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008 Q&A: Christ-like Leadership & Correction {Transcript}

About This Transcript

IBCD Executive Director Jim Newheiser answers some listener questions about biblical admonition and helping husbands lead their wives in a Christlike way.

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Craig Marshall:
Hello, and welcome to the IBCD Care and Discipleship Podcast. I’m excited to have our executive director, Jim Newheiser with us. We thought today we would take some questions that have been coming in on our website and through various events, and just kind of do a Q&A time together. Jim, the first question that we have is about admonishment. It says, while admonishment is crucial to Biblical counseling as is being directive, when does rebuke and being directive become either counterproductive or untimely? What are your thoughts as you hear that question?

Jim Newheiser:
I think it depends on how you define many of those terms. The Bible says in one of the key verses, in the Biblical counseling movement that you are confident to counsel or admonish one another concerning you. I’m convinced you are full of goodness, full of knowledge, able to admonish one another. There is an appropriate time to exalt someone, to correct someone. Proverbs talk about how the wounds of a friend are faithful and that it’s a wise man who receives correction, it’s a fool who rejects correction. Proverbs chapter nine verse eight. Galatians chapter six verse one and two, those say how if we are going to restore someone it should be gently. I think sometimes people get the idea, especially in Biblical counseling that you are correcting people by shouting at them, by harshly correcting and admonishing. Any in all correction should be gentle and loving for the purpose of helping to fix this person’s problem to point them more to Christ.

Sometimes people bring correction with an attitude of anger, venting their own rage rather than coming alongside to help. Another aspect would be Romans twelve says, weep for those who week as well rejoice for those who rejoice. There is an appropriateness, proverbs talks about this as well, like apples of gold and settings of silver is a word amply spoken and you don’t want to sing songs to a sad heard. I think if someone’s heart broken and they’ve just lost a loved one to rebuke them for their lack of trust in God that their loved ones in heaven or something is totally out of place. Situationally, there can be a time where it’s time to listen, to care, to understand, to express compassion.

It’s more situational, is this the right time for that, do you have all the information to be able to give this admonishment? Do you have a relationship with this person such that they know you care about them and they are ready to listen? Admonishing, correcting is a Biblical concept but it has to be done in the light of the context of what The Bible says about these things.

Craig Marshall:
One of your roles is being an ICBC fellow. In doing that, you listen to and read reports but I know you listen to the audio of a lot of counselors. Do you find that some people turn towards one or the other? Like some people you are here saying, “You might need to admonish less and others, you might need to bring the truth more.” How does that work out?

Jim Newheiser:
That’s a great observation that there are some people who don’t gather enough data and they get a little bit of information and they feel like they have to go straight into admonishing from the scriptures. My view would be they don’t know enough yet. The one who speaks before he listens there is a folly to him, in proverbs eighteen. Also we just have a bent like you said, some will listen for a long time and they are very sympathetic. Your listening then get to the point, this person needs to be exalted before they get out of the room. I think that’s a benefit actually being supervised is the person who is supervising you might be able to help you see what your natural inclinations or bents are, so that you can be aware that I’m a person who needs to get to the point more quickly or I’m a person who needs to listen more and make sure I’ve made a connection with this person before I rush into correction.

Craig Marshall:
Being supervised is a way to figure that out. How else do you think, the person listening, how can they find out which way they might gravitate towards to quickly?

Jim Newheiser:
I think if you are married your spouse would love to answer that question or asking other people close to you especially if you are in a position where you are trying to counsel each other, disciple other people. I think this is a great question for you to ask, because The Bible says I’m supposed to be general. The Bible says it’s an appropriate thing to come alongside and bring correction. Do you believe that when I’ve corrected you I’ve done it appropriately or how could I do better? Then you would show yourself as at least, as an individual who is willing to receive admonition and you need to be prepared for whatever you get.

Craig Marshall:
Another question related to that is just, what guidelines do you have in place of knowing when you definitely need to bring correction? Because this sounds like you are very much weighing through the idea we need to be gentle, we need to make sure we’ve heard a lot of things. You are kind of holding back on that until there is adequate demand to need to do it. How do we think through that as counselors?

Jim Newheiser:
What you are asking is a question of wisdom. You could have very Godly counselors who would approach a given situation differently and you couldn’t say one was right or one was wrong. Sometimes you have a counselor who is very reluctant to be there, or they may be very fearful that you are going to blast them. I’m getting inclined to try to win this person, to show them that I care about them, that I understand some of their problems. That I even understand they are not the only sinner in the room and maybe the person they are having trouble with also has their own sins. I’m trying to build passport, I’m trying to build relationship but I know I need to get there. Sometimes like Thessalonians, Paul wrote Thessalonians and said [inaudible 00:06:14] the unruly encourage the faint heart, help the weak.

Sometimes someone is unruly and you go straight to jail, did not pass code, did not collect $200 that this person, I had a man who is boasting about his sexual immorality in front of his wife. I didn’t feel like I needed to build a relationship with this man. I believed that I needed to firmly admonish him, especially his professing Christian, for his need to repent. When you are counseling, your mind is constantly on many different levels. One is what the sin, what are the verses that apply? If there are two people who do I speak to first, who do I admonish? Sometimes you’ve got an unruly person with a weak person. You are not going to do it perfectly but you are trying to take these things into consideration. The Bible does speak to these situations like in 1st Thessalonians, like in Proverbs.

You are working it through and you are praying that God will help you to be kind and gracious and yet firm. Often at the end of the session I’ll ask the counselees, “Is there anything I said or any way I acted where you believed that I was sinfully judgmental or unkind or misunderstood you?” I’ll also say, “If maybe that you don’t realize that now and two days from now you’ll think about it and it starts bothering you, come back to me because I know it, I’ll do this perfectly. I was just talking to someone I was supervising last night and they described a situation where he had admonished his counselee and it seemed like she was in tears of repentance and she was thankful. Then two days later she was so angry with him and she didn’t want to talk to him anymore. These things will happen. I think it can be wise to check up with the person to be sensitive in terms of how they are handling that.

Craig Marshall:
Two big principles are, one understand yourself and your own proclivity to either rush in too soon or to tiptoe around it for too long. Then also really seek the lord’s help in reading the other person and what they need in that moment, sounds like one of those things.

Jim Newheiser:
Excellent summary.

Craig Marshall:
Another question that came in from one of our marriage events was, it sounds like a man is working with a younger husband and his question is, how can I help a young husband man up and assume the position of Godly, head of the household to lead his wife into a God ordained structure of the family? That’s the question. Where do you go with that?

Jim Newheiser:
I would need a lot more data to know where I would go with a particular situation because I’ve ran into couples with different scenarios. There are some wives who have these expectations of the perfect husband who is just up five in the morning praying on his knees and then brings her breakfast in bed and reads the scriptures with her for half an hour, and has a prepared sermon for the evening devotions and just this … He’s never met her expectations and he’s implicitly hearing from her, man up, and there is a lack of grace. She has these extra-biblical expectations and these ungracious expectations and she’s making him sound like he’s a failure when it may be his role in perfect husband, it maybe that fundamentally he loves his wife, he’s fulfilling his responsibilities as well do so imperfectly.

On the other hand, now that I’m getting older, I do see in the new generation a real problem of men who get married who are still in very many ways boys and there is a real problem where you have a guy and he’s got a wife and he’s not working. He’s sitting at home playing video games. They have a kid and he gets home from work and just goes and watches sports and is engaged and she goes to church and he doesn’t go to church. There are a lot of married boys who haven’t learned to sacrificially love their wives and they want the privileges of marriage and they don’t want to man up and take on the responsibilities. That’s another scenario that is a real problem and a growing problem. That is a place where admonishment is appropriate. Then I would want to look, lets say we are dealing primarily with that guy, is, what is the hard issue here?

You can deal with the behavior and tell him to work harder, cut off his video games or limit himself to twenty minutes a day. It’s out of the heart that these behaviors are coming. What is wrong in his heart that is leading to him being a self-centered unloving husband who is irresponsible? We know well Ephesians five, twenty five, you love your wife as Christ loves the church. Earlier in the chapter, you have Ephesians five, one where we are told, be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love just as Christ loved you and gave himself up for us and offering in a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

As I think of those verses together, this man’s problem isn’t just that he’s a sluggard, his problem is that he is not loving his wife in a Christ-like way because he himself is not walking in the love of Christ, which brings me back to the end of Ephesians three when Paul is praying for the Ephesians they would grasp the height, the length, the breadth, the depth of the love of Christ that this man has made a disconnect between what, I assume he is a believer, he actually acknowledges that Christ loves him, but if he were living in that love and rejoicing in that love, meditating upon that love.

If he’s walking with Jesus, sitting at Jesus’ feet and being blessed by the word and the means of grace in the church, that should be flowing forth in him actively caring for his wife and being a man, a husband to his wife as Christ is to the church. My approach for the guy is that he needs to man up, rather than shouting at him and telling him to stop playing video games and stop looking at porn. All those are valid commands. What is in his heart going on right now? It’s really seeking satisfaction outside of Christ, not knowing the love of Christ that then is affecting how he treats his wife or how he neglects his responsibility. There needs to be a gospel focused motivation that will transform him inwardly then he’s still going to need some help putting it into practice.

Craig Marshall:
We want to really make sure that there is this gospel sense of how he’s loved in Christ and then that that is his responsibility to seek, to show that love to his wife. How does that intersect then with leading your wife? I know a lot of husbands really run into this in terms of wives may have different expectations as you are saying. You are seeking to love your wife but how do you help someone grow in leading their wife would you say?

Jim Newheiser:
I would begin by saying he needs to study how Christ has loved him and leads him, and how Christ has washed his feet, John, thirteen. The more he gets that, the more he’s going to have a heart to care for his wife rather than it just being a matter of techniques. They are all practical considerations. One thing I would say is, any man who is making an effort there is probably way ahead of the park. So many wives would just be thrilled if their husband would say, “Can we pray together for a couple of minutes before we go to bed at night? Can I read a verse before we have a meal?” Taking some initiative to say, “We need to sit down and talk about these issues. I really want to know what you think as we are discussing how we are going to educate the kids or whether we are going to take this job or how we are going to manage our finances.” Simple things of effort.

I think some men are intimidated from doing that. I’ve thought a lot about this, because there are so many men it just, it scares them to think about trying to do some of those little things. I think part of it is, if you’ve been married for ten years and you’ve never prayed with your wife, the first time you do is it admission that you’ve been doing the wrong thing for ten years, or if you’ve been running the finances kind of getting a lottery and you haven’t really been listening to your wife, like proverbs thirty one talks about the teaching of wisdom is on her lips, and the heart of her husband trust in her. To do things in a new way which is a more Christ-like way is an implicitive mission you’ve failed.

Maybe he needs to begin in his own heart to confess to God, to confess to his wife, “I haven’t led you as I should.” Then, he’s not going to start off sprinting in leading his wife, he’s probably going to be like a toddler stumbling around. He needs his wife to be merciful and gracious to him as he tries, but to try to start taking some of those baby steps and ask her questions. Lou Priolo’s book, The Complete Husband has a great list of questions at the end of the first few chapters is, ask your wife things like, “How could I better lead you? What would be the two or three most important things I could work on that would improve our marriage and make you feel better, cared for?” Many men because of pride or fear wouldn’t be willing to ask those questions. I think most of us are married to women who would be thrilled to be asked those questions and would probably be pretty happy if we even made a little bit of effort in that direction.

Craig Marshall:
It is interesting just to kind of summarize some of that one when I ask you about leadership, the words that you are you are going to are serve, love and ask. I think for some men, those aren’t the first words that come into their mind when they think of what it means to lead but that’s the Biblical definition there.

Jim Newheiser:
We should go back to where it begins, study how Christ leads you and how Christ loves you, and the visual picture of Jesus washing the disciples feet is very important. Many men have a horrible misconception of what it is to lead, as if lead means I can be selfish and she can’t do anything about it that is anti-Christ-like. It’s a disgrace that men think that’s what Christian leadership is and it gives those of us who believe in a male headship and the wives submitting, gives us all a bad name that there are men out there who think leadership, “I’m the boss and everybody else has to do what I want.” Leadership is making sacrifices. Again, leadership is losing what is best to the glory of God, for the good of your family, not I get what I want. Again, that’s why needs to go spiritual that he has a passion for the glory of God.

Sometimes, leadership will be leading your family in a direction your wife may not take as a her first choice but you are not doing it because that’s what you want. You are doing it because that’s how you believe you can best serve God and serve your family, to make that concrete, maybe your wife would really love to have a new car of a certain kind but you believe based on Biblical principle it would be financially irresponsible to do so, you may have to deny her that. Maybe the church you think the family should be going to isn’t the one she does but you have reasons why doctrinally or practically you think this is the better option, what would be ungodly would be to say, “I’m going to buy myself the fancy new sports car and you are going to drive around in the piece of junk.” That’s what many men treat as leadership. Sometimes leadership is, as best I can tell, I need to do this. Again, the motivation is for the glory of God, to follow the scriptures, not an act of selfishness which is an anti-Christ-like act.

Craig Marshall:
A follow up related to this is, how can this husband help his wife understand that it’s not okay to belittle him in front of the children? It sounds like there is some criticism that’s coming out in front of the children, maybe in front of others. How do you deal with that lovingly as a husband?

Jim Newheiser:
The passages that come to mind are in Matthew seven where Jesus says, “You need to get the log out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of your brother or your sister’s eye.” I would, if I were talking to that man I would ask him what are the log’s that you need to get out?” Jesus says, “When you’ve got the logs out, go get her splinter out as best as you can but what is she saying, even her criticism, even if she’s doing it in an ungodly way in front of the kids or in a sarcastic or unkind way, if there is truth, it’s between you and God and it’s sin and you need to do it with her. Maybe there are other issues that she’s not bringing up in front of the kids. First, repent before God then confess that to your wife and actually make a commitment as God helps you to change and then you can go to her. Matthew eighteen also gives an example, if your sister or your brothers stand against you, you first go to them.

Galatians six says you go gently for the purpose of restoring them. It’s not like I’ve had it with you criticizing me in front of the kids, and you criticize her back in front of the kids or you vent your anger to her privately so the kids hear you yelling through the door. It’s a matter of she has fallen into sin by doing this, probably she knows she’s sinning. If you come alongside and say, “I know I’ve sinned against you in these ways, I know that’s been very hard for you and I need your forgiveness.” I think you probably know you shouldn’t have done that in front of the kids. I would like you to ask you to forgive me for mine but also would you please in the future if you have a problem let’s talk privately and I admit that, I don’t know the details. There are a lot of situations, the wife says, should be, “I’ve been trying to tell him privately and I got so upset I couldn’t control myself.” For the spirit self-control that’s not an excuse but that is the way she lived it.

Have you been listening, have you tempted her to this? Then, you said, it, “I love you, I want our relationship to be better, I realize I’ve contributed to this and I want to forgive you,” to restore the relationship and not just to … One thing about the question is there is not really anything in the question that says, “This person sins,” their sin is being an important part of the problem.

Craig Marshall:
Equation. What happens if he really does start to see that as a problem and he’s really going to her about it and seeking to love her well but she just isn’t responding? She continues to bring this up? One of the things later on in this is, is it mentions how do you undo years of this happening? What’s a husband to do if he is really seeking his part and she continues to do it, how does that work?

Jim Newheiser:
I think that’s where it’s so wonderful if you are in a strong church in applying the principles in Matthew eighteen, if your wife is continually condemning you in front of the children and venting her anger in, when you see these are sin issues in her life and you’ve tried to help and to restore her and she would not listen to you. You have the right to get help just as she has the right to get help if you are the one doing that, and to go to, I would recommend a pastor and his wife, an elder and his wife. Not just to frame it as, “My wife is this horrible wife who nags me or criticizes me all the time or has this anger problem,” but just say, “We need help with our marriage.” Talk about where you see your sins are and how you’ve tried to work on those and let her talk about hers and see if these people could … That’s what The Bible says to do is to get help and maybe the lord would work through this other couple in the way that he hadn’t worked through you individually. That’s why we follow what The Bible says in Matthew eighteen.

Craig Marshall:
There is a way forward, first by loving her, getting the log out of your own eye and then also appealing to others for help.

Jim Newheiser:
The other thing is, up until now we’ve been dealing with this as a behavior on her part. Gets back to what is going on in her heart. If you are trying to address her, it’s not just, stop nagging me or stop criticizing me. What is it like James four, what’s the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? You want something, you don’t get it, so you kill. Is it possible as you are trying to help her to really understand not just the behavior you hate but what’s the struggle of her own heart where she’s failing? Is it possible for you as a spiritual leader to help her address those struggles, doing so in a sympathetic way? Not just to put a cork in her mouth so she doesn’t yell at you but actually to address the heart which is falling into sin and then finally it comes out of the mouth.

Craig Marshall:
Do you have any ideas why a wife, like what would be going on in a wife’s heart that would make her want to put her husband down in front of her kids, especially if he is seeking to care for her? I understand he’s being a jerk, but what kind of things could be in her heart that he may find out?

Jim Newheiser:
I have to admit that the second part of the question is hard for me because it’s really rare for a husband who is humble, gently seeking to correct his wife, admitting his own faults, to have a wife who keeps doing that. I really …

Craig Marshall:
It’s hard for you to imagine.

Jim Newheiser:
I can think of one in thirty years that I kind of would say, this guy seemed to be doing a pretty good and the wife was just mean. Yes, there are people who are fleshly in Romans twelve eighteen, as far as possible with you to be at peace with all men. You could have a wife that no matter what you do, she is an angry bitter, nagging person. Maybe she is non-believer, maybe is a believer. She is just caught up so much in the flesh and she’s embattled. There could be hard issues in her life where she will not listen. Just like, why would a man commit adultery, why would a man go into all kinds? Sin is self-destructive, it’s believing a lie, it’s living the lie. Yes, this can happen, why? Because this person has been caught by the deceitfulness of sin as Hebrew three warns us, sin can do for professing Christians. Just like we all have various of sins, we haven’t gotten totally under control that could become life dominating apart from the grace of God.

Craig Marshall:
Thanks for your attention to these questions. We love hearing from our listeners, and the various things that you are struggling with as you seek to care for others. Keep sending those to us. You can always submit those, ibcd.org/podcast. We have a form you can fill up there, send them in and we hope to address those in future episodes as well. Jim, thanks for your time and we look forward to being with you all again soon.

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