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Monday, August 30, 2010
In an effort to encourage a bit more interaction here on Journey to Surrender, I decided to form a poll question around today’s post.

The poll and the discussion I’d like to spur is about the challenges you face as a husband to stand in your place of authority as a Christ-like loving leader of your wife and family.

Take a minute to answer the poll question. Note that multiple answers permitted in this poll.



Email subscribers and RSS Readers come over to the blog or click this direct link to the survey.

Kathleen started a discussion over at from Project M by asking what we thought about the phrase, “marriage is hard.”  It got me thinking about the whole challenge/reward equation of marriage. My take is that you get out of it no more than you are willing to put into it. If you want a great marriage, then you should work at it. And the same applies to your role as leader of your family. If you want to do a good job leading your wife and family, then you will need to work to overcome the challenges that you face in doing so.

After you answer the poll question, please leave a comment about why you picked the answer you did and also. But more importantly, leave a comment about what you can do to rise to the challenge.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I thought it might be useful, as a follow up to my last post, to write a letter to the pretend wife of the pretend husband who is going through a tough time and feels unable to be the kind of leader he desires to be. If you missed part one of this discussion, "Letter to a Weary Husband," you might want to go back and read it now.

If you are the wife of a husband who honestly agrees to his role as leader of your home, but is going through a season that seems to have him distracted from his duties and unable to be the strong leader, how can you best help him?

Dear Wife of Weary,

Thanks for your email asking how to best help your struggling husband. First of all, be thankful that he is at least agrees with the biblical concept of him being the spiritual, physical and relational covering for you and your kids. From my experience, that is more than half the battle. It’s much easier to help him do something he wants to and knows he should do than it is to convince him that he should do it in the first place.

Since I don’t know the details of what he is struggling against or the particulars of his circumstances, I can’t address those specifically. But what I can do is tell you the kinds of things most men need in a similar situation. These are all things my own wife has done for me that have helped me through hard times. Of course, every man is different, so truthfully, he is the best one to tell you what he needs. But in case he is unwilling or unable to do so, consider these general pointers.
  • Believe in him - He needs to hear that you believe in him and that no matter what he is up against you have faith in him to conquer it.
  • Encourage him - He wants to know that you are on his side, that you are there for him, and that you want to help him. Tell him so, and ask him what you can do for him.
  • Watch your approach - Because he probably already is feeling accused by the circumstances, understand that he is probably pretty vulnerable to mis-interpreting what you say as further accusation, even though I know that isn’t your intent. Try not to sound like you are trying to “fix” him or tell him what he needs to do, but let him know you simply want to stand with him. Especially now, he needs to feel your respect.
  • Respond calmly - I know this one is hard, but to the extent possible try not to respond to his emotions or try to talk him out of them. I’m not saying let him be mean or abusive toward you, but just try to add stability to the situation by remaining calm and unemotional yourself. You do have the power to help diffuse his negative emotions.
  • Get Physical – This is another really hard one, especially if he is withdrawn or angry, but try to reach out to him with physical intimacy. Sit close to him. Hold hands. Snuggle up to him in bed. Kiss him. Make love to him. I know I’m asking a lot, but if you withhold physical intimacy until he “get’s better” he will take it as rejection and judgment.
  • Pray - Pray for him and let him know that you are doing so. Offer to pray with him. This is a time when he might not take the initiative to lead you in prayer.
Maybe you think it isn’t fair of me to ask all this of you when he clearly isn’t holding up his end of the bargain in terms of your marriage roles. But marriage really isn’t about fair, it’s about doing for the other when he/she is unable to do for his/her self. It’s about grace and love in the face of difficulty. 

He needs you even more when he is struggling than when he’s got it all together, and if he knows you have come along beside him in this, it will propel him forward, and in turn propel your marriage forward.

I’ll be praying for the hand of God to be on you, your husband and your marriage.

Blessings,
Scott

If you were the wife of a struggling husband, how would you respond to my suggestions? If you are a struggling husband, is there anything you’d add to the list above? Please chime in with your thoughts.


Monday, August 23, 2010
What do you do when life hits you in the face, causing you to feel unable or unwilling to be the kind of leader in your home that you know you should be? When disappointments and difficulties overwhelm your desire to stand strong in your authority, how do you get back on your feet again? I could pretend that this never happens to me, but that would be a lie. As a matter of fact, I’ve been struggling through such a season in recent weeks, and in the hopes of helping other guys who might find themselves in similar situations, I decided to address this very real issue head on.

In preparing this post, I decided to pretend to be that guy – that husband who just feels too beat up to stand up and lead (OK not so much pretend). I supposed that I stumbled across my blog via a Google search about husbands and leadership, which isn’t a stretch since I seem to get a lot of hits from similar searches. After roaming through the blog and not finding anything that directly addressed my dilemma, I supposed that I wrote the blog’s author with a direct question something like this.
Hi Scott,

I came across your blog today and I found some good stuff here. I agree with much of what you write about the roles of husbands and wives, but I have a question that I didn’t see addressed anywhere.

What do I do when I just feel like I can’t lead right now, when difficult circumstances and bitter disappointments cause me to be withdrawn into myself, moody, and even angry? I know I’m supposed to be this good, faithful, strong leader, but right now I just don’t have it in me. Please help me get back on track.

Weary Husband

So how would I reply to someone like Weary Husband, who, like me, finds himself struggling with the burden of leadership in the face of difficult circumstances? I tried to step back and be objective, forgetting for a moment that it was actually I who wrote the inquiry. (Not to worry I’m not going schizophrenic.) Here is what I think I would say.

Hi Weary Husband,

Thanks for your email. I’m sorry to hear things are so tough for you right now. I’ve had those kinds of seasons of struggle myself, so I definitely identify with you.

Let me start by saying I don’t just want to quote platitudes to you or tell you what you “should” be doing. When you already feel beat up, you don’t need more legalistic junk piled on top of it. So receive what I say as encouragement. I simply want to hand you a set of tools to help you out with what you are trying to do. Which ones you use and what you do with them are totally up to you.

First of all, it’s important to remember that authority over your family is not something you earn – a husband’s headship is a God-ordained biblical principle. In times of stress I sometimes forget that whether I’m leading well, poorly, or not at all my role doesn’t change. So when you don’t feel up to the task, I might suggest you turn to the One who gave you the assignment in the first place. Maybe you found the post from a while back where Matt from the band Sanctus Real prayed, “God I need you to lead me so I can lead them. I can’t do this on my own.” That’s a good prayer. Sometimes just the acknowledgement that we need help can help lift the weight off.

Next, remember that your leadership comes out of the attitude of your heart. I know your heart probably feels bruised by your circumstances, so it can be hard to keep your mind in the game, to keep your emotions in check and to maintain the right priorities. Sometimes we just need to feed our souls with a few basic truths about what constitutes godly leadership toward your wife and family.
  • Be real – You probably came across the phrase I like to use about getting real with each other. I call it being “naked without shame.” Us guys don’t always like to admit our problems – we are afraid of looking weak or something. But your wife loves you and knowing what is going on with you helps her feel connected to you, even in your struggle. And don’t make the mistake I often do of thinking that I don’t need to tell her again because I told her last week and nothing has really changed. Keep her constantly in the loop of what you are dealing with.
  • Love your wife unconditionally – that means regardless of your own condition too. Remember that the Bible defines your headship role in terms of love. That doesn’t mean you have to be some kind of fake Mr. Romantic. Just remind her that your struggles don’t change how you really feel about her, though it may sometimes affect your ability to express it like you normally would. She needs reassurance of your love.
  • You don’t have to have all the answers – I know I sometimes make the mistake of thinking leadership means having all the answers to everything. It doesn’t. The authority God has given you doesn’t come with some kind gift of omniscience. But he has given you a loving wife, good friends, and godly pastors to help you figure it out. Asking for help doesn’t make you are a failure.
  • Tell her what you need – It’s true that Jesus is our role model for leadership and that in him we find the heart of a servant and not an overbearing dictator. But that doesn’t translate into never asking for what you need from your wife. I forget that sometimes. She usually wants to help carry your burden, but she may not know what she can do to help. Tell her, in loving terms, how she can help you. Maybe you don’t’ know exactly, but be as specific as possible.

I hope some of this was helpful to you. I’ll also point you to a few other posts that may be of use here  and here .

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’ll be praying for the hand of God to be on you and your marriage as you work through this difficult season.

In Christ,
Scott


What do you do when you feel like you aren’t able to stand strong in your place of authority in your home? Do you have any advice for Weary Husband?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010
I like a challenge, but I found this one harder than most. I was tagged by Paul on his “The Generous Husband” blog with the challenge to describe my “blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words.”

If you read here much you know that brevity is not my long suit. My recent “Balance vs. Compromise” post weighed in at a dizzying 1500 words. And yet here I am faced with summarizing in a meager ten words this thing I spend hours doing every week. Exactly ten words. Impossible.

Or so I thought. But the more I considered it, the more I realized the value of this kind of challenge. Trying to boil it all down to a ten word statement has forced me to find the essence of it all. I started out pursuing all kinds of flowery, inspiring, eloquent statements, but they all ended up sounding shallow and trite.

So, casting aside all that, here is what I landed on:

Marriage was God’s idea. Do it how he designed it.

It’s not pretty, but I think it accurately hits at the heart of my blog. Do you agree?


And I am hereby tagging Kathleen of Project M and Stu of The Marry Blogger to create their own ten-word summaries. Trust me, it’s harder than it looks. Good luck!



Monday, August 16, 2010
Bonus! Today is both Man Up Monday and a RRR book review. If you missed my review of “For Women Only” you can click back now and check it out.

As a follow up to the hugely successful book “For Women Only,” came the logical counterpart, “For Men Only,” published two years later, in April 2006.

Much of what I wrote in my previous post about “For Women Only” applies similarly to the men’s version. For example, this book’s insightful conclusions are also based on a scientifically conducted survey and hundreds of in-person interviews, and there are plenty of quotes from these interviews. Shaunti’s husband Jeff is actually the principle writer for this book, though they are both credited as authors.

Knowing that husbands may not actually read the instructions provided, they supply a separate summary “Quick Start Guide.” Think of it as kind of a pocket map to the female mind. But trust me, you’ll want to actually read the book, which is built around the notion that we husbands need to dig beyond our surface level understanding of our wives. In doing so, the book challenges many of our assumptions by looking into the underlying reasons our wives think and act the way they do.

Here is a quick summary of the books key points:
  1. Wives have a need for continual reassurance of your love. Their insecurities are not founded in logic but emotion, and we often unwittingly aggravate these feelings by actions such as withdrawal and silence, even if not ill-intentioned. She needs constant reassurance, even in times of conflict.
  2. Feeling loved requires being pursued and romanced. Their need to feel pursued doesn’t stop after engagement and marriage. This need is analogous to a man’s need to feel desired by his wife.
  3. Women are mental multitaskers. Using the analogy of a computer screen, they have many windows open and running at the same time, with unwanted pop-ups (driven by negative experiences or emotions) happening frequently. Time and talking are usually required to close the windows.
  4. Women place a much higher value on emotional security than financial security. That’s why she can see your job as a threat rather than as a source of security. Her most important currency is love, affection and intimacy – way above money.
  5. She wants you to listen, not fix it, especially if it an emotional problem. She wants to focus on her feelings, not the problem, and don’t try to talk her out of her feelings.
  6. Just because wives aren’t wired for the same level of sexual desire as men doesn’t mean they don’t want to want sex. It does mean, however, that she won’t be as likely to initiate sex and will be more easily distracted away from sex and sexual thoughts. Paving the way for more sex means giving her the time, attention and affection she needs, (without the expectation of a sexual payoff).
  7. She longs to know you find her attractive. Every day, show your delight in her, in frequent and specific ways, and don’t let her blow off your compliments. Be vigilant and persistent.
  8. In the free-form response section of the survey, the one thing women most wanted their husbands to know: “You are my hero.”
Truthfully, I didn’t find this book quite as easy to digest as “For Women Only.” I suppose that’s natural for two reasons. First, as a guy, understanding a book about the way guys think wasn't a huge stretch. Second, women are inherently more complex creatures that us men (my opinion).

In conclusion, I definitely recommend the book “For Men Only.” Click for the Amazon link (no I don't get compensated). It provides some surprising insights into the inner workings of your wife’s mind. Buy it, but please don’t just read the Quick Start Guide and think you’ve got it. This is one instruction manual you’ll be glad you actually read.

If you’ve read the book or have a comment about any of the conclusions above, please comment below.



Saturday, August 14, 2010
I’ve been meaning for some time to start reviewing some of the many marriage books in my library. I’m going to start with two of my favorites. Today I’m going to review “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn. Monday, as is fitting for Man-up Monday, I’ll be reviewing “For Men Only.”

First published in July, 2004, this little book (and it is literally a little book, at about 5 x 8 inches and ~180 pages) is the one that started the whole series of similarly titled “For XYZ Only” books. Despite the titles, my wife and I actually read both these books together, and I would suggest you try it that way too. That gave us an opportunity to turn to one another and ask, as we did repeatedly, “Do you really think that?”

The objective of “For Women Only” is to give women insight into the inner workings of a man’s mind, with a primary target being to help married women understand their husbands. The conclusions she draws are spot on and are derived from the attributes common to men in her extensive professional survey of both Christian and non-Christian men. But because men’s minds are nowhere near universal, it’s very helpful to have the survey finding quoted directly in the book. Understanding the array of responses to the survey allows wives to see if their husbands are “normal” or if they are statistical outliers.

So what are the key findings of the book?
  1. Respect and honor means more to a husband than love and affection.
  2. Men try to appear to be in control, but inside they are often insecure and hide their feeling and fears of inadequacy and failure.
  3. Despite the prevalence of two earner families, men feel burdened and driven by the need to provide for their families. This goes hand in hand with the fears described  in number 2.
  4. The need for sex in men is as big a need as communication and relational connection in for women (97% of men rated sex as very or somewhat important). Lack of sex hurts husbands as much as the silent treatment hurts a woman. More than just wanting the physical act, he also wants to feel desired.
  5. We all know that men are visual, but did you realize that they keep a visual rolodex of images in their minds and that they cannot help but be visually compelled.
  6. Men also want romance and non-sexual intimacy, but many feel inadequate for the task. Importantly, as is different from women, for men romance without sex is incomplete.
  7. When a wife makes an effort to take care of herself and pays attention to her appearance it blesses her husband. He wants her to feel good about herself and confident in her appearance.
  8. In answer to the question of what one thing do you want your spouse to know, the number one response was, “I wish she knew how much I love her.”

Of course, there’s lots more excellent background, explanation and caveats in the book, but hopefully this gives you the flavor.

I highly recommend this book and the companion “For Men Only” that I’ll be reviewing on Monday. You can order it from Amazon by clicking on link. (As of this writing I don’t receive any compensation either from Amazon or the publishers of this book.)

Have you read it?  What did you think?  Do any of the conclusions above strike a chord with you or run in oppition to your thinking?
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
This is a therapeutic post for me. I don’t generally like to talk about stuff that isn’t already at least marginally in place in my own life. This particular topic, however, is something I find myself still wrestling with. So if you don’t mind, I’ll invite you to climb inside my head for a bit.

I had time with my extended family during our summer vacation. One night we decided to play the game “Family Memories.” It was a fun trip down memory lane, but I won’t bore you with the details, with the exception of something my dad said to me in the course of the game. Basically what he said was that he admired the way I had done such a good job of finding balance in my life, contrasting it somewhat with the way he had not done as well at it as he would have liked to. He didn’t elaborate, but I assumed he was referring to the balance I’ve always tried to strike between family, career, faith and my own self- interests.

On the surface his kind words were encouraging to me. It blessed me to know that my effort to live my life with integrity was recognized by my dad. But in the intervening weeks, as I find myself struggling for direction in my career, finances and ministry, I’ve come smack up against some serious doubts. Has what my dad described as a balanced life actually just been a life filled with compromises and capitulations that ultimately result in me falling short of my potential?

Maybe, as I sometime do, I am seeing the dark side of what should otherwise positive comment. (I can sometimes be a bit of a glass-half-empty kind of guy.) Maybe I am over-analyzing – I tend to do that too. Maybe the enemy is whispering deception in my ear. I don’t really know what has caused me to wander down the road of doubt, but here I am, regardless.

Two World Views

What I’ve come up against is two distinctive world views. World view one is the American Dream, where success is defined by what you have: a bigger house (preferably with an in-home theater system), a certain make of car (also requiring an advance audio/ video/navigation system), a vacation home, and a significant net worth. The other world view, that of the Kingdom of God, has a distinctly different definition of success. Greatness in the Kingdom has nothing to do with what you have, but rather it is based on who you are inside.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the struggle I’m having is the ongoing tug-of-war between these two world views. I’m no fool; I know that the choices I’ve made over the years to make my family and faith a priority over climbing the corporate ladder have probably cost me in the material sense. By no means have I always gotten it right, especially early on. And don’t get me wrong, I have a well-paying job and have held several positions of significant responsibility in my company. But had I opted to change jobs more, move my family more, travel more, and work more hours, I know I could be beyond where I am now both in pay and position.

Even in my ministry life it’s tempting to define success by numbers. My desire for significance, even when it comes to Kingdom work, can easily morph into an unholy ambition to be impressive in the world’s terms: to hold positions of greater influence and authority, to serve and touch larger numbers in larger churches and bigger venues in more countries, etc.

Balance vs. Compromise

There’s much more to my mid-life reflections of this nature, but it is time for me to wind this up. So where I am on this right now is trying to answer a key question: What’s the real difference between balance and compromise? To date my reflections have led me to what I think is the key difference: integrity.

Compromise involves doing something you don’t want to do or not doing something you do want to do. It generally involves giving in or giving up. It comes with the feeling that I lost and someone else won. It can foster resentment, indebtedness and scorekeeping. Corey at Simple Marriage wrote a great post entitled “Warning: Compromising in Your Marriage May Ruin It.”  He describes how the wrong kind of compromise can ultimately do damage to your marriage, and I agree with his perspective.

Now contrast that kind of compromise with balance. Where compromise comes from obligation, balance has to do with choice. Choosing to live my life in balance means I try to act with integrity toward my core values. For example, it means I give my work enough priority and attention to ensure that my family is fairly provided for and sometimes even spoiled a bit, because that is important to me. But I choose not to work 80 hours a week and such, not because I would feel guilty or because my wife would fuss at me, but because that would not be living with integrity toward the value I hold for my wife and family. It would go against who I am.

I say all this not to accuse those whose work requires extra hours, extra travel or frequent corporate moves. I don’t presume to judge the values of others. I just know that for me, living a balanced life, living in agreement with my priorities, means I have choices to make. Those choices have consequences in the natural. But I also believe they have even greater consequences in the eternal.

Would I turn down a beach condo if someone were to give us one? Don’t be silly, of course not. I’m not against having stuff. Would I like to be completely debt free and have a fully funded emergency fund, as Dave Ramsey says? Sure. But the stuff is not really the point. The point, at least for me, is to be completely content with a life of balance and integrity and to realize that sometimes, as the old adage goes, less really is more.

Productive vs. Fruitful

So now that I’ve teased you into thinking I was actually going to wrap this up a few paragraphs ago (don’t you hate when preachers do that), I want to touch on a closely related struggle. I know, I know, this should probably be a series instead of one post. My Communication degree daughter warned that people don’t read posts of more than 200 words. I don’t think I’ve done a post less than 500 yet. But now I’m digressing (even further).

I’m also grappling with the notion that whether in work or ministry or even at home, my life is not summed up by the totality of what I do. That is really hard for me. I’m very action oriented and accomplishment driven. I make lists for the satisfaction of checking things off them. But I’m trying to get to a place where the manner in which I do things gets much more attention than the doing of them. I also want to enjoy the doing and not just the being done. I want to have peace and joy, whether working under a stressful job situation (as I am now) or when everything is swimming along nicely, whether I get 100% or 10% of my to do list done.

Kathleen Quiring has a couple of related posts that I found helpful in this self- examination. One from her blog  challenged my thinking by posing the notion that being productive isn’t necessarily the same as being fruitful. I like that distinction – a lot. The other was a guest post she did on Engaged Marriage where she suggested, in response to a time budgeting post by Dustin, that we might be better off taking more time and getting less stuff done. I think she’s onto something when she encourages us to not just consider how much we do but “how meaningfully we do each thing.”

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Sorry, but I don’t know if there is really a point to this way-too-long and rambling post. I don’t even know why I felt I needed to post this for others to read. Maybe there are folks out there feeling the tug of the two world views, feeling like they haven’t amounted all they wanted to be, or who are trying to make sense out of their struggle for significance. Maybe some of this will be helpful.

If you wish to continue the dialogue post a comment or drop me an email (remember there’s a convenient email form on the left sidebar).

Now, thanks for visiting, but it’s time for everyone to climb back out of my head.

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PS Sorry, daughter, this one hit 1486 words. And you are right, no one probably read this far. But I feel better anyway. (Now I’ve crossed over 1500 words and am approaching novella territory). So I’ll simply say, “The End.”



Monday, August 9, 2010
Man Up Monday this week is a call for husbands to invest themselves fully in the spiritual vitality of their homes.

I mentioned in my post Vive La Difference that there were two areas where the reader survey responses differed most between the men and women respondents. Men had a much greater interest in understanding the opposite sex (no surprise, but that is a post topic for another time). Women, on the other hand, had a much greater interest in spiritual issues than men did.

Women’s Work?

I’m not sure why it is, but it seems that many husbands seem to think that spiritual matters are principally the domain of their wives. It may not be true in your case, but my observation, born out by the survey, is that men tend to take shrink back from the responsibility for the spiritual atmosphere and direction of their household.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, men, the leadership and authority you have in your home begin in the spiritual realm. I’m not trying to beat you up with that statement, but rather to simply make you aware of a biblical truth. If you haven’t been aware of this before, or if you’ve not acted on it, the question is what will you do about it now?

What is a Spiritual Leader?

What does it mean for a husband to be the spiritual leader of his home? It doesn’t mean you have to become a theologian. It doesn’t mean you have to get into some kind of spiritual competition with your wife. It doesn’t mean many of the things you might be afraid it means.

Spiritual leadership starts with making your own spiritual journey a priority. Don’t get trapped by the mindset that equates spirituality with a whole bunch of rules and requirements, as if jumping through enough holy hoops will somehow bring you close to God and empower you to lead your family. Let me encourage to forget the rules and focus on relationship. When relationship is right, the rules take care of themselves.

Start with Prayer

Although ultimately you are the one who must decide how you will lead your wife and home spiritually, let me give you a place to start. Prayer.

Prayer, which is nothing more than conversation with God, is the foundation of our relationship with him. And it’s a very low-overhead way to jumpstart the spiritual leadership of your home. Pray as you drive to work. Pray with your wife, at bed-time or in the morning or both. Pray with your kids. Pray as a family. Make prayer a priority, but don’t make a religion out of prayer itself. It’s fine to develop prayer habits and routines, but be aware that the most important thing is to keep it real. Make every prayer a genuine conversation. And you don’t need to worry if you feel you can’t pray flowery, beautiful, eloquent prayers. God is pleased by the genuine expression of your heart, not by the impressiveness of your words.

Keeping Prayer at the Center

If you are already walking in authority as spiritual leader of your home, let me congratulate you. But let me also encourage you to infuse your efforts with more prayer. I have to constantly remind myself that my walk with God is based on my relationship with him and not on what I do for him. I would say that, given a choice between the two, he would much rather I be with him than do for him. Although I’m a long way from it, I want to get to the place where I live my life is an open prayer, much as the way Jesus did when he walked on the earth.

Another hard thing for me is to develop a natural and immediate prayer response. I have a tendency to say things like, “We should pray about that,” putting it off for later, which doesn’t always happen. It’s more effective if I can just say instead, “Let’s pray about that right now.” It isn’t always possible to stop and pray, but it’s possible a lot more times than I actually do it.

And a last thing that I strive for is to make sure my conversations with God aren’t just one way. I should spend as much time listening as I do talking, but that is a really hard one for me. When I do it, though, I find that it makes a huge difference. God has so many good things to say to us!

How about it men? Are you ready to man up and join with me in making prayer a higher priority? Do you have some tips from your own prayer life that you can offer the husbands here?



Friday, August 6, 2010
The song “Dancing in the Mine Fields” written and sung by Andrew Peterson has been posted on marriage blogs and passed around the internet quite a bit, So much so that I had previously decided to pass on posting it here. But I cannot resist. It’s just that good.



If you can’t see the embedded video, click here for the YouTube link.


As a songwriter, I rate the song as a work of true lyrical craftsmanship. The words just beg to be sung, which is the hallmark of a strong lyric. The word choices are fresh and he avoids trite, over-sung love song expressions. The metaphors are strong and not cliché. The melody meshes precisely with the lyrics – fitted like a glove. The guitar riff is akin to much of the stuff I write and play, so to me it struck me in my musical sweet spot. In all, It’s a great song in and of itself, but that is not why I’m posting about it..

Again, speaking as a songwriter, I find the only weak spot is the title. Now it is a given that the selection of the first line of the chorus as the song title is a popular convention, at least in a verse-chorus song. But the real payoff of the song (what’s referred to as the lyrical hook) in my mind is the last line, “I believe that’s what the promise is for.” Granted, “Dancing in the Minefield” is catchier than “The Promise” and has more commercial appeal because of the unique imagery it paints.

The point of the song is not the minefields. It’s the promise.

Why do I think the song is really about the power of the promise? It’s because I believe that marriage is a covenant relationship and that at its root it is a spiritual union as much as or more so than it is a civil one. It is a promise made to each other before and to God. I know that society at large doesn’t necessarily value it as such, but whether it is recognized or not, when two people promise to love, honor and cherish one another, till death do they part, something shifts in the spiritual realm. At that point, I believe, a husband and wife are joined in a mysterious way in their inner most beings.

This promise is the first step toward becoming one flesh. The bond that is formed in the process is much deeper than the goose bumpy feelings we feel on the surface. When the Goosebumps get blown up in the mine field and swept away in the storms, what remain is the promise. Would more marriages endure the hardships that ultimately come if they better understood the covenantal nature of marriage going in? Maybe. Am I saying you should always stay married no matter what? No.

What I’m saying is that the promise we make to each other, the covenant that we enter into, is what can see us through the minefields and the storms and the times that are harder than we ever dreamed. In the words of the descant, "Don't give up on me."

What do you think of the song, of it’s title, and the role of the promise in marriage?




Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I keep promising to report more survey results, but it’s been hard to squeeze it in among all the other topics that I want to write on. There is so much ground I want to cover, so many ideas and so little time. But I decided I’d better just toss out some results amid my other posts or I’ll never get to it.

So, here’s a few quick summary poll results about the readership here on Journey to Surrender.
  • I was surprised at how evenly split the readers here are; 45% Male, 55% Female. I don’t know why I expected it to be more female dominated, but I’m very encouraged by the fact that so man husbands are interested in improving their marriages too.
  • We’ve got experience on our side. The marriages of the survey takers tended toward longevity, with 72% married more than 10 years.
  • Most people reported being in their first marriage (86%), but we did have some on their second marriage and even a few singles. That is way cool .
  • I suppose due in part to the longevity of the marriages represented, most (85%) had children. Half had all their children still living at home and almost a quarter had grown children that had left home. I see a significant diversity in the stages of married life represented in the survey. I like that.
  • It’s never too late to take the reader survey now if you haven’t:


We want to hear what you have to say!

I know that many of you have great real-life experiences to share with the readers here, and I want to encourage you to jump in and comment for everyone’s benefit. Share your thoughts, share your stories, share your opinions.

In case you aren’t comfortable posting publically, I’ve added a widget (left sidebar) that gives you the ability to send me an email message directly from the blog, without the need to go into a separate email program. Comments and question submitted to me using the widget will not be disclosed on the blog without your advanced permission. I will do my best to answer all inquiries as soon as possible. I take privacy seriously and will never share you email address with others.


A Little Shameless Promotion

If you know me at all, you know I’m not big into self-promotion. But I figured since I’m just writing about this blog and its readers today, I’d go ahead and point out a few new things I’ve added that make it easy to share my blog with others.

So, if you find Journey to Surrender to be helpful to you in your marriage, would you consider passing this blog along to your friends? Here are two ways you can easily and quickly do that::
  • I added a widget (left sidebar) to give you an easy way to bookmark Journey to Surrender on a whole bunch of popular social networking sites that you might participate in: Facebook, Google, Stumble, Digg, and a dozen others.
  • I’ve also enabled the new Blogger ‘Share Buttons” that appear at the end of every post and make it easy to share a post with folks via email, Facebook, Twitter, and GoogleBuzz. Please pass along your favorite posts!

Finally, if you are just visiting, consider subscribing either by email or RSS feed. You can subscribe by filling your email address in the left sidebar subscription widget.

I promise, I’ll be back to real content next time!




Monday, August 2, 2010
In today’s Man Up Monday discussion, I want to encourage you to examine your role as a “covering” for your bride and get you to answer an important question:

What kind of covering are you providing to your wife?

Part of the authority that God gives husbands comes in the form of providing spiritual, emotional, physical and material covering for their wives. But what does it mean for us to provide covering for our wives? Consider for a moment that the literal interpretation of the word often translated as “submit” in Ephesians 5 implies that a wife is “to arrange herself under” her husband. But think for a moment, what kind of covering are you inviting her to remain under?

For me it’s helpful to consider various coverings in the natural and whether or not these are fitting metaphors for the kind of covering I want to be for my wife. For example, in the area of garments, do I act more like a comfortable sweater, providing warmth and protection, or do I act more like a straightjacket by stifling, controlling and restricting her freedom?

Here’s just a quick list of some other types of covering, some desirable metaphors, some not so much so. Take a look at my list, then add your own with a comment below.
  • Umbrella – provides shelter from the storms and protection from the elements of life
  • Ground cover – some ground covers, like ivy, tend to invade everything and takeover, even where it doesn’t belong.
  • Phone/camera cover – protects something of value that may be delicate and breakable, perhaps even irreplaceable.
  • Mask/Makeup – Do you try to make your wife into something she was never made to be, as in covering with a mask? Or do you try simply to enhance and beautify her natural self, as in a tasteful application of makeup?
  • Pool cover – keeps stuff out that doesn’t belong.
  • Bible/book cover – closely protects something of value that you want to last but without restricting use or movement
  • “I’ve got you covered” – does she know that you are watching out for her and that you have her protection, safety and wellbeing at heart?

There are dozens more kinds of covers that come to mind. Some of these we would want to emulate in the leadership of your marriage, others perhaps not. The important thing in this is to take seriously your role as a cover for your bride, to not neglect or run from this responsibility, but to execute it in a way that provides protection, refuge and comfort without stifling, controlling or interfering with your wife’s true nature and calling.

Can you think of other covering that would be a fitting metaphor for a husband’s role as a covering for his wife?

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