This One Song Can Dramatically Improve Your Marriage

Still In Love

She Believes in Me” written by Steve Gibb and sung by Kenny Rogers has the power to improve your marriage.

Wow! Is this is misleading statement designed as a catchy phrase to get you to read a blog post?


I’m not saying I’d never do something like it, but I’m not this time. I promise!

And, granted, the song itself can’t improve your marriage. Listen to it a thousand times and your marriage may not be any better.

But, it’s the principle within the song, which if applied, I’d come close to guaranteeing it will work.

Years ago I used to share that song on marriage retreats I led. Contained within it is one secret – one principle – which can dramatically change, maybe even save, a marriage.

Here are the lyrics, in case you don’t remember them:

(The bold emphasis is to make my point.)

While she lays sleeping, I stay out late at night and play my songs
And sometimes all the nights can be so long
And it’s good when I finally make it home, all alone
While she lays dreaming, I try to get undressed without the light
And quietly she says how was your night?
And I come to her and say, it was all right, and I hold her tight

And she believes in me, I’ll never know just what she sees in me
I told her someday if she was my girl, I could change the world
With my little songs, I was wrong
But she has faith in me, and so I go on trying faithfully
And who knows maybe on some special night, if my song is right
I will find a way, find a way…

While she lays waiting, I stumble to the kitchen for a bite
Then I see my old guitar in the night
Just waiting for me like a secret friend, and there’s no end
While she lays crying, I fumble with a melody or two
And I’m torn between the things that I should do
And she says to wake her up when I am through, 
God her love is true…

And she believes in me, I’ll never know just what she sees in me
I told her someday if she was my girl, I could change the world
With my little songs, I was wrong
But she has faith in me, and so I go on trying faithfully
And who knows maybe on some special night, if my song is right
I will find a way, while she waits… while she waits for me for me!

End of song.

There it is. 

Did you catch it?

It’s pretty simple. I’ve written about the principle before HERE, but the principle is simple. Inside the heart of every man is a desire to be respected, especially by the one he loves. When a man feels a high level of respect – from anything or anyone, he will do just about anything to earn it again – so he goes “on trying faithfully“, as the song says.

I know. The woman needs respect too. I know also, if she’s not receiving the love she deserves, it will be much harder for her to respect. I get it – I really do. It may not even seem fair to suggest what I’m suggesting – respecting anyone who doesn’t deserve respect. It would almost be like telling someone to love someone who doesn’t deserve to be loved or forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve forgiveness.

It’s radical talking. (Of course, Christians are called to love and forgive radically – just a reminder.)

I can’t help, however, pointing out something I’ve seen improve many marriages. When the woman makes even slight changes in how she respects – in the way she says things – the language she uses – the genuineness of her admiration – something changes in the man. Something good. He wants more of it.

And who knows, maybe on some special night, if his song is right, he’ll will find a way, while she waits, while she waits for him.

By the way, a note to my wife Cheryl: Thanks for believing in me – even when I don’t always believe in myself.

The Emotions of a Pastor or Leader’s Spouse in Times of Transition

man woman talking 2

When I’m talking to a pastor or other leader who has accepted a new position or is in a time of transition – after I hear the excitement in their voice of what they see God doing – I almost always ask the same question:

“How is your spouse dealing with the change?”

There is usually a pause, followed by an “umm” of some sort, then a statement such as, “She/He seems to be doing okay.”

Push a little more (which I usually do) and I’ll hear something like:

It’s been harder on him/her than I thought it would be.”

Pushing even further, I might hear, “I don’t understand why he/she is not as excited as I am. We agreed this was what God had for us.”

Many times, when the leader is honest, the transition hasn’t gone as well for the spouse as for the pastor. It will likely come in time – if given time – but for now, the spouse is simply not as excited about the change in positions as the one who made the change in career is.

Why is this?

I like to encourage pastors and other leader to remember their spouse’s emotions in the process of transition. The person who moved to a new opportunity has found their center of gravity and purpose. Most likely the spouse will feel a sense of loss and have to look for theirs. It takes time.

Often a new pastor, for example, comes home at the end of a long day and has something exciting to share every time. Things are moving, changing, challenging them daily. Even on days things aren’t going well – they have drama in their day they can’t wait to share.

Many times, right now, the spouse has days which look the same.

You come home pumped at what God is doing, so naturally you share your enthusiasm with the one you care to share with the most – your partner in life and ministry.

But, if you’re not conscious of your spouse’s emotions, depending on their state of mind, they may hear, “My life is exciting. Yours is boring.”

Or worse, “My life has meaning. Your life has none.”

Granted, you are not and would not think those things – and would never want your spouse to think you do – but emotions are high in times of transition. Don’t be surprised if they produce irrational thoughts and actions at times. This is part of change.

Your spouse moved from friends and has to learn who to trust again. They may even be more relation-centered emotionally. Their heart may transition slower. The roles they held in the church or community haven’t been replaced yet.

You moved forward in your career and passions. Many times hers took a step backward. Or, at least, seem to have for now. This will change in time, and the spouse probably knows this intellectually, but emotionally they feel a sense of loss which will take time to replace with a sense of purpose equal to yours.

The key is to remember your spouse is an individual person, with individual needs for a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Failure to acknowledge this and be sensitive to it is not only unfair it can damage the relationship and slow the process of acclimating in the transition. 

In a future post, I’ll share some specific thoughts on helping your spouse find their center of gravity in a time of transition. Stay tuned.

The Dad Challenge: The Nurturing Father


Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

Fathers are not usually seen as the nurturing ones in a family. When my boy’s got sick, they didn’t want me, they wanted Cheryl.

The Bible, however, tends to also place the father in a nurturing position. We are told not to “exasperate” our children, which means not to wear them out with correction, but to “bring them up”. The phrase literally means we spend time with them on a regular basis and encourage them in the development of their character.  

Sounds like nurturing to me.

The Bible tends to lay a huge responsibility on the father to help set the tone or the climate of the home. A father, who is consistently harsh or is never satisfied with his children, will tend to produce children who lack the confidence to face tough situations in life.

On the other hand, a father too quiet and passive to be intimately involved in the lives of children will likely lead to adults who cannot connect well with others, either in the workplace or in their own marriages and homes.

Fathers are often one of the best determinates of a child’s future success in life.

Wow, this is a sobering statement, but it’s true!

If a boy never feels he meets his father’s approval, he may become either an underachiever or an overachiever, but he will likely never feel that he “measures up” in life. A girl whose father fails to affirm her will often seek that approval from others – often in seeking inappropriate or less than ideal relationships. She may enter marriage unrealistically expecting something from a husband he may or may not be able to give.

I haven’t even mentioned the impact of an absentee or abusive father. Some reading this know this impact well – including the writer of this post (me).

The biggest impact in the life of a child whose father never nurtures is they often have a harder time realizing the nurturing aspect found in a loving relationship with a Heavenly Father. Without the model of an earthly father, they may see God more in the role of Judge than of “Abba” – which is the Hebrew term for our modern “Daddy”.

I’m thankful for the grace and mercy of God, which allows so many second chances for fathers who have missed the mark – but if we desire to be Godly fathers, we will strive to nurture our children in love.

How’s this for a Dad Challenge? I love investing in other men. We are in this together! I want to encourage you today! But, we have great work to do, men. Let’s do it to the glory of God!

For more thoughts on parenting, click HERE.

Ask yourself – what changes do I need to make to be a more nurturing dad?

5 Reasons This Pastor Attends Church While on Vacation

destin beach

Pastor and ministry leader, as you consider your vacation this year, I want to encourage you to find a church wherever you are and visit.

I understand why you may not. Church is your “job”. You’re on vacation. It’s a break from “work” by definition.

One of the first things Cheryl and I do when we go out of town is look for a place to attend church on Sunday. We’ve had some incredible experiences attending other churches and its one of our favorite parts about vacation.

I know many pastors who look forward to some weeks they don’t have to attend church. I have often been asked if we are legalistic because we don’t take a vacation from church while on vacation. Do we feel we “must” attend church in vacation? Is it because I’m a pastor?

Absolutely not. We feel no obligation. It’s what we want to do.

Here are 5 reasons this pastor attends church on vacation:

We love church.

Church is the best part of our week. We don’t view church as an obligation. It is a privilege. We believe the church is God’s plan to make disciples. It’s our community. It’s where we find our best friends in life. It is a large part of what fuels us for the week ahead. Why would we take a vacation from this important part of our life?

We get to worship without distraction.

Honestly, Sunday can be a very distracting day for Cheryl and me. We are both busy with ministry obligations. On vacation we are freed to worship.

We get to sit together.

Cheryl is beside me during the worship portion of the service, but she has never stood beside me while I preach – even as many times as I’ve asked her to. 🙂 Actually, we did dance together on stage in one service. (Another story) On vacation we enjoy being together for an entire service.

We learn from others.

I love sitting under the teaching of other pastors. Cheryl never admits to anyone preaching better than me, but she seems to take plenty of notes when we are out of town. 🙂 We also always go home with new ideas and renewed energy from attending other churches.

We get to encourage another pastor.

We know how much we love visitors. On vacation, we get to attend another church, pray for the pastor, and many times meet and pray for the pastor and pastor’s spouse. Those have been awesome experiences over the years.

Please understand. I’m not saying you have to attend church when you’re on vacation. I am far from being legalistic. I’ve often been referred to as more of a rebel, but don’t dismiss this advice too quickly. It could be one of the greater parts of your vacation. (And if you’re ever in Lexington for vacation, come see us. Did you read my post about vacationing here?)

These 5 Simple Words Can Shape Your Parenting

Group of different families together of all races

I learned much of what I know about parenting after I was a parent.

Thankfully, my two boys are model young adults. I would say we have two of the greatest young men as sons any parent has ever seen. (Biased – aren’t I?) But, seriously, we have seen good fruit from our labor as parents. I believe this is in part because we followed certain principles.

Again, we learned as we went and it was purely the grace of God, but we were intentional.

These principles can greatly increase your success as a parent, in my opinion. (And, it’s important to note this is an opinion blog and an opinion post.) This opinion comes, however, not only from my personal experience, but also my training as a counselor, and my observation and counseling with hundreds of parents through years of ministry. Keep in mind – principles are not promises or guarantees. Children are individuals and you can do everything you know to do right and things not turn out as hoped.

But, I believe, as with most things in life, you have a better chance of success in parenting if you follow good principles than if you do not.

Here are 5 simple words which can shape your parenting:


Most of us have a plan for other areas of our life, but not for our family. Plan a strategy for raising children the way you want them to go. We had a personal parenting plan. You can read the basics of it HERE. We reevaluated every year and made individual plans for each child based on their needs at the time. Do you have a plan for parenting? Granted, your plan will look different from ours. Your children are different.


This word has several applications. It is critically important to protect your relationship with the child, for example, so you can maintain influence over them for the rest of their life. You don’t want to lose their heart. This is not accomplished by giving them what they want, but by gentling balancing discipline with love. You may have to be willing to say no, or to make them wait for something, even when it is uncomfortable and unpopular with your children (and their friends). There are things parents need to protect their children from in this world – before they are ready. Just because an 8 year old wants to see the movie – and everyone else is seeing it – doesn’t mean they should. You’re the parent.

But, you also have to work to build their trust in you as much as their obedience to you. One reason our plan included the word grace is we knew we would have to extend lots of it to protect their heart and our connection to them. It’s a continual and delicate balance.


This one gets me in trouble with some parents, but often because they don’t always understand the magnitude of their parenting role at an early age – or they aren’t seeing the long-term goal of parenting. There is a time to gain control over a child’s actions. It’s when they are very young. When they are learning all the basic things of life we take for granted. We encouraged independent personalities in our boys, but a parent doesn’t have to let a 3 year old throw a temper tantrum, for example. When is this ever an acceptable – or effective – response as an adult? And, you can make a four year old attend Sunday school even when the would rather not – for another example. Are there times you don’t want to go to work? What do you do in those times?

There should be an element of control for a child not old enough to choose wisely and then a gradual release of authority given to them as they get older. Too many parents allow too much freedom early and then try to get control back when the child tries to be an independent teenager. It should be the opposite. You are training a child in the way he should go. Take advantage of the years where they desperately need and will comply with your wisdom.


Children require an intentional investment of time and energy over time. Having children who grow up well does not usually just happen. It is as a result of the right investment of parenting. We have children for such a short window of opportunity. We can’t waste time with opportunities which only produce temporary rewards or pleasures. Which has more importance – your work, your hobby – or your children? Do your actions portray your answer?

The one thing Cheryl and I consistently observe are families who appear to let the coaches or the instructors or other people raise their children. In a desire to give them activities they sacrifice needed time for their children with the people of whom they need the most time. Every family is busy on certain weeks, but if a family goes for months with little quality – and quantity – time together priorities may need to be evaluated.

(Side note – I realize this is especially challenging for single-parent or blended families. Some parents may need outside help – and it requires even more intentionality and planning. Get help and advice from others who have been there or are living your experience. This is also a huge advantage of being involved in a local church.)


You cannot expect children to learn – and certainly not live – principles you are not willing to model for them. Children should not be held to higher standards than you hold yourself. Are you living a life they can and should follow? If they simply do what you do – or are doing – will they turn out the way you would hope they would?

Parenting is hard – but, the rewards are worth it!

Also, if you know anything about my teaching, grace is of paramount theme. If you don’t feel you’ve done everything right – or you know you haven’t – first, know there are no perfect parents. Second, know God’s grace is sufficient. And, finally, know even if your children are adults there is time to restore relationships. My father was absent most of my life, but the last 10 years of his life were well-lived. He died a good father. I miss him today.

Praying for you as I post this.

10 Prayers for Great Parenting

african sick little boy lying in bed with his mother praying on background

Dear Lord, 

Help me not to overwhelm my children with unrealistic expectations. 

Remind me discipline is for their good – and to always administer it in love – not in anger or purely emotion.

Keep me from dumping my adult problems on them, while helping me be transparent enough for them to learn from my mistakes. 

Help me to remember my children’s current age – and respond to them accordingly.

Grant me teachable moments and prompt me to use them to impart uncompromising truth into their life. 

Allow me to see my children as the individuals you created them to be and help me encourage them to thrive in your purpose for their life.

Let them see our home as a safe, fun, welcoming environment. 

Continually remind me time paces quickly and to embrace and enjoy each season. 

Keep building my character so my children have a model to follow. 

Above all – let my children know and experience unconditional love.

In Jesus name,


20 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife this Weekend

Rear View Senior Man and Woman Couple Walking Holding Hands

Men, want to show you’re wife she’s loved this weekend?

Let me offer a few suggestions:

Give her the best time of your weekend.

Do something with her you know she enjoys – even if it’s not your favorite thing to do.

Share a dessert with her. (Ouch! This one hurts me personally. I don’t usually share desserts.)

Take a long walk together and hold her hand.

Fix the bed, take out the trash, or pick up your clothes – without being asked. (Or whatever it is you know she would love if you did.)

Genuinely listen to her without trying to fix anything.

Give her a few hours with no responsibility – none. (Even the kids.)

Brag on her to your friends. Make sure it’s genuine and make sure she hears.

Go to a coffee shop and play 15 questions. I have a list of them HERE.

Tell her your deepest fears and greatest dreams.

Leave her notes around the house.

Write down 10 reasons she’s the woman of your dreams.

Leave a sweet voicemail on her phone telling how much you love her. (You can leave one at work, too, for her to get when she returns.)

Cook dinner. And, then do the dishes.

Book a date night for later this week. Take care of ALL the arrangements.

Pray for her out loud.

Ask her advice.

Say, “I love you”. Unsolicited.

Make her belly laugh.

Dream with her about your future together.

Any ideas you would share?

A Happy Mother’s Day Tribute to the Mother Who Has No Children

Happy childhood

I want to give a tribute to the mother who has no children.

I’ve always been sensitive this time of year to the mothers without children.

You know the ones.

They never had children.

For whatever reason.

Some never tried.
Some never could.
Some tried, could, and lost their child.

And, for many it’s a hidden pain they carry deeply. Deeper than any wound. Deeper than most people ever understand. (Certainly deeper than I can understand.)

I’m reminded of Hannah’s pain in 1 Samuel 1.

They never had children, but they:

  • Care for others sacrificially, simply for the joy of giving.
  • Are willing to fight lions, tigers and bears (Oh my!) for the ones they love.
  • Have more strength than the average man when caring for someone.
  • Are taken advantage of because of their generosity.
  • Love deeply and unconditionally.
  • Make life special for others – just because.
  • Find satisfaction in the simplest gestures of love.
  • Strive to make the world a better place for those around them.
  • Hide their pain – most of the time – when others take advantage of them.
  • Are always thinking of others and willing to put others ahead of themselves.

Sounds like a mother to me.

Many of them wanted children — but they never were given the blessing. And, motherhood is a blessing. Just as all parenting is.

They have no children.

But, they have a mother’s heart.

They may not have children – not in the natural sense – but in heart -they are every bit a mother.

They love like a mother. They sacrifice like a mother. They serve like a mother. They give – just like a mother gives.

And, if God were to celebrate Mother’s Day, I think He would include them in the celebration.

Because in God’s way of doing things, it’s always about the heart.

“Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

This year, as you celebrate Mother’s Day, don’t forget the mother who has no children.

While you’re at it, don’t forget the one whose mother isn’t here any longer. And, the one who has a hard story with their mother. And, all the others who – as one celebrates – another weeps.

Let’s be sensitive to the needs of others.

That sounds like something worthy to celebrate on such a wonderful day!

The Greatest Prayer a Parent Could Ever Pray

A casual young woman says a prayer with her hands held together. Shallow DOF, focus on the hands.

I love the story of Manoah and his wife. They had been unable to give birth to a child. It was apparently their greatest desire in life. One day an angel of God brought them good news a child was to be born.

I think one reason I identify with the story is the huge number of people in our ministry who have struggled with infertility. It’s a huge hidden pain in the church. It’s one reason we have always highlighted adoption and foster-parenting.

But, when Manoah’s wife came to him with the news they were having a child, Manoah immediately did what happens to many men and women when they discover they are about to be parents. He grew up – literally – and he indicated this by what he did first. He prayed!

He asked for God’s provision!

It’s funny how “life” has to happen sometimes before we fall on our knees.

In the moment – realizing they were about to be blessed with one of life’s greatest blessings – Manoah prayed the most important prayer a parent can ever pray:

Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” (Judges 13:8)

The greatest prayer a parent can ever pray is to ask for God’s hand upon your parenting! Ask God to teach you to parent well.

Parenting is hard work. There will always be issues which come up in parenting you don’t know how to address at the time. We cannot – and should not – do it alone. (This is one value of the church and community – we are in this together as parents.) All of us have seasons we could use more prayer for our children and for are parenting, but we should certainly pray.

I’m working on a longer list of prayers for parenting, but we should start here.

Dear Lord, teach us to parent!

What are the current prayers you have for your children? What specifically do they need the most?

7 Ways to Earn and Keep Respect as a Husband

close up potrait of Asian senior couple on bright green background

I’ve written before about a man’s greatest need.

It’s respect.

We may not even admit it out loud, but I’d say it’s true most every time. You may even use another word – perhaps even the word love, but I suspect if we could trace how you’d prefer it be demonstrated to you we could easily translate it to respect.

The song says “All you need is love”, but it’s not exactly true, is it? We need respect. It’s a man’s greatest need. I’m convinced.

If I’m right – (And, I always wonder why else God would command it in Ephesians 5?) – then it makes sense you’d want to earn it and if you ever received it you’d want to do your best to keep it.

How can you? Let me share a few suggestions.

Here are 7 ways for a husband to earn and keep respect:

Defend the family.

Most every wife I know wants a husband who will defend the family. This not just against the bumps in the night, but against the blatant and subtle attacks against the family. Turn the television channel. Close the laptop. Say no to friends who distract the family from being healthy. Don’t let family time be disrupted by everything the world has to offer. Demonstrate by your actions – how you calendar your time and what you value personally – you believe in and want to protect your home.

Be gentle.

Men, you can’t talk to your wife with the same tone as you might your guy friends. Being gentle means being understanding in how she is wired and how to communicate with her. Remember your words can be heavy. Think before you speak. Protect her heart. Learn to be a good listener.

Be occasionally romantic.

This one is hard. Let’s face it – most of us are not wired this way naturally. Our wives know it. It’s no longer a surprise. The good news is we get credit for trying, but every woman needs to know you think about her unlike you think of anyone else. Be intentional to be occasionally a romantic. Surprise her. Spoil her as often as you can. Make her feel special. She is.

Don’t fix her or all her problems.

This is one of my hardest I see what appears to be a problem and I naturally rush to fix it. But, our wives are not broke. God made them different on purpose. Don’t always have the answer to every problem. She isn’t always looking for one. She mostly just wants someone to listen, care, and value her right to feel as she does in the moment.

Let her know you’re in this relationship – for keeps.

You’ll do this one by being faithful. Do the right things, even when you aren’t with each other. Don’t let her see your eyes wandering. When she does (because we are visual and she notices when you look) quickly let her see you fighting temptation and focusing on her alone. Guard your heart. Build appropriate accountability in your life. (For me personally, this includes allowing Cheryl access to my calendars. She appreciates knowing where I am during the day. It makes her feel a part of it.)

Learn to listen.

I’ve alluded to it already, but one way she measures love is with attention. She knows when you’re listening and when you’re not. Show her that you care by listening carefully. Ask her questions, such as, “So are you saying…?” just to show her you’re paying attention and comprehending. She probably speaks in more subtleties and less black and whites than you do – most women do – ask questions when you aren’t sure what she means rather than ignoring her. And, listen for the meaning behind what she says as much as what she says.

Tell her and show her you love her.

Value her for more who she is than for what she does. Ask yourself, if she didn’t do anything for me, what would I love about her? Tell her. Do things you know she appreciates without being asked. Continually demonstrate love to her and she will continually respect you.

It should be noted this is not a guarantee to anything. Every spouse is unique and responses differently. This is simply intended as a possible help. But, when in doubt, ask for help. There is nothing wrong with seeking wisdom from a counselor or friend with more experience. A good marriage is worth it.