I’ve recently begun practicing something new when my family gathers together at the dinner table – yep, we still use the dinner table! This practice, however, is something contrary to the so-called “old, traditional male thingy,” but I’m confident I’m doing the right thing. For some this idea may seem novel, for others you may already be doing this whether you realize it or not. But it’s something I’ve intentionally sought to practice.
This is what I’ve started to do looks like at our evening meal: We first set the table with the dishes and silverware. Typically after my wife has finished cooking for her family a delicious, tasty meal, the food is brought to the table. We sit down, we fold our hands, and we pray. My wife grabs the utensil to pass out dinner. First, she plates food for my son, that way it can begin to cool down for him before he starts sucking it down. Second, she plates food for herself. Finally, when everyone is done gathering their food, I dish up for myself the nourishment I need. I start eating last.
I know to some this may seem quite trivial, but this is my new practice: I grab grub for myself last. The idea of this new practice of mine hit me one night at the dinner table. I was gazing at my son, who sits next to me, and my wife, who sits on the other side of my son. It was one of those nights I saw them and realized what great blessings, great gifts from God my wife and son – who we were told we would never be able to have – are to me. As a result I began thinking about what I need to do for them. What do I have within my power to do for these two individuals God has given to me to care for? “More” is always the appropriate answer, but in what way should I do “more”? I need to serve my family, put their needs before mine. I don’t do a good job of it as it is, so where should I start?
While, again, it may not seem all that significant, I wanted to do this small thing for my family intentionally, hoping and praying that other, more important service opportunities would be taken into consideration as time goes on where I need to put them first. My motivation is simply to be the best husband to my wife and a father to my son I can be. As their provider and protector I need to know that my family is eating to live their lives boldly along with me, fulfilling their callings they need to fulfill for others. This is how I think men, who have been blessed with one, should act toward their families and then to others.
Why are men to be like this? Is it so he can “feel” good about himself? Does he act in this way to appear as a good person, showing off? While some of that may take place, a man’s practicing of “manhood” flows from the One who is your God, particularly through the person of the Son, the God-Man, Jesus the Christ. God the Son came down from heaven and sacrificed Himself for you and did it willingly. He lived, He suffered, He died, He rose, He ascended, and it’s all for your benefit: for the forgiveness of your sins. Because of the gifts you receive through Christ, you can get to be the man He has called you to be. Through Jesus sacrificial death, you have been set free from the slavery and bondage of sin, death, and the Devil. Now you get to serve your neighbors, of which your family is the foremost. Yes, the man that I am, the man I’ve been called to be as husband and father, is the one who comes last because Jesus made Himself last and least of all. When a man has been called to be a husband and/or father he is called to fill the needs of individuals he’s either attached himself to and/or who have attached themself to him. Specifically, the woman he’s become one flesh with, and any children who have been gifted to them by that one flesh union – maybe even their mother or father when they are unable to care for themselves one day, and I’m sure the list can go on.
Now, I don’t do this perfectly by any means. I am a sinner – just ask my wife – and I fall short so often I’ve never been able to keep count. However, I think any man should strive to be a better husband and father, a better man. Love, Biblically, is action; love is selflessness; love is sacrifice. With this love the man gets to love because God first loved him. Out of this kind of love, the action packed love of God, the man is called to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. He’s the image of Christ for his family. As a result, he makes sure everyone is fed before he digs in to eat last.