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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
Second priority of a woman is a wife’s second priority is to create an environment in the home, here’s the key, that nurtures and develops her children to fulfill God’s will for their lives. 1 Timothy 5:14.
The role of a woman is to manage and rule, to be the chief operating officer, to set direction, to develop systems so love can grow to meet the needs of her family. And the role is, are you ready for this? The mother. Somehow, somehow this esteemed, God-given, amazing, unique role that you’re designed and only you can do has been dismissed as though if all you are is a mother, like, your life is wasted or you’re not important. And God would say just the opposite is true.
The mother is the key teacher, the counselor, the consoler, and the refuge for her children and her family.
There’s a single mom boom in Hollywood. There’s something inside these women that say, “Being a mother matters.” They bought the whole deal and now they’re either in their late thirties or mid-forties and realizing there’s something about the connection and this role and I can tell them why. Because God put it in you. Does it mean that every woman needs to become a mother? No. But, in likelihood, a great majority will be. And God says this is a high and holy calling.
Practical outworking is model dependency on Christ. Your children will not end up doing what you tell them. They’re not even doing that now, right? They will end up being like you. You might jot down Luke 6:40. Jesus said, “When a student is fully trained, he or she will be just like their teacher.” How you think, how you drive, how you respond in a crisis, your love for God, how you treat your husband. Your kids, more really is caught than taught.
That’s why the greatest thing you can ever do, when you just live out the life, the imprint. It’s not what you say. I had one of my sons go through a season, about three and a half years of real rebellion. It was horrendous and it was painful. And he came full circle and now he writes music for a living about God, which is a great answer to prayer. But I remember later when he came full circle, I remember asking him, I said, “Jason, what was it?” I’m thinking maybe one of my really great sermons did the trick.
He said, “Dad, Jesus is so real to Mom and her life is so powerful and when I rebelled, I didn’t see you get uptight and worried about what people in the church would think. I saw tears come down your face that I didn’t embrace the Jesus that you love.” You know what he was really saying? At the end of the day, our kids emulate what really matters to us.
Second, pray for your children, and let me just give you this word, “fervently.” Fervently. The things that mean the most with your kids, ladies, you have very little control of. When they’re outside the home, the decisions they make, the values, eventually, that they pick up, the priorities that they’re going to have.
You have so little control. You do the best you can and you teach them and they’re out in the car this night with this person, and there’s school over here, and they’re doing something over here.
And someone says, “Oh, it’s not that bad. Just take a drag on this.” All the kind of things that you have no control over but God does. And you talk to your heavenly Father and just pray very specifically.
And not just for external things like you hope they do good in school and this. Pray God will give them a heart for Him. Pray God would give them a thirst for righteousness. Pray God would cause them to love holiness. Pray God will give them wisdom in choosing the right friends. Pray God will help them resist temptation. Ask God to work in your kids’ lives and He will.
Third practical outworking is create structures and scheduled times that make family life a priority. You’re the chief operating officer of the home. Speed kills relationships. That which is hoped for but not scheduled rarely happens.
There are times where, as a mom, you just lay down the law. “We’re going to eat at this time. Everybody, do you understand? That includes you, dear. Turn off the computer, turn off the ballgame, we will, look, you can watch ESPN. All the highlights will be on here later anyway.”
Everyone’s going to be together. Mealtimes, bedtimes, vacations. You develop a structure and a system where love can grow. And enforce it. You’re the glue. And we will all listen to you.
Finally, teach your kids how to live. The most powerful teacher, all the research, the most powerful teacher in any person’s life is the mom. The mother will have the deepest connection.
Let’s face it, you have known the child longer than anyone on the planet, right? Like, I didn’t really get involved in the whole parenting deal until at least nine months after we got going. Is that correct or not?
And the first four or five months, as a dad, you’re just lame. It’s true. All you do, “Well, can I change him? Uh, okay.”
There is a bonding that occurs, first inside the mother and then about the first five, six months, until they can recognize what’s going on. We do all the stuff. We throw them up and stuff like that when they’re babies.
But the fact of the matter, there is a bond and a connection and I watched my wife and other women teach their kids. But sometimes you just go through life and there are demands and there are pulls and there are carpools and there’s work.
And so, let me give you some things that I’ve seen and you don’t have to write all these down. But if one really, these are things that I think you should teach your kids or consider teaching them.
Teach them to read. It’s interesting, before my kids got to school, my wife taught all my kids to read and they all became readers.
Teach them to pray. Teach them to cook. Even when they’re small. Both sexes. Teach them to listen. Teach them to celebrate. There ought to be, we live in this fast paced, make a difference, go, go, go, perform, perform. Teach them to celebrate.
Teach them to be generous from early on. Teach them to be generous. Teach them a craft. Teach them how to make a talk. Introduction, transition, two or three main points. Teach them how to communicate verbally.
Teach them how to resolve conflict. Whether apologizing or attacking the issue instead of the person. Teach them to write a paper. Teach them to play an instrument. Teach them to play a sport. Teach them how to relax and not feel guilty.
You are the teacher. What, and, this isn’t like this to-do list for next week. But what if you said, in the next two to five years, for the next two or three months, I think I’ll work on teaching them to read.
Or, I played the flute or the guitar. I haven’t had that out in ten years. And I got a five-year-old that seems to have a little interest in music. I just think I’ll teach them the notes. And for the next four or five months, we’ll just do that. Maybe ten or fifteen minutes every other day.
And, ladies, when you get some intentionality about this role and you see your kid light up? When are we going to stop and say we ought to decide what matters in our home. We are going to take responsibility for how our kids turn out. Not the school, not the Sunday school, not somebody else.
We are going to be what our kids need and we’re going to give them the direction that they need to learn, both spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
I remember teaching my kids, you take it for granted. When my older boys were in sixth grade ready to go into junior high, I just looked one day and I just realized, no one’s taken an interest in their physical development.
One could do, like, three push-ups and one could do one. And I thought, I used to be a coach. Where have you been, Ingram? And I remember we started getting up in the morning and you know what? We just started doing some push-ups and sit-ups.
Three months later, they wanted to start on some weights. A year later, they had a little weight thing that they did. And I watched by the time they went into junior high, instead of going in as these weak guys that people make fun of, all of a sudden, they had some confidence.
Well, that’s, it’s true. What does your daughter need? What does your son need? How do you teach them?
And then finally, make time. The best things in life are rarely on your official schedule. Have you ever noticed that? The teachable moment, the epiphany, the time when nothing’s planned and you just laid across the bed for a few minutes and all of a sudden your daughter opens up and talks about this huge fear that she has or this relationship that she’s thinking about or this temptation she had.
Or all of a sudden you see harried, stressed out, overwhelmed, overworked mothers with no margin miss the first step of their kids. Miss when the lights come on, possibly when they come to Christ. Miss those special conversations and those times. And you know what? You have to just be available. You have to create a world where we aren’t always going somewhere, we’re not always accomplishing something, and there isn’t always some technology blaring.
Boredom is a gift that you give your kids that is the birthing place of spontaneity and creativity. And some of the greatest things you’ll ever experience is when you’re just hanging out. And as you’re hanging out, some pretty exciting things happen.
The third thing you’re called to do is, beyond the role of a champion and a mother, it’s the role of a mentor. A woman’s third priority is to train younger women in the art of becoming a godly wife and mother. Older women are commanded to impart wisdom and provide direction for the next generation. You are a spiritual guide to provide practical insight and coaching in their personal life, their development. See, we used to have a world where grandmothers and extended families live close to one another and one generation would pass on everything from recipes, to wisdom, to how to resolve conflict, to how to get along. And we don’t live in that world anymore. Some of us have family across the nation, some have family across the globe. Now, we live with such speed and performance and your young daughter? What’s her view of a woman?
She wasn’t made to be strong enough. That’s not weakness. It takes both. And she needs a man that will love her for her and put his arm around her and be sensitive, and be caring, and lead, and raise a child and say, “You were made to put the imprint of your gifts and qualities into the life of this child and we’re going to grow closer and closer together and I can’t do it without you and you can’t do it without me. And you know something? I love you through thick and thin. I love you ‘til death do us part. ”That’s what she needs. And that would fill her heart.
And we got all, we got women in this room from teenagers to twenties to thirties to forties to fifties that our culture has so given us that picture and the people that have hit the very top of what we’re supposed to be fulfilled by are now trying to figure out how to be moms and find mentors and be champions without a man. And God would say, “I’ve got a better plan.” This raises some very important questions to ponder. One is, should a woman work outside the home? When, why, or why not? And talk with a mentor, kick some stuff around, but here’s what I can tell you.
If priority is number one, in your marriage, as a champion and priority number two, all those things are taken care of, as a mother, then you just figure out when and how and why to work. It will depend on the stage of life, the stage of your kids, or if you have kids, your energy, your giftedness, your personality, and your capacity. It’s going to be really, really different. But here’s what I will tell you, all the research is very, very clear.
That first, about, six years to seven, eighty percent of your child’s personality will be formed and about seventy to eighty percent of the bonding that occurs and the imprints as that child is soaking up like wet cement what matters, what’s values, what are my morals, am I secure, what is life all about? You just have to decide how much a second job, a second car, owning a home is worth compared to outsourcing your most precious possession. And hoping that someway, somewhere there’s a really nice person in a daycare that will love your child the way that only you can. So, you’ve got to just ask that question. Because what happens is, we mortgage and think, “I have to work.” Well. And, you know what? By the way, this raises big issues, doesn’t it?
I remember teaching something similar to this a number of years ago and so, Art was a fairly young Christian. About six or eight months old in the Lord. And I taught through this. And he said, “Could I talk to you?” I said, “Well, sure.”
He says, “We can’t live here on one income and my wife be with our kids. And we got two small kids. One is a brand, new baby and one’s about two years old.” I said, “So, what are you going to do?” He said, “We’re going to move.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because we can’t live on one income and what I know is it may be nice to live here but twenty years from now, we will have wished we spent our energy and our time and our money on what only we could do, with the people that only we could influence.
I said, “Art, have a good trip. I hope you…” I remember two or three years later getting a letter from him. “Chip, it’s the greatest decision we ever made. Maybe in times later, our kids get a little older, we can move back.”
But we have these invisible things like we have to have these kind of cars, we have to own a home. Who says you have to own a home? Who says you have to own a home?
Oh, well, we have to because we need to build up equity. For what? Well, for later. Well, what’s for later? Well, so, good things can happen later. Well, like what good things? Oh, good things like we can have financial security and our kids who don’t know us, and don’t want to be around us, and don’t hang out with us, can come to our really nice house that they…Boy. Hold on. Wait a second.
And I will tell you, God will honor this. And it’s a pretty short window but it might be hard. I was full time in seminary and working full time and I had two kids. And then, somehow, a third one came along the way. And I made a thousand dollars a month.
And I just said, “My wife’s going to stay home with my kids.” So, I got up at four in the morning, and I did school work, and I went to school, and I worked, had dinner.
And, you know what? It was a short season. But for about four years, I put in about fifteen to seventeen hour days. It was crazy. And I slept about four or five hours and then I’d make it up a little bit on the weekend. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
We lived in government subsidized housing, we had one car without air conditioning in Texas, our dates were we got to, we had a little stroller and we lived near Dunkin’ Donuts. And we could afford two cups of coffee, because they gave refills back then. And we bought one donut and split it.
And I don’t look back on that like, “Oh, the sacrifice.” Those are neat stories now. We just decided we’d rather be poor with money and rich in family. But everybody makes decisions. So, you decide what matters most. See, this is a disturbing series. It challenges some of our premises. Some of your lives are going so fast at such a speed and you’re pulled in so many directions.
Some of you men need to say, “Honey, would you, I don’t know how you’re feeling. Would you like to stay home?” Maybe she’ll say no. But what would happen if a man said, “Would you like some margin in your life? I don’t know what the implications are but would you like to either go part time or would you like to stay home during this window of time?”
Now, you understand, whoa. And we’re going to be on a journey because what we’re going to say is, your role as champion, mother, and mentor will pay a lot more dividends than the extra money that we can bring in.
I saw one study and it may be different, especially for women that have very high powered jobs, so, I don’t want to exaggerate. But I saw one study that after you pay for the second set of clothes, the amount of time that you eat out, the nice second car, and all the issues that come with the second job, the average couple’s income increases by only about fifteen percent by having both work.
So, it’s just a life of trade-offs. Am I saying it’s wrong to work? No. I’m just saying that Proverbs 31, it commends a woman for working. It’s different for different people in different seasons – the ages of your kids, your personality, your energy, your capacity, you need to figure it out. All I want to say is, God makes it clear what your top three priorities are.
Single moms, wow, this is where the Church, we’ve got to step in and just keep helping. And, ladies, you need to hear this and say, “The grace of God will cover what I don’t have. I have to work. And so I need to be with some other women to get support, and I need to get my kids around some really positive environments, to make up some things.” And God will give you grace.
And then, I made a little list. Just, I’ve kind of gone to meddling so I might as well just go for it. It says, “What husbands can do to lighten the home front.” I saw a list, as I was studying this week, of about thirty things that happen in a home. Thirty things that happen. And it’s, like, an organizational, unbelievable number of things. And I looked at that list and I realized, in most homes, the women do about twenty-eight of the thirty. Wash, clean, plan, groceries, cook, finances. It listed, like, every possible thing that has to happen. Dress, wake up kids, think ahead.
And so, I thought, how could a husband, men, here’s a list of things that we might do to help your wife step in and support you.
One, list all the jobs that happen in a home and just make a list of everything that happens in the home and say, “Who owns these?” And it’s just a little exercise that you might say, “Wow.” Might ask where could you help with homework? Where you could you help with housework? We live in a whole different day. I wash dishes, I do some vacuuming, I clean up after my, you know? Finances. How could you make sure she has some time with some other women? I’ll take the kids.
See, it’s, guys, us stepping in and saying, “Where and how can we step in at home and take the load of some of these responsibilities to say, ‘I’m in this with you and I want to help you.’”