Category Archives: Role Modeling

Different, Not Better

I'm Better than you

When a married couple adheres to their responsibility, the outcome is rewarding. Showing the appropriate regard for our God-given roles produces in our relationship the same attitude as exhibited toward God. What is produced is selflessness, respect, and love for one another in marriage. Is there a better example to set for your children?

First Peter 3:7 calls you husbands to treat your wives in a respectful manner so that nothing will hinder your relationship with God. God has given your wives a unique temperament, the ability to think and reason, and the same grace and mercy that he extends to you. Do not treat them as second-class citizens. Their role of support and contribution is equally important, albeit different from yours.

Men, respect and listen to your wives. They are allowed to present suggestions and opinions in a loving way. God didn’t say that man is the smarter one. Your differences complement each other. Where one is strong often the other shows weakness and vice versa. The marital relationship should not be deemed a competition but rather a cooperative.

Imagine taking two sheets of plywood and gluing them together, the strength of the two sheets now glued together is considerably greater than either one was individually, and so it is with marriage. Marriage is one of the few times in life that one plus one can equal three. There is far greater benefit in working together than would be evident in each of you working individually.

When I’m counseling a couple and the wife appears to be the more aggressive partner, it usually means the husband is taking the passive role and not leading the home spiritually. In too many cases, the wife is the one who takes the kids to church and grows the family spiritually. This is not the role of the wife, but praise God someone is willing to step up. If this is the case in your relationship, I encourage the man to stand up and take his rightful role. It won’t be easy, because your wife has to develop the trust necessary to relinquish that role. This will only become a comfortable situation for the wife over time as the husband shows his consistency. As you both step into your appropriate roles, your marriage will take on a new light. What was once a burden will become easier because you are now working as you were designed to.

In what ways can you, as a husband, “step it up” to better fulfil your role as the leader of your household.  What attitudes have you been carrying that hinder you from moving forward in being the man that you were called to be for your wife and children?

You will be blessed as you grow your marriage.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Male Leadership, Role Modeling, Roles, selflessness

Age and Wisdom

senior citizens 2

You know, a funny thing happened on my way to the bacon and eggbeaters sandwich on white buttered toast…

This particular morning had already been agendized.  Wake up early, go grab a nice, but quick, breakfast, spend some time in the Word and off to the office for what I had anticipated to be a challenging day of counseling.  Little did I know what God had in store for me on this particular day.  The entire restaurant was empty except for a group of about thirty older men who were chatting, eating and sipping their coffee.  I would have to estimate the average age of this group to be eighty.  The server seated me in a booth that was very close to the congregation of “seasoned” citizens.  There was a sign posted behind the men (which they obviously posted themselves, with pride) that read “United States Veterans Club”.  As I sat, many of them greeted me with a warm “Hello”, which I reciprocated.  I will admit that it was nice to be regarded as a “young whipper-snapper” amongst these crusty codgers.

Without a beat one of the men came over to me and asked if I was a veteran, to which I replied, “No, sir, I am not.  But I have a great deal of respect for those who have served our country in its defense.”  “What do you do?” he asked.  “I’m a pastor.  I counsel and offer guidance to those in need.”  He smiled, “Oh, my friend, the battles that you fight are every bit as real as the battles that we have been involved in.”

Pretty soon, another gentleman slide out of his seat and right into my both, directly across from me.  Another joined us.  I felt like I had become an honorary vet.  They began sharing some of their life experiences, their struggles and victories, and lessons learned on their journeys.  They shared their stories of faith while presenting their personal testimonies to me, a complete stranger.  I said very little, just listened intently.  I had a rare opportunity to glean from approximately 225 years of accumulated history.  They shared with honor, yet humility.  It was my time to learn.  My quiet, solo breakfast turned into a colorfully and richly detailed lesson in human endeavor and perseverance.  I cannot minimize, and they will never fully understand, the impact that these men left on me at that fateful breakfast.

As a Christian, I walked away from the encounter with several lessons that I need to practice always.  I pray that I am so welcoming and open to experiencing the lives of others and willing to be so bold, yet humble in sharing my faith.  I pray that I will take the time to listen to what those older than myself have to offer, because there is much to glean.  I also pray that I never develop a “I have arrived” attitude; that arrogance will never deflect what I have yet to learn (which is much!)

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.  Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.  When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,…    Proverbs 6:20-23

 Solomon’s wisdom speaks volumes to us all and transcends the confines of a familial relationship.  There is wisdom all around us in the minds of those often written off by our society.  I encourage you, don’t let the fear of a wrinkled, faded, well-worn stage curtain prevent you from peering into the wisdom and illumination that may lie just beyond it.  Those extra years may give you wisdom that you seek.

James, the gentleman who first slid into my booth concluded our interaction by stating, “I know I’m just rambling on and I don’t have much of a formal education, but thank you for letting me sit with you.”  Smiling, I replied, “My friend, there are far too many who have exchanged a fancy piece of paper for their faith.  Never underestimate the value of what you have learned and the importance that it is to the next generation.  I thank you.”  And so we all parted.  I can’t speak for them, but I can say that I am richer for the experience.  Again, God’s agenda is better than my own.

Love our senior’s, remember, you will be one before you know it!

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Elderly, Fellowship, Love, Misconceptions, Respect, Role Modeling

Say What You May, Marriage Still Sets the Best Example to Children

Children imitating parents

Modeling a healthy marriage is the greatest gift you can give your children, who in all likelihood will take the same journey as their parents.

Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.     – Malachi 2:15

I’ve heard the story countless times.  The marriage is struggling with countless issues, none of which ever seem to get addressed.  They continue down the same road, “Today was a pretty good day, I’ll just keep my mouth shut and not make waves.”  Tomorrow, all hell breaks loose as the verbal assaults fly with zero regard to the little ears that are taking in all of the turmoil.  The little ears that are internalizing the events and coming to only one conclusion, “I must be responsible (or at least partially) for the constant fighting that takes place between my mommy and daddy.”  Young children are very egocentric, everything revolves around their perception of the events in life.  Afterall, they only have a few years of experience to draw from.

What example are you setting in your marriage? Sons look to their fathers to learn how a man is to behave. Daughters watch their mothers very closely to determine the best ways to interact with the opposite sex. If petty bickering, infidelity, verbal abuse, and constant talk of divorce is your model, you will see the same patterns on display in their own relationships. Children learn well and will follow your example if they don’t choose to do something about it. Consider: how often do you respond based on the example that you were shown growing up? As parents, we are always being observed. Remember that!

I encourage you mom and dad, get the help you need.  Put aside the past and focus on the future.  Get a mediator who is interested less in your individual “happiness” and more on the success of your marriage, which will produce far more than a situational emotional response.  Doing the work, practicing forgiveness, and focusing on the issues that resist resolution are essential and will go far in protecting your legacy to the future.

You don’t have to do it alone.  Get a counselor who shares your values and has the best interest of you, as a couple, at heart.  Here is a great place to start!  Find a counselor in your area:

The American Association of Christian Counselors website @ http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

2 Comments

Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Conflict Resolution, Divorce, Emotions, Forgiveness, Parenting, Role Modeling, Unity

Pastor, NOT Perfect

shut up

Yes, God can speak in a whisper or a roar.  In this instance He wasn’t waiting long for me to pick up on the subtlety.  I want to share a conviction lesson that I received recently with hopes that you can all learn from my lesson.

So, I decide that on my way into the office that I am going to make a stop at my favorite restaurant and grab a bite to eat and sort out the agenda for the upcoming day.  Upon being seated and placing my order, I pull out my phone to begin work.  Suddenly, I am disturbed by one of two gentlemen sitting in a booth on the other side of the restaurant.  Apparently his voice modulator was on the fritz.  In a bold and boisterous tone, completely filter-less, he proceeds to unload a barrage of obscenities that begins to fill the restaurant like a dark and ominous cloud.  He appears to be angry, not at the man that he is seated with, but just angry.  Out it flows, “…and then that  %#@*&?!  tells me that he’s…what the  %#&?%@  am I supposed to do with…does he think I’m some kind of  %*#$@%!”

I can feel the hair rise on the nape of my neck.  Deep inside me begins to stir that old reliable (but sometimes misplaced) sense of justice.  “What is wrong with this guy?”  I glance up at the counter where sits two other gentleman, one older Caucasian man with white hair, the other a younger Hispanic man, who, moments prior were engaged in a quiet conversation.  Looking around the restaurant I notice another couple, having what they intended to be a nice relaxing breakfast.  The peace of their communication is shattered by the bellowing of this cyclone of profanity.  And so the barrage continues.

One of my first emotional responses was to walk straight up to this guy and tell him to either shut his mouth or at least lower his voice so that the rest of us don’t have to listen to him.  The sarcastic part of my nature (I prefer to refer to it as “my gifting” – that too is sarcasm!) wanted to yell across the room, “It’s too bad that you used up all of your intelligent words when you were younger and now you are scrapping the bottom of the barrel!”  Then, as if to justify the anger that was growing in me, I thought, “You are so lucky I don’t have my kids with me…!”  I was fully aware that my expression and mannerisms were communicating just as loudly as if I had actually said the words.

Then he utters this diatribe as if to judge the one that he is referring to, “I don’t know what the @%$*# is the matter with her!  It’s like she’s some kind of an idiot!  That stupid #$@&*! just says the first thing that crosses her mind, she just says it and doesn’t think twice!”  In utter amazement I took in the content of what this oblivious man just said.  As if unable to control my response, I laughed…out loud.  I caught myself, albeit too late, and looked up at the counter.  The white-haired gent was looking at me, shaking his head and rolling his eyes as if hearing what this guy had just said and acknowledging in agreement with my response.

Moments later, they got up, paid their bill and left the restaurant.  The angry fellow, seemingly unaware of how he had affected the ambiance of the restaurant and, more importantly to me, how he had affected my breakfast.

Then it happened!  I felt it!  A sudden tugging of a different kind, starting deep and subtle,  growing to awareness as it came over me.  Mind you, my responses described earlier were in my head (things in the moment that I wish I had done or said), they had not escaped the thought level and ventured into the verbalization phase.  It’s true…I had been caught!  The conviction cut me like a newly sharpened dagger.

First off, I’m laughing at how judgmental this guy was toward the lady of which he spoke, all the while being totally ignorant of his own bad behavior.

Second, in my head I’m holding this guy to my Christian moral code of ethics.  Was he even a Christian?  I would doubt it by his behavior (I’m sure you see the personal irony there).  If he were not a believer he is not held to that standard…but I am!

Third, in my nonverbal communication and my laughter at this guy, did I encourage the others in the restaurant to partake in my questionable attitude and behavior?

Fourth, although I didn’t verbalize (per se) my emotional responses, was I not guilty of having a critical spirit?

I allowed arrogance to control my thoughts, that’s the long and short of it.  Scripture is clear on that topic.  I also forgot a very important scripture as I got caught up in the situation.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.     -James 4:17

Ouch!  I am not condoning the man’s bad behavior, this lesson was not for him, it was about me!  Would I have affected in a positive way the situation had I confronted him?  Not likely, he was already angry and that would probably have antagonized him further and no doubt fueled my frustration.  There were only a handful of adults in the restaurant, did they require my protection, probably not.  I had already assessed the situation regarding the presence of children and there were none.  You see, this became about me, my righteousness!  I forgot, for the moment, that Jesus Christ went to the cross for BOTH of us.  You see, without Him we are not so different.

After some assessment, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I chose the response I should have chosen at the outset, I prayed for the man.  We are ALL a work-in-progress, so don’t give up when you give in to bad decisions.  Lay it before the Lord and ask Him for the strength and courage (and reminders) to keep it all “in check”.  Sometimes it’s tough to take the high road.  But remember, choosing to take the Holy road rather than the common one is never about taking the path of least resistance.

P.S. Never be too old to learn and it doesn’t matter who you are.  After all, I’m a pastor, NOT perfect.  Lesson learned!

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Comments Welcome!

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Emotions, Obedience, Role Modeling

Relationship Priorities (Part III): Developing Confident Assurance

balance

In this series on relationship priorities we looked at the first two elements necessary to grow great relationships (model Christ and focus on other people).  In this, the final post in this series we will examine the third and final element of our priority list.

3. Focus on yourself. It’s amazing how when you initiate the first two priorities, the attitude about the third changes drastically. When you demonstrate Christ and put others first, what you get back in the contentment of joy carries you through most of your other trials. Joy is the confident assurance and trust of God in our lives. Throughout his letter to the Philippians, Paul explains how his joy carried him through some pretty intense tribulation. Read through Philippians and discover for yourself the difference between happiness and joy.

Do what is “right” and let the appropriate emotions follow the behavior.

 It’s exciting to see how the confidence and security of right actions affect our emotional state.  I always refer to the Bible in determining that “right” position.  Imagine having a tough day, traffic was terrible and you almost got into an accident, you got into an argument with one of your co-workers, your head has been aching all day and to top it all off you leave work only to be greeted by a flat tire!  It stinks, right?!  Now finally you get home, emotionally you are frustrated to say the least.  You have a decision to make.  In choosing to do what is right and behave in a loving fashion toward your wife and family you will have a direct impact on what you will receive from them.  Loving behavior is usually reciprocated thereby affecting your negative emotional state.  It can directly affect your well-being.  You will begin to feel better because of the consequences of right behavior.

 Live intentionally. As I stated in the introduction, the Scriptures are a guidebook to life, written by the one who created us. You benefit by living with intention and making decisions that guide the path of your life, with God’s direction, rather than living haphazardly, just letting life happen to you.  Understand that none of us is perfect, not by a long shot! But if we make selflessness our goal rather than serving our own self-interest, the odds of receiving God’s best in our lives increases tremendously.  Mark sums up our priorities the best.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.   Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’   The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”  -Mark 12:28-31

By modeling and loving God and investing in others, the impact that behavior has on YOUR well-being will lead to personal peace, satisfaction and joy.  Be Blessed!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness

Relationship Priorities (Part II): Putting Others Before Yourself

People focus

In our last post we began to address the relationship priorities that grow and enhance our interactions and our lives.  Previously we examined the importance of modeling Christ in our daily walk rather than expectations of happiness.  Now, let’s take a look at the second element.

2. Focus on other people. If you take the focus off yourself and spend more time focusing on others, you make it less likely that your motivations will be driven by your own selfish desires. This is not to say you should neglect yourself, because you can only pour into others if you stay emotionally, physically, and spiritually full. You simply do not become the priority as we shall see shortly.

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  -1 Corinthians 10:24

The therapeutic effect of stepping out of your own emotional state to serve others is amazing. Mary was diagnosed with cancer.  Her knee-jerk reaction was to withdraw from the world. She lived in fear that any exposure to the outdoors, to the sun, would accelerate the cancer. Mary locked herself away, covering all the windows and never taking a step out of the house. She withdrew from other people, embarrassed by the hair loss associated with chemotherapy. She stopped coming to church, essentially stopped living.

What Mary had chosen to do is eliminate any new input or thought that would challenge her emotions. She simply recycled all the negative fear messages through her head. Her behavior followed suit and was dictated by those emotions. After consultation, she began challenging the fears and weighing the possible consequences of stepping outside her home. Commonly, we assume that things will be much worse than they actually end up being. One thing appeared certain: if Mary didn’t take a chance, her fear would eat her alive.

The following week she came to church. The outpouring of love and acceptance was heartwarming and had a great impact on her. Having all these people walking alongside her gave Mary a new lease on life. Her hair grew back following the chemo treatments, and her joy and confidence returned even faster. This dear lady made the decision not to follow her feelings but choose her own behavior, in spite of those destructive feelings.  She stepped forward, in spite of her emotions and engaged and invested in the lives of others to the benefit of all concerned.

Investing in others reaps dividends far greater than monetary riches!

As a matter of habit, do you find yourself more inwardly focused than investing in others?  What do you fear might happen if you extended yourself to others?  I want to encourage you to take a chance, you have much to offer others…God says so and that’s good enough for me!

In my last post in this series I will reveal the final priority in creating stability in our relationships and in our lives.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness

Relationship Priorities (Part I): They Go Beyond Your Happiness

priorities

Being aware of your emotional state and choosing your behaviors is one method to restore some peace in the relationship. Some of the other methods include the following.

 Don’t make happiness (a feeling) the ultimate goal in your marriage.

It sounds contrary to what you hear; everyone says, “I just want to be happy in my marriage.” Your desire should be to seek that deeper contentment known as joy. Emotionally we can be like a rollercoaster depending on what the day might bring. Happiness tends not to be consistent whereas the deeper sense of contentment or satisfaction (joy) remains constant regardless of what’s going on around us. True contentment is based on selflessness with a distinct priority system made up of three elements.

1. Model Christ in your life and in your relationships. The example Jesus sets in Scripture is the one we should follow while interacting with others. Christ’s example is demonstrated in the following passage:

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…  -Philippians 2:1-5

Has the goal of “happiness” been an issue in your relationship(s)? How realistic is it to expect others to make you happy? How effective are YOU at making others happy? Do your relationships experience much emotional turmoil?

Modeling Jesus in our lives transcends personal happiness. When we strive to emulate him it produces in us a sense of inner contentment that those around us will only benefit from.

In my next post I will reveal the second priority in creating stability in our relationships and in our lives.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

Leave a comment

Filed under Behavior, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Role Modeling, Selfishness