How To Choose A Godly Wife (Part 3)

How To Find A Proverbs 31 Woman

godly husband and wife just married

Welcome back for the final  post in our mini-series about choosing a wife who will help you fulfill God’s calling as a pastor, planter or ministry leader.  In Part 1, we covered four traps to look out for, and in Part 2 we discussed four essential qualities to pursue.

We all know, though, that in practice it’s not a formula, right?  We, and any woman we might pursue in marriage, are complex beings living in a seriously fallen world.  And we’ve all seen ministry marriages crumble.  So in this final post let’s talk about steps you can take to actually find a Proverbs 31 wife who will bless you and the people God calls you to serve.

Read the rest of this post at Am I Called?…

[While this post is written for ministry leaders, it’s relevant for any man seeking a godly wife.]

Stay Engaged With Your Special Needs Child (Part 1)

Three Reasons Staying Engaged Is So Hard

Our special needs kids have a special place in our hearts.  Each one is precious and unique, placed in our families as a vessel of God’s grace.

At the same time, our special kids bring special challenges that push us beyond what we thought (or think) we can handle.  And the life we would design for ourselves. 

Sometimes it’s easier to disengage and take an unplanned siesta.  I bet you can identify with me. 

My Son, Your Story

After more or less coasting with our autistic son, Matthew, for the last several years, things are changing.  We need to step up our involvement and help him get ready for life after school.

There are days, honestly, where I simply don’t feel like it. 

Just recently, I told my wife about an email exchange with the attorney helping us secure guardianship for Matthew. When it became clear that I was frustrated with all the time it was taking, and had missed an important detail, she expressed concern.

‘I’m worried you’re going to just do what’s expedient, instead of what’s best for Matthew.’

You could have heard a pin drop in my heart.  She was right.  God is calling me to slow down, engage and make some sacrifices for our son.  But it’s hard, and selfishly I don’t always want to.

I’m not sure what challenges you’re facing with your special needs child.  Each of our kids is so different.

And each of us is so different.  Some of you, like me, may sense that God is calling you to get back in the game.  Some of you are giving all you can, but feel exhausted and tempted to give up or step back. 

Staying engaged and trusting God with our special needs kids for the long haul can feel like running a race we haven’t really trained for.  It’s a challenge for at least three reasons.

Read the rest of this post at stephenjbedard.com…

How To Choose A Godly Wife (Part 2)

Four Essential Qualities To Pursue

In the first post in this series, we began with how to find a godly wife who will help you fulfill your calling as a pastor, planter or ministry leader.  We focused upon four traps that men can fall into.

Ultimately, though, we’re not just trying to avoid losing the game, as if we were a backup quarterback. No, we’re trying to win the game by finding a godly, Proverbs 31 woman who will make a maximum impact for Christ and his kingdom. Even more importantly, we must focus upon becoming the kind of man who can love and lead such a woman.

Here are four qualities to look for as you search for a godly wife. We’ll continue by focusing (mainly) on Proverbs 31.

Read the rest of this post over at Am I Called?

How To Choose A Godly Wife (Part 1)

Four Common Traps To Avoid

man and wife embrace on their wedding day

After the service, the pastor’s wife was pleasant but distant.  Whenever the conversation turned toward her, she perked up.  But as the focus shifted toward others, she became less present and struggled to hide her disinterest.

Her husband, the pastor, seemed much more engaged.

As we turned to leave, my heart sank.  It was only a sample size of one, but I sensed that the church was only loved by one in the marriage. They were not true partners in ministry.

Sadly, this ministry couple is not alone.  Many pastors have wives who are relatively lukewarm to the ministry – and them. Even worse, I know others whose wives have either functionally, or literally, left both altogether.

This is not to place the blame on the ladies.  Indeed behind a wife who lacks passion for God’s people there is sometimes a leader who is not leading well. In the dance of pastoral ministry, it takes two to tango. But how do we know if we are choosing a partner who dances well in ministry?

Read the rest of this guest post at Am I Called?… 

Although it is written especially for guys in, or heading toward, ministry, I think any guy considering marriage will find it highly relevant.  You can also see the introduction to the series, Godliness Attracts Godliness, over at AIC, too.

And men, if you are in ministry, AIC is definitely a site you’ll want to visit.)

 

3 Ways Jesus Transforms Our Holiday Stress

 

The holidays are great, but (at least for me) always seem to bring extra stress.  Although we can’t control everything, we don’t have to let the holidays just happen to us, either.

Jesus and the gospel really begin to transform us – and the way we respond to stress – so that we can enjoy the holidays with more peace.

You can read more in my guest post for Gospel Relevance.  Many blessings to you during this holiday season!

Godliness Attracts Godliness

If You Want To Find A Godly Wife, First Become Godly Yourself

godly man and wife get married on boardwalk

Here’s an important, overlooked truth about marriage:

You will wind up marrying someone similar to you in spiritual maturity. 

Sure, you can probably think of exceptions.  But you can probably count them on one hand.

If you want to find a godly wife, first become godly yourself.  There are no shortcuts.

You can read the first article in my series on Finding A Godly Wife for Am I Called? over at their site.

By the way, this is an excellent site for men who are either in ministry, or heading in that direction.  And although my series is slanted toward guys with that background, nearly any Christian guy can apply the principles with just a little thought.

Finally, I’ve just created a short, free guide on 6 ways the gospel will transform your marriage.  It includes key principles, scripture, and a challenging question that will help you take the next step in the most important areas of your marriage.  Even if you’re not married yet, I think you’ll find it helpful.

Read the article at Am I Called?…

 

 

Guys Need Bros (Guest Post, Desiring God)

Five Ways To Find Male Friendships

guy standing alone
lonely guy photo

Photo by Daran Kandasamy

Hey men, let’s be honest.  After work, family, church and trying to keep our homes from imploding, it feels like there’s no time left for close friendships with other guys.  At least not ‘real life’, in-person ones.

That’s exactly how I felt as I turned 40.  I had Facebook friends and random hangouts with other guys, but nothing meaningful or consistent.  No one knew what was really going on in my life.

But when my wife, and a popular Christian author challenged me, I decided something had to change.  And – without a ton of effort – it did.

In this guest post for Desiring God, I explore how developing close guy friendships is critical for our health, marriages and walks with Christ.

You can read the post right here.

PS: I’ve done two other guest posts for Desiring God.

 

 

7 Ways Your Short-Term Mission Trip Can Have Long-Term Impact

Don't Let Your Short-Term Trip Be A Mountaintop Experience

mountain cross photo

For our team, it had been—quite literally—a mountaintop experience.

We had enjoyed a week of medical missions together on a mountain in Central America. God had welcomed 137 new believers into his family and provided healing for many others through our very humble efforts.

But as I stared out the window on the plane ride home, I began to feel uneasy. How could we—how could I—take what God had invested in us during our trip and continue to live that out back home? How could we apply it in our real, busy, and broken everyday lives where we so often just survive?

There’s no easy answer, but here are seven ideas that have been helpful to me that may be helpful to others returning from a short-term missions trip.

Expect Some Setbacks and Failures

Short-term trips take us out of our comfort zones, and while we are there outside the norm, we often experience a spiritual growth spurt. We learn new ways to rely on God and engage with people. But when we return, as fallen sinners it’s natural to slide back into patterns of self-reliance or simply become overwhelmed.

Recognizing and turning from unhealthy pre-trip patterns is a sign of God’s grace, but we need to have reasonable expectations for ourselves when we return. If we don’t, we may despair and fall back into doing nothing at all once we fail to integrate our new spiritual lessons into everyday life.

I had the privilege of writing this article as a guest post for IMB, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  They have a massive vision for reaching the world for Christ.  You can read the rest of the article here.

Six Ways To Pursue Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage (Guest Post at Desiring God)

If you find it difficult to consistently connect spiritually with your spouse, you’re completely normal.

But there’s hope in Christ for marriages like yours.  And mine.

couple holding hands photo

Just a quick heads-up that I’ve written a guest post over at Desiring God about this: Six Ways To Pursue Spiritual Intimacy In Marriage.

I hope that it helps you pursue greater spiritual intimacy with your husband or wife.  (Or any couple on the road to marriage, really.)

Dads, Stay Close To Your Daughter

(This article first appeared at desiringGod.org.)

Ugh.

After another difficult interaction with our teenage daughter, I felt like screaming. My wife patiently listened to my venting, and she calmly but firmly spoke words I’ll never forget.

“I know you’re frustrated. I get it. But you’re the parent. She needs more from you. She needs you to move toward her and stay close.”

I was too annoyed to respond, but I knew she was right.

Silly picture with my daughters Carissa & Anna.

Outtake with my daughters Carissa (left) & Anna (right)

Tough, Important Times

I suspect most dads with teenage daughters can relate. You may find yourself wondering where that sweet little girl went. The one who sat on your lap, followed your advice, and freely shared her heart while you played together with her toys and sang “Jesus Loves Me.”

But now, things are different. One moment your daughter thinks you’re the Best Dad Ever, then says, “I can’t stand you,” the next. Trust and obedience are replaced by suspicion and endless boundary-testing. Sometimes it feels like you only see her when she wants something from you.

In these moments, it’s so easy to pull back. To tell yourself you’ve tried. To withdraw — bitter, angry, and hurt. To convince yourself all you can do now is pray and wait.

As someone who has failed significantly in this area, yet seen God work powerfully, I want to encourage and challenge you. To remind you that God has sovereignly placed you in your daughter’s life to model, as her earthly father, her perfect heavenly Father.

Fathers, your daughter needs you to stay close to her.

Our All-Important Foundation

If we want to be close to our daughters, we need to be close to our heavenly Father first, pursuing him as our greatest Treasure. Often busyness, apathy, interruptions from kids, and the pull of social media and entertainment make it hard to find consistent time with our Lord. But we need to persist, trusting that God “rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

When we persevere, we’ll find with king David that God’s “steadfast love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3). And with the apostle Paul, we will learn to “count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). In many ways, maturity as fathers is simply coming to know and experience, more and more, how beautiful and awesome God is.

While I’m nowhere near as close to Christ as I’d like to be, desiring to move closer to him is transforming me — and my relationship with my daughters. As his greatness and grace toward me become more real, I’m finding it easier and easier to extend grace toward them too. And to be the kind of father with whom they want to be close.

Dads, I want to urge you to pursue intimacy with Christ as your highest priority. If you do, you’ll find that staying closer to your daughter will eventually follow.

Eight Ways to Stay Close

If we’re growing in our own thirst and desire for Christ, the rest of these will start to flow much more naturally.

1. Gently model unconditional love and grace (Matthew 26:30–32; Galatians 6:1). While we need to be reminded that we, as dads, need to be the humble “buckstopper” in our homes, many of us struggle with being harsh and angry. Our daughters need us to be tough on sin, but even firmer on their Savior’s grace.

2. Come alongside them in their insecurity and affirm them (see Judges 6:11–18, especially verse 12). Teen girls feel pressure to look a certain way, wear certain clothing, and be friends with the “right people.” We need to remind them that if they are born again, Jesus has made them acceptable forever, and that nothing can change that.

3. Protect them sacrificially (John 15:12–15). Our culture encourages girls to dress immodestly and find their identity in guys’ approval. So, our role as fathers, created in the image of the Great Shepherd, includes helping them understand how men’s minds work and what’s appropriate to wear, and (especially) helping them find their value in Christ.

4. Just listen (James 1:19). While we’re tempted to “fix” their problems immediately, our teen daughters mainly want us to listen, care, and understand. This often creates an atmosphere of trust where we can offer the input they need.

5. When you mess up, confess it (James 5:16). If we’re rooted deeply in Christ, we’ll find this easier and easier. I’ve been amazed at how quickly a simple but genuine apology often heals a rift with my daughters.

6. Be present. At home, we easily get distracted by our phones, television, and work. As we look at Jesus’s example, though, it’s amazing how much time he spent with his disciples — and how he gave them his undivided attention. Our daughters need positive male attention, and we have the privilege of leading the way, if we’re willing to set other things aside and engage them.

7. Remember that God has made each of our daughters differently. My two teen daughters are so different that sometimes we wonder if they’re really both ours! I love how sisters Mary and Martha come to Jesus with the same lament after Lazarus dies, yet Jesus responds very differently (John 11:23–35). What works with one of our daughters may not benefit the other.

8. Go on regular daddy-daughter dates. Most teen girls love to talk, eat, and connect. Several months ago I (re)started taking each of them out for breakfast every two weeks. During these undistracted times, they often share their hearts in ways they don’t at home, and they come away feeling special. And they are!

With God’s help, what steps could you take to move closer to your daughter (or son) during these crucial teenage years?