Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Encouraging Men to Step up to the Plate

Leslie Basham: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth asks, “Are you encouraging men to be men?”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Are there ways that you’re undermining your husband or other men? Are you continually questioning, picking apart, and criticizing their leadership decisions? Do you speak in a disparaging way about that man in front of others? Do you grudgingly support him? What’s your tone when you’re talking to him? Do you speak differently to him at home than you do when you’re at church?

Let me say, this is broader than just husbands. We’re talking about single women, women in the workplace, students, and teens. Again, looking for appropriate ways to affirm, encourage, honor, and support men as they seek to become men of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for Friday, April 20, 2018. 

We believe that Christ is redeeming the sinful world and making all things new, and that His followers are called to share in His redemptive purposes as they seek, by God’s empowerment, to transform every aspect of human life that has been marred and ruined by sin.

Leslie: At each True Woman conference, a highlight has been the reading of the True Woman Manifesto.

We affirm that Scripture is God’s authoritative means of instructing us in His ways, and it reveals His holy pattern for our womanhood, our character, our priorities, and our various roles, responsibilities, and relationships.

Leslie: Sometimes, women who have helped organize the conference have been chosen to help read part of the Manifesto.

Marriage, as created by God, is a sacred, binding, lifelong covenant between one man and one woman.

Leslie: This organizer read part of the Manifesto at a True Woman conference in Chattanooga.

We are called as women to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity . . .

Leader: Wow. A lot of things were going through my mind, that God would just use my words or that the Manifesto would really get into their hearts. So I guess before I went up there, I was really, really praying, “God, help us.” That was all I could say, “God, help us. Help us. Open our hearts; open our ears; open our eyes, Lord.”

 . . . and to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church.

Even though I’m still learning these principles, this is what I really believe, so I was very excited.

Leslie: During our current series, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been describing this statement from the Manifesto in detail, and now she’s back to continue.

Nancy: I sat across the dinner table not too long ago from a woman who came to one of our recording sessions, and we went to dinner afterwards. She’s a woman who has been deeply impacted by the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, greatly helped by it. She’s a believer married to a non-believer, and with tears, as we sat across the table, she told me her story how she had married outside the will of God and ended up in a very difficult marriage.

Her husband had left her and was living with a mistress with whom he had fathered a child, and she’s in the midst of this horrendous situation. But here’s the part that really got to me . . . just, without in any way justifying his wrong and his sinful choices, she just wept as she said, “I am reaping the consequences for my sin and my choices.”

She said, “I have not been the kind of woman that you talk about on Revive Our Hearts.” She sobbed as she talked about a day when her husband turned to her, and he said to her, “You Christians are so mean.”

And she said, “He was right.” She said, “I’ve been mean to my husband. I have not been kind to him.” She’s not saying that she had to be a perfect wife or that his sin was in any way justified, but she was realizing that, as a woman, she had a huge responsibility for the spiritual condition of her husband. Now, ultimately, he’s responsible and accountable to God for his behavior. But I thought about this woman, in a way, by her own testimony, driving this man away with unkindness, with meanness.

I thought about that verse in Proverbs 14 that says, “A wise woman builds up her home, but the foolish one tears it down with her hands.”

I don’t want in any sense to justify men not being godly men, not treating men appropriately; but as women, we have a huge part in how the whole dance of the sexes goes, the male/female thing. That’s why we’re taking some extra time today to look at this affirmation in the True Woman Manifesto that says: “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.”

I want you to remember these four words: affirm, encourage, honor, and support. That’s what we’re talking about.

Now, let me make it clear that the way we live out that affirmation and encouragement will vary depending on the nature of the relationship. Obviously, if you’re a wife, you’re going to affirm and encourage your husband in ways that are different than ways you would encourage the checker at the grocery store or a coworker in your office. There are appropriate relationships. You’re going to, as a woman, affirm and encourage your pastor in a different way than you would affirm and encourage your husband. So we are to do this in ways that are appropriate based on the nature of the relationship. That’s so important.

I’ve talked in the past on Revive Our Hearts about the importance of single women, as we deal with members of the opposite sex, of having appropriate boundaries and hedges and being discreet. So we have content on that, but today I want to emphasize the part about affirming, encouraging, honoring, and supporting men in appropriate ways as they seek to be godly men.

I shared with you in the last session that I had asked a number of men answer the questions, “How can we encourage you as women to step up to the plate?" and "What discourages you as men from fulfilling your role and your spiritual leadership?” I shared some of their responses in the last session. I want to share several others today.

One thing that came out in spades in these responses that came through email was men saying in different ways, “Let the men lead. You want them to lead? Let them lead. Encourage them to step up to the plate. Ask them, ‘Would you pray for me about this? I’m struggling with this situation.’”

Men are built to be providers and protectors, but often they don’t do it because women live independently, as if we don’t need provision and protection. Now, I’m not talking about being a whiny, wimpy, cowering woman. We’re talking about being true women of God, women of moral strength and fiber and fortitude, but there’s a sense in which men need to know that we need them, that we need their spiritual protection and leadership and care.

  • Ask them to pray.
  • Ask them for input.
  • Ask them to take leadership.
  • Then respond to their initiative.

Let me read some of the things that some of these men said, so I’ll put it in their words and let you hear from their hearts:

When my girlfriend would step out in front of me and begin giving leadership, it would make me feel inadequate. It would cause me to get lazy and even more passive. I know a lot of women and think quicker than us men, so it’s easy for them to take the wheel. It’s easy sometimes for us guys to let them have it so we can avoid the pressures of leadership and decision making.

Another man said,

Men lead where they believe they are competent. Even if they aren’t competent, they will strike out boldly if they think they are. Having someone who follows or agrees will add to our confidence. It doesn’t have to be blindly or in every instance, but it needs to be an established pattern. Continual disagreement and questioning will cause us to second guess ourselves. Seeds of doubt lead to hesitation and procrastination. Eventually, avoidance sets in. Why try if you’re only going to fail? Show trust in a man’s leadership abilities.

Then another man sent one that was very specific and very practical, and I really appreciated him having the courage to say this because it’s been something that I’ve observed myself. So let me let you hear it from a man’s perspective. He said,

Please hear this in a gentle tone [smiley face]. From a man’s perspective, one of the things I’ve noticed when leading mixed small group Bible studies or Sunday school classes is the quick answer that the women often give when a question goes out to the group.

I think most of the time men are inward processors. Most of the men in the group will not instantly jump to speak to get ahead of the ladies. If there’s more than one of these ladies, they can consume the air time. One thing that will discourage men from stepping up to the plate and expressing godly masculinity is for the women of the group to be too quick to speak their minds.

I’ve seen very godly women sit quietly, knowing their husbands can share gems of wisdom if given an opportunity. It’s not that the women don’t have wisdom, but if the men are to be encouraged to lead, they will sometimes need the ladies to be quiet.

Now, as he said, “Please hear this in a gentle tone.”

I appreciate that man saying that. It’s not just in study groups. It can be in prayer meetings. We have a mixed group and somebody says, “Let’s pray together.” I’ve seen so often women be quick to jump in to pray, to answer questions, to give input. I’m not saying: Don’t pray. Don’t answer questions. Don’t give input. But I am saying this: If women jump in and do it, the men are likely to stand back and let us do it.

So you say, “Well, what if I stand back? There might be silence.”

Whoa! What would be so wrong with that? That’s okay. Wait. Let those men process inwardly if they need to. Give them a chance to lead. Let them lead.

Here’s another one. A man wrote,

Expect leadership from the men. Discuss this with your husband, and let him know the trust you have in him and his decisions. Encourage leadership by a willingness to follow and the expression of trust as you do. Express admiration and appreciation for your husband’s leadership. Commend your life to the Lord and submit to your husband’s lead, knowing that ultimately it is the Lord that is leading you through your husband. Follow your husband in success and failure. [That’s tough.] Let him lead despite your apprehensions concerning his choice of action.

I’m not advocating a mindless following, but a willing partner who is forthright with opinion and insight but is able to leave the final decision to her husband.

Then this man spoke about how to discourage men from taking leadership. He said,

Assume leadership when no man steps forward to lead, and that’s what will discourage men from taking leadership. Instead, begin praying for the Lord to provide an ordained male leadership. When no male leadership arises, examine your own heart for symptoms of pride and disobedience that would prevent a man from taking the risk of being your leader.

Ladies, I think we’ve made a lot of men scared to lead . . . it’s gotten real quiet in here. I don’t hear a lot of “Amen’s,” but I see some stricken looks on faces.

Wouldn’t you agree that sometimes we’ve made it scary for men to speak up, to step up because they know that we’re going to have that quick comeback, quick to disagree, quick to go do what we want to do anyway?

Let me read you another email that came from the wife of the man that I just quoted. She said,

This issue was huge in the early years of our marriage. Initially, Joe was a reluctant leader, so it was challenging for me to surrender my natural inclination to take over. I felt like things were falling through the cracks as I waited, and sometimes they did. At times I felt like I was being foolish for not making things happen, but as I quietly waited, I saw the Lord transform Joe into the fantastic leader that he is today in our home, marriage, and in ministry.

I know that couple today. I didn’t know them in their early years, but I know that he is a great man of God. He’s a true leader, a patriarch of his family in the most wholesome sense of that word. But now I hear this woman say, “In the early years, I had to do a lot of waiting—waiting for the Lord to move. It was worth it.”

Well, not only let him lead, but affirm him when he does step up to the plate. We say we want men to step up to the plate, but so many times when they do, we stick out our foot and trip them up with criticism, with rejection rather than encouragement and affirmation.

Then release expectations. We’ve got to be careful about making these guys prisoners to our expectations of what spirituality looks like and how we think they should lead. Don’t expect your husband to be a woman, and don’t expect his spirituality to look like yours, and don’t expect your marriage to look like someone else’s. You’re going to be disappointed if you’re looking at someone else’s husband and thinking, “Oh, that’s the way I wish my husband was.”

First of all, you don’t live with that other man, and it’s very possible that others are looking at your husband and thinking, Oh, if I could just be married to him.

Highlight the good things and release the expectations.

Let me read you something a woman wrote me as we were discussing how to affirm and encourage men in taking leadership. She said,

There’s one thing that really stands out to me when I think of Tim’s leadership. I had to be willing to let him lead in his own way using his own style.

Here, let me give you an example: When Tim decided that we would have family devotions each night, I had in mind some deeper, strong biblical teaching. But that first night when the family gathered, Tim pulled out The Call of the Wild, a book about a dog named Buck. I was quite surprised, but at that moment, I surrendered to the Lord and thanked God for Tim’s leadership wherever it would take us.

Long story short, Tim went on to read through scores of books through the years. Few were “Christian” books, but Tim would glean biblical principles and values from every page, and the children loved it. They looked forward to their father’s leadership every night, and today they and their families are all walking with the Lord. Praise the Lord.

If I had my way in our evening devotions, I would probably have killed their delight and sucked the joy right out of everything. I had to learn that when I prayed for Tim to be my leader, I had to be willing to let "nothing happen." Then I had to be willing to let him lead with the style and techniques with which he felt comfortable.

Now, let me say to you: I got an email from that husband (this couple is friends of mine) in the last twenty-four hours, because I was back and forth with the two of them over these questions. The first thing he did in his email was to quote Scripture to me. He took me back to the Word of God, so he has become a man of the Word. He’s reading more than The Call of the Wild these days, but she was willing to surrender to the Lord and surrender and release her expectations early in their marriage life about what this spiritual leadership thing would look like, and that gave him the freedom to develop as a leader.

We’re talking about a heart attitude here, one that is humble and gentle and gracious and contented.

Let me read to you a couple other things that men wrote to me expressing how women can affirm and encourage their leadership. One man said,

Ask women to become pliable and shapeable, not defensive, combative, and angry.

Another man said this, and I thought this was so challenging. He said,

I’ve been thinking about what Jen did that made me feel supported in the midst of obscure ministry and low income. Beyond being a verbal encourager, her contentment in the midst of difficulty was my greatest affirmation. To have a happy and joyful wife always gave me hope even in the midst of my lowest times. Her continual gratefulness kept me afloat when I could have felt like a failure. I don’t think women realize the power that joyful contentment is in encouraging their husbands.

Got that, ladies? The power of joyful contentment, and praying for your husband—that’s a huge thing. That’s what’s going to enable you to love him more, praying not just for your husband, but for your pastor, for the men in leadership in your church, for your sons as they become husbands, praying for them, praying for your son-in-law, not stepping in and running his life, but praying for them, thinking through their life, getting into their world. It can’t help but change your heart toward those men. If you’re struggling to affirm and encourage the men in your life, commit to pray for them. Ask God to give you compassion and show you creative ways to affirm and encourage them.

I know there will be times when that means being an encourager and a support for a man who is not doing the right thing, who is not leading. That doesn’t mean you encourage and support them in sin, but make sure at that point you look at your own walk.

  • Are there ways that you’re undermining your husband or other men?
  • Are you continually questioning, picking apart, and criticizing their leadership decisions?
  • Do you speak in a disparaging way about that man in front of others?
  • Do you grudgingly support him?
  • What’s your tone when you’re talking to him?
  • Do you speak differently to him at home than you do when you’re at church?

Many of you have heard my dear friend, Holly Elliff, on the broadcast over the years. She’s not able to be here today, but I’ve heard her say to women: “One day when you stand before God, He will not say to you, ‘What did your husband do that kept you from being a godly woman?’”

She says, “Our responsibility is to walk before Christ, to become the woman He wants us to be regardless of what our husbands or other men do.”

Then she reminds women that the way we respond to our husbands is a tool that God uses in that process to become the woman that God made you to be.

Let me say, this is broader than just husbands. We’re talking about single women, women in the work place, students, and teens. Again, looking for appropriate ways to affirm, encourage, honor, and support men as they seek to become men of God.

Since the 60s, we’ve been demeaning and disrespecting men, telling them all the things they can’t do, taking the reins in every area, and then wondering where the men leaders are. I’ll tell you where they are. They’ve been emasculated. They’ve been stripped of their manhood. Marriages and male/female relationships have become mine fields because of lack of respect over the long haul. There’s that constant erosion.

Now, I’m not saying we’re to blame for all the sins of men. We’re only to blame for our own sins. Okay? But our own sins affect others, and that constant erosion of criticizing, of complaining, of disagreeing, of questioning, it chips away, slowly but surely, at men’s sense of value and their confidence to be men, destroying the very thing we’re trying to achieve.

I’m not putting all of the responsibility on women. Men are accountable to God for fulfilling the responsibilities God has entrusted to them, but we have to own our responsibilities as women and say, “What have we done, and what are we doing to encourage them to be God’s men?”

It really goes back to just Christianity 101:

  • Esteem all others better than self (see Philippians 2).
  • "Outdo one another in showing honor" (Romans 12:10).
  • Clothe yourself with "compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience" (Colossians 3:12).
  • "Bearing with one another . . . forgiving one another" (Colossians 3:13).
  • "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up" (Ephesians 4:29).
  • "Whoever restrains his lips is prudent" (Proverbs 10:19).
  • "A gracious woman gets honor" (Proverbs 11:16).
  • "The tongue of the wise brings healing" (Proverbs 12:18).
  • "She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life . . . She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue" (Proverbs 31:12, 26).
  • "Be thankful" (Colossians 3:15).
  • "And above all these, put on love . . . put on love" (Colossians 3:14).

O Lord, I pray that You’d forgive us as women for the ways that we have diminished and demeaned men, maybe not intending to do so, but, O Lord, I pray that You would have mercy on us. Give us repentant and humble and pliable, shapeable hearts, not defensive, not combative, not angry, but tenderhearted, forgiving, loving.

Use us, Lord, as true women. Show us how to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly manhood. Help us show honor and support them in their roles of leadership in the home and in the church.

And together may we live out the gospel. May we reflect Your glory, and may we bring honor to Your great name. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Your words are powerful—more than you might realize. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us how words can tear down the men around us or build them up. If you learn to use your words to build your husband up, it’s your worship unto God for His glory.

Encouraging men to lead is one of the topics you’ll explore when you go through a Bible study booklet called "A 30-Day Walk Through the True Woman Manifesto." This study will take you through many of the statements in the Manifesto and help you study Scripture passages that relate to it. Then you’ll have a place to record what you’re learning.

While Nancy teaches through the Manifesto in several series this year, I hope you’ll embark on this study. We’d like to send you the booklet as our thanks when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts this week with a gift of any size. You’ll also get a copy of the complete True Woman Manifesto.

Call 1–800–569–5959 to donate and ask for the "30-Day Walk Through the True Woman Manifesto." You can also go online and donate at ReviveOurHearts.com and get the resources as well. Today’s program wraps up a series called "The True Woman Manifesto—Affirmations, Part 1." 

But it doesn’t wrap up Nancy’s teaching through the document. We’re devoting several series to the True Woman Manifesto this spring and summer. On Monday, Dr. Eric Mason will be here to show us why we are so dependent on the Holy Spirit as we minister to others. Please join us again, for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you display the beauty of biblical femininity. It's is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture was taken from the English Standard Version.

 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.