This was originally published at ChurchProduction.com.
In case you haven’t noticed, I write to men. There are plenty of ladies who read my stuff, for one reason or another, but I aim my stuff at men. Why? Because I are one. Duh. I write from the perspective of a guy who made an insane amount of mistakes, lost almost everything and learned his lesson. I don’t apologize for being direct or even insensitive. Now, can we move on?
During my time as a technical director, stage manager or whatever leadership role I was in, there was one constant. I was married with children. My crew changed, my church changed, my responsibilities changed… They were always there. The vision of the church changed, the scripts and song lists changed, the leadership changed… Not my family. My responsibilities as a husband and father never changed.
I keep going back to two things as I write on my other blog. (Erikmatlock.com) The full weight of Ephesians 5:25 and those wedding vows. As married Christian men, we have assumed a very big responsibility. Love your wives as Christ loved the church. Love, honor and cherish her. Forsaking all others.
Yep. That’s where we are going today.
As men, we are all operating in various degrees of stupid. Some are slightly stupid. The guys who are experts at managing their homes, families and careers. The guy who has done well in his work, while his wife and kids still adore him at the same time. He might qualify as minimally stupid. Then there’s the guy chasing butterflies, thinking everything that he notices is something he must pursue. The guy who is oblivious to the needs of his own family. That guy. That was me for a long time. He is on the other end of the stupid-o-meter.
My family was left behind at every opportunity. Every assignment, project, mission and crazy idea was given priority over my family. My own pastor even said that the best way to get anything done was to throw it on the busiest guy in the church. Me. I was handed, and accepted, every challenge anyone threw at me. My decision, my fault, my consequences.
I was the guy on the lift or ladder making ridiculous repairs and upgrades at all hours. I was the guy who ended up sleeping in the church, trying to finish insane projects on time. I was the guy who had agreed to open and close the church for every single service and event. I was the guy who had the ability to say “no” or ask for help, but didn’t. I was the guy who ended up with a steady 60-80 hours at the church every week for months at a time.
Why do we do stuff like that? Mostly out of obligation or for recognition. Either expecting to be honored by the church or blessed by God. Both are mostly wrong. Consider why you work so hard. Is it just something you enjoy? Does it enable you to spend more quality time with your family and friends? Is it something that is pulling you closer to your wife? Is it something you do together?
I see too many guys who are searching for purpose and meaning in their life. They are desperately seeking work that satisfies their soul. They want their life to matter. They take on every assignment from their church because they think it is exactly what God wants for their life. Dude. It’s just a gig. Volunteer or paid, it’s just a gig. Do it well, but it’s not your life.
I honestly believe that every deep soul craving within us, as men, is satisfied in the pursuit of our wives. Learning what she likes, making things happen for her, making her life good, changing things in our world to benefit her, doing everything in our power to prove our love for her day after day. That’s your mission and purpose. The same way Christ had one mission, save the bride. Ours is the same. Everything else is secondary. Developing that relationship with her is first.
Jesus even said that the whole weight of the scriptures boils down to two commandments. Love God and love each other. Well. What other person have you ever stood in front of your family and friends for, vowing to make them the most important person in your life? Just her. She is first. Everyone else waits. Everyone else is in line behind her.
Not buying it? Try this.
Here’s how that critical volunteer work ended up.
All those walls I stayed late to help paint…. They have been painted over.
All those lights I worked so hard to install… They were moved or replaced.
All those upgrades and changes… Outdated and upgraded again by someone else.
All those shows I gave so much time to… Over and forgotten.
That family I ignored for years…. Almost lost them.
Because I saw that work as my purpose and mission, it carried tremendous pressure to produce more. Because I expected people to promote me and prosper me, to honor their promises, to work as hard for me as I did for them; I was tragically disappointed. Ten years of repeated disappointment like that, transformed me into a dark and angry person. I was sick of working so hard with nothing to show for it. My temper got bad. My attitude got really bad. I was no fun for my family. I only worked and complained. I had given too much of myself away.
My wife decided she didn’t have to spend the rest of her life with someone who was like that. She produced divorce papers and rearranged my life quickly. That was the most powerful wake-up I ever experienced. I had lost sight of how important she was, of who she was living with and who I had become. I lost sight of what God truly expected of me. I lost sight of everything except the next project.
If you are following my blog, you know that we saved the marriage and are doing great. We are more in love and better than ever. More than 24 years together and we are happier that we were in our first year. The stupid-o-meter has settled back to reasonable levels and momma is very thankful. My life has all the purpose and meaning I was desperately searching for. She was here the whole time.
Guys, don’t make the same mistakes I did. We have to honor and love our wives at every opportunity. We have to be the example of of a generous and loving husband to our kids or they will never know. The next generation depends on the lessons we are teaching them. There’s your mission, ministry and purpose. Love your family. Honor them constantly. Make decisions on how it affects and benefits them. Get your priorities right.
Do good work. Honor your commitments. But not at the expense of your wife and kids. It’s not worth it.
M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.