As men, husbands, and fathers, our role is to be providers, protectors, encouragers, problem solvers, care givers, lovers, planners, you name it. There are numerous facets to these titles of our life. One description however, encapsulates all of these. We are to be servants. To serve our family. To serve our spouse. To serve our children. If we approach our role as men, husbands, and fathers with humility and serve those near to us, the other titles naturally fall into place.
What does this mean? What all does that entail? How can we be the leader and head of a household and yet be a servant?
In simplest terms, it means we put the needs of others before our own. Simple, right?
In The Beginning
When you were first married or after your first child, this tended to come naturally.
As a Husband
Here is a newlywed couple that is ecstatic at the fact that they get to spend every day with the person they love. Still wrapping their minds around the fact that their parents know they are "sleeping over" with each other and are okay with it! In fact, they are encouraged to indulge in one another for the sake of a healthy marriage but also for grandbabies. You cook dinner for your wife. You do your best each day to leave the office on time, if not early, to spend a few more minutes together. You encourage your wife in her job, her schooling, or whatever obstacle she may face on a daily basis. You listen to understand, not to speak, because you simply love the sound of her voice. You naturally put her needs before your own.
But what about after the first year of "bliss"? After disagreements, arguments, and frustrations?
As a Father
Here lies a human that is one-hundred percent dependent on you, so what do you do? You wrap her in a blanket to protect her from the cold. You feed him to provide the nutrients required to grow. You speak gently to her as she is curled up in your arms and encourage her saying she can do anything she desires. You figure out what is wrong when he cries and alleviate the discomfort. You pour your mornings, evenings, nights, money, thoughts, love, everything you have into this child, all the while setting your needs aside. Normally without a second thought.
But what about after the first month of sleepless nights? After 3 months? 6? What about when your wife is breaking down because she not only has to learn how to be a mother, but learn how to breastfeed, and cope with a radically changing body?
A Servants Heart
When you embody that of a servants heart, none of these questions or thoughts will detour you or your ability to protect, provide, encourage, care for, etc. It puts you in the proper state of mind to battle through the challenges because you know and understand that it is not about you. You are going to be there for your loved ones. Period. Whatever "there" means and is required in each moment. It doesn't mean that you give up your place as leader. It doesn't mean that you give up your power, authority, command of your household. In fact the opposite is true. As Ryan Michler puts it in his book Sovereignty, "If anything, a Sovereign Man battles for his sovereignty so that he may serve others more effectively" (p.35).
As a Husband
Serve your wife. Remove selfish tendencies and make intentional decisions that are mutually beneficial. This doesn't mean roll over and be walked on. It means conversing, actually hearing and listening to your wife's needs. It means quality time. Dates, not just dinners. Intentional conversation, not just chats in the kitchen. It means, before you piddle in the garage, play video games, or have a beer with the guys, consider the last time you showed your wife unaffectionate love. "As husbands, we are called to put to death our own selfish desires to meet our wife's deepest needs. To say 'no' to what we want so we can say 'yes' to what she needs" (The Resolution for Men, p.92). Put her before yourself.
As a Husband & Father
Serve your family. This section is not just about serving your children. You are not only a father, but a partner in parenting. As a servant to your family, this means stepping up and taking equal ownership of the life you took part in creating. It means changing diapers. Being the first one up at 1 am to console the crying baby. Changing the sheets of a wet bed. Making lunches. Doing the dishes. Planning and taking off work for doctor appointments. Leading the charge of baths and bedtime. And all without being asked or told to do so. Serving your wife as a father means also taking from her the mental burden. Do not only do after she asks. Do not have to be told. You both started being a parent at the same time. You know as much as she does. Initiate.
In the same manner as serving your wife, the ultimate way to serve your children is with your time. It doesn't have to be well thought out "quality time" or an Intentional Activity. It can be as simple as sitting next to them while they play. Joining the tea party. Building Legos next to them. Looking and engaging EVERYTIME you hear "Dad look at this!" or "Dad look at what I can do!". Being present in your child's life will do more than you could imagine.
"Anything we give our children is a poor substitute for ourselves" - The Resolution for Men, p.165
Serve your family.
Be Present. Be Intentional.