What if your husband was awesome? What if your wife was awesome? How do you help your children to live in awesomeness? These are important questions and, fortunately, the Bible does not leave us in the dark when it comes to being remarkable individuals.
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I realize salespeople pitch us every day, hoping to sell us their wares. Many of them over-sell their products through hyperbolic claims. In the end, you’re left holding the short end of the stick, and you did not conquer the world. What I’m offering you is not hyperbole. It’s real, proven, and it works. If you follow these three easy steps, you will begin to notice immediate results. You will be awesome!
Let’s not prolong this because you want to know. You want to get started today. I don’t blame you. Let’s jump in. You can begin your new life of awesomeness right now.
Step #1 – You Live to Serve, Not for Others to Serve You
(Hint: Mark 10:45)
We have a “rule” in our home. It’s simple. No family member is allowed to out-serve another family member because at the heart of the gospel is serving others for God’s fame, your good, and the benefit of others. Jesus left His place to come to ours so that He could serve us.
This perspective is what I call the “going aspect of the gospel.” The gospel is always going to others to help them to become better people. When the Lord came to you, He made you better than you were before He showed up in your life.
Because of this gospel-orientation, serving in our home is a competitive event: If you help me, it will not do just to let your serving stand. I must serve you back. My goal in life is to out-serve my wife and children. This aim has been a challenge because my family members are much better at being like Jesus than I am.
If your custom is for others to serve you more than you serve them, you might find this “gospel attitude” a challenge in the beginning. It will require a gospel-reorientation of the heart, which is a biblical way of saying you need to repent.
To repent means to turn around and go another way. The gospel is not about serving yourself, but always about helping others (Philippians 2:3-4). This attitude of the mind means “loving God and loving others” becomes your new priority (Matthew 22:36-40).
Two of the critical elements in this new way of thinking is (1) intentionality and (2) premeditation. The gospel is intentional and premeditative. The gospel-centered servant is intentionally thinking about how to serve others long before there is an opportunity to do so.
You see this idea in Ephesians 1:3-5. God was thinking about us in eternity past, planning our salvation as a future event. The Lord did not stumble upon me and think, “Gee, I need to save Rick.” No, not at all. He was pre-thinking, pre-determining, and pre-planning my salvation. Long before He served me, He was thinking about me (Jeremiah 1:5). To be a Christian is to be in the mind of God in eternity past.
Thinking of others is not like the husband responding to his wife in the car when she asks, “Where do you want to go for dinner?” He says, “I don’t know. It does not matter; where do you want to go?” No, not at all; the serving husband was thinking about his wife and had a plan in mind (or at least a suggestion to her). He does this because he is intentional and premeditative. His main ambition is to serve her.
Thinking of others is not like the dad when asked by his kids about the plan on his day off, and he says, “I’ve not given it any thought.” The serving dad has been thinking about his day off, planning proactive time with his children because to serve them is his ambition in life.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. – John 14:3
Doesn’t John cheer you up, while bolstering your affection for God? Jesus was a strategic planner when it came to His friends. How about you? Are you here to serve others, or do you expect them to help you? Here are a few helpful ways you can think about serving your family members.
- Regularly ask your spouse how you can most effectively serve him or her.
- Be quick to repent of your sins. Few things will bless another person like repentance.
- Practice expressing gratitude regularly for your spouse. Be specific.
- Seek ways to encourage your spouse and family members.
- Think about and plan things for your spouse and family.
- Be intentional about taking things off your spouse’s plate.
- Surprise your spouse by your serving.
- Regularly inquire how your spouse, children, or friend is doing. Make them answer you with specificity. Don’t settle for the customary, “I’m fine” response. Serve them by compassionately and humbly, imposing yourself into their lives.
Step #2 – You See Yourself As a Bigger Sinner
(Hint: 1 Timothy 1:15)
Who is the foremost sinner in your life? It’s a straightforward question. If it’s hard to answer, think about how you feel about others. There are two standard ways in which you think about other people.
- You look at them with biblical pity and a desire to serve them.
- You look down on others with a “greater than/better than” attitude.
The gospel-rule-of-thumb is that no one has sinned against you more significantly than you have sinned against God. There is no other biblical position to take, regardless of what has happened to you. From your perspective, you agree with Paul—you’re the foremost sinner (1 Timothy 1:15). This perspective makes it a “gospel-requirement” to show mercy on others because of the kindness that God has given to you.
And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? – Matthew 18:33
It should be a biblical impossibility to respond sinfully to someone who has sinned against you. But I live in the real world and realize forgetting this essential truth is easy. We all are a work in progress. As you are “progressively working on our sanctification,” you must have the right goal in view. This goal begins with a sober self-assessment: your sin against God is more significant than any transgression committed against you.
How you start your race will determine how you will run the race, as well as how you will end the race. You must begin with the right perspective: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (See 1 Timothy 1:15)
Our self-esteem culture cringes at such a thought about personal sinfulness because they do not understand the gospel. Only a mentally unstable person would think they are somebody in light of the testimony of Scriptures (Romans 3:10-12).
If you tend to be harsh, unkind, unforgiving, impatient, frustrated, angry, snarky, or sarcastic toward someone, you have fallen into the trap of self-righteousness. You can only respond in these ways to another person by elevating yourself above them.
The broken person—who realizes it’s only because of the grace of God that anyone can rise from the depths of despair—will not have such an attitude. When others hurt them, they understand why they did it because they are guilty of similar things.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. – Romans 2:1
Rather than spewing some venom from our mouths, we realize it was God’s grace that made us different. We have received the most profound mercy known to humanity.
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. – Titus 3:5-6
If you believe you are the foremost sinner, you are ready and willing to dispense mercy on a fellow struggler. It takes one to know one, but if you forget who you were before God showed mercy on you, it probably won’t take much for you to forget to show mercy on others.
Step #3 – You Are an Active Repenter
(Hint: 1 John 1:9)
If you’ve made it this far, you probably have concluded my title needs to be adjusted. Being awesome is not easy. You are not Jesus, and neither am I. You will fail at these two “simple” tasks:
- You want to serve rather than others serving you.
- You see yourself as a more significant sinner than others.
Watch Rick’s Doctrine of Repentance Video
As easy as these two practices may appear on paper, you will never be able to perfect them. You will fail because of the doctrine of sin. It is our sinfulness that distorts our minds while moving us off the biblical center. But to God be the glory, He helps us. The Lord left us with a cleansing agent. It is repentance. One of the miracles of grace is we can clean up our messes. We can repent. We can auto-correct and re-establish our spiritual equilibrium by neutralizing and removing our sins.
You must make active repentance a priority in your life and for your family. Repentance is the Christian’s secret weapon. It is something the world cannot do. They have no grace, no Spirit, no Bible, and no power, which is a distinct advantage for the Christian family.
Repentance is the Christian’s re-do. Think about taking a test and failing it and then allowed to erase all your mistakes, plus being allowed to re-take the test. Amazingly, God would let us do this. How about you? Are you an active repenter?
- How many times this past week have you gone to your spouse and asked for forgiveness for something you did wrong?
- How many times has your spouse or your children come to you and asked for forgiveness for their bad attitude or some other sinful deed?
- Do your children know they can have all their mistakes erased by the simple act of repenting?
- Are you serving your spouse and family by modeling repentance before them?
On Being Awesome
There you have it. Do you want to be awesome? I’m ashamed to say that for the first five years of my marriage, I never confessed a single sin to my wife. I was not an active, repenting person. My selfishness and my stubbornness blinded me. I was too proud to humble myself before God and others. I’m talking about self-love over serving my wife. The only sin I could see was the sin of others. I did not lead my family well.
But it was worse than this. I could not see the simple truths laid out in this article. I was blind. My moral compass was spinning out of control, and no one came along to adjust me. You do not have an excuse if you have read this far. You can change. If you need to change, I recommend you do the following.
Go to your spouse, family, or friends and tell them what you’ve read. Share with them how God spoke to you and how you have failed them as a biblical friend. Ask them to forgive you. Be specific about how you have failed them. Ask them how you can most effectively serve them. After I repented, I asked Lucia how I could be a servant to her, which has been a regular question since that time.
Because you are not Jesus, you will fail. This reality is where it’s essential you learn how to repent. Watch the doctrine of repentance video with your spouse, family, or friends. Appeal to them to hold you accountable. Let these truths become part of your family and community culture. Lead by your godly example. Imitate Jesus (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 4:9).