Format: Sound Plus Doctrine PodcastDownload Session
More than the worship we offer God when we’re in front of people on Sunday mornings, God cares about the worship of our lives. Especially as it’s revealed in our family relationships. In this episode, part 1 of 2, David interviews Bob about his relationship with his wife of 45 years, Julie, and how he has sought to cultivate a Christ-like affection for her, in spite of a less-than-encouraging start to their relationship. Watch Julie’s interview here: https://youtu.be/x5qnvGL59JU
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David Zimmer: Hello, welcome to the Sound Plus Doctrine Podcast, my name is David Zimmer.
Bob Kauflin: And my name’s Bob Kauflin.
DZ: And it is great to be together again.
BK: It’s always a joy to be together, love doing this.
DZ: Thank you for joining us, whether you listen to this where you stream your podcasts or watching us on YouTube, we’re so happy that you would join us.
DZ: Today Bob, we’re doing a two-part series on the worship leader and his family.
BK: That’s so good.
DZ: Yeah. I just think it’s such an important topic. We recently did a worship matters intensive. We do those two or three times a year, and in that intensive 13 to 15 guys come to Louisville, we do ministry together for five days. It’s an awesome time. We do Lead & Reviews. If you want more information about it, if you’re not aware of what that is, you can check it out on our website. But in one of those breakouts, you talked about this very topic, worship leader and his family. And what’s the dynamic and how do we prize our wives, and how do we raise our kids and not make ministry a priority… The ultimate priority. It just was so helpful that I wanted to do a dedicated podcast to it and so just off the bat, why is this such an important topic?
BK: Well, it’s one of the areas that I think we can assume in ministry. So a guy works hard to do well in front of people, and it might be their musical skills or their verbal skills or their communication skills, their leadership skills, all that stuff, and you’re trying to be effective as a minister of the gospel and so on as you’re standing in front of a church, and we can start to think suddenly that that’s our offering to God and that’s what God’s most concerned about. But actually he’s not most concerned about that, he’s concerned about, not only the worship that comes when we sing, as the worship that comes through our relationships. And that’s easy to see, when we think how… When the lawyer came up to Jesus in Matthew 22 and asked him, “What’s the greatest commandment?” And Jesus didn’t say, “Well, it’s to perform your ministry responsibilities well.” [chuckle] He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the great and first commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments, depend all the law and the prophets.” Well, who’s my neighbor?
BK: Well, it begins with, if I’m a married guy, it begins with my wife, that’s who I am to love as myself. And it’s funny when Paul talks about the relationship between husbands and wives in Ephesians 5, he addresses this. He says, “Husbands… ” Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands… ” So this really applies to any husband not just worship leaders. “Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, the two shall become one flesh.”
BK: Paul says in another place, Romans 15:5-6, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So it struck me over the years, and I’ve been doing this now for a long time, 45 years or so, that the worship God is looking for begins with my relationship with my wife, and so it’s crucial that our wives not feel as though they’re vying for our affections in relation to our ministry. That we don’t love our ministry more than we love them, that we don’t get more excited about our ministry, leading songs than we do being with them, and yet… I’ve talked to a number of leaders who might think they’re doing that or are just totally unaware of it, and it just… It results in conflict, it results in marriages that aren’t doing well, and yet we’re supposed to be having marriages that are bringing honor and glory to the Lord.
DZ: Right. Well, and I think sometimes there can be the temptation to think in ministry, “Well, this is my calling, so this takes the ultimate priority.”
BK: Yeah, yeah.
DZ: Like this has to… It’s not like I sell insurance or whatever or I just do a certain job, it’s almost like they put more pressure on the fact that, God… I’m doing the Lord’s work.
BK: God told me to… Yeah. God told me to do this. [chuckle] Only God… God didn’t tell you to do that, at least not in his Word. [chuckle] What he does tell us to do is how to treat our wives.
DZ: Yes, 100%.
BK: So Julie and I have been married for 45 years now, and in the intensive, I share this story about our relationship and how merciful God has been and how kind the Lord has been, ’cause I think most guys don’t get this. [chuckle] I know I didn’t get it for years. That I am really showing more about what I think of the Lord through my relationship with my wife than what I do with the people in my band or the people in my church, or what I do on a Sunday morning. I’ve had guys ask me, “Well, what if I’m standing up to lead, and I’ve had an argument with my wife the night before, that morning coming in, how can I stand up there and… ” I say two things to realize from that is one that you’re revealing like what’s most important to you.
BK: Like, “I wanna do this thing where I’m standing in front of people and looking so great, and I’m not so great,” but then the other thing is how wonderful that we get to stand up in front of people and say, “You know, we have a great Savior.” I may not be the best husband, but we have a great Savior. And I hope those instances remind us that your wife’s not a nuisance, she’s not a hindrance to what you’re doing. She is meant to be your focus, she’s meant to be your passion. That’s why God gave her to you. So, my story with Julie…
BK: Just in its roughest details, kind of rough details. We met in high school, I gave her a Valentine’s day card in 1972, along with 16 other girls, and she was the only one who responded, so.
BK: I thought, “Okay.” I wasn’t thinking that she was gonna be the one who was gonna respond. I don’t know if I shared this on another podcast when Julie came on, but it was bad, it was bad.
BK: It was more like a sympathy card, it was more like… I was the senior class president. She was just like someone who was really quiet, “I thought how blessed she would be to get a valentine’s day card from me.” So, she wrote me this really long note and we started dating that summer, although I didn’t… I didn’t really wanna be her boyfriend, I just wanted her to be… I just wanted to be nice to her, but she had a car, so that drew me to her.
DZ: Yeah, big draw.
BK: And I didn’t have a car. It was a big draw, and we started dating in high school, summer after high school, and then I went to college, she went away to work somewhere else, and then she went to my school, Temple University, that next year. And then I knew that this wasn’t the girl I was supposed to marry. This is not the girl I’m supposed to be with, I don’t think I’m gonna ever marry her, and. I remember hearing a pastor talk at retreat about how you shouldn’t be physically involved with this, a woman that you’re not married to. So, that really affected me. And I went home and told Julie, and so a couple months later, I broke up with her. And it was horrible. We went to see the movie, The Way We Were, with Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, it’s about a couple that meets and then they have this… They love each other and they break up. So that night after seeing that movie with her, I told her I was breaking up with her. So, it was bad. It was horrible. Then, we had driven down for break and then we had to drive back to school, a three-hour drive, and she was driving.
BK: It was a very quiet ride back.
DZ: I can imagine.
BK: So, for two years, we had a lot of times where she was in the stairwell saying, “Why can’t we be boyfriend-girlfriend?” Then I said, “Trust the Lord.”
BK: We were both Christians by the time, “Trust the Lord. God works all things for the good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose and give thanks in everything.” It was just horrible. Then one time a guy came, a mutual friend, came to Julie, and said, “Hey, can I start… Can we go on a date and just see what could happen?” And she said, “No, I can’t do that, ’cause I’m saving myself for Bob.” And he said, Well, he told me that he was never gonna marry you, and she said, “What?” And so she came over to my practice room and said, “Did you say you’d never marry me?” And I said, “Yes” and she said, “Why?” And I gave her some reason, and it wasn’t a very good reason.
BK: And she said, “That stinks.” And…
BK: So, she left the room and I remember going after her, but she doesn’t remember me coming after her.
DZ: Yeah, why should she?
BK: But through that, the Lord showed me how vain I was. How proud I was, how I envisioned marrying a certain girl who looked a certain way, and Julie didn’t look quite like that, and I just realized I was stupid, I was proud. No one loved me like Julie did. So, we eventually… I think it was just like a month or two later, I asked her to marry me. And we got married in August of 1976. And yeah, she had a hard time believing that I loved her for some reason.
BK: For a number of years, but during my early years of ministry, I was in a band, GLAD for eight years, we were on the road, and then I became a pastor a year after that in ’85. And I remember there would be times when Julie would walk into my office. One specific time, she walked… I was working as a pastor and she was driving by and stopped by to see me. And she walked into my office, open the door, and I just kinda looked up to her, “Yes, can I help you?” And it was like she was an interruption to my day, and I looked back on that with sadness, with regret, with sorrow, just that I would ever make her feel unwanted, that she wasn’t the one that I wanted to be with always. And it’s taken a long time, but through the years, I have sought to love her better.
DZ: Wow. [chuckle] Wow, yeah. In what ways did you want to prioritize that above all of the things… You’ve only gotten busier, like over the years.
DZ: With your work schedule and things that are going on, like how… I mean, for guys that maybe feel guilty or maybe they feel like, “Man, I feel like I’m so involved. I never make time.” How would you encourage them?
BK: Oh, man, well, let me start by saying, I think the reasons we value ministry over our wives, how that develops… Ministry is public. Everybody sees it. You get commendation, you get thanks, you get strokes, whereas with your wife, you don’t get that. You know, it’s just you and her in the home and until you have kids, and then that’s a whole ‘nother topic, which we’ll cover next time.
BK: But you don’t get that public applause, the public praise. And so that plays to our pride. We’re doing this other stuff publicly, and so that’s really important. But the other things that the Lord has commanded us specifically to do in Ephesians 5, we don’t… We just kind of assume that. Of course, she knows I love her. I told her, we got married, I said, “Do you want this woman to be your wife?” “Yeah, I do. I love you.”
DZ: Right. Then it kinda goes on autopilot.
BK: Yeah, for a lot of guys, it does.
BK: And we love the public acclamation, I think it just appeals to our own pride, “Look what I can do, look what I can accomplish,” and loving your wife is different from that. And it’s harder, I think, much harder because that’s who you really are, is who you are in your home.
BK: Not who you are in front of people on a Sunday morning. It’s who you are in your home.
DZ: Yeah. And I think sometimes maybe wives can have a sense of feeling like, well, this is also my role to just sort of disappear in the home or… But I think you and Julie have had the privilege of being able to do ministry together.
DZ: If you’ve heard this podcast before, Julie came on the podcast and just was so helpful in how she framed that. Some years we got to partner on a stage.
BK: Yes, she would sing.
DZ: And then some years… She would sing, and then some years, that wasn’t my priority, that wasn’t my role. And so I just… That has been such an encouragement to see and to have her sharing her perspective was so helpful, but I just think it’s so easy for, like you said, ministry to take that priority. And then I think another thing tied to this, not to pivot to something else, but I think something so tied to this is, so frequently men are choosing to prioritize something other than their wives and it’s ending up in disaster. And so where does personal integrity and where does purity come into this equation of how you’re loving your wife?
BK: That is a pivot. And an important pivot. Yeah, maybe we should talk about just cultivating that passion for your wife, ’cause that’s a part of it.
BK: And this would apply to single guys as well. Because if you’re a single guy, you are most likely, most often preparing for marriage or trying to be someone who could be ready to be married. And any thought you give to sex that’s outside of the context of God’s design, is gonna be destructive. So that’s just something that we don’t give enough time to. I unfortunately have talked to too many, heard of or talked to, too many guys who this is kind of their secret struggle. And whether it’s porn or whether it’s worse than that, or whether it’s just thoughts. And the Lord sees those things, the Lord knows those things. And as we seek to please him as those “Who have been bought with a price”, you are not your own, “So glorify God with your body”, 1 Corinthians 6:20. We wanna realize, recognize that this is a really big deal. What we do, where our eyes go, where our thoughts go, what we do in this area of purity is really important. And I came across a book not too long ago, “Pure in Heart” by Garrett Kell, I thought it was just outstanding and if…
BK: Yeah, that might be helpful to someone… I think it will be helpful. I just found it very inspiring and have given it away numerous times, but yeah, whether you’re single or married, that is an area that you want to guard so carefully. And on the other side of that, you just don’t wanna stop doing things, you wanna recognize that because… The Gospel, not only assures us that we’re forgiven, the Gospel assures us that Jesus has risen from the dead, He’s ascended to his Father’s right hand, and He sent the Spirit to empower us to live new lives. We are new creations, we can draw upon new desires, but we have to cultivate them, and cultivating affection for your wife is one of those things that I’d sought to do over the years, which I’m so grateful for, because now, as Julie is… If you were aware of the podcast we did, she’s battling breast cancer for the second time, and I’m just so grateful for all the time I’ve invested in learning to love her well. There are a lot of books on how to love your wife, and I’m sure a lot of them are great, but I was saying to you earlier that the longer I’ve been married, the more I just go to what God has said in His Word and just ask myself, “Am I doing this?”
DZ: Yeah, right.
BK: You know, “Am I doing this? Am I loving my wife as Christ loved the church? Am I giving myself up for her? Am I washing her with water through the Word?” So that I could present her, in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. One of the things I said to the guys in the intensive is, “The longer you’re married, the more your wife is a reflection of your love and leadership.” So if your wife’s insecure, if she’s bitter, if she’s angry, if she’s apathetic, if she doesn’t care about the things of the Lord, that’s a reflection on you. I mean, she’s responsible, she’s accountable, but that’s a reflection on your care for her, or lack of care for her.
BK: In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself. I love myself really well. We all [laughter] do a great Job. I cut myself slack. I’d give myself justifications for everything. And the Lord is saying, love your wife like that.
BK: You don’t hate your flesh, nourish and cherish it. And I love those words, nourish and cherish it. I just try tried to give more thought to, “How can I nourish and cherish my wife as Christ does the church,” because we are members of his body. And then the other passage that’s really relevant is 1 Peter 3:7, where Peter talks about how husbands are to live with their wives in an understanding way. In an understanding way, not a domineering way, not in an efficient way, not in a professional way but in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since there are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. Just those two passages alone, have given me so much to work towards by the grace of God, to put myself to, yeah, to strive towards. How do I nourish and cherish my wife? Well, I’m just gonna share some things that have been helpful for me over the years.
DZ: Yeah. Great.
BK: One thing I’ve realized is that when I am in a space with Julie, she’s the most important person in the room. Like it doesn’t… And I didn’t use to realize this when I was in the band and I’d be talking to people afterwards. I’d be talking to people for like 10 minutes before I acknowledge that my wife was standing next to me. And there were times I’d realize that and I’d just feel bad. I was so excited about talking to this person, drawing them out and letting them know what a great person I am…
BK: That I didn’t introduce them to the person I treasure more than anybody or I’m supposed to be treasuring more than anybody, but it’s obvious through my present interaction that I’m not. That was one of the things that just struck me. When I’m with her, there’ve gotta be indicators that I really value her. One of the things we… I don’t know when we started practicing this. Well, early on when we pray, for me I always kiss her afterwards. We learned that from our pastor when we were early married, first married, he and his wife did it and they didn’t have a great relationship. But it was fine. It was good. It wasn’t like, passionate but we just thought, that’s a good practice. So we’ve been doing that for 45 years and it just says, you know what? At this meal right now, I love you.
BK: When I leave in the morning, I always kiss Julie. She might be asleep, I kiss her. When I come home, first thing I do… Whenever I leave the house, I let her know I’m leaving and I kiss her. When I come into the house, doesn’t matter who’s there. My first thought is, I wanna find my wife and kiss her to tell her that I love her. Like, of all the people in the room very exciting. We might have a bunch of people over, but of all those people all the time, anytime she’s the most valuable. Now, that’s something that you may not feel in your heart like, I wanna do this, but as a practice, it just has helped me cultivate, nourishing her, cherishing her and we made it early, made a point early on not to waste our kisses. Not to… It’s just not right when a young couple, excuse me, kisses passionately. And then as you get older you just develop some of these little pecks on the cheek.
BK: It’s like, come on, come on. This is like, God gave you this relationship to enjoy, and to benefit from, and to communicate to each other. Well, I’m talking to guys here primarily to your wife, I value what God has given us here.
BK: That’s something I’ve just sought to be faithful to. And if I ever leave the house and, which is pretty rare and haven’t kissed her goodbye, she’ll text me, “Did you leave?” It’s like, “Oh, my gosh, I’m sorry, I did.”
BK: But that’s pretty rare.
DZ: Yeah. Well, and just to, like really… I mean, all of this is so good just hearing it again. I’ve heard you say this so many times, but just hearing again, it’s so refreshing to my soul. But just the, the concept that you’re investing into something that you love, you’re gonna spend the most time, your thoughts…
DZ: Your cares. All of it is gonna be poured somewhere.
BK: Yes, yes.
DZ: It’s gonna be directed somewhere.
DZ: And as you’re saying, if it’s not directed to the woman or a husband that God has given you it’s going to be directed somewhere else.
BK: Yes, yes.
DZ: And so just making those tiny choices that are investments over long periods of time.
BK: Years, decades.
BK: And it bears fruit. It’s cumulative, whichever way you go.
DZ: Yeah. Right.
BK: If you invest your passion in your music, or if you invest your passion in sports, or if you invest your passion in your kids, or your job, your friends, whatever, it’s going somewhere and cumulatively that will have effect. I think that’s one of the reasons that wives can feel slighted…
BK: In relation to their husband’s job is because they don’t feel that affection. And as I said earlier, my wife should never feel like she’s in competition with my ministry for my affection. She should always know that I value her more. There are sacrifices in the ministry, I’ve had to go away for 10 days, two weeks sometimes. You do work long hours sometimes. But in the downtime, you should be investing, you should be letting your wife know, “I value you, I care about you.” When you get home you ask her… And I didn’t do this for years. “How was your day? What did you do? What did you do?” In fact, not too long ago, I think we were at a conference and Julie wasn’t at the conference, she was doing other things, and I remember you asking her, said, “Julie, what did you do today?” And I just thought, “I haven’t even asked her that.” And I was like, “Oh, I’m the conference guy, I’m doing the big conference stuff,” and I was just convicted that, no, I wanna be…
BK: I wanna be more concerned about her world than I am about my world. And that’s something that we need to sow into again and again and again. So you come home from, I don’t know, ministering on Sunday, and it’s 2 two o’clock in the afternoon, and your wife is there and maybe she’s put the kids down or whatever. And you’re coming back thinking, “Oh man, I just had… I have done so much, I worked so hard.” And you are not even thinking about what your wife’s been doing. You just wanna hear, “Oh, you are the best. You are so Godly, so spiritual.” And it’s just sad. Another thing I’ve done… And again, these are just things trying to live out what God has told us, Ephesians 5:2-3, “how do I cherish, how do I nurture”, is when we’re together in a room, I wanna be close to Julie. I wanna be sitting next to her, I wanna be touching her really, and not a mindless touch. Just, I am just putting my hand on her leg or whatever, but I want her to know, “You know what, as we’re talking to this couple, this family, this whatever this person, I just want you know I’m thinking about you.”
BK: Even on Sunday, I’m listening to the message, I’m paying attention, taking notes carefully. But even in that moment, I’m thinking, “Do you know what, I’m just so happy to be here next to you.” And I just find it’s something that you… The more you cultivate it, the more you pour into it, the more it grows. That’s true with anything, isn’t it? Pictures, I have a picture of Julie on my phone, and of course you have pictures of whatever on your phone, and it doesn’t mean… Necessarily mean anything.
DZ: Yeah, yeah.
BK: But I’m trying to be intentional.
DZ: Intentionally cultivating.
BK: Yes, about saying, you know when I open up my phone, which I do probably… Someone said… Told me the other day, 200 times a day, you pick up your phone. [laughter] I found that hard to believe personally, I’m sure my family would disagree, but I wanna see my wife. You know, there she is. Oh yeah. And I love it when… I just met a guy… Saw… Yeah met a guy recently who had been married six months or something, and he took out his phone, his wife was there and I said, “Don’t ever change that.”
DZ: That’s great. And I also know that if anybody has met you or Julie or spent enough time with you, they’ll come to quickly realize that your Monday nights are like, cemented.
BK: That’s our date night.
DZ: Into your date night, yeah. And that’s even an intentional… I mean, how long have you been doing that?
BK: Well, when we got out of the band in ’84, I thought… We were together for 24/7, so I thought, “Eh we don’t need night’s.” You know we are always together, we always talk, and I think it was somewhere like in ’87, so a little bit 35 years, Monday nights have been our date night. And it’s not in the Bible. It’s not, “Have your date night, weekly.”
DZ: Right, right, right.
BK: And I think that’s important to say, but what it does say, just like with anybody, “I value you enough to block out this time every week, and it’s just gonna be you.” And we’ll do the Target run or the Home Depot run, or Lowes or that… But we almost always go out to dinner. You don’t have to go out to dinner, you could go to just get some dessert or coffee, but the important thing is we’re just… We’re talking. And we’re enjoying each other. I used to think dates nights was for talking about the budget, where I would tell Julie, “This is how you’re spending too much money.” And in my mind, this is perfect. We’ve got an extended amount of time, she’s sitting there, she can’t go anywhere, and I’m just gonna say, “Dear, you just have to pull… You need to pull the strings tighter.”
BK: And I finally realized, that’s stupid, that’s just… You’re a moron. It’s a time just to be together. You know, lots of times people in our house will ask us, say, “Where are you guys going?” “Well, we’ll figure it out once we get going.” It’s not like… There’s a place we like to go in Louisville, Double Dogs, which we really enjoy, but it’s not like… We’ll go to a nicer places occasionally, especially if we have a gift card. But we just wanna be together, you know, we just wanna be together, and that’s what we’ve cultivated. I’m using this time, this moment, this podcast, to say to guys who are in ministry, devote yourself to what God has told you to devote yourself to. Don’t take it for granted. You’ve been married one year, three years, five years, 10 years, 15, 20, 30, 40, I have been married 45 years, and I am more passionate about this ever than I have been.
BK: Because I see the effects of not giving yourself to what God in His mercy and grace has told us to do in regards to cherishing and loving our wives as Christ loves the church. And one last one line, the more humble you are, the better it will go. [laughter] I am just saying. So when your wife says, she points out something to you, just the more you can learn not to say, “Here’s why,” or, “What about you?” The better your marriage will be, the more glorifying to God your marriage will be, the more happy you will be, the more happy your wife will be just ’cause we tend to… Those in public ministry especially, it’s a public position, you always have people looking at you, we tend to think, I can’t do wrong. And when my wife brings something to me… So a good question to ask is if… I learned this years ago CJ, many we may need taught this, told us to do this… Just ask your wife, if you could tell me one thing that I should change and you knew I wouldn’t react, what would you say?
DZ: Oh man.
BK: And that’s a great question. Hopefully, you won’t have to be always asking that because your communication develops. But I think it’s true God gives grace to the humble. So if your marriage isn’t is in a good place, you want to improve, start by being… Start by crying out to the Lord to open your eyes. But start by being humble and just saying, “How can I be a better husband to you?” So I pray that’s helpful.
DZ: Yeah. Thank you so much, Bob. And thank you again for joining us. We will have a part two next time you listen about the worship leader, and not only in his marriage, but also in his family. Leading his family.
BK: And that’ll be really great to talk about.
DZ: So thanks for joining us.