My wife and I were recently on a hike. The hike started at the rim of a ridge and descended to a picturesque lake front and a beach. When we got to the bottom we stopped at the restroom.

There, on the ladies side of the restroom, was a big, strong father and his little waif of a three year old daughter. She had just come out of the restroom and needed help getting her wet swimsuit on right. Wet, one-piece swimsuits never want to cooperate, especially for small girls. So here is dad, who looks like a construction worker with arms as big as her waist, gently helping his tiny daughter get back into her swimsuit.

Why this story? Because it is important to realize that God calls men to be protectors. That can mean that he defends your family from harm, doing all those brave things that we often associate with manliness. It can also mean that he is the tender protector that helps the helpless, especially when it is his own family. [1 Thessalonians 2:7]

In our society we seem to value the big, burly man doing brave, manly deeds. In our entertainment, in stories, in our expectations, this is the way we tend to see men. When was the last time you saw a knight in shining armor (or a father) depicted helping his daughter adjust her swimsuit or some other task involving tenderly assisting small children? We have made such a humble, protecting act very awkward for men. Yet it should be praiseworthy and given high honor for stepping up to a task that is out of his comfort zone.

I hope the articles here encourage you toward relationship with your children. (That does not take away from the need to be the parental authority and discipline your children in a Godly manner.) When they are young, it is these small, tender, protecting acts that capture their hearts. As they get older, the building of relationship will be the way to gain access to their hearts. If you want them to hear you as Solomon did (Proverbs  1:8-92:1-53:1-12, 21-234:1-27), it is important to build this relationship over the long haul.

So to the men I say, step up to the tender, protective role that God has given you. Don’t be concerned with the world’s manly stereotype; instead, be willing to be the imitator of God He has made you to be – even when it is uncomfortable.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. —Ephesians 5:1-2

To the ladies, practice praise. Understand that some things are tough for your husband. The tender warrior role does not necessarily come naturally. He needs encouragement that you admire the effort he is putting out to help your little child, doing the things that may be “not what other guys do”.

Whatever is good … dwell on these things. —Philippians 4:8

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