Fathers: Your Families Would Rather ‘See’ a Sermon than Hear One

By Shane Idleman Published on June 18, 2023

Our ministry frequently receives email correspondence from desperate wives and mothers. They often read something like this one:

I’m at a loss. My ‘Christian’ husband is verbally and physically abusive. Ironically, he thinks that I’m the problem; he sees no need to change.

He’ll quote Scriptures about submission while yelling and cursing. His anger is also destroying our children. A home once filled with laughter and joy is now filled with fear and depression. We walk on eggshells and cherish the times when he is gone. He also loves his porn more than his family. I can no longer bear it. I’m not dying inside; I have died.

How do we respond to that? This column is a start. Think of it as my letter, not to this wife but to her husband. He’s one of many thousands of men who might not even suspect that their “difficult” wives are suffering, or the role that a husband often plays in causing it.

Are We Men Being Leaders?

The state of the family today is disheartening. Men have largely forsaken their God-given role as spiritual leaders in their homes … that, no one can deny. For example:

  • Bible reading and prayer are called fanatical while working twelve hours a day is called success.
  • We build our careers and neglect our marriages.
  • Corporate executives are praised and family men frowned upon.
  • We’ve boosted our wealth but shorted our values.
  • We search the heavens for answers and turn from the One who created them.
  • Pride is considered an asset and humility a liability.
  • We know more about our favorite athletes than our wives and our children.
  • We’d rather be seen leaving a bar than leaving a church.
  • We watch our favorite team for hours, yet fall asleep in church.

Embrace Your Calling, Not Convenience

Men, you’re not called to be a passive, weak, indecisive partner. You’re called to protect, lead, and guard your family. You are to initiate prayer, defend your wife, shepherd your children, and make your home a holy sanctuary … not a breeding ground for sin. You’re called to fight the Enemy, not flee from him.

I’m tired of weak, passive men who never contend, stand, or fight for anything worth dying for. Our nation is looking for character, our wives are looking for leaders, and our kids are looking for fathers.

We Must Look in the Mirror

Men, stop the silly video games, get off social media, kill your porn habit, tell your ungodly friends to hit the road. You’re called to lead, love, and die, if necessary, for your family.

We must stop blaming everything from God to the government. We are the reason that the nation is deteriorating. That the family is breaking down. Men … wake up! Life is a battleground, not a playground!

Whatever Happened to Conviction?

I can hear it now, “Shane, you’re being too hard on the guys. Back off.” Really. Step into my world for a moment. Recall the desperate wife and mom whose letter I quoted. She is not some outlier. We hear from women suffering like this all the time.

Men who are hurting their families don’t need to be encouraged and coddled; they often need to be confronted, challenged, and convicted. Then encouragement can come. Change is difficult if we always encourage but rarely challenge, and coddle but not confront. Unless a man is lovingly confronted, repentance will not take place, and his family will ultimately pay the price.

The Truth Hurts

How many of our wives could write letters like the one I quoted? Many years ago, I stumbled across a journal entry from my wife that broke my heart, but first I felt betrayed and angry. She wrote:

I married a man who doesn’t care about my dreams and goals in life. I’ve learned to live with this since separation isn’t an option, but I will not allow him to do this to our kids.

I was very angry because the truth hurts. But I began to realize that she was absolutely correct. I was a controlling man with no regard for the dreams, ambitions, and goals of my family. Granted, I was not mean-spirited, but I was controlling. I’m embarrassed that I used to think things like, “That’s stupid, immature, and ridiculous; why would you want to do that?”

I felt terrible and asked for forgiveness. I realized that I was breaking the spirit of my family; controlling and manipulating; obsessed with how my wife and kids might make me look to outsiders.

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That experience was a turning point — I now encourage my family and their dreams, instead of neglecting them. God often uses confrontation and exposure to break us.

Character is Caught, Not Just Taught

While dads jockey for position, build reputations, chase careers, and so on, it’s often mothers who pray, petition, nurture, care for, and lead. Granted, there are men who, through no fault of their own, experience failure in their homes. But the large majority of men face a critical need for spiritual leadership. Repentance is the first step.

Knowledge is knowing that we need to repent, but wisdom is doing it. The power in the Word of God is found in the application. James 1:22 reminds us that we can deceive ourselves if we “know” what to do but fail to do it. Are you living in deception … knowing but not doing?

Men, our families would rather see a sermon in how you live your life than hear one from any preacher.


Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the creator of the WCF Radio Network. His program, Regaining Lost Ground, points us back to God and reminds us that although times change, truth does not. His books, blogs, and sermons can all be found at ShaneIdleman.com.

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