Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Like the Shepherd, Day 2

Leslie Basham: A Revive Our Hearts listener wrote during the recent Titus 2 series about how God has challenged her to get involved with the next generation.

Woman: When I began listening to the Titus 2 study, I asked God, “Who could I possibly be a mentor to?” I go to an inner-city church in Minneapolis. A month ago a sister at the church sent a message to some women asking for help teaching the teen girls in Sunday school class.

I read the text and said, “That’s not me. I don’t know how to relate to inner-city girls. I grew up in the suburbs. I didn’t start reading the Bible until I was fifty. I can’t imagine I could minister to these girls.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: (from God's Beautiful Design radio series) We have an obligation. We have a responsibility to get involved in the lives of these younger women. If they’re not thinking straight, if they’re not living godly lives, if they’re not succeeding in their marriage and their parenting, we as older women have to ask ourselves: Have we fulfilled our responsibility to train these younger women?

Woman: I continued to give myself excuses, but the Lord was having none of it. The Lord used the Titus study to stir me and convict me. I am now working with the girls. It’s been just a couple of weeks. I know there’s nothing in me. I need only to be obedient and to let God use me as His vessel.

Thank you so much for this ministry that I just discovered at the start of the Titus study. I am praying for His abundant blessing on your ministry and an outpouring of funding to continue the ministry.

Nancy: When we study God’s Word together here on Revive Our Hearts, it has a huge, real-life effect on women of all generations. So if you’ve given to support this ministry, you’re not just making a donation. You’re making a difference in the lives of those teenage girls and their teacher in Minneapolis.

Revive Our Hearts is facing some serious needs right now. Donations have been lower than we expected in the last several months, and we’ve been using reserve funds to cover the gap. At the same time, we need to be preparing for the coming summer months when donations are usually down.

So we’re trusting the Lord to provide $830,000 in donations here in the month of May. Would you be a part of meeting this faith goal? You can get more details on the need and the opportunity by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Thanks so much for doing your part as Revive Our Hearts helps women live out the beauty of the gospel.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

Revive Our Hearts is a program for women, but this week’s guest has written a book for husbands and dads about leading their families. But don’t tune out. When we hear God’s design for men to lead their families, it helps us better know how to encourage those leaders.

Robert Wolgemuth is Nancy’s husband since about a year-and-a-half ago. You probably know the story.

Robert was married to Bobbie Wolgemuth and had two daughters. He took care of her through a multi-year battle with cancer until she went home to be with the Lord. He brings a lot of experience to his new book, Like the Shepherd. He and Nancy are here to talk about it.

Nancy: Well, it’s a joy to be talking this week with my husband, well, actually, we talk every week. We talk every day. We talk throughout every day, but today with our Revive Our Hearts’ listeners joining us for this conversation, Honey, on a new book you’ve written. It's your twenty-something-ith book?

Robert Wolgemuth: Something-ith, yes.

Nancy: More than twenty books. Was it your first one that was called . . .

Robert: She Calls Me Daddy, written in 1996.

Nancy: Written for dads of daughters.

Robert: Right.

Nancy: That book is still available.

Robert: It is.

Nancy: So you’ve had a heart for family, for parenting, for marriage. 

Robert: I have.

Nancy: You’ve written a lot about both of these subjects, but I’m really thrilled about this latest book that you’ve written because I’ve learned so much more about God’s ways in marriage—my calling now as a new wife of eghteen months—from you and from being with you in the process of your writing this book.

It’s called Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace. If you didn’t get a chance to hear yesterday’s program, I want to encourage you to go back and pick that up. This is a program that is going to be an encouragement, I believe, not only to women, but also to men. If you think this is something your husband would be interested in, be sure to let him know how he can access that at ReviveOurHearts.com.

I think it’s a book that will also be a blessing to both husbands and wives. We suggested yesterday that with Father’s Day coming up, you may want to get a copy for your husband or an adult son or son-in-law or dad that you know would have a heart for growing in this whole idea of leading their marriage with love and grace.

Now, we talked yesterday about this whole concept of a husband being a shepherd. I just want to get this out of the way, because I know somebody’s thinking it: If the husband is the shepherd, that makes a wife . . .

Robert: . . . a sheep.

Nancy: For a lot of women, I’m not sure that’s something they really want to be called.

Robert: I’m sure you’re right.

Nancy: That’s not necessarily a flattering concept, so help us out for those where this may seem like it just doesn’t make sense.

Robert: Yes, of course. When the Bible was composed, it was back in the day when people were herdsmen, and agriculturalists, farmers, fishermen. So that was the culture. The industrial age hadn’t happened yet. So the illustrations and so forth are in the context of those things. But it’s interesting, Nancy, because the Bible calls everybody a sheep.

Nancy: So not just wives.

Robert: Not just women. I mean, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” “Jesus is the lamb who was slain.” So we’re in great company. No one is exempt from being called a sheep, and there’s a reason for that.

Sheep are really good at wandering away. The first story in Luke chapter 15 is one that I talk about quite a bit in the book because the sheep lost his way. He wasn’t defiant. The prodigal son, that’s a story also told in that chapter, shook his fist in his daddy’s face and said, “I am out of here.”

The sheep wasn’t that way. The sheep didn’t seem to be defiant. It just seemed to be easily distracted—one little tuft of grass here, a little tuft of grass over there, and suddenly he looks over his shoulder, and he doesn’t know where he is. So that’s all of us. The Bible is very clear that all of us have that tendency.

Nancy: One of the things I love that you talk about in this book is it’s not just wives who are sheep and need to follow a human shepherd, but you challenge men. You challenge husbands that you can’t lead your wife well if you’re not recognizing that you’re a sheep in need of a shepherd and if you haven’t learned how to follow our Good Shepherd.

Robert: Yes. One of the most important concepts in all of life is the idea of being an apprentice.

Nancy: Yes.

Robert: I worked for a contractor all the way through college, and I learned how to do all the trades from masonry to electrical work to everything carpentry by watching him do it. I could have read a manual—back then we didn’t have YouTube—but I learned how to do it by watching somebody who was an expert do it.

So that’s the idea here. I am learning how to be a shepherd by being a sheep and having a Shepherd. I talk about that a lot. I have a greater capacity to be a good shepherd by watching my Good Shepherd and being an obedient sheep under His leadership. Then I know what it looks like. I’ve seen somebody else do it. I’ve experienced it from the Good Shepherd—capital G, capital S—and now I have some clues as to how to do it in my own home.

Nancy: That’s one of the things that has been such an inspiration to me. It’s no secret to our listeners that I’m a strong woman. I was single for fifty-seven years. I had leadership, and I had follow-ship as well, but not in the way that I do now as a wife. This could have been a rough or even impossible adjustment, humanly speaking, for me to now be in the role of a wife with a husband who has a vision for shepherding his wife.

The thing, besides God’s Word and God’s ways, that has inspired me on the human level is seeing how you daily, humbly, earnestly, seek our Good Shepherd. You’re following Him. You’re listening for His voice. You’re up at the crack of dawn, before dawn, actually, most mornings, and in the Word and on your knees and listening for His voice and praying for our marriage and for the things that concern us together.

So for me, it makes it a lot easier to follow your leadership, to trust your leadership. Not because I have expectation that you will be a perfect husband, any more than I am a perfect wife, but I know I can trust the Lord.

Robert: Yes.

Nancy: I know we can trust the Lord. And if you’re listening to Him, then God is going to be taking good care of us.

Robert: Even just as you’re saying those words, I feel a sense of panic. I do because I know what a sinful man I am. I know that without the grace of God and His mercy and His forgiveness, I don’t have a chance.

Nancy: But isn’t that the point for all of us?

Robert: It is, yes. Of course it is. But you’re saying these wonderful, kind things, and I’m grateful for them. They’re an encouragement to me because it helps me to want to continue to do that and to be that man in your life, but I am so aware of my own sinfulness and my own inadequacy when it comes to doing anything right, to being obedient, to listening to the voice of my Good Shepherd as I lead you.

Nancy: And I can’t imagine that any husband who knows anything about God or himself doesn’t have those same feelings.

Robert: Yes.

Nancy: So my point is: A woman’s trust, a wife’s trust ultimately is not in her husband to be all that he should be because what husband is? What wife is?

Robert: Right.

Nancy: But our trust together is in the Lord, which is why we go back to what we said yesterday. Our song is “Savior, Like a Shepherd, Lead Us.” Much we need Thy tender care. As we’re looking to Him, we can trust Him to sort through these differences, the challenges that come from the shepherding relationship that we’re engaged in here.

Robert: Right.

Nancy: Now, let me go back to something really fundamental here. When we talk about a husband being a shepherd who’s leading his marriage with love and grace—that’s important there. But this word "leading," this whole concept, really, in our culture, nothing could be more politically incorrect.

Robert: Yes.

Nancy: In fact, you had the experience, as an agent, looking for a publisher who would be interested in publishing this book. You found out, I think to a little bit of our surprise, that a lot of Christian publishers didn’t want to publish a book like that.

Robert: Yes. They didn’t like the word "leading." I had a publisher specifically call me, and I know these people. I’ve been in this industry for forty years. I know these people. Some of them have worked for me.

He was very apologetic, and he said, “We took it to the publication committee like we always do with proposals that come our way, and if you’d be willing to change the word leading to something else, then we’d talk about the possibility of publishing this book. But if you’re stuck on leading, we can’t work with you on this book.”

Let me say, part of the reason why I wrote the book is to help explain . . . In fact, I can’t wait to send him a copy of the book, because I believe with all my heart that the folks around the table who pushed back on leading would understand where I’m coming from and would look at the book and say, “Boy I wish we had published that book.”

My hope is that isn’t what they thought it was going to be with the word "leading" there.

Nancy: I’m so thankful that you had the opportunity to record an audio version of this book, and I would love for our listeners to just hear a segment of you reading a couple of paragraphs that capture the heart of what you just said.

Robert reading audiobook:

The call to lead your wife with love and grace is the call to be the kind of husband that draws your wife in, a tenderness and humble leadership that serves her well is the kind of confidence and humility that surgically dispels her anxieties and fears. It’s headship that provides a safe place for her to moor her heart.

As her husband, you have the opportunity to speak words into her life that remind her that you still value her, words that confirm that she still has the kind of beauty that drew you to her in the first place. You lavish her with words that nurture and water any dryness in her heart that comes from years of routine and sometimes thankless work.

Day by day you resolve to not grow weary of giving yourself for her. This is the kind of leader that I believe the Bible compels you and me to be.

Nancy: Wow. And, Honey, I think that summarizes the heart of this book.

Robert: Yes.

Nancy: The way that you describe leadership, and for women who may feel that the concept of their husband being the leader is uncomfortable, it maybe just doesn’t fit in this culture, I’m saying: What woman who knows and loves Jesus would not be thrilled to have a husband who thinks and leads in that way?

Robert: Yes. This is a very important part of this conversation, Nancy, because, you’re right. I wrote this book for men, and by a large majority, the people who are listening to our voices right now are women. Let’s say that many of them are married and have a husband.

And so, how do we make the transfer between this book being offered on the broadcast? Let’s say the wife orders it, and now she’s just opened the mailbox, and here’s this book she’s holding in her hand. What’s she going to do?

I’ve thought about that a lot. Let’s say that you had something that you wanted to give me, but it wasn’t a box of candy. It wasn’t my favorite—whatever—dessert. It was something that’s going to challenge me. How do you do that?

I’m actually thinking about riding in the car. Let’s pretend that we don’t have GPS. Let’s pretend that I’m going the wrong way. You’re sitting there, and you . . .

Nancy: In our case, it would really be the opposite. I’d be the one who had no clue where they were going. (laughing)

Robert: (laughing) Come on, this is an illustration. Go with me on it.

Nancy: I’ll play along.

Robert: So what are you going to do to get me back on track? I’m going south on 31, and I need to go north on 31. How you tell me to go the other direction has everything to do with how I respond. So it’s absolutely appropriate, I think, that women are listening to this broadcast, and they’re looking at the possibility of getting this book for their husbands. The way they make the transfer between the book in their hands and their husbands’ hands is the way in which they describe what it is that they’re giving to them.

This isn’t, “You’re a mess. You’re upside down. You’re a terrible leader—whatever—a miserable husband.”

Nancy: “You really need this book.”

Robert: “You really need this book.” But the way to lovingly tell him about what you’ve learned about this book and how much you’d love for him to hear the heart of a man, written by a man.

Nancy: That will be such an encouragement to husbands.

Robert: Yes. Exactly. That’s my hope.

Nancy: It’s not going to load them down with guilt for how they’re failing.

Robert: Right.

Nancy: It’s going to encourage them in what I think God wired into men to want to be and do.

Robert: Yes. Years ago I published Tim LaHaye, who wrote many books, many successful books, including the “Left Behind” series. I had the joy of knowing Tim and his wife Beverly. Tim told me something one time that I’ve never forgotten, and as an agent, I tell every one of my clients: "That a book is a long letter to one person.”

So the microphone is turned off. I’m not preaching to a large crowd of men. I’m sitting back in the corner at Starbucks. He and I have just gotten a cup of coffee, and our coffee is on the table between us. I’m leaning in. He’s leaning in toward me, and I’m opening my heart.

That’s what this book is. I’m not preaching. My finger’s not pointed at him. If my finger is pointed anywhere, it’s pointed at myself, letting him know how easy it is to drop the ball in this assignment. But this is in every way a one-on-one conversation. A book is a very intimate medium.

So the idea is that a woman is envisioning inviting me, if I could be so presumption, to sit down with her husband and a cup of coffee and open my heart about this idea of leading your marriage with love and grace.

Nancy: Yes. And as we’ve said already, it’s a book that’s also going to challenge wives.

Here’s a woman who posted on the “Like the Shepherd” Facebook page, which we encourage our listeners to go and see what’s on there that might be encouraging to them. But she said: “Though the image of wives as sheep was a little strange and an affront to my pride at first, it is biblical, and I’m committed to following my Great Shepherd in letting my husband lead.”

And then she said to you, Robert, “Thank you for treating this topic with such grace.”

Robert: Wow.

Nancy: That’s what you do. You use a lot of illustrations, a lot of illustrations I think guys, especially, will enjoy. You use humor in ways that make this book really accessible. You’re very transparent. You share out of your own journey. You don’t write as someone who has at all arrived.

Robert: Oh, I’m so glad.

Nancy: You write as someone who is very much on the journey. In fact, a story I’ve heard you tell numerous times is about a bike trip that you took when you were in college, and something called riding on the point that taught you some lessons about marriage.

Robert: It did. I rode a bicycle, along with thirty-nine of my also-ignorant friends, from San Francisco, California, to New York City.

Nancy: How many miles?

Robert: 4,000. We took no days off. We rode for thirty-nine straight days, no days off. So if it rained, we’d find some gas station that had an overhang, and we’d wait for the rain to stop. We had three 10,000 foot passes coming out of the West. I passed a flatbed truck doing sixty miles an hour on a twenty-eight pound bicycle with no guardrail on the shoulder.

Nancy: Wow. And no helmet?

Robert: Oh, no, no helmet. This was back in . . .

Nancy: . . . pre-helmet days.

Robert: (Laughing) So part of it was I was nineteen years old, and that’s the kind of thing you do when you’re nineteen.

So in order to make it easier to pass this group of forty men on bicycles, we broke up into groups of five and six men, and we rode a mile apart so a car could pass us a bite at a time.

Here’s what we learned: When you ride, the first rider in a group of five or six men, you have the job of opening a wedge of wind—right?—so that the riders behind you . . .  You wouldn’t think that it was like this on a little bicycle, but it’s true. The rider behind the first rider has an easier time because he’s drafting. That’s a word I didn’t know before this, but he’s drafting. When you’re in front, you have the responsibility of opening this wedge of wind that the riders behind follow.

Here’s another thing about riding first: There’s stuff on the road. I don’t mean to be gross, but dead animals or tire treads that come off a truck or a board or a stick or a stone. So you call out to the riders behind you: “Stone on the right. Rubber on the left. Dead opossum on the right.” What you’re doing is you’re alerting the riders behind you, and that is a really cool leadership metaphor. It is more work, but you have the responsibility of keeping the other riders safe by paying attention.

So, yes, I did learn a lot about leadership and about marriage riding on this silly bicycle all these miles. That is a metaphor for leadership that helped me understand this concept.

Nancy: And now you’ve been doing this marriage thing for a lot of years, but you didn’t start out in marriage in your early twenties just getting all this, knowing all this, having it down. It’s been a journey, as it is for any husband or wife.

Robert: Yes. It has. Bobbie and I were in our twenties. We were kids. We sort of grew up together. I learned the hard way that things like, “Snap out of it,” don’t work. (laughing)

Nancy: That’s not a real leadership term, is it?

Robert: No. It’s not. It isn’t. “Get over it.”

Nancy: Did you ever say that?

Robert: Oh, yes. I did. Sure, I didn’t know. Can I say stupid? I was. Inexperienced, let’s say.

One of the metaphors that I use in the book, and it’s probably as offputting as sheep, is fishing and pretending that I’m out deep-sea fishing, and we’re three miles from shore, and I realize that the guide forgot to bring test line that we’d be able to land a 150 pound fish. We only have 12 pound test line. So our job is to land—forgive me if this is an insulting illustration—a 150 pound marlin on the deck of the ship with a fishing line that could break if I yank too hard.

So, again, I think men love metaphors. We all love them because I think. Jesus used parables to teach deep biblical truths. But the job as a husband is to win your wife, to woo her, to never stop wooing her.

When you and I were dating, I did what most young suitors do. I was romantic, and I said romantic things on the phone.

Nancy: That you did. (laughing)

Robert: Okay. Then tell our friends listening what you asked me.

Nancy: (laughing) One day I said, “So, you’re a very romantic pursuer. Are you going to be like one of these guys who pursue all through the courtship, and then you get married, and you have captured, you’ve won, and you’re not going to be this way anymore?”

Robert: That’s right. And I said, “No. I promise.” My daughters are in their forties, and so I encouraged you to ask them. I’m not boasting, but I learned this from my mother.

Okay, I’m a son. Your listeners are women, and they have sons. The mother of a son can teach her son how to be a great husband by demonstrating to him how to be gentle, how to be kind, how to be tender, how to encourage.

My mother was unbelievable. How many times have I said, “I only wish you could have met Grace”? When I spoke at her funeral, I said, “Her parents named her Grace. How did they know?”

So, a woman can teach her son how to be a great, tender, gentle, humble husband by the way she treats him as her son.

Leslie: Robert Wolgemuth and his wife Nancy have been talking about ways we as moms can encourage our sons to lead like Jesus. He encourages men to lead that way in his new book Like the Shepherd. And, Nancy, this would be a great gift leading up to Father’s Day.

Nancy: Yes, it sure would, Leslie. We’d like to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount this week.

When you make a gift, you’ll not only be getting Robert’s book, you’ll also be supporting the ministry at a critical time. Donations to the ministry have been lower than expected in the last six months, and we’ve been using some emergency funds to cover that gap. But, obviously, that’s not something we can sustain for very long, and, at the same time, we’re preparing for the summer months when donations are usually a bit lower.

Now, May is the end of our fiscal year when we wrap up our accounting and set our new budgets. We’re praying for the biggest fiscal year-end goal that we’ve ever set, $830,000 during the month of May. If we fall short of meeting that goal, our team is going to have to have some serious discussions about what significant cuts to make in our outreaches.

So if you’d like to have a part in helping us to meet that goal, you can call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you make your gift, be sure to ask for a copy of Robert’s book, Like the Shepherd.

Now, Robert will be back with us tomorrow, and we’re going to talk about stink bugs and what they’ve meant in our marriage. Please be here tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

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

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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