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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
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.”