In my book, The 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make, I wrote, “Men thrive on challenges and competition that make life an adventure rather than a routine.” This is based on the fact men rely on their strength to navigate through their lives. A Christian man, however, is not content to just be strong. He also has a longing to be soft-hearted because he knows this is the secret to having a good relationship with Jesus and a good relationship with others. A soft heart leads to true strength while maintaining relational success “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9). He is on guard because “he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. “ (Proverbs 28:14) Men are aggressive by nature so it is far too easy to get angry, stubborn, bored and manipulative. When God pushes us to do things His way, we can easily push back and try to impose our will on Him, our wives, our children and our friends. A soft heart takes a different approach that leads us to rejoice with those who rejoice, cry with those who cry, laugh when it is appropriate and follow God’s leading because we trust Him to do what is best in our lives every time.
In raising three athletic sons, it was easy to tap into their strength, challenge them to work hard and compete aggressively. I have watched them succeed in football, volleyball, track and competitive cheerleading. I knew, however, that these pursuits are temporary and the skills involved in intense competition are not sufficient to sustain healthy lifelong relationships. It was, therefore, a primary goal of mine to help them develop a soft-heart toward God and toward women. I recently saw evidence of this in my oldest son’s life. He and his wife were talking as the conversation began to grow in intensity. Growing up, tact was not his strong suit. If he disagreed with someone, he would point out that they were stupid. If someone was doing something wrong, he would call that person out and tell them to stop doing what they were doing. This was good when faced with peer pressure but it is not a strategic way to relate to your wife. Well, anyway, he snapped at his wife inappropriately.
In a few minutes, he caught himself and returned to the conversation with his wife. “I am sorry that I snapped at you earlier. I didn’t mean to . . .” He then paused and thought for a moment before restarting his apology. “Actually I did mean to raise my voice at you because I wanted you to stop what you were doing. So, I am sorry that I meant to get upset with you. Please forgive me.”
It was awesome to see him maintain his strength by keeping his heart soft. As I travel through my life this week it is my goal to keep my heart soft as I pursue the strongest life possible.