What’s In It For . . . ?

Ian sat on the sofa in my office, leaning forward, head in hand. He slowly shook his head, obviously struggling over the current internal war that was raging inside his head and heart. In previous sessions he had been bouncing his thoughts and feelings off me, trying to decide if he would remain married to his wife of eight years, and stay with her along with their two young sons.

Numerous questions had been lofted his way in the past few weeks, challenging him to think through the decision it appeared he had already made in his mind. This wasn’t the typical marital conflict. There was no infidelity; no more arguing or fighting than most couples; she wasn’t out of control with the credit cards. He didn’t have his eye on another woman, nor had he struggled with fidelity, emotionally or actively. He was simply miserable. 

He had wept openly earlier in this session, and had stated, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. My life is just . . . empty.” I had challenged him several times, in different ways, to target the source of his unhappiness, and his answers seldom held any weight. I knew it, and so did he. Finally I told him, “Ian, it appears to me that your thinking is flawed. You are contemplating leaving your family, and cannot even provide a single decent reason – much less one that possesses legitimacy.” He retorted, “But don’t I deserve to be happy? Isn’t there supposed to be more to marriage and life than this?” After a few moments of silence he finally looked up, weeping, and asked, “After all, what’s in this for me?”

Ian was a poster child for a malady that affects many of us as married men. He worked hard, provided well, loved his children, and claimed to still have a strong love for his wife. He just didn’t like his life.

Unchecked, it is highly likely that Ian would have continued down his self-built road of discontentment and misery. He would have left. There is little doubt. And regardless of how much life would have “in it” for him down that road, he would have realized the truth that seems to escape so many of us, Wherever you go – there you are.


It’s often said that if a person is running, they’re likely to either be running to  something, or running from it. But a perceived fresh start – a change of scenery – or an absence of accountability really changes nothing. At least for the good. After all, if a man runs from his wife and family with what is perceived to be little or no reason, the likelihood is that the real problem – no matter how hard to see – lies within him.

Ian’s participation in the “What’s in it for me?” epidemic pointed to a personal problem of epic proportion. His view of the role he had in the family was skewed. He expected, as the head of the household – the man of the house – the grand poobah of his castle – to be served. Apparently the actions of his wife and children did not meet his expectations where being respected was concerned. About that, he was right.

But how to solve it was still a mystery to him.

Jesus, while calming down the riled up disciples, said,

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)

Who wants to be great as a husband? If not, why marry at all?

Christian wedding6

Life, and some of the lessons listed above, has taught me (sometimes painfully) that being a great husband requires that I become a great servant to my family. And although I fall far short way more often than I’d like, the idea of being a servant to them – in big ways and small – is sorta right up there on the list of marital priorities. It didn’t come easy, and it didn’t come fast. I am, at my core, a self-absorbed, egocentric person – much like everyone else. To make changes like these requires an immersion in humility and a dispensing of pride.

Where do you find yourself in this dilemma?

And how far are you from imitating Christ and his challenge to serve others?

How life-altering would it be if we abandoned our “what’s in it for me?” ways of thinking, and went through a re-structure?

You know, like . . . “WHAT’S IN ME FOR IT?”

Let’s agree to chew on that one today. We can all benefit from your feedback!

And, as always . . .




About Kyle Hargrove

There's really not much that's all that special about me . . . It was probably about a decade ago when I realized that "in all its glory." At about that time some of life's recent experiences taught me that regardless of who or what anyone ELSE is, and regardless of how much I may have built MYSELF up, I'm just one life circumstance from being just like anyone else. Although my pride took a ding in the process, it was ultimately a positive and humbling experience that gave my life a different direction altogether. I'm a pretty ordinary husband and father . . . Of course, ordinary comes in lots of shapes and colors. My wife Debbi and I have been married since 2000, and both of us had been previously married. She is a school administrator and has a work ethic that has been passed down generationally - usually leaves home in the dark, and for at least half the year, comes home in the dark too. We're praying that as our kids get through college, she can retire and fulfill some of her most intimate dreams. Debbi and I have five children (Adam, Cameron, Callye, Caleb, and Brandon), one grandson (William), one son-in-law (J.R.), somewhere around five "adopted kids," (not officially but in our hearts), and four dogs (Symon, Sombra, Sophie, and Duke). I often say that I love my kids and love my dogs, but there have been days that I liked my dogs more than my kids. That is of course, suggested in jest . . . mostly :) One of our sons has completed college, and the other four kids are still finding their way through that maze. We love Auburn University (Debbi's alma mater), and Texas A&M University (doesn't everyone?) It took a long time for me to understand my job . . . Professionally, I've had the opportunity to experience some fairly diverse "job titles." I came up as a burgeoning sports journalist, switched to church staff ministry, returned to school to earn two masters degrees, entered the world of private practice, experienced the world of corporate training, founded a Christ-centered residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, and enjoyed some more private practice. Oh, on top of that, I have enjoyed the thrill of becoming a teaching chef in my spare time. All of that took a lot of learning, understanding, and energy. But in 2003 through the benefit of Fellowship of the Sword, a ministry out of Fort Worth, Texas, God showed me what my real job was, and for the first time ever, I really, really "got it." He showed me that my real purpose in this life was to first serve Him, and in the outflow of that, to serve my wife, serve my children, and serve anyone else, anywhere else, who exhibited any need, whatsoever. For a very egocentric person, learning to serve is initially kind of hard. But as the blessings start to roll in, it becomes a joyous lifestyle. It's not always easy. I'm not always successful (I'm still kind of selfish). But it is one of the highest privileges I enjoy - the calling from God - to serve people - just like He did. If we're going to develop the character of Jesus, we had better get serving - the sooner the better. Cooking, singing, golfing, reading, speaking, teaching, and writing . . . Those are a few of my favorite pastimes outside of "work." I try to not let those things define who I am, but sometimes the golf thing gets in the way a little bit. And I'm really not that good. But I value my recreation and free time. I love being around people, and meet very few "strangers," but need "me time" too. I prefer outdoors to indoors, cool weather to hot weather, mountains to the beach, and being active to sitting still. I have traveled the world, and want to find new places, and visit the previous ones again. You could say I was born with a sense of wanderlust. I want to encourage you . . . This blog may have themes but the desire to write it, and the commitment to maintain it is about one thing more than any other. If through the blog, you can be encouraged, recharged, reminded, uplifted, motivated, or if you can just relate to something you read, I will sleep well and know that God has used something - as benign as it may seem on the surface, to help you move forward in understanding who you are, and what your purpose ultimately is. Life was intended to be dynamic - not static. One of my good friends Ricky Bobby once said, "If you ain't first, you're last." Although there may be some detractors to the actual truth (or benefit) of that statement, don't you want to live your life progressing? I don't want to sit around and wish I was getting better at what I do, or who I am. I was born to pursue - to improve - to invent - to move forward. When it's all said and done, I'd like to know that I ran after God, rather than for Him to have had to run after me. We'll all be challenged . . . Writing is sometimes as much about me as it is about you. My "bag of tricks" comes as much from my own experiences as it does anything I've learned from a textbook. I don't know about you (actually I do but certainly can't speak for you), but the things I have learned in this life have typically come from challenging circumstances, mistakes I've chosen to make, mistakes I've unintentionally made, places I shouldn't have been, and a myriad of other mostly-painful experiences. I think we're a lot alike. And I think we're about to find out. As always my friends . . . FINISH WELL!

Posted on May 27, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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