Before kids, Angela and I had two labrador retrievers. One yellow and one black. Their names were Deacon and Maggie. I will never tell you why I named the yellow lab Deacon. Nevertheless he was the compliant, good dog. Maggie on the other hand, drove me nuts. She barked and barked and barked and barked and barked. No matter what we tried we could not get her to stop barking and believe me… we tried everything.
Hailey, our oldest daughter, was born on a hot day in August. At some point the night after she was born, I ran home quickly to check on the dogs. The hospital was literally a 5 minute walk from my house in Nassau Bay. When I got home, the police were in my driveway. That is typically not a good sign. I knew everyone on the Nassau Bay Police force for two reasons: 1) Nassau Bay is a small, tight knit community that I love and 2) I am one of those guys that finds myself helping in crazy situations with people, often bumping into the police. Kind of a “here we are again” relationship.
I walked up the driveway and the police officer said that a complaint had been filed against us because of “Maggie the barking dog.” He said we needed to do something about the situation. I said, “Wow that’s a lot of attention for one barking dog complaint.” My friend the police officer said, “17 have been filed, we just didn’t want to bother you but now there are too many.” In short, we were either going to have to go to court or get rid of the dog. Easy for me. Let’s get rid of the dumb barking dog that never shuts up. We had about 6 weeks to find her a home.
Angie and Hailey and I came home from the hospital 24 hours later. I went back to work a few days later. One morning I pulled out of the driveway and saw a cantankerous neighbor who lived behind me hovering about two houses down on the street corner. I did not think much about it except, “I know that’s the guy that filed 17 complaints.” I went to work and jumped into the ministry of the day.
About 30 minutes later I got a phone call from a very ticked off Lebanese woman named Angela (who is also my wife). Apparently our cantankerous neighbor waited for me to leave home to go to work. Soon after I left he knocked on the door and began to cuss my wife who was holding our 1 weak old baby. He was mad about the dog and decided he would let her know about it. If you know Angie very well you know she did not take it for a second. When he stopped yelling and cussing she told him to get off her porch and not to talk to her again. (I probably cleaned that up a bit.) Then she called me… husband, dad, defender of the family.
I did some quick research to find out who this man was. In about 5 minutes I found out he was the former mayor of our community with a lot of pull and a reputation of suing his neighbors without ever talking with them. If you know me very well you know that I am a fighter at heart. Some people call it “little man’s disease.” I like to see it as a lot of “heart.” I got in my truck, drove to this man’s house and knocked on his door. He opened the door, stunned to see me, and obviously shaken by the unavoidable “man to man” confrontation.
Just a side note: I have found in life that some men are often loud and brave when they are hidden behind e-mail or talking to your wife while you are not home. It is usually just an act and a personal “man to man” encounter shatters the facade. No punches required.
He said, “Hello Pastor Haynes.” “Great,” I thought. “He knows I am a pastor… now I have to be careful that this does not end up in the local newspaper.” I reached out to shake my neighbors quivering hand. I said these words in a calm but firm voice while I gripped his hand in an awkwardly long handshake. “Sir, I hate my dog too. I am going to find her a nice farm so that she can bark all she wants. But, I love my wife and you just treated her like a dog. It is a cowardly thing you did, waiting for me to leave and then cussing my wife. Never, and I mean never, approach my wife again without me standing right beside her. Do you understand what I am saying to you?” Then I let go of his hand. He said, “Is that a threat?” I said, ” No, its a warning. You crossed a line and I will not allow you to cross it again.” “Have a good day.” I got back in my truck and went back to church.
We are Defenders and Protectors:
Sometimes I think we, as Christian men, have become too soft. In an effort to love people, we “nice” everyone to death. Even worse we avoid what I would call “Healthy Confrontation.” Sometimes we sin in our efforts to avoid conflict. You see it is our biblical role as husband and dad to defend and protect. What does that mean and how can we defend and protect in our Christianity?
Christianity as modeled by Jesus is not passive or weak. Instead it is selfless, sacrificial, and courageous. As a man you were placed in your family for many reasons. One of those is to be the defender of every person in your family. In our faith we become stronger not weaker, as men who are also husbands and dads. As a man who follows Christ you love in a way that forces you to lay down your very life. When it comes to your wife and kids, you wisely defend in faith. Here’s How:
We Defend in Prayer:
There is a spiritual battle going on for the souls of your wife and kids and the well being of your family. You defend against the enemy in prayer. You pray with your wife. You pray with your kids. You pray alone for your wife and kids. You walk the house late and night while everyone is sleeping and you pray over them. You lay awake at night while you are traveling for business and you pray for them. You pray the Word over them when they are awake and when they are sound asleep. When they are going through the greatest times and the worst times you pray with and for them to the point of fasting, always fighting the spiritual battle for your family as described in Ephesians 6:10-18.
We Protect in Relationship:
In a sense the best protection you can provide your family is the security and safety of a healthy relationship with you. No pressure but your relationship with
your wife and kids drastically impacts their relationship with God…”The Father.” (Ephesians 5:22-6:4) Are you a safe place for your wife? Does she know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will never leave her or forsake her? Do your children see you as a safe place of refuge in a chaotic world. Are you a rock whose love never changes no matter what happens? Cultivating a deep relationship with each of your family members through conversation, common experience, and your unending pursuit of them in love, develops a safety and protection. Pursue them as your greatest treasure and in that way you will protect them.
We Defend in Confrontation:
Sometimes, when clear injustice is done against our wife, sons, or daughters, we must defend in confrontation. Certainly that does not mean that you have a free pass to kick butt. Instead it means as Christ followers we wisely defend in confrontation… no punches necessary (usually). This is an act of love that is important to your wife and your children. Many times in counseling I have listened as a child (sometimes grown) discusses a traumatic event in his or her life. Perhaps worse than the trauma is an apathetic or passive reaction to the trauma by a father. Therefore when a clear injustice is done against any one of my daughters, I am their primary and biblical defender until they are married. For me to shirk confrontation comes at a great expense. We have a phrase at my house. It’s kind of a joke and kind of serious all at once. When my daughters perceive injustice they always say, “Dad you can squash him like a bug.” That phrase didn’t come from nowhere. They have lived long enough to know, Daddy will confront injustice. I add this one caveat. When you confront, confront with wisdom from a place of righteous anger. I think of Jesus, never backing down but always confronting from the perspective of the very Word of God. At the same time we teach our family the freedom of forgiveness. Confront with the intention of offering forgiveness at the end of the day in obedience to Christ and for your own freedom. But don’t be a weenie. You are the protector and defender of your family.
Check out how Jesus approaches the final confrontation in Revelation 19 :11-16. Notice specifically Revelation 19:13.
He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is “The Word of God.”