It was awkward at first, not going to lie about that. 35 women…and 3 dudes. Our backs were to the wall (literally, there was no available exit strategy here) and we were asked to simply be honest. It sounds simple, but its fairly intimidating for a guy to be in a room with that many women (Luckily there is safety in numbers…even if it’s only 3).
A couple months ago I was asked by a gal in our church to be a part of a ‘Man Panel’ during a meeting of one of the local MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) groups. For an hour the women there would be able to ask any question and myself and two other pastors from churches in town and we were simply supposed to be honest with our answers. It really wasn’t as bad as I allowed my mind think it would be, and I would do it again if asked.
As the question were worked through, a few revolved around one general topic: What do we (wives) do to help/motivate/incorporate/etc our husbands to ______. Nearly all of these had a spiritual connection in some way. Men need to have a relationship with Jesus…they need to be in community with other dudes…they need to invest….they need to lead the family… So how do wives help make this happen???
The mind can go to several different places when thinking about this. There’s value to modeling, encouraging and the like. And the best possible thing is to pray for them like crazy! These are good things, and prayer is the best thing…but its not tangible. You can’t necessarily measure these things. You can’t always gauge the success of them.
Men and women who follow Jesus have for decades asked the questions… “How do I get my friend to follow Jesus?” “How do I motivate my spouse to be a better spiritual leader?” “How do I change my kids hearts to follow Jesus?” You get these questions because you know you have asked them too…
Here’s the answer…and you might just hate it…
With every good intention in the world as a friend or spouse or parent…you don’t have the ability to change someone else’s heart toward God.
A guy named Paul was writing to the church in Corinth when he said:
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:5 & 6)
As much as we want to fix and influence and change others, we have to get our minds wrapped around the fact that are completely unable to change someone else’s heart. God is the only one who can do the work that we are talking about in someones life. We don’t do that. We can’t do that.
This is not to say though that we don’t have a part of that. Paul recognized that he and Apollos had pieces where they did what they could, but God caused the growth. God was the one that changed the people. Paul was the first to admit he simply planted seeds. Our time spent desperately praying for someone else, our effort to show someone a changed life, our encouragement to grow, our readiness to have conversations when able, it’s not wasted time. In fact, its the most and best we can be for someone else.
We put so much weight on ourselves when we think that we can and should take on the task of changing someone. And when we don’t see the results that we desire, we take it personally…and eventually give up. As a man who wants to have control over as much as possible, I fully understand the desire to want to be that for someone, and have tried over and over.
In the meantime…when you see someone close to you, when you know someone needs something different or more in their life… trust in a God who was big enough to create everything out of nothing. Trust in a God who has created nations and turned them upside-down. Trust in a God who allowed His Son to die so that He (God) could bring Him back to life! That God, the One you want that person in your life to be close to, is big enough to do the work needed in any one’s life. Trust in that God, and then do your part of simply planting the seed’s.