Men: Where Are We Going Wrong?
Everyone has different priorities.
What are yours?
If I look back at my life, when I was single, my priorities were playing video games, soccer, drinking slurpees on weekdays and beer on weekends, hanging out, and having fun.
When I was newly married, my priorities were not much different, except I was married so my wife got added to the list.
After kids were born, I started taking things a little more seriously, work and providing financially finally started to matter to me.
After our second child came along, I started working 2 or 3 jobs to provide a comfortable life for my family. You do what you gotta do right? Every other guy I knew, it seemed, was doing the same thing. Out of the house at 5am and back 7pm, and then off to church committee meetings and men’s society, bible studies and so on.
I was active in the church, and I was hard working. I was doing what was expected of me; what pretty much every other hard working Reformed, married-with-kids, guy around me was doing.
I was “walking the walk” but I really had no idea why.
Some Pertinent Questions.
My wife wrote a post called, Women Where are We Going Wrong? It is aimed at the ladies and is a thought provoking article. Prior to writing it she anonymously polled 100 ladies from our church circles.
One of the questions she asked was, “How do you rank your roles in life?” The options were, Wife, Mother, Christian, etc…
Almost half responded that being a wife or mother was their primary role in life.
She also asked a question about personal devotions. Only 11% answered that they have personal devotions. That was eye opening to me…less than 1 in 10 made time daily to seek the Lord. Yet they have time to answer a poll on Facebook…ahem…I digress.
Here is an interesting quote from a booklet entitled Rediscovering the Lost Treasure of Family Worship by Jerry Marcellino:
The lifelessness experienced in so many churches in our day can be traced directly to the multitudes of families in those churches which contain Sunday-morning Christians only. It is plain to see the cause for such deadness when such individuals are not consistently worshiping God in private. Statistics reveal that only 11 percent of all professing Christians in America read their Bible or some portion of it once a day. If so few professing Christians are spending time alone with God, it should not be surprising that family worship as a practice among professing Christian families is practically nonexistent.
Note that statistic of 11% pops up again, and he equates that low percentage with deadness and lifelessness in the church…ouch.
What About the Guys?
I have not polled the guys, and I won’t be, but when I look at the numbers from this survey, I grow concerned. Yes, about the ladies, but also about the men. I ask, “What about the guys? Where are the men in all of this?”
Men, half of our wives and daughters believe that their primary role in life is to be a good wife and mother, when our primary role in life is as a covenental child of our Heavenly Father.
Only 1 in 10 of the ladies in our church circles are engaging the Lord in relationship through daily personal devotions.
There is personal responsibility in our relationships with the Lord. I am not trying to deflect responsibility from the ladies, BUT…
Where are we going wrong?
You are the spiritual head of your home, as I am. Are we providing for our families, not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well? Do we make time for wives? Do we make time for our children? Do our families see us in the Word other than at dinner time, or are we also in the 89% who don’t make time for the Lord in private? Do our families hear us speak of Jesus as more than a mere doctrine or catch phrase to end a meal time prayer?
The Puritans regarded the father as the resident pastor in the home. Are we the resident pastors in our homes? Do we delight in the Word of God? Do we delight in sharing the Word with our wives and children? Do we delight in speaking to the Lord, and in seeking a closer relationship with Him? Do we delight in seeing our wives grow closer to the Lord? Do we delight in watching our children get to know Jesus?
Are we leading our families to the cross?
Are we admonishing and encouraging our families with the Word?
Are we teaching our children to pray, or are our children growing up to believe that only the dad prays and only at mealtimes? May it never be!
Do our families see us model the two greatest commandments — Love God and our neighbour? Or do they see us neglecting our relationship with the Lord, and our closest neighbours — our wives and children?
If your answer is that you are not doing so well at this…I was there.
I get it.
Is Your Attention Divided?
Alright, let’s turn to the Word and read Luke 10:38-42:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
This is a well known account, and we all know the “moral” of the story right? Charles Spurgeon, commenting on this passage, states,
“It is not an easy thing to maintain the balance of our spiritual life. No man can be spiritually healthy who does not meditate and commune with Jesus; no man, on the other hand, is as he should be unless he is active and diligent in holy service…We must not be so active as to neglect communion with God, nor so contemplative as to become unpractical.”
Rev. Clarence Bouwman, in a sermon on the same text, writes:
“Christ comes again at any moment, and Satan knows that well. So he does his best to distract, to get us caught up with the stresses and strains our social expectations impose upon us, to have us think we need to keep up with the Jones’. In the process the things that have to be done on grounds that Christ is coming any moment get pushed to the back-burner…things like ensuring that the children are ready to meet the Lord…“One thing is needed,” says Jesus, and that’s “undivided devotion to the Lord”… Being conscious of what Jesus Christ is doing today determines what the Christian will do, determines what is important for the Christian.”
Not long ago, I put more value in working hard and in serving in the church, than I did in sitting at the feet of Jesus and just listening. My attention was divided. To be honest I still fail at it sometimes, there are some weeks where I forget to open the Bible on my own for a few days. There are still days where my attention is divided. But we need to examine ourselves and ask what is the overwhelming tone of my life?
Am I a Mary or a Martha?
Go Up The Mountain.
In a blog post, entitled The Greatest Thing You Can Do Today, Francis Chan writes that someone once said, “It seems like the people in America would be content to take a selfie with Moses. Don’t they know they can go up the mountain themselves? Why don’t they want to go up the mountain?”
When was the last time you went up the mountain and just spent time in God’s Holy presence, just you and His Word?
Now I am not trying to lay a guilt trip down. God is merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in love. But consider for a moment…Jesus. Jesus suffered the eternal wrath of God for his covenant children — sinners like you and me. Jesus died so that we might live, rose again so that we might be justified, ascended to glory that we might also be glorified, so that we might have a restored relationship with him. He is there, he has paid it all, and as Abraham Kuyper famously stated:
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!
That includes our jobs, our families, and our time. Do you believe that?
To begin this article, I wrote that, “Everyone has different priorities.” It’s true, we all have different priorities, depending on where we are in life, but as Christians, we all have the same ultimate priority. The Westminster Catechism puts it succinctly when it says that our “chief end,” or main purpose, or ultimate priority, “is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” So guys…are you enjoying God? Or do we get so caught up in the business of life that we barely think about him?
If you don’t know where to start, just start small. Get up 5 minutes earlier, skip a meal, turn of the iPhone, turn off Facebook…but make it count. Climb up the mountain. Open the Word. Read a few verses. Live in the presence of God. Enjoy him. As Francis Chan wrote, “There is literally nothing more important you could do today.”
If you have enough time to read this post, you have enough time to open the Word and seek the Lord.