For God So Loved . . . - The Uncommon Marriage Adventure

For God So Loved . . .

CORE PRACTICE #3: Husbands: Work hard to hear your wife’s heart and meet her needs.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.John 3:16-17


Bill McCartney was a longtime college football coach whom I first got to know while playing high school football in Michigan, where I grew up. Bill would later coach at the University of Colorado, where he led the Buffaloes to their only national title. In 1990, he felt called to something different and started Promise Keepers, a ministry movement that reaches out to men.

Shortly after Bill founded Promise Keepers, the organization held a men’s conference at Houlihan’s Stadium in Tampa. Bill was one of the speakers. I had just been hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their head football coach, and I attended the conference along with several members of my staff. Bill’s message impacted me then and continues to carry weight and meaning with me today.

Bill told us that he had started Promise Keepers because of a mistake he had made in his marriage. He admitted that he’d been so shortsighted and self-centered in his drive to become a successful college football coach that he’d often disregarded his wife’s needs. Lindy had never balked or failed to support him as he pursued his passion for a career in the world of sports. However, in the process, she never had the chance to pursue her individual dreams. Even worse, Bill confessed that he’d never given Lindy’s desires much thought, figuring that she’d understood when they married that she needed to stand by his career.

When Bill really looked into his wife’s eyes, he realized that the life had gone out of them. He resolved to begin serving her. After telling his story, he challenged us to read John 3:16—a Scripture reference familiar to many sports fans—in a new way. He said that when he replaced the words the world in that verse with Lindy’s name, his attitude toward her had completely changed.

As we left the stadium that day, my fellow coaches and I talked about how Bill’s message had resonated with every one of us—because we had done the very same thing with our careers and to our wives. We realized that as we had reached for our dreams, our marriages became a “one-way street,” and we expected our wives to support the destination we had chosen. That night, we left the conference vowing to change that paradigm.

In today’s Scripture passage, Jesus told Nicodemus, a curious religious leader, that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son as a sacrifice. That verse took on new meaning for me in the stadium that day. As I followed Bill’s example, I read the passage like this: “For God loved Lauren so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that if Lauren believes in him, [she] will not perish but have eternal life.” Reading it that way allowed me to see Lauren, the woman whom the King of kings had arranged for me to marry, in a new light. More than ever, I wanted my actions and attitude to give her a lift and ongoing encouragement.

When we put the names of our loved ones, friends, and others who cross our paths into this passage, they take on sacred significance. In our minds and hearts, we begin to view them as God has always seen them—as prime objects of His love and caring affection. Then we are better able to help them become all they were created to be, to follow their dreams and to use their gifts for their good and the good of others.

Adventure Application: Read John 3:16 aloud, inserting your wife’s name where appropriate. How does that help you better appreciate God’s love for her? How does it impact your attitude toward her?

From the Book:

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The Uncommon Marriage Adventure
By Tony Dungy and Lauren Dungy with Nathan Whitaker

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