that and say, “Lord, what do You need to do in my life?”

That’s not to say that you are the fault of why the marriage is falling apart. In this case I wouldn’t say it’s the wife’s fault based on what I know about the situation. And remember, you never know all about the situation there is to know. But it appears that this is largely the man’s fault in this situation, that he’s just saying, “I want to be an irresponsible man.” So what can the wife do?

Well, the wife can’t change her husband. But she can be God’s true woman in that situation. Today we want to talk about something that does make a huge difference in male/female relationships, marriage and otherwise.

So we come today to the fifth affirmation in the True Woman Manifesto. I’m going to take the liberty on this one as I will with a few others along the way to spend two days on this one because there’s a lot I want to share about it.

The affirmation reads,

We are called as women to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity, and to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church.

Now let me give you a short version of that, just four words that I want to stick in your head and stick in your heart: Affirm, encourage, honor, and support. Can you say those words with me?

All: Affirm, encourage, honor, and support.

Nancy: Let’s get it one more time. I don’t want you ever to forget these words, okay? What are we to do as women toward men?

All: Affirm, encourage, honor and support.

Nancy: Now let me give you a bit of a biblical framework for where we come up with this concept. There’s not one verse in Scripture that specifically says this affirmation in the Manifesto, but there are a lot of verses that when you put them together lead us to this affirmation.

First, we see that in the Scripture man was created first—first Adam and then Eve. The New Testament uses that fact as a basis for assigning to men the primary responsibility to lead and to teach the family of God. And then we see that the woman was created from the man. The man was created from the dust of the ground and the woman was formed out of the side of the man, made from Adam’s rib. Genesis 2 gives us that description.

The New Testament refers back to this fact that the woman was created from the man to support role distinctions and headship and submission between men and women. When the New Testament talks about the distinctions between male/female roles . . . And if you missed the last couple of sessions you need to go back and pick those up because it’ll give you some context for what we’re talking about. But when the New Testament makes those points, it tells us that part of the reason is that the woman was created from the man. The man created first then the woman created from the man.

And then thirdly that the woman was created for the man, that she was made in a supporting role. The first statement in the Bible that has anything to do with the woman’s created purpose and function is found in Genesis 2:18. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him [or a helper suitable for him].’” That word suitable or fit means “one corresponding to him, one that matches him, a counterpart.” This speaks to equality.

This is not a relationship like the animals have with each other. There’s an equality between man and woman, but there’s a fitting together of each other, a complementarity. She is a counterpart, a helper suitable for him.

Now 1 Corinthians 11, verses 8 and 9 picks up on this whole concept and says, “Man was not made from woman but woman from man.” This speaks of the origin or the source of woman. “Neither was the man created for woman but woman for the man.” That speaks of her purpose, her goal.

Now I realize saying these things today in our current environment is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. We are sure to get response. But as I like to say, we like response at Revive Our Hearts, and even if you don’t agree with us write and tell us that. But I want to take us back to the Word of God which indicates that women were created to be helpers. The woman was created from the man and for the man.

As helpers we can either build up or tear down the men in our lives. We can help, or we can hinder. I’ve given you before but I want to give to you again two quotes from John Piper that I think are so helpful on this issue of manhood and womanhood. He says,

First of all at the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for, and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.

So there’s this pattern of initiative to protect and to provide.

Now when you see that definition of manhood, of masculinity, the response of many women would be, “Yeah, wouldn’t it be great if men would do that!” Well, we aren’t responsible for men. We can’t change men. We are responsible for demonstrating godly femininity. That is what we can do by the power of the Spirit. As we do, in turn that will encourage and help the men to express godly masculinity.

So I go back to Dr. Piper and his quote about femininity. He says,

At the heart of mature femininity [mature womanhood] is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.

So here’s a pattern of female responsiveness to male initiative.

Now we’re talking here about a heart attitude to support, to come alongside, to encourage. Remember the four words? Affirm, encourage, honor, and support. The heart attitude is that out of which the actions will ultimately flow. When you look at it this way, there’s a tension that rises in many of our hearts as women. And here’s how it goes.

First of all there is that God-created desire that most women feel, that desire for men to step up to the plate and be men. This is one of the most common things I hear from women. “If men would just be men, if they would just step up to the plate, if they would just lead . . .” So there is in our hearts as women a desire—it’s a God-created desire—for men to be men.

But then there is also—and here’s where the tension is—that fallen impulse in our hearts as women that makes us want to take control, where we want to take the reins. We’d rather compete than complete the men.

So how can we as women affirm and encourage men to express godly masculinity?

As I was preparing for this series, I decided to get some input from some men that I know. I wanted to hear their hearts rather than me trying to answer this question on their behalf. So I sent out an email to several dozen men who serve in our ministry, other friends, people I work with, that I know. I asked them two questions.

I just said, “Tell me anything that you’d like to say in response to these two questions."

  • First of all, what can we as women do to affirm and encourage men to be godly men? What are some practical ways that we can honor and support God ordained male leadership in the home and in the church?” So the first question is, “How can we encourage you? How can we support you? How can we affirm you in your leadership?”
  • The second was kind of the opposite of that. What are some ways that we as women discourage you as men from stepping up to the plate and expressing godly masculinity? What are some ways that we tear down or diminish male leadership in the home and in the church?

And I am so thankful for the men who emailed me back, many of them did, some that aren’t usually big talkers; they don’t usually say a lot. But they shared their heart in these emails. They gave some great input. So today and in the next program a little different from our ordinary programs where I’m taking a Bible text and I’m teaching it, I want to just share some excerpts from what these men said to me. It gives you a window into the hearts of these guys.

I wish I had time to share with you all of what they said. I don’t. But we’ve taken that input and put it into a document that we’re posting on ReviveOurHearts.com. I want to encourage you to go there and download this so you can look at what the guys said. These are Christian guys, guys with a heart to do it right and the things they said to us as women about how we can encourage and support them.

Most of what they said is applied specifically to the marriage relationship. But I have found that much of this can be applied in other male/female relationships—in the home, in the church, in the workplace, in the community. The things these guys wrote were really helpful, and I have to say, convicting to me as I think about the men in my church, the men I'm friends with, the men that I serve with in Revive Our Hearts.

So here’s the first thing. I’ll give you some categories of what they said. The one thing that came back in many different ways is the importance of expressing encouragement and belief in them as men. Let me just read what some said.

One said,

Say thank you more frequently and mean it.

An attitude of gratitude goes a long way.

A twenty-year-old single man wrote . . . and he's in a dating relationship. He talks about this gal he's dating. He said,

She would often tell me, "John, you are a man after God's own heart." That might at first seem like flattery because no one deserves to be told that, and I am obviously no where near that. But that is where the power is. It encourages me in the areas that God is showing Himself in my leadership, and it gently show me the areas I'm struggling to reflect Him in, when she says, "You are a man after God's own heart." When I hear that from her, I would feel that love and encouragement but also such a sweet, soft rebuke.

The encouragement was encouraging, but it was also motivating him in the areas where he knew he wasn't the man of God he wants to be.

Another man said,

Compliment him when it’s appropriate to do so. Men like to know they’re doing a good job, even on the smallest things.

Make a big deal about it. Don’t just think, “Well, that’s what he’s supposed to do.” You want him complimenting you and noticing little things. Maybe it matters to him—that’s what these guys said—that we notice and we express gratitude and appreciation.

Another man wrote—in this case he and his wife have been friends of mine for many years, and recently his wife has gone home to be with the Lord. He said,

Jane’s father left the family when she was five years old and the scars from that episode carried over into our early years of marriage and how she responded and respected me as her husband and her leader in the home. In the early years of our journey with the Lord, we had a friend who challenged Jane to see the good in me as her husband. She admitted that she could not see the good in me, which also was reflected in her lack of respect for me and for the position of spiritual leader in our home.

As you know, Jane had a strong will and personality, which is not a bad thing if surrendered to the Lord. The challenge from our friend was the beginning of the breaking process in my wife’s life and the fresh start in our relationship as Jane began to see me in a different light and the good that God had placed there. Jane was then able to accept me and my leadership and to trust me as her husband and as a man made in God’s image and not necessarily that of her father.

So he was saying she had a background that made it hard for her to encourage. It made it hard for her to trust and to believe in a man. But God gave her the faith as she was challenged to do that to express encouragement to her husband.

Here’s another one. This man said,

My wife grew up in the church, and I did not. After my conversion I was so ignorant of the Word that she kept me in a state of feeling ignorant and not able to lead her because of her knowledge. There were even times my simple prayers were not good enough for her. She would actually voice this to me in subtle ways. Along with her very controlling personality, I felt helpless. For many years until God changed her heart, I stayed discouraged and did not want to even attempt to step up to the plate.

Now ask yourself, “Is my husband, my sons, the men in my life, have I discouraged them from stepping up to the plate, from making them think that they couldn’t achieve, that they couldn’t be men of God, that they couldn’t pray, or they couldn’t be spiritual leaders? Or have I encouraged them? And have I expressed to them that encouragement? So expressing encouragement and belief in him—that was one category.

Here’s another one, and that’s the area of communication. In our ministry we talk about having “HOT” communication—H-O-T. That means honest, open, and transparent. It’s the kind of communication you want to have in your marriage. But communication—learn to ask questions, to solicit input, to ask your husband, to ask the men in your sphere of influence,

  • What do you think?
  • What’s your idea about this?
  • What would you suggest?

Now that doesn’t mean you don’t have ideas or that you don’t contribute ideas. But if you want them to lead, if you want them to be affirmed and supported and encouraged as male leaders then ask them. Communicate that desire to them.

One man wrote and said,

Encourage women to say something like this, perhaps to your husband, “I am called to affirm and encourage you as you seek godly masculinity and to honor and support God-ordained leadership in the home and in the church.” [You may have to pull out your Manifesto to read that part to him. Then say something like this,]

"You may have never heard me say anything like that, but I want to learn what this means for you and for me. You may not believe me that I want to affirm and encourage you in this. You may not believe that I want to honor and support you. You may not believe it because I’ve not said nor have I acted like I want it. But I’m changing, or I want to change. This is what I want for you and for me.

"So I repent. My sin has been against you. More, it’s been against God. I haven’t seen this as rebellion or sin but it is." [Take the pathway of humility.] And then say,

"Please be patient with me. My eyes are opening. I’m afraid of saying this because it’s not the way I’ve been raised. It’s not the way most people think, and I don’t want to be a doormat.

"But I’m going to affirm this regularly with you. Regularly I’m going to ask you things like [and this all came from a man saying this would be helpful communication]:

  • How did I affirm, encourage, and honor and support you this month? What did that do for you? [See? Ask a question if you want input.]
  • Can you gently tell me how I did not affirm, encourage, honor and support you this month? I promise not to become defensive or angry.

Now, your husband needs to know that if he tells you what he’s really thinking that you’re not going to smash him for it. 

  • Are there any ways I’m discouraging you from embracing your role?
  • Is there anything I am doing that makes you feel disrespected?”

Communication. Ask questions.

And then here’s an important part of communication. Not only ask questions but listen. Listen. A lot of women are naturally more verbal than their husbands. Some women say, “My husband never talks.” And I want to tell you, in some marriages I can tell you the reason. It’s because he doesn’t have a chance. Give him a chance to talk.

One man said in response to my little email survey,

Listen to your husband until he is finished explaining or addressing an issue before you offer your opinion.

If you want to know what he thinks, give him a chance to say it.

And then beyond communication, here's something that has to underlie all our dealings with each other, whether same sex or opposite sex, and that is extend grace. One of the men that sent in an email response said,

Be a dispenser of grace! There is nothing that will cause him to respond and rise to greater levels of leadership than when he sees his wife at home and ladies at church respond with grace when he makes mistakes. If a man genuinely desires to be a godly, servant leader, it will be easier for ladies under his authority to follow him. But if he is not consistently living this way, women can best help by showing grace, because [and I love this phrase] grace melts a hard heart.

You see, it’s not badgering that melts a heart. Badgering just stiffens. It’s not nagging. It’s not whining. It’s not complaining. It’s not rejecting. It’s not pushing him away. It’s extending grace that melts hard hearts.

Listen, these guys around us, they’re not going to do it perfectly. This affirmation says, “We want to affirm and encourage them as they seek to express godly masculinity.” They are in the process of trying to become biblical men, many of them. And the tendency is to think, When my husband or the men I work with or the men in my circle of friends, when those men become godly men, then I’ll affirm and encourage them.

And the tendency—I’ve heard it in a lot of wives—is to want to withhold the affirmation until he changes. Because here’s the little secret fear. I hope you don’t mind if I let people in on this little secret in our hearts. The concern is that if we affirm them too much they might get the idea they’re okay the way they are. Am I right? Have you ever had that thought?

Listen, encouragement and affirmation is the soil in which these guys will be motivated, in which they will flourish. We need to extend grace to husbands, to our Christian brothers who are growing into the men that God wants them to be the same way that we need them to extend grace to us as we’re growing into the women God wants us to be.

A friend told me recently about a conversation she had with a wife who was dealing with some issues. My friend said to the other woman, “You need to show grace.” And the other woman said, “I don’t do grace.”

Now most of us wouldn’t say that, but it’s true. A lot of us don’t do grace.

Listen, do you want to receive grace? Do you need grace? You say, “Men are sinners!” You’re right; they are, and so are women. Your husband is a sinner. You are a sinner. And the only way two sinners can live together in peace is if they come to the cross, get on their knees before the Lord.

You say, “Yeah, I’ll get on my knees when my husband gets on his knees.” Don’t wait for your husband to get to the cross. You run there; you get there first. Extend grace. Breathe grace in and grace out. You have to keep overlooking, keep forgiving. You have to get past the “It’s not fair” thing. Stop keeping score in your marriage. Overlook. Bear with. Show grace.

Affirm, encourage, honor, and support. I’m going to pick up on some more things those men shared with me in our next session. But I can hear someone saying—and people have written and said this to us—“Why don’t you ever preach to the men? Someone needs to tell the men. Why is it the women that need to do all the changing? Why don’t they have to change?”

Listen somebody may have to preach to the men, but I can tell you for sure that’s not my calling. God didn’t call me to do that. And I can tell you something else. God didn’t call you to do that.

Why do we have to be the ones to change? Because we want to be like Jesus who laid down His life. Romans 15:

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus (vv. 1–5).

And O Father, how I pray that You will show us as women how to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity and how to honor and support God ordained male leadership in the home and in the church. Help us to do our part for Your glory. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to remember four important words: affirm, encourage, honor, and support. These words are found in the True Woman Manifesto. I hope you’ll read it for yourself. 

We’d like to send you a pamphlet with the complete text of the Manifesto. We’ll also send you a Bible study booklet called "A 30-Day Journey Through the True Woman Manifesto." Each day for thirty days, this booklet will help you study a number of Scripture passages that support the Manifesto. You’ll better understand what you believe and find something solid to stand on, even when the ground seems to be shifting so many other places.

Ask for the booklet, "A 30-Day Journey Through the True Woman Manifesto," when you call us to make a donation of any size. The number is 1–800–569–5959. If you’d rather, donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com, and you’ll still get the pamphlet and the 30-Day Journey booklet.

Well Nancy ask, “Are you encouraging men to be men?”

Nancy: Are there ways that you’re undermining your husband or other men? Are you continually questioning, picking apart, criticizing your leadership decisions? Do you speak in a disparaging way about that man in front of others?

Leslie: More on that tomorrow. Please be here for Revive Our Hearts.

 Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help your marriage glorify God in every way. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

 

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