Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Like the Shepherd, Day 5

Leslie Basham: A woman from Costa Rica wrote to our teacher on Revive Our Hearts, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Woman: You don’t know me, but you have brought much blessing in my life through your books and teachings. Some time ago I was wrong, my marriage was wrong, and then one day I started reading the messages of Aviva Nuestros Corazones—and my life as a woman changed!

You are now my mentor, and I am fully committed to teaching other women about our divine design and to embracing it. I want you to know that I have already started a movement in Costa Rica about this. The movement’s name is Mujer Verdadera Costa Rica, and I will be teaching with your books—and the Bible, of course.

My work starts first with the women of my church, then the community, and the whole country. I want this liberating truth to reach many women and restore the value of their femininity, as it happened with me.

In my country, nobody is doing it yet, but I know with the help of the Lord we will succeed!

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I am so excited about what the Lord is doing in Costa Rica and all throughout Latin America! Because the population of Latin America is about twice the size of what it is in the United States, I believe that within the next few years we may see the Spanish-speaking audience of Revive Our Hearts be even greater than the English-speaking audience is today.

What a huge opportunity, to spread the gospel and the name of Jesus Christ to millions more women in the days ahead!

As our team weighs opportunities in Latin America—and other places around the world—we’re also sobered by the most serious budget need that we have faced in the past several years. As I’ve been sharing with you recently, we’re asking God to provide $830,000 here in the month of May through our listeners.

To find out more about the opportunities God’s put before us, and the need we’re facing at this time, and to make a donation, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. Thank you so much for partnering with Revive Our Hearts as we help women understand how to live out the beauty of the gospel in Costa Rica, all across Latin America, and right there in your community!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for Friday, May 5, 2017.

All week we’ve had a special guest. Nancy’s husband, Robert Wolgemuth, is with us.

Nancy: Well, this conversation has gone longer than we originally intended when we started recording, but it’s been a joy for me, Honey, to have you here with me in the studio and for us to have this conversation (we’re learning and growing as we have these kind of conversations) and to talk about this book that you’ve written that I think is going to be such a huge gift to husbands and wives alike.

It’s called Like the Shepherd. Of course that Shepherd, with capital “S,” is Jesus, our Good Shepherd. And the subtitle is Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace.

I want to read to you something that I don’t know if you’ve seen. One of your sisters responded after reading this book—a woman who’s been married many years herself. She said, “This book is powerful, because it’s written by a man who has lived—and continues to live—this God-designed calling—no matter what.”

So thank you for being an encouragement to men and women alike out of what God has poured into your life over these years!

Robert: Well, thank you. Just so you know, it is a joy to sit here. It actually isn’t that much different than sitting at the kitchen table after dinner, just opening our hearts to each other and being transparent. I love being a part of this conversation! This time, some folks are eavesdropping.

Nancy: I was going to say, at our kitchen table, we don’t have the whole world sitting and listening to us (though some might enjoy that). We have sweet conversations—and sometimes hard conversations—and . . . what do we do? We look upward! We pray. That’s something we do a lot. 

In fact, you just reached out—in the car—on the way over to the studio today. You took my hand and just started to pray. We talked about the fact that for a lot of husbands (maybe for a lot of wives as well), even that kind of prayer can be really be intimidating, something they’re not comfortable with (if it’s not a habit).

I asked you if you had always felt comfortable doing that early in your marriage to Bobbie?

Robert: I would say yes, because I saw my parents praying with each other. But, yes, I do know that that’s very intimidating. I mean, I know men who make sales presentations in front of very intimidating groups . . .

I just recently had a conversation with a very close friend who is a real estate genius! He sells homes—big ones, small ones, medium-sized ones—very successfully. I’ve said, “I think it would be a great idea for you to pray with your wife.”

And he said, “Man, I don’t know if I can do that. What am I going to say?”

Let’s call that a fairly common response that men have. What I would say is, “This is you and your wife and Jesus. My recommendation, my encouragement, would be—even just before you go to sleep at night—just reach out, take her hand and say, ‘Lord, this is the end of a really busy day. We’re tired, but we want to thank you for this day. I ask that You would give my wife a good rest. We both need a good rest. Tomorrow’s another busy day—lots of things to do. So, thank You for being with us. We love You; we love each other, in Jesus’ name, amen.’” 

I mean, that’s just coming from your heart, these words you’re speaking like you’re speaking to a friend. You are, and your wife is overhearing you say this to Jesus. You tell me, Nancy, what does that mean to you when I do that every night?

Nancy: Oh, so precious! Not only every night, but also every morning . . . and usually that’s very early. But if I stir when you’re getting up and walking out of the room, you pray with me. And if I don’t, then we connect as soon as I am awake.

You take just a few moments there. It’s not long, it’s not laborious. This is not a “sweet hour of prayer;” these are sweet moments of prayer. But you initiate that, and I love that! It says to me that I have a husband who is seeking the Lord.

I think sometimes this whole thing of leading your marriage—especially with the expectations of wives being what they are—for him to be a spiritual leader . . . What does that mean? What does that look like? Who could possibly accomplish that?

So, women, we’ve got to temper our expectations and make sure they’re not unrealistic, and that they’re not putting our husbands in bondage, in prison. But as we release those expectations to the Lord, I would say to men and women, this is not rocket science.

Even the smallest, simplest steps can make a huge difference in a relationship, and the smallest simplest changes can change the dance step in a way that can be really significant. Be willing to go first in that. And I say to husbands, you cannot imagine . . .

In fact, I’m thinking about a moment (Honey, you’ll remember this). It was early in our marriage (in fact, it was when I was writing the forward for this book). We were on a deadline for that, and I was in the middle of some other crushing deadlines. 

Robert: Craziness! 

Nancy: So I ended up staying up all night to work on the forward for this book. You came down at four-thirty in the morning (which is your normal time, approximately), and I had been sitting at my laptop all night long. You looked at me like, “What . . . in . . . the . . . world?!”

You didn’t chide me, but you just started to pray—because it was morning and that’s what we do. I remember you saying at the end of that prayer, “And Lord, please show me how to shepherd this woman you have given to me.” 

We kind of laughed, but I was so touched because I knew that you didn’t know how to figure this out—I didn’t know how to figure it out. Then you said, “Amen.” Then you said, “Alright, Honey, go back to bed.”

Robert: “Go to bed,” not “Go back to bed.”

Nancy: What a sweet gift that was to me. And what it does in a woman’s heart to create a sense of security and peace and gratitude, to know that her husband is seeking the Lord on their behalf.

Now, ladies, we can really blow it on this! I remember hearing a woman say that when she and her husband were first married, her husband prayed a prayer with them together. And when he finished, she corrected the way he had prayed. And she said, “That’s the last time—for decades—he ever prayed with me.” 

He had tried. He stuck his neck out—and she cut it off—and he was scared to come out again. So we’ve gotta be careful about that.

Robert: Can I make a confession to you? The older I get, and the longer I understand what it means to walk with Christ, the more inadequate I feel. The more inadequate I feel to be a good husband to you. So my praying is an admission that I can’t pull this off by myself.

I’m invoking the presence of God in my life, and experiencing His grace to fill in where I’m failing . . . to breathe life into a dead man. So that’s the way it is.

Nancy: And that says to me, as wives, we need to realize that for men to step into this role takes courage, it takes faith, it’s a daunting task and calling. I think most men don’t feel adequate for that.

There’s a fear of failure. There’s a fear of disappointing their wife. He can be intimidated by our expectations. I think if we understand, as women, that this is not an easy calling, then we can be really, really grateful for even little steps they take.

Robert: Yes, and when you catch him doing something right, you encourage him, you thank him. Let’s say that he has the courage one night to pray before you go to sleep . . . The next morning over breakfast or later on in the day or you text message him, say, “Honey, thank you for last night. Thank you for praying with me—that meant so much to me!” You don’t have to go on and on; you don’t have to repeat the three-point prayer.

Nancy: Or say, “I wish we could do this EVERY night!”

Robert: No, that’s right. Take it a step at a time. But he’ll be motivated by your encouragement, no doubt.

Nancy: So encouragement goes a long way, going either direction—going both directions—in the relationship. But there are things that can be discouraging, disheartening. So, Honey, speak to us as women. What are some ways that we as wives might make it more difficult for our husbands to shepherd us?

Robert: Wow.

Nancy: And be honest.

Robert: Really? Just you and me, right?

Nancy: Just you and me—with a few thousand people listening in.

Robert: Well, I think when a wife questions her husband’s judgment . . . Now, this is really important, because you’re a very smart woman, and I’m counting on you. I do count on you to give me good input, and I tell you that a lot: “What a good idea that was!”

But I think there are some times when a man feels like he just can’t measure up . . . when whatever he does, whatever he says, it just isn’t good enough. I think that can be a really damaging thing.

There was a book published years ago called The One Minute Manager. The book sold millions of copies. It’s an allegory. One of the things that’s talked about in that book is how important encouragement is.

When you have correction, put it like a sandwich: encourage, instruct, encourage again. So that would be one thing. And here’s another thing (and you don’t do this; I promise, you don’t!): eye-rolling or snarky comments can be so discouraging for a man.

I mean, a man may go out and go elk hunting or kill a bear. But his wife rolling her eyes at him and saying something thoughtless or smirky or snarky can take the wind out of his sails. I’ve had friends that I’ve had the opportunity of talking with who feel like, “There’s just no use. My wife will never be satisfied with me. She will always find a way to criticize me.” I would just encourage women who are listening to not roll their eyes, to not make their husbands feel like he’s not getting it right.

Here’s another one: don’t talk about your husband with your friends.

Nancy: I assume you mean negatively.

Robert: Yes, exactly.

Nancy: You can talk positively, right?

Robert: Yes, you can—oh, of course. For a man to overhear that his wife said something encouraging about him is huge! But I think sometimes in the church, men are prayer requests among women.

So can you imagine . . . You’re a guy. You come to church, and a woman who’s your wife’s friend comes up to you says, “Well, we just want you to know that we’re praying for you, for _______.” I’m just saying, that can really throw a man off balance, that his wife is talking about him and his struggles. 

I mean, who knows me better than my wife? Nobody! She’s got this information . . . That’s why a wife can’t take the stand in a courtroom and testify against her husband, because she knows everything about him.

Having things that are in confidence between you and your wife is absolutely critical. Our daughter calls this the “vault.” You put it in the vault.

Nancy: Now, having said that, I just feel like—without contradicting you—maybe a caveat there is if there is something that is going on in that marriage that is against the law, is dangerous, is abusive. What you just said isn’t meant to cover sin.

Robert: Thank you. No question.

Nancy: If that’s happening, you need to get help, but you just don’t go broadcasting this. Your goal is not to tear your husband down or to make him look bad. It’s to get help for him and for you. So make sure that’s a trusted person that you share with. If it’s against the law, then you go to the law about that.

But even in a mentoring relationship, there may be situations where it’s constructive and appropriate to say, “We’re struggling with this.” But what you’re doing is not trying to expose him; you’re trying to get help for your own heart and your own responses to that situation.

So we don’t ever want to say that sin should be covered and should not be brought to light.

Robert: That’s very important, or course. Thank you.

Nancy: And there’s such a balance there, right? Just running down a husband . . . You hear a lot of this. You hear it on TV; you hear it in movies—women speaking disparagingly of their husbands. What that does is not only tear down your marriage and your husband, but it tears down everybody else’s marriage, too.

Robert: Right. Husband jokes are not funny; wife jokes are not funny.

Nancy: We don’t allow those in Revive Our Hearts!

So I imagine some women are thinking, He’s the leader. He’s the head of this home. He’s the shepherd. But that, again, still sounds very old-fashioned, very old-school, antiquated, politically incorrect.

For women who have grown up in our culture as it is today, I imagine some of them feeling, I’m not going to have a voice in my marriage. I’m just supposed to like be the silent follower; he’s the leader. I don’t have anything to say. I don’t have anything to offer. Can you just help women—and men—to understand that that’s not what we’re talking about here?

Robert: Well, just to say that it’s not. The Scripture talks about honoring each other and preferring each other. The illustration that I gave a few days ago on this broadcast about my business and my owning fifty-one percent meant that my job, then, was to serve my business partner—do everything that I could to make him successful.

Okay, so let’s say it is a little old-fashioned. Well, let’s take a look at the condition of marriage. It would be safe to say that, in many cases, marriage is broken. Well, I wonder what’s wrong with marriage? Why is marriage in such desperate condition in so many homes?

Well, is it possible that the Bible is telling the truth about roles, about my role in my home and my responsibility to be the Shepherd of my wife and my children? That I need to learn how to humbly love them, to lead them, to be gentle and tender, to be direct and truthful—all those things.

In fact, we talk about the rod and the staff. We read that in Psalm 23. In the book I unpack what the rod and the staff are. The rod keeps predators away. The staff . . . When a sheep falls down, sometimes a sheep’s wool is so thick that it really can’t right itself, and so the shepherd uses the crook of the staff to put his sheep back on her feet.

What I can do as a shepherd is to lovingly right you. I don’t mean correct you, but help you to see our relationship as it is—to be a truth-teller in our relationship. Here’s one of my favorite things about you, Honey: you anticipate really well, too.

Like you said, you were fifty-seven years old when we got married. In fact, in your book Adorned, you open a chapter with the following sentence: “What in the world have I done?” You looked over at me in the middle of the night, and here’s this man sleeping in our bed, and you realized you hardly know me! That was a gigantic adjustment for you.

Nancy: And, Honey, you do such a great job in those moments of clarifying and leading through those relational impasses or difficult moments. I want our listeners—husbands and wives—to understand that you really value, and you seek out, my voice, my heart—about your business, about our relationship, about our priorities, our schedule. In fact, you said to me early on in our relationship (I think it was in our marriage), “I don’t want you ever to feel that there’s something you can’t say.”

Now, it has to be said respectfully—I’m saying that. And the timing . . . I brought up something at ten o’clock last night or some time like that that was past your . . . you were zoned out. You were still sweet to listen. Thankfully, it wasn’t a hard thing. And I know, if I really want you to hear something well, probably ten o’clock at night is not the best time to do that.

But you value, you solicit, you draw out my opinions, my thoughts. You’re not asking me as the shepherd and the leader in this relationship, you don’t mean by that I’m supposed to mindlessly follow you wherever you go, whatever you do. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

Robert: Oh my, no. In business—if I can use that illustration—if you’re the CEO, you’re going to be effective if you hire people who are smarter than you are. You’re not the CEO because you know everything about everything, so you’re managing by dictation. But you have people gathered around the conference table who are very, very good at what they do. Your job is to empower them.

What I would say in my marriage to you—in our marriage to each other—is that I have the joy of empowering you, of putting a frame around a beautiful painting, so that my relationship with you—my participation in your life—makes life sweeter and more joyful and less frustrating.

We had a hard conversation after dinner last night, and you were just unpacking some frustrations that you feel. 

Nancy: Not about our marriage (we’ve had those conversations, too).

Robert: We have had those, but no, this was just about life. But then at the end of it you sort of apologized. What I remember about that is (and this is a good illustration, so I’m going to use it) my response was, “No, I want you to feel absolute freedom to be transparent.”

Nancy: And you give me the freedom to disagree with you, to express disagreement with you. You don’t act threatened by that.

Robert: Because I’m not. 

Nancy: You want that. You want the “iron sharpening iron.” You’re saying, “We are heirs together of the grace of life.” And that gives me a lot of confidence and joy in supporting your leadership.

That doesn’t mean you’re going to agree with my suggestion or with my input on something, but I know that I’ve been heard and that what I’ve said has been valued.

Robert: Yes. You are wonderful editor. (Like you’ve said, “I’ve written a few books.”) I love good editing, I really do. Now, sometimes, an edit is sort of a threat. You know, you’re saying (to yourself), “My editor got that one wrong.” But at the end of the day, a good editor makes a better book.

And what I would say to you—sitting here, just you and me—is that your paying attention to the details makes our life better. Your seeing everything—and we’ve joked about the fact that you can catch a typo on a billboard going by at eighty miles an hour (you have a really sharp eye!)—but at the end of the day that makes it better, that makes the book better, that makes me better.

So I’m a man, I have an ego, but I have to get over having my wife catch a mistake. You know me really well, and you know that if you catch something that I missed, it takes me a moment to get over that. I’m a little hard on myself, and so I need to issue grace to myself. And you know that about me.

That doesn’t keep you from saying something that I need to hear, but you also understand that I’m probably not going to say, “Oh, thank you so much! I really appreciate hearing that corrective word (or that admonition)!” But at the end of the day, it’s your spirit that makes it work for me. . .

Like we talked about several days ago, the directions. You’re giving me this book, not because I’m a jerk, but because you love me and you’d love for me to have the joy of being a good shepherd in our marriage.

Nancy: I’m hoping that’s the kind of conversation and exchange that’s going to happen in many marriages as a result of this week we’ve shared together here at Revive Our Hearts. The book is available on audio through our Resource Center.

One woman wrote and said, “My husband is super-excited about the audio book since he spends lots of hours on the road in his car." So that may be, with Father’s Day coming up, a gift that would be great for him that he would enjoy.

We’re making the book available this week for a gift of any amount to help support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts here at this challenging season as we come to our fiscal year-end. We really need the support of listeners who will say, “We want this message to go out into other hearts!” So we’re asking for that, we’re sharing the need with you.

This week, when you give a gift to help support this ministry—you help us finish our fiscal year-end in a good place and be ready to move into the year ahead—we’ll send you a copy of Robert’s book Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace.

I’m hoping many husbands listening to this broadcast who have tuned in this week to hear Robert will say, “I’d like a copy of that.” I know there are many women who have been prompted to get a copy for their husband, their grown son, their son-in-law, their dad. Maybe a pastor would want to encourage the men in the church to consider going through this book as a study together. We’ve been praying all along, Honey, that God’s going to use this resource in the lives of husbands and wives—marriages—to make a huge difference!

I know there are wives thinking, My husband won’t lead. He just won’t lead! I wish he would. Well, you’re going to get—as a wife—and your husband will get—as a husband—encouragement through this book. It’s not a club to beat your husband down. It’s an encouragement to say to him, “As you follow Jesus, you can be a better leader in your marriage with love and grace.”

So, thank you, Honey, for writing it. Thank you for sharing this life with me, this journey with me, and thank you for sharing with our listeners.

Robert: Ah, thank you, Honey. What a joy to be with you.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth telling you all about the book Like the Shepherd: Leading Your Marriage with Love and Grace by Robert Wolgemuth. To get your copy, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. When you support the ministry with a gift of any size, you can request the book. You can also call us at 1–800–569–5959.

And, Nancy, we need to hear from a lot of listeners here in May.

Nancy: Yes, we really do, Leslie. If you get joy out of knowing that you’re the answer to prayer, then this is a great opportunity! We know that God is going to supply all our needs. He’s our major Donor—capital “D”—in this ministry. We’re asking Him if it would please Him to provide $830,000 in donations during the month of May.

We always have extra needs in May as we head into the summer months when donations are typically lower. But this year we’re also facing a significant budget shortfall. Donations have been lower over the last several months, and we’ve also faced some increased expenses, including things like healthcare for our staff.

So,would you ask the Lord if He would want to use you to help answer this prayer and meet this important need? When you call to make a gift, be sure to ask for Robert’s book, Like the Shepherd. That’s our way of saying "thank you" for supporting this ministry as this time.

The number to call is 1-800–569–5959, or you can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com. You’ll also find more details there about this current need.

Can the Lord save a marriage—even when, humanly speaking, there’s no hope? On Monday, we’ll hear from a couple who watched the Lord save and restore their marriage. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth encourages you to be like Jesus. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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

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