The Father’s Weight to Provide for his Family

Today, we have a good question or a good discussion that was happening in our Facebook group and if you’re not in the Five Minute Fatherhood Facebook group, get in there. There’s a link in the description on YouTube channel or a link down in the audio description if you’re listening on audio. We’d love to have you in there. I think we have 700 fathers in there now all kinds of sharpening, encouraging one another. It’s an amazing, amazing community and all of us are pursuing the same thing, building a multi generational family team on mission.

The question or the discussion was, what do you do if you feel like you’re not making enough money to provide? Or another question around that is how much responsibility should the father feel to provide for his family? 0%? 50%? A 100%? And so yeah, Jeremy, what does that look like?

Yeah, guys. This is a tough one and I don’t know where each of you guys net out on this, but if you asked me how much responsibility should the father feel for providing for his family? I’m going to say to you guys, my belief biblically is that the father should feel 100% of the responsibility to provide for his family. This is a tough conversation.

The reason I believe that it’s really a theological belief that comes from the way that God described what happens to humanity during the fall. In Genesis 3, this is something God says. And to Adam, God says, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, you shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you. In pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles, it shall bring forth for you and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground for out of it you were made. You are dust and to dust you shall return.”

This is a very hard thing. If you guys feel, when I say that a 100% of the responsibility or a 100% of the way for providing for the family really is on the shoulders of the father, you should feel overwhelmed and it’s not, this is not a blessing. This is a curse according to the scriptures placed on men. Now what do you do with a curse? Well, you find someone else you can offload it onto. That’s honestly guys, that’s what you do with a curse. That’s what you want to do with a curse and that’s what I’m going to encourage you guys not to do. Please understand this is your responsibility. Now that does not mean your wife cannot help you. That does not mean your wife cannot work and provide an income and provide some financing for your family. That’s awesome.

And what was going on in this conversation is there was some, some of these guys were saying, “Hey, my wife, even makes more money than I do. Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? How should I feel about that?” And I would sort of stop that and say, “We got to level up this conversation to another topic before we go there.” Which is, do you feel 100% of the weight and responsibility of providing for your family? If you do and you choose to allow or to organize that responsibility in such a way that your wife is a major contributor to that, then I think you can maintain that balance. But the problem is that typically what happens is when guys’ wives provide a lot of income for the family, they actually begin to abdicate the responsibility and put it on their wife.

And when their wife starts to pull back for any reason, whether it’s because maybe she wants to stay home with the kids or maybe for other reasons or then all of a sudden the man starts to feel like she’s not carrying her weight. That is so dangerous, in my opinion, for the family. For the father to say, “Hey, you have this curse that is given to you in Genesis 3, could you take 50% of my curse as well? Why don’t you be doubly cursed?” That is a formula for marriage breakdown. And so the way I think that you need to handle this is that men should feel 100% of the weight, 100% of the responsibility. They should go out into the world and try their best to provide for their families as much as they possibly can.

And as they’re doing that, if their wife comes alongside of them or in those conversations with your wife, she comes alongside and begins to take some of that weight off, or she begins to provide some income for the family, that is great. And she is being an amazing helper according to the book of Genesis. And that’s not a bad thing, but you have to be careful that in that process you don’t begin to feel less responsible. And if you begin to feel, yeah, this is basically a 50/50 game and that’s where I think this, you begin to really live into a different story than the one that’s being described in the Bible and I think there are inevitable difficult consequences that comes from that. But yeah, Jeff, how do you wrestle with this? This is a really challenging one to really get right.

And we’re going to solve it in Five Minute Fatherhood episode. No, I agree. I agree. And I think what I’m hearing you say, and I want to make sure everyone hears is that the key word here is responsibility. We’re not even really having a conversation about should your wife make income or not make income or should your wife work or not work? That can be another episode. In some sense we’re talking about responsibility. Because I actually think a distortion of what we’re saying, so let’s make clear also the distortion of the wrong way of what we’re saying is people then who use certain things like I think people take this verse in this context off the deep end for then some of the more 1950s versions of marriage as we’ve seen, not biblical marriages we’ve seen where the wife is squashed, her talents are not flourishing, she’s not raised up, she’s not gifted, she’s not unleashed in some sense.

And that’s actually what it means to be responsible is to unleash your wife, what is her giftings and her talents and her treasures and her capacity as you guys are co-laborers for Christ in this marriage? That’s what the marriage team is. And so first of all, that’s what we’re saying. And then just go one layer down deeper. What does responsibility truly mean? Because I think it’s so dumb that we get stuck in the weeds then about like, oh the money, who makes more and all that. That’s like kind of a dumb conversation I feel like. And but it’s true that that’s where people, like you were saying that people kind of go and it’s just not helpful. We need to level that up. And so what I would say is what does responsibility mean? And to me, responsibility means who’s, when something goes wrong or when something goes sideways, who’s responsible? That’s the word you use. Who’s responsible here? Who’s in charge here?

Usually you start asking those questions, or you even see it on movies with cops or whatever. Anytime that question comes out of something’s mouths, it’s like, who’s in charge here? Who’s responsible here? Is when something has gone sideways. Now do you believe that’s you? Meaning you’re responsible for hedging, protecting, guarding. And that’s where I think this conversation is really important because there can be a subtle exchange that happens here that then abdicates your responsibility, which then creates an erosive corrosive kind of nature in your father identity. That you start really corroding what it means to guard, hedge, protect and unleash the giftings of yourself, your wife, your kids, the team. And so that’s where we’d want to center in on. And I think that’s what the conversation is about for sure is you, that’s the call and that’s the charge. And that’s a high calling for men. That’s a difficult calling for men. But we are responsible and it’ll only go well for us if we lean into that responsibility and it tends to not go well for us if we don’t.

I’ll say one more thing you guys. I just want to say that, I had a point in my life where I really struggled with this, I was not making enough money for my family. We were very poor. I just decided to resign from my job, I had two little kids and I didn’t know what to do and I remember I went off to a just to take a day and just cry out to the Lord and I just prayed, “God, please help me provide for my family.” And there’s a whole story, I’d love to tell you guys about what happened two days later, which is the Lord blessed me in a way that shocked me and has really set my life in a different trajectory from a provision perspective ever since. But I just want to say that when, if you feel that weight of responsibility, you have a good Father, we are not alone.

Jesus said that anyone who is out on mission making disciples, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” And so to never feel alone, never feel abandoned, never feel like when we say a 100% of responsibility is on you, that means that there is no one to help you. You have people helping you around you, like your wife who’s right at your side, who can help you in various ways. Sometimes that means encouragement. Sometimes that means she is going to provide some income. You’ve got your Father in Heaven who wants to bless you and He’s a good Father and so you’re not alone. But this is a challenging thing to manage. But on this side of the gospel where the curse of the cross has been absorbed or the curse of the fall has been absorbed to the cross, I think there are all kinds of resources that God’s going to bless us with.

But I don’t think that we get there by taking the responsibility and putting it on someone else. That’s the thing we’re encouraging you guys not to. But if you take it on, you own it completely and you ask the Lord for help, and you ask your wife for encouragement and help in whatever way really makes sense for her, I think you guys can do this. And so it was important to feel that way. It’s really designed to bring us to the Father. That’s why I think God, even this curse has sort of a mixed blessing in it, which is this is going to be hard for you and you’re going to learn a lot through it and you’re going to come back to me. And that’s really what I experienced. I really returned to the Father in a much more sort of desperate way, and I think it really was a spiritually powerful and life changing experience for me. And I want to encourage you guys to do that too.

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