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About this series
Marriage that Works
God's Way of Becoming Spiritual Soul Mates, Best Friends, and Passionate Lovers
It's no secret that marriage is in trouble in America. This foundational building block of society is crumbling before our eyes. And Christians are not exempt from this trend. There is hope. Despite the mounting pressure on couples, you really can have a great marriage, raise Godly kids, and experience a healthy, life-giving home-life with the stability to weather life's storms. Join Chip Ingram as he challenges the status quo and gives clear, compelling help for couples that long for unity and fulfillment in their marriage.More from this series
What’s a man to do? And what do you, okay, you’re supposed to be a leader and a lover. Great, I’ve got it. What’s a man to do?
To get this, I need you guys to get riveted. Imagine, if you will, you’ve just been pulled off out of this room right now, eight or ten of you, you’re stationed right here.
And either the head of a Navy Seal, the head of the Marines Special Ops, or in the Army Ranger Program said, “You have been selected, you eight or twelve right here, that’s the mountain we’re going to take. There’s a two-year journey.
“Let me help you understand something, men. You’ll go through the most difficult training you’ve ever been in your life. Your commitment and ability to stay on track and get each other’s back will determine whether you live or die in this matter that we’re going to go for together.
“If this group is successful in what happens up on that mountain we’ll save tens of thousands of lives. If not, not only we will die but all those people will die as well.”
I saw a documentary recently on the training of Marine Special Ops. And just the beginning, in full fatigues, they tread water for an hour. With clothes on. Boots on. You can’t take it? You’re done. We don’t need him.
They teach them, “You will make decisions and you will keep commitments, and you will do what you never thought you could do and you’ll never do it apart from being with a band of brothers that will push you harder and farther and deeper. And you’ll change the world.”
And it was in that spirit that Moses, after watching people fail for forty years, pulled together the next generation of leaders.
And he pulled them together and he watched about two million people die out of disobedience. They wouldn’t take the hill. They wouldn’t make the commitment. They wouldn’t swim upstream.
And in his last words, he steps up and he speaks to the men. Deuteronomy chapter 6 he says, “These are the commandments, the decrees, the laws the Lord directed me to teach to you. To observe when you cross the Jordan and when you possess it. So that your children and their children after them may fear the Lord.”
And then he describes what it means to fear God. “Keeping His decrees, living by them in order that you may enjoy a long and good life. Hear, O Israel, be careful to obey so that you may increase greatly in this land flowing with milk and honey.”
In other words, the desire and the goal is awesome and it’s great. And then he says, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is one.”
And he’s talking about one God. And they’re going to go into a land that’s filled with multi-gods, and multi-idols, and unbelievable perversion. And then he says, “Men, you’re to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, all your strength.
“And then, you’re to teach it to your children. And after formal teaching, you’re to talk about it when you walk by the way. And you’re to talk and impress upon their hearts and their minds when you get up, and when you lie down, and when you go out.
“And then you’re to put certain symbols on your hands so that everything that you do, you’re kids and your grandkids, and everyone follows your example.
“And you even put frontals,” he talks about, “so that you’re thinking and your world view is that it’s more than about you. It’s about this agenda for God and you’re to fear Him. And then, when you get there, the hand of the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise God that created you will prosper you and bless you because He loves you.
“And so, when you begin to eat grapes from vineyards that you didn’t plant, and when you begin to drink out of wells that you did not dig, and when you have beautiful houses that you did not build, you better be careful.
“Because in that consumption, in that luxury, in that blessing, you’ll be tempted to drift away.” And then he goes on to say, “And fear God for He is a jealous God. For in that day that you refuse to obey Him, all the things that I was going to do to these people, I will do to you.”
That will make being a Navy Seal, being a Ranger in the Army, or being a Special Ops Marine look like a walk in the park.
And what I’m to talk to us men about is what God wants you to do and it’ll take intensity, and commitment, and you can’t do it alone.
And what I’m going to share is so different than, probably, almost any man you’ve ever met. And most of you didn’t, you’re like me, you didn’t have a father like this. I got the Marine part of the father. I didn’t get the Christian part of the father.
But I will tell you, those of you that aren’t married, this kind of a man attracts the kind of woman that you dream of.
This is the kind of man that a woman waits for. This is the kind of man that, if you do what God says, there’s a daughter that will probably marry someone different than a passive, “I hope it goes well, I kind of come to church,” type dad.
This is the kind of man whose son says, “Someday, someway, I want to be like my dad. I want to be a man of integrity, a man of focus, a man who makes a difference, a man who walks with God.” And this is going to be, what do you do? What do you actually do?
You’re to be a leader and a lover. What he says you’re to do, after stepping up in love, he’s going to say you need to provide, protect, and nurture. It’s what men do. Real men do.
You provide financially for your family. You protect them physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And you nurture them.
And all this flows out of one passage. We’ve been in Ephesians chapter 5. But I gave you three specific other places where it specifically lays those out.
1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own and especially for those of his household, he’s denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Translation: Men, the moral responsibility for the financial welfare of our homes is ours.
Second, “You husbands, likewise, live with your wives.” How? “In an understanding way as with the weaker vessel.” Since she’s a woman. “And grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
So, after provision, there’s a spiritual something that occurs that a man does. You become the student of your wife, or if you’re not married, become the student of your girlfriend. What is she like? How does she think? What are her weaknesses? Where does she struggle?
And you live with her in an understanding way so that the grace of God comes through you to help develop her in her life.
And then notice the implication, if you don’t do that, your prayers get hindered. How you treat your wife, men, has a direct relationship to how God answers your prayers and mine.
And third, it goes on to say, “But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the Church of God?” 1 Timothy 3:5.
What I want you to know is that what Moses did for the Old Testament, what we’re going to see is this is the New Testament version of being a non-conformist, Navy Seal, spiritual, committed man who changes the course of a whole family’s destiny.
And what I want you to understand is I’m just going to give you the box top.
I have a friend up near Tahoe and he has a nice A-frame that, for the last twenty years, I’ve been able to go up there and hide and spend some time, either with my family or some time to study. And someone there likes to do these jigsaw puzzles. For me, a very challenging jigsaw puzzle is, like, a hundred pieces that are very big and when I struggle, one of my granddaughters, “Uh, Ella, would you help me with this?” I don’t like them, I’m not good at them.
This one was, like, ten thousand pieces. Have you ever seen those? And they had a coffee table that was, like, three feet by four feet.
And I walked in one time and the whole thing was a picture, I thought it was a picture, and then I saw the box. It was ten thousand pieces. I remember talking to my friend and I said, “You actually like to do this?” He goes, “Yeah, it’s really fun.”
And I said, “If my life depended on it, I could never do it.” He said, “No, no, no, Chip, you can. Here’s the key. You just to have the box top. If you can see the picture, and then you have to take it a step at a time.”
He said, “You know, all the pieces that have an edge? Guess what, Ingram? You can figure this out. They’re the border. Alright?” He says, “Then you take the blue pieces and you put them in a pile. And the green pieces and the red pieces. And then you just start with them. And if you’ll do that, little by little by little and be patient and realize it’s a journey, you can put that whole thing together.”
Men, I hope that picture is graphic in your mind. Because what you’re going to hear is the equivalent of a spiritual Army Ranger or Special Ops Marine.
And what you’re going to get is the box top. It’s as though he would say, “For the next two to five years, here is the journey. Here’s the job description.” Don’t hear this is a to-do list. I’ll get in this five minutes and you’ll say, “If I have to do all of that tomorrow, I’m dead.” Yes, you are.
But what you’ll see is a pathway. You’ll see a pathway that will produce a certain kind of man, that will produce a certain kind of marriage, that produces a certain kind of father, that produces a certain kind of life. And a difference where you work and in your neighborhood where light, and salt, and transformation occurs through a normal man like you.
First time I was even exposed to what I’m going to teach you, I was newly married, I married a gal who had been abandoned, I became a dad overnight. So, I got four and half year olds, I had no idea how to be a husband and now I’m automatically a dad. And all I know is that, God bless my dad, he gave me what he had.
His dad died when he was thirteen. My dad didn’t come to Christ until he was fifty-five. And all I knew was everything I’m going to teach you, I didn’t know how to do.
I’ve been on the Navy Seal journey of saying, “God, I want to be the kind of man that my daughter says, ‘Because my dad treated me this way, that’s the kind of man I want to marry.’”
I want to be the kind of dad where my boys grow up and say, “With all of his faults and struggles, I want to be a dad like my dad.” I want to be the kind of man where my wife says, privately, to a close friend, “My husband treats me in an understanding way. And, you know what? He’s got a lot of growing to do. But I’ve got to tell you, I feel like the presence of God and Christ dwells in him and ministers to me.”
And I want to tell you, guys, it’s possible. It’s possible for us that have never opened the Bible. It’s possible for us that don’t know anything. And so, get your pen out and let me give you the job description and tell you in advance this is a pathway. You can’t do all this but let me tell you what it is.
I want you to know what it’s going to be looking like when you get on that hill and what’s going to be required. The question: how to step up in love to lead your wife and your family, or your future wife and potential family, if you’re single.
Number one: husbands hold the primary responsibility for the financial welfare of their families. Financial provision.
And here’s how I’m going to do it. I’m going to give you the one clear statement that says to you, the man, the Navy Seal, this is what it is. And there are three of them.
And then I’m going to say, okay, now here’s the role and then after that I’m going to say, now, here’s the responsibility of that role. And then there are about five specific objectives that you’re going to have to develop, over time, with the help of some other guys.
And then, just so you don’t get caught into all the activities, here are the core values. Here’s what you really want to develop over time.
So, here’s the role, gentlemen. You are the family CFO or bank president. At the end of the day, if the numbers don’t work at a bank, you can’t blame the tellers. You’re the man. If there’s not enough money to go around, if you got too much debt in your debt ratio, if you got a big financial problem, at the end of the day, that’s on my shoulders.
I’m glad for your wife when she can help out, there are times when a woman, it’s great when they can work. There are other times where family responsibilities don’t allow that.
But I will tell you what. When you own and take the pressure off and say, “I own the moral responsibility to provide for my family.”
There are five specific objectives to that. Shelter, food, clothes, financial training. Financial training.
And so, where’s that begin? Well, it just starts with me. You do honest work. You might jot down, just in the notes, Colossians 3:23. Your wife, and if you have kids, your kids need to see someone that works hard and works well.
Colossians 3:23 says this, “Whatsoever I do, I work unto the Lord and not unto men.” In other words, when I clean the garage, when I wash the car, when I teach my kids, when I go to work, they need to see that I don’t work just for this. I’m working as unto the Lord. It’s an act of worship. So you do excellent work and you work hard.
If there’s nothing that you pass on to your kids apart from a strong, clear work ethic unto God, changes their life.
Second thing is you need to honor God first. You’re the steward of your finances. Some of us get a paycheck once a week, some of us get a paycheck every two weeks, some get a paycheck once a month, some of you work like crazy and then you get a commission.
If it’s once a week, once a month, whatever it is, for thirty days, I work, work, work, work and there’s time, energy, talent, all that God’s given me. And when I get that check, God says, “All that you are and all is mine. You’re a manager. I’m the owner.”
And so, as a manager, I come over here to God and say, “I want you to know, I remember that you are the One in control and I’m trusting you, not me.”
So, the very best, in the Old Testament, it was your best sheep, or your best goat, or your best ox, or the first fruit. So, I give the first tithe or ten percent to God.
And as you get older and mature you can give more than that and there are some crisis times where you figure out and God shows you some other specifics. But, as a general rule, you say, “That’s yours and this is what I’m going to do, and I want you to know that I trust you.”
We could talk all we want but submission and lordship plays out, not in my words, but in my money, my time, and my energy. God says, “I’m the CEO of the universe. I want to bless you. I want you trust me.”
So, you model that for your wife and for your family and your kids. And it takes a step of faith.
Third, you live within your means. You don’t have more money going out than comes in. You realize last year that more college students filed bankruptcy than graduated from college in the United States?
Someone didn’t train them very well. When you’re a freshman in college, you know how they say, “Hey! Do you want a t-shirt?” “Yeah!” “We’ll give you this t-shirt if you sign up for this credit card.”
And then they just think – learning the value of the dollar, learning to get out of debt, learning to handle money. Dads, doesn’t mean you do it all but I’m responsible for that in my family.
And so, I have to make sure that more is coming in than is going out. And the amazing thing is this, it’s not an income issue. Don’t believe that.
I made my way through seminary by selling insurance and investments. I met people that made fifty grand and they didn’t have cash flow. I met people and sold to people that made a hundred grand. They didn’t have cash flow. I met people that made a half a million dollars and they didn’t have cash flow.
Here’s what I learned. Whatever window of income you have, most people figure out how to spend, right, that income. And if you go back even thirty, forty years the average American would save a significant percentage, at least high, single digits. Today, the average American saves less than one or two percent of their income.
And so, we’re living in a world where people never used to buy cars on time, they never used to…
Now you can get your house, furniture, don’t make payments for two years. No, you’re not going to make them for two years, you’re going to make them for thirty years. Forever! And you’ll pay twenty-one percent.
So, when you’re the financial manager, you’ve got to live within your means and then you have to prepare for the future. You have to say, okay, we need to have a savings plan. When I started out, I had three kids, making eighteen hundred dollars a month, pastoring a tiny little church, and I knew it wasn’t much but I saved fifty dollars a month for retirement. At least it got me started.
But you’ve got savings, retirement, do you have a will? What happens if you die? Do you need to have a trust? What are your investments? Where are they and why?
Some of you, in where you’re at, do you need to meet with a financial planner? Do you have life insurance that does anything if you actually die? Guys! That’s your job! Over half of all the Christians who die don’t even have a will!
We are owning the moral responsibility for the finances in our home and then train your kids. Train your kids how to use money and how to use it well.
I read an interesting study. If you would write these numbers down. Ten, ten, eighty. Just ten, ten, eighty.
This is so oversimplified, it’s the Larry Burkett/Dave Ramsay approach, especially when your kids are small. If people at age eighteen gave the first ten percent of every dollar that came in, saved the next ten percent, and lived on the eighty percent and just figured out, how do I live on that eighty percent? Nearly everyone by age sixty-five would be multi-millionaires. It’s called the beauty of compound interest.
Unfortunately, most people don’t save, most people don’t save, or give. And most people, then, figure out how to buy stuff they can’t afford. And so, the debt side goes the other direction. Half of all marriages end, not because people don’t love each other.
They end because when you don’t have enough money, you start arguing about whose fault it is. And they’re related around money.
And guys? It’s where you pound your chest and say, “Our financial security, provision, priorities, and discipline, and well-being, that’s me.”
And for a lot of us, we never saw our dad do that. For some of us, we didn’t even see our dad. So, do I understand this is difficult? Yeah.
I remember coming home and spending money we didn’t have and my wife didn’t think the flowers were all that good. I said, “Honey, I just love you.” She goes, “Yeah, well they cost twenty dollars, we only got ten dollars in our checking. But you wouldn’t know that because you don’t know anything about our money.”
That’s when I realized that I needed a lot to learn. So, we do all of our finances together now.
But there’s Managing our Finances God’s Way, daveramsay.com, there is great information about how to get your money under control.
But for some of you sitting where you’re sitting it’s like, “Oh my lands. That’s a huge mountain.” I told you it’d be hard. Of course it’s hard. But you can stop where you’re at and make great progress starting today.
The second here is the core values is to model and teach a work ethic. So, you want to teach your kids early on to start early to work hard. If you have small kids, everything from making their bed, and taking out the garbage, and when they get a little bit older, let them help out with the dishes, let them help out cooking.
When they get to be junior high, give them their own alarm clock and let them learn to wake up themselves. What you want to do is feed your kids responsibility, and work, and teach them to become more and more, not independent, but dependent on God.
So many kids get lost because everything’s been done for them. Or the process has been nag, nag, nag, do this, do this and there’s conflict in the home. Teach your kids, Dad, this is where we step in. And you teach them how to work well and to work hard.
And then the value is here of the stewardship of their time and their money.
When our kids got to be about two years old, maybe three, we put three jars on each of their dressers. And they couldn’t read it yet but one said “spending,” one said “giving,” and one said “savings.”
And we just started out and they would help out, help pick up your toys and you get ten pennies. One goes there, one goes there, eight goes there. They get a little older, they get ten dimes. One goes there, one goes there, one goes there.
They get a little older, they start getting quarters. Pretty soon, they earn some more money. And you know what they learn? They just learn, everything belongs to God, they learned early, and I want to honor Him. And the joy of my kids, when they were five, seven, eight years old started doing Faith Promise and would meet a missionary or we’d have on the refrigerator a little World Vision kid with their stomach out to here.
Do you know what happens when your child, seven, eight, nine years old learns to be generous, and love, and care? Instead of, dad, how come we don’t have this? And what’s the…” Right?
We will develop a whole generation of consumer-aholics and it’s not their problem. It’s us. We have to be the ones to set the pace. We’ve got to be the ones to say, “Honey, this is how much money we have. Here’s what we can buy, here’s what we can’t.”
And then, when they save? They have this amazing experience of delayed gratification. This is something they really want? They save, they save, they save. And they buy it, and they love it, and it’s good.
And you teach them some discipline and responsibility and so they get to be teenagers and they’ve got to have Diesel jeans, right? And they’re only a hundred and fifty bucks. “And, Mom, you’ve got to understand…” Right?
And you say, “Honey, let me tell you this, at the Gap, I can get you a good pair for fifty. Maybe fifty-five. And here’s what I’ll do. You can start saving. We’ll put my fifty-five in a jar. And you can baby-sit and I’ll give you some money for cleaning this out. And you can earn the other hundred and you can wear any kind of jeans you want.” And then your son says, Man, I want, you know…
They’re only a hundred and sixty-four dollars! Those are the shoes, Dad! I’ve got to have them!” And you say, “Well, I can go to the Sports Authority and the last year’s version, I could get for about seventy-two dollars. And they’re really good. And I’m going to put seventy-two dollars in a jar and you can get whatever kind you want. But I donate seventy-two dollars to this process and you get whatever you want!” And you know what? I did that with my kids. And it was amazing. Those Diesel jeans were not near as cool.
My one daughter, we were strapped financially most all of our years growing up. And so, my boys, I didn’t have to show restraint. By the way, very wealthy people have a very big problem teaching their kids anything. Because you don’t have to.
When you’re poor, it’s really easy. “The answer is ‘no.’” “Why?” …
You go out to eat. “What are you ordering? Well, do you want lemon in your water or just water?” And when you go out to eat, you never look on the left side. The question is not, when you go out to eat, “What do you want?” The question is on the right side.
“Okay, $3.99, $4.99, and $6.99. What are we getting? $3.99. Alright? I’m serious.”
But then as things progressed, we did better financially and a couple books did okay. And so, I’ve got my daughter, who’s thirteen years younger than my oldest boys.
So, I’ve got almost two families. And she’s compliant. The boys weren’t all that compliant. So, she’s obeying all the time and she’s really nice. And then she’s my daughter. If you’re a dad.
“So, hey, Dad? Could I have these?” “Yeah.” You know? You know? And, you know, I’m this soft touch. And so, all this stuff I’m telling you, I’m not doing.
And I remember going out for coffee with Theresa and I said, “Honey, I think we’re really blowing it with Annie.” “We’re” is the word I use when it’s me because it feels better. I said, “I think we’re really blowing it with Annie.” And she goes, “Well, what do you mean?” And I said, “Well, man, they learned responsibility, they had jobs, even college was, ‘Hey, here’s how much money I have. Do whatever you want to do, I’ll throw that much in the pot.’”
And they worked two jobs and they all made it through college and all that jazz. And so, I said, “We’ve got to teach her how to really be responsible. But the problem is, we got money now. I can afford it. And she’s so cute.”
And so, we sat down and we figured out how much a month, for everything, that I spent on her. And, for a year. Clothes, camps, makeup, toothpaste, everything. We figured out what it was and then we sat down, of course, she’s just super responsive and compliant, which made it so hard.
And I said, “Honey, we got an exciting adventure for you.” She said, “Great,” I said, “we figured out this is how much we spend on you, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. And, okay? Now, here’s what we’re going to do.”
And so, I made some margin in there that was really reasonable on the downward side. And I said, “Every month, we’re going to give you this much money. And it’s your job, we’re not, don’t ask us for anything, you can buy whatever clothes with it. If you don’t have makeup, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. Every month, we will give you this much money.” And I watched my daughter become extraordinarily responsible.
And now that it’s her money, it was, like, “You know, I think I’ll buy the, eh, I don’t think I really will.” Well, pretty soon, she’s starting, by the time she graduated, we did this the last two years, she had three thousand dollars in the bank and I did deals.
So, I said, “If you want to go to a camp, like, it’s a ski camp.” And, if you’re a parent, that stuff’s really expensive. I said, “I’ll do a hundred… you put in $350 and I’ll do a hundred or a hundred and fifty, if you want to go.”
And she would save her money and she learned to budget her money, save her money, buy all of her own clothes. And she ended up saving. And I realized the gift I gave her was, I taught her how to live, instead of how just to get stuff from her dad.
And you know what? Guys? That’s what I’m talking about. And it just means being intentional. And I talk quite a bit about money here. Money is just a symptom. Money is never a problem in any relationship.
Money is never a problem in your relationship with God, money is never a problem in your relationship with your mate, your girlfriend, your friends. Money is never ever a problem. Money is an outward symptom that always reveals your true values.
What really matters is where you spend your money and what really matters is where you spend your time. Why Jesus talked more about money, than heaven and hell combined, is not that He needs your money. What He knows is, where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is.
And so, He wants me to be dependent. What I want my kids, what I know is, where they spend their money is their true values. And so, these are the kind of things: stewardship, responsibility.
And then enjoyment. Just really having fun. And knowing that, so many Christians I meet, when they buy something nice, or get something nice, and their priorities are in order, they always tell me stuff like, “Well, it’s really nice but I got it on sale.”
Or, “This pool, we got this pool, it’s really nice but, it’s for baptisms. It’s for the youth group.”
How about this? God’s really blessed me, I’m really generous, everything I own is His, I give a ton of it away, I live within my means, I wanted a swimming pool! I like a swimming pool! It’s a beautiful swimming pool! You know what we do? We sit out and enjoy it and He’s prospered me and I’m thankful.”
See, we’ve got to get clean and clear about what money is and what it’s not. But I will tell you, there are a lot of people buying swimming pools, and clothes, and cars, and getting statements that are saying, “You better keep this job or you hope something changes because you’re presuming upon the future and it’s called debt.” And what you do is you get out of that.
Second. I think I spent a little too much time on that. Let us move on.
Husbands hold the primary responsibility for the spiritual development and protection of their families. In most homes, that’s usually the woman. When you think about who’s really spiritual, in most homes, it’s the woman.
Now, this isn’t, men, that we do it all. Notice, it’s primary responsibility for the spiritual development and protection of their families. The role is you’re the family priest.
Have you ever thought of yourself like that? Most of us don’t even know what a priest, you know what a priest is? The responsibility of a priest is very simple. He takes the needs of the people. My wife’s needs. Her hurts, her fears, her struggles. She went through this when she was a child. One of my kid’s needs. One of my struggles here. This one.
I take all those needs, “Lord, you know where my wife’s been and how she’s been wounded, and how she’s been hurt, and I don’t know how to figure it out, and I want to love her. Will You show me what to do?”
“God, you know that if we could… my son doesn’t have this and I, would You please help me? God, I feel inadequate.”
And you take their needs and then you sit quietly, and you read His Word, and He gives you wisdom. And you take the wisdom and the love of God, and you become His representative, and you both speak into, and make time, and love, and be the life of Christ to your wife and your kids. That’s my job.
I’m the CFO or the bank president. And I’m the priest. And a priest’s role has about five practical out-workings, and one is I set the pace personally.
It’s a person that’s surrendered to God, and separate from the world’s values, and has an honest, sober self-assessment. You serve in love. And you supernaturally respond to evil with good. That’s all of Romans 12. And so, I’m going to set the pace.
What I know is my kids are not going to grow up and be young men and young women that love God’s Word unless they see their dad doing it. They’re not going to pray unless they see their dad doing it.
They’re going to drive the way I drive. What’s going to come out of their mouth is what comes out of my mouth when I’m angry or when I’m hurt. They’re probably going to watch the same kind of stuff that I allow into my mind. And so, I’ve got to set the pace.
Perfect? No. You know what they also need to learn is? What do you do when you really mess up? More is caught than taught! they need to see me apologize to my wife when I blow it an outburst of anger.
They need, when I say something, in my line of work, I said it out in front of the whole church and, as has happened in my life, “Hey, Dad, you know what? I was there, I don’t think that story really was exactly what happened.” “Well, don’t you think it was close?” “I don’t think God wants close, do you, Dad?” “No, but it sure made a better story.” “Yeah, I know.”
And, you know what? I’ve had to tell my kids, not that I lied but I, in the glory of the moment, I exaggerated on that one.
You know what? As my kids came up, that only happens a handful of times you realize, I’m not going there anymore. I don’t think I probably have to improve on what God’s doing.
But you know how my, that’s what you, you model that. So you set the pace. You know the spiritual condition of your wife and your children.
One of my sons, those of you that are dads, you need to know the spiritual condition of your kids. How are they doing? What’s in their heart? What are their struggles? What are they afraid of? Are they slipping into something? Who are their friends? What’s going on?
With permission to share this, my youngest son was, I think, probably early high school. Was a freshman. And this kid had this heart for God. He’d get up in the morning since he was ten and read the Bible, led all of his volleyball team to Christ, led worship.
He just looked like he was just doing great. And I just assumed he was doing great. And had a guy come over to my house who was our IT guy and fix something on my computer and he worked up the courage and said, “Chip, I really need to talk with you.”
And I said, “Well, yeah, about what?” “Well, do you have a porn issue?” I said, “I got plenty of issues, that’s just not one of them.”
And he said, “Well, there’s stuff on your computer in sites… I checked the history.”
And I’m thinking, “Okay, I got Ryan who’s a freshman in high school and Annie who’s six. Hm, hm.”
And so it was, “Hey, Ryan, how are you really doing? Ryan, this friend at church came and looked on our computer and it’s not me, do you…?”
“No, no, no, no.” And then he just, oh, the scene in my mind right now, I can tell him, in the shadow of the doorway of our bedroom and he just exploded in tears. “Dad, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. It started about a year ago and some girls in bathing suits came up and then it led me to another site and now I plan when you’re not home and I can’t wait to get home and I know there’s an addiction. I feel so terrible and so…”
And he wept in bitter remorse. And we set some boundaries, and some consequences, and we got on that journey together. He later went to college and knows it’s always a sensitive issue for him. And shared it with the guys on his floor at a Christian school.
Half of the young men on his floor at his Christian school said, “Oh, that’s me right now.” So, Ryan started a Bible study and helped them get out of that stuff.
But, dads, see what a man is? You’re a priest. You ask your kids. And you know that something you have, as a man, inside? You know, like your daughter’s dating this guy and there’s just something inside that says, “He seems really nice but there’s an
Eddie Haskell quality about him?” You know what I mean?
Trust your gut. Trust your gut and just look at her. “Hey, what’s going on here?” If there’s a guy hanging out and you see your kid’s attitude start to change, you’re the man. Guess what, I’ve had, “You can’t play with that kid anymore.” “Dad, Dad.” “No, no, no. It’s done.”
“You can’t date that girl.” I meet Christian parents all the time. I’m getting off here a little bit. But I’m sorry. I meet Christian parents all the time that will say, “Well, my daughter’s dating this guy and he’s not a Christian, he’s not a very healthy environment, but I’m so afraid if I tell her she can’t date him, she’ll rebel.”
Hey! She is rebelling! Let her get mad at you! Be the dad. She can cry with her mom. No, the answer is no. Well, she might do this, she might do that. I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. Her heart’s going to get connected, it’s going to go in very bad places, she’s going to drift away from God, her theology will change because she will have to change her view of God to fit her lifestyle, and you will lose your daughter.
Confront it. Love her. Care for her. Tell her she matters more. And the same with your sons. They don’t just drift out of that. “Well, maybe we’ll save them.”
Your son or daughter is not a missionary servant for the gospel to recruit people through unhealthy relationships, to come to Christ. For every one of those, there are twenty of them where they don’t come around your direction, your son or daughter goes their direction.
So pray with them, and for them, regularly. Use meals, and bedtime, and informal times in the car. Ensure biblical instruction occurs at home. These are just objectives. It doesn’t mean you do it all.
You team up together and but it’s my job, as the dad, if my kids are not getting biblical instruction, that’s my deal. It doesn’t mean I’m going to do it but I’m going to do part of it, my wife’s going to do part of it, I’m thankful for the church and what they do.
But Jesus is not going to show up and say, “Chip, how did the church do at instructing your children, biblically, or even the Christian school?”
I have this strange idea that He’s thinking I’m the dad. He made me responsible for my son and my daughter, not the school.
And so, I need to make sure, are they getting it and what’s going on? And, by the way, this last one here is, make experiencing God and loving each other the aim. Not morality. Please, if, guys, if you’re hearing, “Oh my gosh. I’ve got to become this Bible-aholic and, ‘Okay, everybody sit around the table and I’m going to be the dad and boring, boring, boring! Bible, Bible, Bible! Strict, strict, strict! Jerk, jerk, jerk.’”
They don’t need that. I’ve seen that. They don’t need that. They need life, and love, and joy, and experience, and seeing that it makes a difference in your life.
My daughter and I would go to church. Well, I believe families go to church together. Personal conviction. Junior high, high school. My kids came home from college. We all would hang together. Saturday night go to church. Usually go out to dinner. Talk, laugh, I’d get criticized. They liked to do that after my messages – in a good way.
And then Sunday mornings, they all went to different classes and most of my kids served. They served. That’s where you get it. What do I get out of serving? I get more of God.
You can sit and soak but you experience God when you serve. And so they would all serve and then on Sunday mornings, my daughter and I would go out to breakfast. And there’s a little bagel place, had really good coffee.
And I would take my notes and I usually had two or three people give me feedback on Saturday night and what I needed to change and so, I would be changing my notes.
And I remember one Sunday morning I said, “Hey, Annie, what do you think would make my sermon better?” “Oh, Dad, it was really long and the beginning was pretty boring.”
Okay. Uh. And then I took my notes and I gave them to her and actually she would draw pictures on her notes and make a few…
I said, “What about under here?” “Dad, it’s Abercrombie and Finch. No, no, I don’t know what you said but you really blew it and everyone who was a teenager knew you had no idea what you were talking about.” Okay.
And from that time on, every Sunday morning, we had fun, we ate together, and then, pretty soon, she would bring her Bible and read and I would review my message.
And then we put Cool and the Gang on. The cassette is still in my car. For ten years. “Celebrate good times, uh huh! Boo, doo, doo, doot, doot.” And she would sing one part, I’d sing the other. And we’d be like this in the car driving to church singing out loud with Cool and the Gang.
You know what my daughter, I wanted her to experience God not some stuffy, religious home. I want her to know that she mattered, her opinions matter, we’re in the Bible together, we’re going to have an awesome life, we’re going to have tons of fun.
And I will tell you, guys, it’s because you invest and structure in, and you’ll never be sorry, “Oh, I wish I would have worked more. Oh, I wish I would have made just a little bit more money. Oh, I wish she just had a nicer prom dress.” I will tell you what, what she wants is your heart. She wants your time.
And so, these core values are dependency, evidenced by prayer and fasting and you want to teach faith in God and His Word. See, it’s not the activities. These are the values.
Service and the outreach orientation where you go on a missions trip together. You go out in the neighborhood together or you go to the inner-city together. Or you do a Faith Promise thing as a family.
And then a progressive growth in holiness. Let me just say something, guys. This is men with kids. Alright?
This is where the man, don’t turn the page. But ladies, turn the page, doesn’t matter, I’m talking to the guys. If there’s one area that is so hard to do, that you need to just, like, I call it men with chests. What comes into your home on the video, what movies you get from Netflix or you rent, what video games they play, what friends they have, as a man or woman or teenager thinks in his heart, so they will become.
And the Scripture says, “Whatever is true, whatever is lovely, whatever is right, whatever is honorable, if it’s anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
And David would pray, “I will put no vile thing before my eyes.” Men, if we don’t do it, it won’t get done. There are certain things that you say, “We don’t do in our house. That movie at that level, with that violence, with that sex, we don’t.” “All my friends can!” “I’m not one of your friends. I’m your dad.”
And the other area is not just – there are some friends you say, I will tell you, you show me your kids’ friends, I’ll show you your kids’ future. Period. You show me what they watch. They watch certain movies, and spend all their times with their thumbs killing people for hours on end, I will tell you what you’re going to reap. You’re going to reap exactly what you’re sowing.
And if, dads, and this gets sensitive, when your girls are preteen and they’re teenagers and the styles go this direction and you, as a man, and it’s very uncomfortable and sometimes your wife is almost as naïve, sorry ladies.
And you watch your daughter ready to walk out and she has these pants that come down to about here. And a midriff that comes all like this. And she’s got her little push-up bra and it’s cut down to about here.
She looks like this and she’s ready to walk out. And she’s just trying to be in style, and look cute, and cool. And you’re thinking to yourself, “You know what? She’s sending the message.” You know what young men look at. And you know exactly what that message is. And it’s the farthest thing from that thirteen or fourteen year old girl’s mind.
Some man with a chest needs to say, “Honey, I do not know where you got that outfit, go change, let’s talk. I want to have a heart to heart about how boy’s minds work, what they think, and what you’re communicating, and why that’s not acceptable here.”
And you know who needs to do that? Dad. With the support of mom. You need to help your daughters be modest. Attractive, stylish, yes. And a lot of times, the reason they dress like that is they’re getting a lot more attention out there from young boys than from the man in the house that needs to, non-sexually, touch them and care for them and tell them they’re beautiful.
Now you can turn the page.
Husbands hold the primary responsibility for relational health, the welfare of their families. That means that you’re the coach. Just recently, these sports teams? Things go down.
There’s a new head to the franchise, right? Player personnel, the draft, the money, season tickets, we got to get luxury boxes. There’s someone that’s in charge. You’re the head of the franchise.
And you come into a failing franchise, and you own it, and you realize you’ve got to manage this thing. You, men, are the head of the franchise of your home.
And the franchise, in my house, I’m the head of the Ingram Franchise. I need to manage that. I need to, and so what my role is, I’m the GM or the coach.
I’m to manage the household in a manner that produces love, obedience, and respect toward God and one another. That’s my job. I’ve got to manage this thing.
Where people speak the truth in love, where they care for one another, where there’s respect. And so, the practical out-workings, the marriage covenant is verbalized and celebrated.
I have one friend who actually got his kids, when they were old enough to understand and all their friends were getting divorced. He got a big, thick dictionary, had his kids get around the table, and took one of those Sharpie knives, and they opened to the word “divorce,” read what it was, and took it and cut it out of the dictionary. And said, “In our home, we want you to know, that word’s not in the dictionary and it won’t be in our vocabulary.”
Second thing is your kids, take this in the right way, they need to see you smooch more. They need to feel like, hey, my kids, they, when they’re young, “Ew, Dad.” It embarrasses them. I got news for you, I still think Mom’s hot! And it doesn’t end after the honeymoon. And every area of our life is alive and moving.
And I want my kids, when they see and feel that, you know what they get? They get this idea that, “I think it’s secure here. Because they seem to really like to be with each other.”
Time is scheduled to develop marriage and family relationships. And this is where you just get out your iPad, get out whatever you use, get your mobile device. Okay, the date for my wife’s going to be like this, my time with my kids is like this. Three times a week I’m going to do a meal with them. Saturday mornings, I’m going to do this.
You just plan it in, men. You’re a Ranger, you’re a Navy Seal, guess what – there’s certain training you’ve got to do. Certain, you’ve got to run certain laps, you’ve got to lift certain times, there are certain things you’ve got to get in your schedule, if you’re going to climb that mountain and that’s one of them.
The structure and boundaries are provided to ensure family relationships take priority over outside demands.
And you’ve just got to structure. You can’t slide into the multiple youth sports or slide into work, work, work. You just structure life to say, “Our relationships, our family is more important than ballet, piano, and three youth sports all in one season.” “Oh, but Dad, but Dad.”
And you know what? Guys, here’s what you’ve got to get. You’re the bad guy. Okay? Be the bad guy. Be the bad cop that everyone loves five or ten years later.
This idea that, “Oh, I don’t want conflict.” What you don’t want is heartache and regret. Conflict is normal. And someone steps up and says, “We’re going to do this, we’re not going to do that. You can play one sport and after that we’re going to take a break. And by the way, just because all your friends have decided lacrosse, along with soccer, along with basketball, along with…”
My lands, some of your garages have thousands of dollars of youth equipment. And you’ve been eating in drive-thrus, thinking you’re going to deprive your kids of four or five nights out of the week you’re not zooming all around to fulfill their, what?
Sit around a table, go in the back yard, love them, play a youth sport, balance your life, and if it fits in with your agenda, and your family, and your goals, great. And if it doesn’t? They’ll get over it. And they’ll love you later. Boy, you guys are looking at me very seriously.
Communication is built into the fabric and rhythm of the family schedule. And then, finally, consequences are exercised fairly, firmly, lovingly, among all family members.
And, see, the heart of this is these core values. It means that there’s acceptance, and affirmation, and accountability. And here’s really what I’m saying, guys. You play with them. You make time for your wife. You be a man of God. You pray. You affirm.
But you say, “This is the kind of man I’m going to be. I’m going to take the assignment from Moses, I’m going to take the assignment and I’m going to say, ‘I may make less money and I’ll have a great marriage. My kids may be disappointed now but we’ll have a tight family.’”
Your daughters, your sons, your future marriage, or your future mate. And I’d like to say, ladies, you are so amazing and we’ll talk about some help for you next week. Every organization rises and falls with leadership.
The greatest need in the Church, the greatest need in the family, and the greatest need in America is for men to be men. Leaders and lovers. And for them to assume the financial responsibility, the spiritual development, and the relational welfare. And it’s in you.
Do I understand you don’t know how to do it? I didn’t either. And I’m still on the journey. You get these tools and you realize you can’t do it alone. And so, you say, “Man, did you hear that guy?” “Yeah, I think Ingram’s on drugs.” “Yeah, I know. But I think he’s right.” “Do you want to do this?” “Yeah.” “Me too.” “Man, I’m afraid to do this. If I fail, then I’m even afraid to, I don’t want to even tell my wife I’m going to do this because she’ll start getting her hopes up. I’ve tried this a couple other times.”
Right? And, ladies, what you need to do is just say, “You know what? Give it a whirl. I’m behind you. I’m not going to criticize you.”
Can you imagine what would happen if the men in this room said, “This is my God-given assignment and I’m going to have to get in shape, I’ll have to get focused, I’ve got to get some other guys to watch my back but I’ll tell you what. I’m going to have a great marriage, and I’m going to be a great dad, and I’m going to be a great Christian.
“And I don’t know what I’m doing but I think God will honor those desires and I will pay whatever price, and I will fall, and I’ll get back up, and I’ll fall and I’ll get back up. And I believe that God’s looking for a few good men like me.”