If marriage has taught me anything, it’s humility.
When I was a single dude, I used to think that I was somewhat of a decent guy. It wasn’t until I got married that I realized that I’m not quite as slick as I originally thought.
You see, marriage messes with your pride. You can fool the whole world, but your spouse knows the real you. You can’t fool the person you share a roof and bed with. At least not easily, and certainly not forever.
I’ve been humbled. Multiple times. Sometimes multiple times in one day.
And one of the biggest pride pills I’ve had to swallow comes to money.
In our home, Leila wins the bread. She has a college degree and has worked the same job as a registered nurse since before we got married. She provides both our medical insurance and consistent income for our family.
As a dude, this plays with my mind and my pride.
My track record isn’t quite as pretty. Since we’ve been married, I’ve been a pastor, sold gutters, driven cars, written books, taken pictures, made business videos, acted in commercials, built furniture, delivered food, officiated weddings, funerals, and quinceañeras, and have done numerous speaking engagements.
Did I mention that I’ve also been fired? I’ve had the elders of my church look me in the eye and tell me I’m not providing for my family. I’ve collected government assistance. And best of all, I’ve had my card declined at the grocery store while trying to buy milk for my kids.
Writing that last sentence still brings tears to my eyes.
I know the pain of struggling to be “provider” of our household. I’ve wrestled with God as I try and figure out what it means to be a man, and especially a man that takes care of his family.
I’m learning a lot, but here are three things that have stuck out to me over the last few years.
God’s Doesn't Care If You're Rich, But He Does Care If You're Lazy.
Despite the message of fancy preachers on TV, wearing nice suits and flying private jets, Jesus never called his disciples to be rich. In fact, Jesus himself was poor and when one person asked if they could follow and learn from him, he tried to talk them out of it by saying he was homeless (Matthew 8:20). He was essentially saying, “Are you sure you want this lifestyle?” Proverbs 6 tells us to study the work-ethic of ants and to learn from them. Later on in the chapter, the writer says that laziness will bring on poverty. Men, the scriptures are clear; God calls us to work, and to work our butts off, but that does not mean you are lacking as a provider if you can’t afford the same house or car as your neighbor. Work hard, but live frugal.
You Are Not The Provider, He Is.
One of the biggest lies that we have bought into as Christian men is that we are the provider of our house. Specifically, that God calls us to bring in money for the needs of our family. Please hear me loud and clear, I do believe that God calls men to work, and to work hard, but we must realize that we are not the ultimate providers for our family; He is. When you convince yourself that you are the primary provider for your home, you will either develop a false sense of pride when you make money, or a false sense of shame when you do not. You are also teaching your kids that you are ultimately the one who meets their needs. That is God’s role, not yours. Our role as men is to point our family back to the one who actually provides for us. In poverty, we point our kids to the One who feeds the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26). And in plenty, we point our kids to the One who gave us the brain, body, oxygen, and opportunity to work hard.
Providing Involves Way More Than Money.
We think about money much more than our kids do. I can assure you that most kids are not feeling anxious about the bills getting paid, or having food on the table. Do you want know what kids actually feel anxious about? Being loved. And feeling a sense of value and meaning. Dads, your kids desperately want your love and attention, not your wallet. If you bring home a paycheck, but neglect to lay on the floor and laugh with your kids, you are failing as a provider. If you have the best luxuries for your family, but forget to seek the heart of your wife, you are failing as a provider. If your family is financially secure, and yet far from the Lord because they haven’t seen you lead them, you are failing as the provider and leader of your family.
Whether you are struggling to find a job, or have more money than you know what to do with, I pray that you would reconsider what it means to provide for your family as a Christian man.
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