Now here’s a memory for your summer vacation scrapbook. You got kissed by a dolphin. No thank you. But it happens to people at SeaWorld. At least when I was there they were doing it. You know, it’s that park where you can see the fish and the seals, etc. doing these amazing tricks. Those dolphins are really something. I watched them jump through hoops (I wish you could get your kids to do that), they’ll dance on their tails, and did I mention jumping out of the water and kissing tourists? Yeah. But if you want to understand why they do all this neat stuff, you have to watch what they do after each trick. They swim around the pool and straight for the guy with the bag. You know what’s in that bag. Fish! Yummy fish! If you want a dolphin to do something, give him a fish and he’ll do it again! Men are a lot like that.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “How to Improve Your Man.”
I really do think my half of the human race has a lot in common with those dolphins. If you give us a fish when we do something good, we’ll want to jump through that hoop again.
Some women seem to believe that the best way to get their man to improve is to nag him into it, to shame him into it, or to criticize him into doing it. The Bible describes two kinds of women in Proverbs 14:1: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” There are some things that a woman does that build the people she cares about, and there are others that tear them down.
Now there’s no question every man needs a lot of work. We know that. But if you approach your husband like your personal home improvement project, like “I’ve got to fix this guy!” you’ll probably keep him from changing. Is it stubbornness? Ego? Deafness? I’m not sure, but I do know that when a man is pushed, he tends to go the other way, not come your way.
Part of love is what I call “mirroring” – holding up a mirror to the person you love and letting them know what you see when you look at them. We tend to be a lot better at mirroring the things we don’t like than some of the good things about that person. But it’s in affirming the good that we give a person the courage and the encouragement to work on the rest.
Proverbs 31 contains God’s description of a woman who’s got it right. And, after all, He invented man and woman! In Proverbs 31, beginning with verse 10, our word for today from the Word of God, He says, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and he lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” This woman continues to bring value and confidence and good into her husband’s life. And it pays off. It says, “Her husband is respected at the city gate. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, he praises her.”
I guess if you want to improve your man, bring him good, bring him value. Tell him what’s good about him. Praise him when he does something right, even if it’s just a tiny improvement. Give him a fish if you want him to do it some more. Or, as my wife has often said, “Water what you want to grow.”
When you consistently have a ministry of encouragement and affirmation in your man’s life, he feels safe. And, look, we’re insecure. We’re not going to risk changing unless we’re in a place where we feel safe. If he feels safe and valued by you, he’s a lot more likely to listen when you need to tell him something that’s hard to hear. He’ll know you love him and he’ll know that you want him to be the best man he can possibly be.
Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, had a wonderful outlook on this. She said, “It’s my job to love Billy. It’s God’s job to change him!” Well, that says it better than I ever could.