Be an Expert

According to the experts who study what it takes to become an expert, if you commit to study a subject for one hour a day, you’ll be an “expert” in the field after a few years of work. Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. The reality is somewhere in between.

Most people aren’t going to work that hard, so after a few years of work, you’ll be smarter than most people in any given subject. But if you want to compare yourself to the real experts in any field, well, that will take most of your life.

But what about your spouse? Who’s the expert in your wife? Your husband?

Short answer…you are. With just a little work, a little attention, you can become an expert in your husband and/or wife. Think about it. What if you spent one hour a day studying your spouse? What kinds of things would you find out?

Wives, do you know your husband’s favorite pen? What’s his favorite shirt or suit? His favorite team? An expert would know these things.

Guys, do you know her sizes? What’s her favorite dessert? Her favorite movie? Team? An expert would know these things.

How do you become an expert in your spouse?

The same way you become an expert in anything. You study. You pay attention. You ask questions. You keep notes. You watch for tendencies and habits. You learn to anticipate responses.

One of the overlooked aspects in a Christ-centered marriage is the concept of stewardship.

We are stewards of our spouses. We are tasked to maximize the Master’s investment He has entrusted to us. Therefore, it’s up to us to ensure our spouses become everything God dreamed they would be.

And you can only do that if you become an expert first.

Pay attention. There will be a test.

A Perfect Canvas

When I was in high school, I worked for a local artist. Jean Woods was a painter who held classes for students and adults during the summer. My job was to help get the studio set up before lessons, cleaned up after lessons, help the students as needed and in general, do anything Mrs. Woods needed me to do.

And every afternoon, she needed me to paint canvases with gesso. Gesso is a white artist gel used to cover canvases and painting boards before you paint on them. If Mrs. Woods had used five or six canvases during the lesson and she didn’t feel particularly inspired by any of them, I’d coat them with gesso.

Now, you couldn’t just roll over each canvas with the gesso. You had to leave a white, streak free, line free canvas for her to work on. When Mrs. Woods wanted to work, she wanted a perfect canvas.

And when God the Father, the Greatest Artist of all, wants to work, He too wants a perfect canvas. Forgiveness is how this process starts. Our lives, like the canvases in Mrs. Woods’ studio, are coated with the death of Christ leaving a perfect canvas for the Father to work on.

But remember, forgiveness isn’t where the Artist stops. It’s where He begins.

Forgiveness allows the Artist to work without anything from the past hindering His great work in our lives.

Like Jean Woods, God likes to start with a perfect canvas for His work.

Wives, Your Husband IS Talking to You

In marriage, there is a complaint that is almost universal among wives…their husbands don’t talk to them.

Yet, when I pull the husbands aside, they tell me they talk all of the time, but their wives don’t listen to them.

What’s the problem?

It’s a problem of context and styles. I know the conventional wisdom is that men don’t understand women (we don’t), but the reverse is also true: women don’t understand men.

Let me give you an example. When a wife tells her husband she wants to talk, she never understands that in guy language, that signals a confrontation.

When one guy says to another, “Hey, we need to talk…” he’s initiated a combative stance. Likewise, when a wife says she wants to sit down and talk, her husband thinks she’s getting ready to fight.

So, he gets ready to fight. He becomes defensive and protective. It’s hardly a good posture for listening.

Perhaps if wives used questions that sounded more like an invitation, the husband would be more responsive and engaged. They could use phrases such as, “I need your input on this…” or “I could use your thoughts about…” or “Could you give me some feedback?” Sending a clear signal the conversation is about information would help get things off to better start.

In addition, men talk sideways. Rarely, do guys sit face to face and discuss the issue before them. Guys talk while they do something else. We hold long discussions while we’re driving, working on hobbies, playing golf or watching sports on TV.

Here’s a typical conversation between two guys while playing golf:

Guy 1: What’s the yardage?
Guy 2:“About 250…how are things?
Guy 1: Think I’ll use my 3 wood. Things are good, but I’m a little worried about my son.
Guy 2: 3 wood will work. Just swing easy. What’s up with your son?
Guy 1: Yep, keep my head down and swing through. I really don’t know what’s up with him, just picking up a lot of anger lately.

See how that works? Woven in between all of the stuff about golf is a very serious issue Guy 1 WANTS to talk about and wants his friend to hear. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong. It’s just the way guys are.

So, what do wives do? Create spaces where your husband can talk.

Do things with him.
Work in the yard.
Find a hobby you enjoy together.
Learn about his favorite sport. If it’s Nascar, learn his favorite driver. If it’s baseball or football, learn his favorite team and WHY they’re his favorite team.
Then participate with him and learn to listen for the truths he’ll slip into the conversations.

I’ve been married for 34 years and over the years, I’ve learned to speak Jeannie-ese. Over those same years, she’s learned to speak Mike-ese. She’s very different from me and that’s one of the things I love about her. Husbands and wives can learn to talk to each other. It does take a little effort but when it happens, husbands will suddenly be impressed with how smart their wives are…and want to talk to them more.

Choosing the Good Ground

I love history, especially military history, and of that, especially Civil War history.

Whenever I read the stories of battles, I’m surprised at how much time is spent before the battle choosing the ground where the battle will be fought. Commanders try to maneuver their forces to make the enemy respond by moving their forces. Each move and counter move is made to take maximum advantage of the natural terrain that will give their forces maximum advantage in the coming battle.

In fact, do you know many Civil War historians think that if Richard Ewell, the Confederate commander who first reached Gettysburg, had forced the Union troops to retreat past Cemetery Ridge, the battle of Gettysburg might have gone a different way?

If Gettysburg had been lost, Lincoln would have been forced to make different decisions and that of course, would have dramatically changed our history. All this because one general in one battle didn’t choose the good ground.

Not many of us think about the battles we have to fight in our day to day lives. If we did, we might spend more time thinking about choosing the ground we fight on.

Jesus talks a lot about the foundation of our lives. Paul teaches the early church to be sure about the foundation upon which they choose to build their lives. Likewise, you and I need to spend some time, some serious time, thinking about the values and truths upon which we establish our lives. Every choice we make. . .our treasures, our careers, our successes, our relationships. . .everything comes from the choice we make for the foundation of our lives.

As a Christ-follower, I believe the totality of God’s personality and truth is found in Jesus. To know Jesus is to know God. To know the truth of Christ is to know the truth of God. That’s why I study the Scriptures. Right now, I’m deep into Paul’s letter to Colossians.

I want to know everything I can about Jesus and then, I do my best to align my life (obedience) to the teachings of Christ. I don’t, however, do this on my own. Christ’s presence through His Spirit, gives me the strength and insight to better accomplish this alignment every day.

No, I never get there, but every day I get a little closer.

It’s the ground I’ve chosen to stand on. This one choice affects every other choice I make today. I’m confident I’ve made a good choice — a choice that will carry me through this life and beyond.

What about you?

What ground have you chosen to stand on?