Dale Johnson: This week on the podcast, Sam Stephens, our Director of Training Center Certification, was able to sit down with Tim Keeter. Tim Keeter is a lay elder at Grace Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama. You’re probably familiar with Tim, he’s a frequent speaker for ACBC at many of our CDTs and he’s spoken at our Annual Conferences as well. He’s been training counselors since 2004 as a certified member of ACBC. He and his wife Carmen have three children, and Tim works as an aerospace engineer. Tim is a fun guy to sit down and to chat with about a lot of different subjects, but he takes seriously his ministry to his church and in his home.
I want to recommend to you one of his newly released booklets, entitled Help! My Child is Being Bullied, and it’s a part of the Lifeline Mini-Book series. I think it would be helpful to you. I do think Tim strives to lead his family well. I’ve actually been in his home, it’s been a delight—such a hospitable place. I think you’ll enjoy listening to what Tim has to teach us about how men can lead intentionally in their home. Sam, thanks for having this conversation and letting us listen in.
Sam Stephens: Tim, this is a topic that I think we see a lot in our culture, where there are not men leading in the home, or maybe there’s a lot of homes that don’t have husbands or fathers at all. How often in your experience does the topic of how to help men be leaders in their home come up in counseling?
Tim Keeter: Really almost any time that there’s a husband or father involved. I don’t think any of us—no matter how well we think we’re walking in our growth with the Lord—would say, “Hey, I got it. I’m satisfied with how I’m doing in leadership.” In particular in counseling if there’s a situation where a husband is in conflict with someone in their home, it’s a common deficiency to expect or to see. It’s not always there, but it’s certainly very common, because God clearly calls men to lead their homes. It’s no surprise that rebellion in the heart of a husband can result and manifest in either neglecting to lead or to lead in sinful, domineering ways.
Sam Stephens: When these topics coming to play—the interplay of trying to disciple men, seeing their responsibility in leading the home—are there any good homework ideas or homework tools that you would like to mention for our listeners?
Tim Keeter: Can I plug certification first?
Sam Stephens: Please do!
Tim Keeter: The most stressful thing for me early on was when I would get to that point in counseling where I knew it was time for me to assign homework. I would cling to anything that others had provided for me. Of course, over time that gets easier as you get more practiced at it, but this there’s a particular tool that I’ve held onto since I first saw it years and years ago. It’s a tool called the Husband’s Monthly Leadership Agenda. I first saw that in Stuart Scott’s book The Exemplary Husband in Appendix 6. That’s a book I recommend highly still. I took that and we now use that in our church—Grace Community Church in Huntsville, Alabama.
I have to remind husbands not to panic when they see it. It’s six pages long. It’s monthly, which means they take a whole month to get through it. I’ve actually had one husband who did it in one night and he apologized to his wife for doing that to her. This is a great tool to get through. First of all, we have to demystify these things to men. What does leadership really look like? They should be asking questions in two areas: breadth and depth. What is the extent of my leadership? Into what areas of my home do I really need to be responsible for? And secondly, how much depth is required for it to qualify as leadership and not micromanagement?
Jay Adams reminds us in a lot of his early writings and teaching that changing habits requires structured control. That’s what this agenda does. It gives them structured control to make sure they’re thinking through things. They’ll find certain things in this that they are very good at, that come more naturally to them. They’ll find other things that they probably have never addressed or they’re just not comfortable with, and that need to become comfortable. This agenda has ten things in it—it has certain things that are starred for them to think about before they sit down with their wives, and then things they are to collect. It takes the man by the hand and leads them through that process.
What does it look like? What’s the breadth and depth? One area is appreciation. That’s a husband learning to deliberately look for things that he sees in his wife that God would want him to affirm and commend, according to what the Lord values. Husbands need to be on alert for that—not just passively watching their wives do things and every now and then saying thank you, but writing down, “Here’s what I appreciate about you, and things that I want to encourage in you.”
In every one of these areas—I love what Stuart did with this—at the very beginning it starts with personal confessions and changes to make. The very first thing the husband does when he thinks about each of these areas is answer, “How have I failed in this area and what do I need to confess? That’s such a good practice to think about himself first, before he goes and talks about their relationship.
Secondly is companionship. In other words, a husband needs to have a plan. We don’t just find time because the enemy, the world, and our flesh is going to going to clobber that really easily if we don’t plan. Plan ways to spend time with her. Think about things you can do together. Invite her to give some suggestions there, and even include how he plans to show sweetheart love to her and times like that as well.
Spiritual leadership is a third area, including inviting biblical concerns from her about his leadership—ways for her to encourage him and for him to be able to grow. Make sure you pray for humility before you ask that question, and I encourage him to ask it of his children as well. But specifically, making sure that he keeps a regular update with how she’s doing with prayer time, in the Word, how she’s doing with time with other godly women in the church. And also a plan to pray and spend time regularly in the Word with her, thinking through, “How are we going to do this? When are we going to do this?” He should also be keeping up with how to pray for her—things that are concerns for her, and sharing as well, opening his heart to her in ways she can pray for him.
There’s an area called material leadership. Is he providing enough food clothing, shelter, safety to the best of his ability? What are some things that he’s delegated to her to make sure he gets updates on? If there’s certain areas in the finances or major purchases that she’s been responsible for, keep that communication going with updates.
Home environment is another area. This is where the husband needs to make sure that he’s evaluating, “Is there anything adversely affecting our home?” It could be forms of entertainment that I’ve allowed into my home, or our schedules. Are we so consumed with our children’s sports events that they’re now ruling our home and we’re not finding the right amount of time to spend as a family? I love sports, love children sports, but like anything they can become a central thing in our homes. Think through any compromises we may have invited into our lives that I want to talk about with my wife.
Also for home environment, ask “Does my wife believe she’s fully equipped to run the home? Is she overwhelmed?” That could be in her responsibilities, in the equipment that maybe I can help purchase, or other ways that she can be helped. That’s a good area to encourage her to invite other godly women in the church family to speak into her life. Titus 2 is important and I think that’s one way a husband can really help his wife is to encourage her to seek out older women who are commanded to encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, and so forth. Giving her that time, encouraging her to go seek that out is important.
Physical intimacy is another area. Husband should learn to lead in honest conversations on this topic. Certainly that’s a way to help mature this important part of their relationship: They talk about intimacy and there’s a list of things there to talk about in this worksheet that I’m thankful for.
Decision-making is another area. The husband is responsible in the home for decision-making, but wise leadership always gets input from anyone that his decisions are going to affect. He would be foolish not to take advantage of the wisdom of his wife, and should certainly do that. That certainly helps with them following his leadership as well. He needs to also communicate any of those decisions and directions once he’s made them. That includes input from his children about decisions. He should at least listen to them in those regards.
Service is the next area. Here’s the first question under service, and it challenges the husband, “Am I being the greatest servant in my home in my attitude and in my actions?” That’s a good self-evaluation to begin with and to invite. How can I improve and serve her?
The children section is very similar to the one with his wife. He’s getting updates from his wife about them. He’s talking about ways he plans to pray for them and spend time with them, making sure they’re in the Word, and looking for other requests for tentative plans and dealing with sinful patterns lovingly.
There’s a miscellaneous section that has some other items in it with concerns that he can collect prayerfully.
Sam Stephens: I think it’s so interesting hearing you go through this resource, two things come to mind. Number one, how prominent this topic is in the Scriptures. The role of the family and the husband—those dynamics are all over the Scriptures. Secondly, this homework—even though it’s aimed at helping men lead in the home—this is a partnership. This is not about just the husband getting a toolbox for him and him alone, but a lot of what you said relates to caring for his wife, knowing what she needs, knowing what the family needs, and leading well. Some men can come in for counseling and think, “Tell me what to do, Tim. Tell me everything I need to know to be the best man for me.” But really, they find that a lot of this counsel is about dying to self and serving the family.
That’s a great resource and I would encourage all of our listeners to avail themselves of it. I’m also glad that you mentioned the plug about certification, because this is a topic that we focus on in Phase One in our Fundamentals Training Course—the role of the husband, the role of the wife. We can’t get beyond the basics, right? We need to know what that is. So Tim, thank you for sharing this great resource.