Boys to Men Day 6: The Challenge of Being a Provider
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)
You may never get married. And if you do, you may never have children. And if you do, you might decide both you and your wife will continue to work. If any of these apply to you, then this article might not. I’m writing this from the standpoint of a husband as the sole provider for his family. It has become normal for a husband and wife to both work, and for their children to be taken to some form of daycare. But that discussion is not the point of what I’m writing today.
Not unlike a business owner, a husband who provides for his family is faced with anxiety, stress, and pressure. Much of this strain revolves around finances. What happens if I lose my job? What happens if I have to absorb a pay cut? What happens if I don’t get the raise or bonus I expected? The fallout could be significant. Would the mortgage, car payment, utility bills, groceries, and so on continue to be covered? Many husbands and fathers spend their days thinking about these things, all the while trying to be a good husband, father, employee (or employer), and Christian. They think about their retirement funds (or lack thereof). They think about life insurance. Do I have enough to support my family if something happened to me? They think about future expenses—cars, college, weddings, unexpected medical bills, and on it goes. Even as I write this, I can sense my heart rate speeding up just a hair! Unless you are exorbitantly wealthy, these are all thoughts that have taken or will take a stroll through your mind. If they haven’t and you are not exorbitantly wealthy, can I ask what your secret is?
The pressure and strain can be more than financial, too. Sometimes a home can feel the empty echo of an absent man … a husband and father burning both ends of the candle … the stress of a family drifting apart. If I could influence or encourage any men in this direction, I would be thrilled. Don’t be the absent husband or father, leaving early and coming home late. You might be getting ahead financially, but you’re missing out on real life. I would hope that your wife and children would rather downsize in life and have you with them.
How do you cope with it all, though? Thankfully, the Bible is very clear when it comes to stress about our finances. Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Full confession: that’s easier said than done! You’re reading the writings of a man who has dealt with full-on anxiety attacks. But that doesn’t change what the Bible says. Those words have been in the Scriptures for all to see for centuries! When it comes to our financial needs, our anxiety, our stress, our questions, and our fear, what recourse do we have? First of all, we should bring “everything by prayer and supplication” before God. I think the word “everything” is significant. All too often, men (especially) are too proud to ask for help. We don’t want to admit we are in a position of weakness and need. But we have no reason to hide anything from God—He knows it anyway! Bring all those stresses and fears to Him! But here is another key. We are to do it “with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving for what? We should be thankful for what He has already provided, for answers already received, and for blessings yet to come. All our prayers can surely have thanksgiving loaded in for all that we have! As a provider for your family, what do you have to be thankful for right now? Stop just for a moment and thank God for it. The more we focus on what we do have in Christ (and less on what we do not have in this life), the more it will help usher in “the peace of God.”
And, yes, I know it isn’t just that simple. There are many other factors based on individual circumstances. But take a moment, take stock, and give thanks. Instead of asking God for a bonus, ask Him to overwhelm you with His peace. And while you’re at it, spend a few extra moments with those you are providing for. I’m sure they’ll be glad to have you!