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10 Ways for Men to Leave a Godly Legacy

How will your family remember you? Will you live for the next generation by becoming the sacrificial lover and the servant-leader of your family?

By Dennis Rainey

A number of years ago a Christian leader spent years building an effective ministry. On the surface, it appeared that this man’s ministry was overwhelmingly successful. Unfortunately, this man sought to “win the world” and neglected his wife and family. Here are the chilling words of his adult daughter:

Daddy was torn. He loved Mother and truly looked forward to the arrival of this child. But he carried a great weight of responsibility, and he had been caught up long ago in what I have heard Dr. Jack Hayford describe as “the evangelical syndrome” – the misconception that a man can serve God to the fullest only if he is willing to put ministry before family. How many times I heard Daddy quote Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children . . . he cannot be my disciple.”

Daddy understood that Scripture to mean that he was obliged to put his ministry and the needs of the world before his own family. He used to say, “I’ve made an agreement with God that I’ll take care of His helpless little lambs overseas if he’ll take care of mine at home.” It surely sounded sensible enough, and Daddy sincerely believed it was right. Unfortunately, future events would prove that this was Daddy’s agreement, not God’s.

Years later that man’s family was shredded by a divorce and a suicide. The family felt abandoned by a leader who had apparently lost sight of God’s will for his life—to sacrificially serve, love, and lead his wife and family.

Today, this man’s legacy is tarnished by his failure at home. The question for you and me is: What will our legacy be?

Will you live for the next generation by becoming the sacrificial lover and the servant-leader of your family? If that is your desire, here are 10 ways you can leave a godly legacy in your family.

1. Fulfill your marriage covenant.

Because the church has given up much of its influence over the family, divorce has become common in many congregations around the world. As a result, many nations in the west suffer from a “culture of divorce.”

Your family will never be stronger than the covenant that established it. Your marriage covenant is what sets your relationship with your wife and children apart from the 7 billion people on earth. It provides the safety and security for selfish and sinful humans to establish a family.

2. Pray daily with your wife.

Early in our marriage, my wife, Barbara, and I started the habit of praying together before we would go to sleep. If there is one simple ritual I would urge couples to begin adopting in their marriages, it is this one-the habit of praying together every day.

For us, this habit of acknowledging God’s presence in our lives and marriage has, I believe, saved us from many nights of isolation. Daily prayer keeps us from building walls between each other. And it builds bridges across chasms that may have widened between us during the day.

3. Embrace suffering together as a couple.

For many years Barbara suffered from a heart condition that sometimes took her heart rate to over 300 beats per minute. She nearly died on four different occasions. In addition, we’ve experienced various difficulties in raising our six children. There have been times in our marriage when all we had was our commitment to God and to one another.

That’s why it’s so important that a husband and wife “bear one another’s burdens.” We must be standing together looking to God to sustain and guide us.

4. Keep romance alive in your marriage.

Nowhere in marriage are the differences between men and women more evident than when it comes to romance. Women generally spell romance: “relationship.” Men spell it a different way: “Sex.” A man’s focus is physical and a woman’s focus is relational. That’s why we as men need to learn how to communicate with our wives in a language that communicates love to them.

What would communicate love to your wife? A love letter? Then write one. A hug and a kiss that says I love you? Or helping her at home with the children and household duties? One thing is certain: Romance needs to be cultivated if it is going to grow in marriage.

5. Use words to edify your spouse.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” James 3:8 warns us, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Do you build your wife up or tear her down with your words?