Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Most Important Place on Earth, Day 2

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Leslie Basham: Robert Wolgemuth says a husband or a wife needs to ask themselves an important question. Here's what he asks, when interacting with his wife, Nancy.

Robert Wolgemuth: "Whose needs am I trying to meet?" And if the answer to that is, "My own," I would not be a pleasant person to live with. And so, what I want my answer to be every time I think that (and, I'm not perfect at this by a long shot!) is, "I want to meet Nancy's needs."

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Tuesday, July 26, 2016.

Yesterday, we heard Robert and Nancy Wolgemuth talking about treating family members like honored guests. Robert writes about this in his newly revised and updated book, The Most Important Place on Earth.

Robert learned the lessons in this book as a husband to Bobbie Wolgemuth for forty-four years while they raised their daughters, Missy and Julie. Bobbie went home to be with the Lord after a long battle with cancer.

Now, Robert is asking the Lord to help him put these principles into action in his new home with Nancy. Let's jump back into the conversation.

Nancy Wolgemuth: I'm not so much of a morning person. I can easily go a whole morning without saying anything to anybody . . . and be happy that way. I'm a little bit more of a hermit. But, there's something about you lavishing generous, thoughtful, kind words on your bride first thing in the morning that makes we want to be more that kind of woman . . . to be satisfied to be your best friend, so you don't need the dog to do that.

Robert: That's right—and I'm happy to trade him in on you. Here's an interesting thing that happens in a marriage: Somebody has to go first. Very rarely will a husband and wife simultaneously decide to do something like this; somebody goes first.

This is true in greeting each other in the morning. It's true in solving an argument—in coming to a conclusion. Somebody has to be humble and say, "You know what? That was foolish. I had no business saying that."

The truth is, in our humanity and sinfulness, we're eager for the other person to go first. I want you to come to me in humility and say, "Honey, I'm really sorry. I shouldn't have said that." So we might wait a long time. Sometimes arguments last far longer than they should.

An argument begins to come to an end when somebody says, "You know what? I'm going to go first." In this case, we're talking about greeting each other in the morning. That's easy for me. But it's more difficult when there's a disagreement and I feel like, "You've wronged me. You've done the wrong thing. You've said the wrong thing. You've acted the wrong way—in my opinion."

In my humanity, I'd rather have you go first and have you come to me and say, "Robert, that just wasn't the right thing for me to say." Well, guess what? You may not see it that way, so I have to go first.

So I have to go first. I say, "Nancy, we need to talk. I would love to just tell you what's on my heart." Rarely in any human relationship (and certainly not in our marriage) are you disappointed when you go first. People love transparency. People love to welcome a person who comes to them in humility and repentance.

Nancy: Humility breeds humility.

Robert: That's really true.

Nancy: One of the things we've talked about is "racing to the cross." It's seeing if you can get there first.

Robert: That's right.

Nancy: You are amazing at that! You go first in praise, in prayer, in humility, in seeking forgiveness, in serving and seeking to honor. That's hugely motivating to me as a wife. Yet, I know we're talking to a lot of wives who say, "My husband doesn't go first in that."

That's where a wife can go firs. And how motivating that is to a man—to her husband, to a dad, to sons—when there's a mom, a wife in the home who is taking that place.

Robert: And there's nothing wrong with telling your husband what you're doing. Don't wait for him to figure it out. In other words, say, "Honey, we need to talk, but I want to go first, because I want to tell you what's on my heart. I want to tell you what I think that I did wrong. I want you to know that first. I'm not going to wait for you to come to me."

Sometimes I think women give their husbands too much credit for figuring things out.

Nancy: We expect you to read our minds.

Robert: That's it. And I don't know a single guy who's good at that. So help us. Help me help you. Help me to see what you're seeing. Help me to hear what you're hearing. Help me to think what you're thinking.

If you help me along the way and tell me what you're thinking and seeing, if you tell me what you're doing by going first, that will help me to do the same thing. This is such a dance. The other night, we had really cool music on, and we stood up in the living room and we danced. And neither of us knows how to do that! (laughter)

Nancy: We would not have wanted a video of that!

Robert: Exactly. But it's watching each other lead . . . taking a step, taking a step . . . looking at our feet and saying, "Huh. That's where you're going to put your foot?" That's a metaphor for the way life happens, day after day. It's big things, it's little things.

It's fifty-seven years [for Nancy] of not having anybody do anything at the house that you weren't aware of, that you hadn't directed. So now you've got this person, and you're living in the same house. He has some ideas about what to do or what not to do . . . to build a shelf or to undo a closet and put it back together. 

So, I need to know what you're thinking. I can't read your mind. And, you do this so well. I can see the look on your face, and it says, "Hmm. Can we talk about that?" And so, we stop and talk about it. Because the last thing I'd want to do is surprise you with something you didn't want.

I love to surprise. I love to anticipate; it's my favorite thing. I love to get you a drink of water before you ask me. But if you're not thirsty, or if I get you a Coke and you hate Coke, that's a surprise you didn't want.

So this careful listening to each other, this careful going first and anticipating each other's needs, is the fun of marriage. I know this is all brand new for you. It amazes me.

When my friends say, "How's it going?" You know, they kind of lean in; they've got this furrowed brow. I say, "It's amazing! Nancy is amazing. She has welcomed me into her life in a way that I couldn't have even dreamed, I couldn't have ever anticipated."

And now, guess what? You and I are building a Christian home. We started fresh on November 14, 2015, and we're building a Christian home. It doesn't look like any other home on earth. You and I are the proprietors of our home.

We're having a lot of fun coming up with a whole new set of "normals." It's a family in a home that's never existed before you and me. And so, we're coming up with brand-new things, because you're who you are, and I'm who I am.

We're listening carefully to each other; we're praying together, asking the Lord to direct us in places we've never gone before, because we've never been married to each other before. That's all part of the joy of this.

Nancy: And so many of the things that I've encouraged other married women over the years to think about, to put in place in their home (the ministry of encouragement, acts of kindness, being intentional) things you've written about in this book, The Most Important Place on Earth, we're getting to live those out in the laboratory of life and put them into practice. And it is daily, intentional, decisions we make. I am so blessed because you have a lot of years of experience that you've brought into this marriage, through which you have let the Lord teach you. You've been through learning a lot of these things, but now this is a new marriage.

This thing about kindness: it is a decision. It's amazing how things can be tense in a relationship in the home, but then a guest walks in or the phone rings, and it's amazing how quickly we can change our tone, our manner.

Robert: Absolutely!

Nancy: In fact, you tell in this book a story about how you experienced that with Bobbie, years ago.

Robert: We were standing in the kitchen in our home in Nashville, and let's say that the decibel level was enough to begin to peel the wallpaper in the kitchen. It was really awful and loud! And the phone rang. . .

Now, if somebody had asked me, "Are you out of control?"

I would have said, "Yep. I am completely out of control!" The phone rang, I picked it up, and I said, "Hello, this is Robert." I had a conversation. Bobbie stood there and watched.

When I hung up, the look on her face was all I needed to see. I was in complete control. I had decided to fight (and I'm a really good fighter!), and I was fighting. The phone rang and the subject got changed, and I answered it like a normal person.

It's sort of like when the phone rings in the middle of the night, and you answer it like you've been waiting for it, "Hell-o-o," even though you were dead sound asleep. So yes, we are far more in control than we think we are.

Psychologists would call this, "self talk." The Scripture would say, "As a man thinks, so is he." What's planted in your mind needs to be good and just and upright and pure, because what comes out of your mouth will be a direct result of what's in your mind, what's in your heart.

So yes, you make a decision to treat your spouse, your mate, a certain way. Not only will the way you speak to him or her be changed, but it will soon come out of your heart, and it won't be work anymore.

Nancy: I've watched, so many times, as the choice-the decision-to give kindness (even when it's not being received)-it changes the dance step. [Robert agrees.] For years, we've given women this Thirty Day Husband Encouragement challenge.

I've got reams of testimonies, emails, we've received from women telling what a huge difference this little thing made in their marriage. For thirty days they purposed to speak words of praise and gratitude to their husbands and not pick or complain or criticize for those thirty days.

It sounds like it would be a good thing all the time, but just that little changing of the dynamic and starting to speak words of kindness . . . Women will write and say, "My husband is romantic. I never knew he was!"

Or they'll say, "He's speaking words of kindness when all we've done is be at each other's throat, for years. He actually wants to come home!" It's changing; it's transforming, to insert words of kindness and love and consideration and compassion.

I can't say enough that, no matter how toxic the environment is, "a word spoken in due season," kindness this is extended that isn't deserved, is transforming in the whole atmosphere of a home!

We as women are really hugely responsible, I think, for the climate. We're the thermostats in our home; we set the temperature. We tend to think, Oh, I'm just a thermometer. I'm just revealing what the temperature is like in my home. I think, to a larger extent than we realize, we actually set the temperature.

Robert: Wow. Right. This is such fun to talk about because like you said at the beginning at our conversation—we're married to each other. You've never had your husband in the studio. So this isn't theory. This is as recent as this morning. 

Nancy: Yes, this morning we had a flood in our basement, and we were having to navigate things we didn't plan, circumstances we didn't expect. And to watch the Lord take over in both of us, and to watch both of us let Him take over. 

Now, sometimes we don't, and then we reap the consequences of that. But what could have been a relational disaster (not that is was anybody's fault, we had a lot of rain) could have been blaming, being cantankerous. We both had things to do; this wasn't on our schedule. What could have been whining . . . I'm married to a man (let me just tell our audience) who does not whine. He does not believe in whining. So it's cut way back on my whining! (Robert laughs.) Honey, I'm working on that.

Robert: It's interesting . . . this is all part of "going first." So I walked into the basement this morning with my bare feet and stepped onto a soaking rug. Alright, am I going to go first? Am I going to let a soaking, cold rug on my bare feet tell me what to do—control my day?

Or am I going to go first and say, "I can't believe this. Alright, how do we fix this problem?" But just imagine, a wet rug on a bathroom floor tells me how to act. Are you serious? I'm going to go first. I'm not going to let that circumstance control how I think and how I respond.

I'm going to be in charge of this. I'm going to "go first." I'm not going to let it do that to me. Now, do I fight that? I fight it all the time! You know, I'll snag a fingernail on something, and it ticks me off. Internally, I have a very short fuse.

I am not a docile man; I'm an intense man. So with every one of these things, I have to make a decision: "I'm not going to let this control me. I'm going to go first. I'm going to be calm. I'm going to stay in control. I'm going to be joyful!"

And how long was it between the time we first saw each other this morning and I told you about the flooded basement? I mean, we talked, we prayed, we embraced, kissed a few times, and then I said, "Guess what? We have water in the basement!"

That sounds like I'm applauding myself, but that's all hard work. That's decisions that I make that I've made, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to wait, to stay in charge.

Nancy: And I think that's really hard for us, speaking for the women of the race. I'm sure it's hard for humans in general. I'll say that it's really hard, and our tendency (mine for sure) is, as soon as you walk in the door, or as soon as I get you on the phone, is to just burst out with the negative news, the hard news.

What you're teaching me (and I've taught others this!) in real life are the benefits that come when you stop, you think, you let the Spirit take control, and you say, "Let's establish a positive tone here, a safe environment. And then we'll address, together, the hard things, the things that need to be talked about."

We had something the other night, just something that flickered between us. It had to do with our garage. You waited, and we had dinner, and we had a sweet time of sweet conversation, and then at the end of dinner you said, "Okay, let's talk about the garage." And we did.

We sat down and we talked like two adults who love each other and who love the Lord, and want to serve and bless the other. But it took discipline on your part and self-control and love and kindness to say, "We're not going to stand in the garage at the end of the day, at dinnertime . . ."

Robert: Right. We're both hungry and cranky, maybe . . .

Nancy: ". . . and we're not going to let this take over." The challenge has become productive things, rather than creating walls and barriers.

Robert: A question that I've asked myself ten thousand times is, "Whose needs am I trying to meet?" And if the answer to that is, "My own," I would not be a pleasant person to live with.

And so, what I want my answer to be every time I think that (and, I'm not perfect at this by a long shot!) is, "Nancy's needs. Let me look at this from her perspective, and if it's a situation that we can talk through, let's wait for the right time."

Or if the situation's completely out of our control—it's politics, it's the weather, it's stuff we can't do anything about—let's wait for the right time and not, just because it's there, dump it all out.

When Missy and Julie were little (in fact, in so many way, I wish they could be right here, because they would smile and nod), I would say to them, "Just because it came to your mind doesn't mean you have to say it!"

Nancy: Yes.

Robert: Sometimes you need to be open, sometimes you need to keep short accounts—there's no doubt about that. But sometimes, if it's not prudent, if it's not helpful, if it's not a building thing between you—just give it awhile.

Nancy: I'm thinking of Queen Esther, in the Old Testament. 

Robert: There you go—it's a perfect example!

Nancy: Talk about a dire circumstance—urgent, needed immediate action. The threat was great; it was real. It wasn't just her affected; it was her whole people—the Jewish race. And she's been given this mandate to go and talk to the king about this. She knows she has to. But she knows that he's a difficult man. He was legendary for his anger and for flying off the handle—King Artaxerxes.

Robert: And he was her husband.

Nancy: I'm very thankful, honey, not to be married to that man. He was her husband. But she was prudent, wise, restrained. She said, "Can you come to dinner tonight?"

Robert: That's so good. 

Nancy: And then they come to the dinner, and he says, "What do you want to talk about? What do you want? I'll give you up to half the kingdom. It's yours." She doesn't blurt it out. I always look at this and I'm amazed.

I'm a "blurt-er." I want to get it out now! She waits, and she says, "Well, can you come back to dinner tomorrow night?" And she's giving God time to act in the situation, because God's getting ready to hang Haman by his own strategies . . .

Robert: . . . on his own gallows . . .

Nancy: . . . and she's giving her own heart time to be in a good place. She's giving God time to work in her husband's heart; he has that sleepless night, and the whole story changes. It's not that she's not going to address it—she is. But she's waiting, waiting for God's time. And God makes everything beautiful in its time. So the willingness to wait, to be still, to be quiet, and when we do speak, to do it with the control of the Holy Spirit. That makes all the difference inside the four walls of our home.

Robert: My favorite part of that is that she was praying for him, because she knew that only the Lord could prepare his heart for what she had to say. She wasn't just praying for herself to come up with the right words, the right strategy, she was asking the Lord to do what only the Lord could do—and that's speak to her husband. I think that's a perfect fit for what we're talking about here.

Nancy: Yes. The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One. "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it" (Ps. 127:1).

I'm so thankful for Robert Wolgemuth—now one of my very favorite authors. It's a great book, but also, he's a man who's living out, in the context of our marriage, the things he talks about in this book.

I think it will be a great encouragement, a great resource, in your life, in your home. You may be single, but you have friends who are married. You have nieces and nephews and siblings who are building their own homes. This book is just chock-full of practical, biblical wisdom applied to everyday life. It's readable. There are great stories. It's got humor in it. But, most of all, it's counter-cultural. It's God's ways, and they're so different from the ways of the world.

I want to encourage you to get a copy of this book to read it, to share it with others, to ask God for things in it that you can put into practice in your own home.

In fact, as I reviewed this book in preparation for this interview (I read it the first time before we got married, now, as I'm reading it again) . . . And honey, I haven't even had a chance to tell you this, but last night as I was poring over some of these pages . . . you're teaching me, and I'm learning, and I'm being challenged and exhorted and encouraged about the things that we want to see be true in our home. 

Robert: That's right; thank you.

Nancy: I'm challenged by the things that need to be cultivated in my own heart, to make our home all that God wants it to be. A ton of gratitude to you for how you are living out these things in our home.

This book is available this week to anyone who makes a donation to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. You can get the book other places, but when you get it through Revive Our Hearts, when you make a donation, you're helping other homes to be built, and the kingdom of God to be established in hearts and homes of women in the United States and around the world.

So when you contact us at 1–800–569–5959, let us know you'd like to make a gift to the ministry, and then be sure to ask for a copy of Robert's book, The Most Important Place on Earth. Or you can visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can make a donation there, you can read a transcript of today's program—and yesterday's as well, if you missed that part of the conversation.

Thank you so much for what you're doing to help support and encourage this ministry as we're calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

Leslie: Theme park operators go to great lengths to make you feel special when you walk in their gates. Is your home like that? Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth will be back tomorrow to help you know how to make your home more like a theme park—where everyone in a home is treated special.

Robert: That's what you want your home to be! You step into this place, and it's a safe place. People honor each other,; people listen to each other; people look at each other when they're talking to each other. They say kind things to each other. It's different than everywhere else.

So when your kids walk in the door of your home, they need to have the same feeling that some people have when they walk into Walt Disney World, or to Disneyland in California. "I'm at a different place. I love this. This feels great to be here!" That's what you want your kids to feel about your home.

Leslie: Please be back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.