Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is an internationally known public speaker on the topic of male-female relationships. Dr. Eggerichs and his wife Sarah present Love and Respect conferences around the world. Sarah, an avid intercessory prayer warrior, loves to share Jesus Calling with others as part of her ministry as well.
Emerson Eggerichs On His Journey To Love & Respect
Emerson Eggerichs: The word that I have, then, for every believer is: Your marriage may not be what you want it to be, and it may never be what you had hoped it to be. But that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing in that marriage is a waste. In fact, you, because of the difficulties, can do marriage even better than you would have done it had you been in a perfect marriage.
You can be this loving person, because you’re loving Christ, you can be this respectful person, because you’re reverencing Christ. And there will come a day when the Lord Jesus will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Narrator: Welcome to the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast. Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is an internationally known public speaker on the topic of male-female relationships. Dr. Eggerichs and his wife Sarah developed the Love and Respect Conference which they present to live audiences around the country.
Emerson: My name is Emerson Eggerichs, and my wife, Sarah, and I have been doing the Love & Respect marriage conferences since 1999. Also wrote a book called Love & Respect for the married, and we have been on a wonderful journey serving couples across the country and around the world, and very grateful for the privilege of doing this.
I was born in Peoria, Illinois, grew up there until age thirteen, at which time my mom felt that I needed to be sent to a military school. So from age thirteen to eighteen, I attended Missouri Military Academy, and the backstory on that is that my mom and dad divorced each other when I was one. They remarried each other a year or two later, realizing that divorce was not the remedy. But then they separated for five or six years, and then came back together when I was in the third grade. The issues that they had obviously spilled over and affected me, and I think that was one of the reasons that mom felt I needed to go to military school, because she could see a collision coming with my dad.
We were not Christ-followers; we, you know, would go to church every so often. Easter kind of thing, maybe, and Christmas. It wasn’t until I was sixteen at Missouri Military Academy that some leader at a local church gave tickets to cadets to go see a movie called For Pete’s Sake, which was put out by Billy Graham. And there I heard the message that God loved me, that Christ died for me, that I was a sinner in need of forgiveness, and that I could receive that but I needed to receive Christ into my life, that he would come into me and the invitation was given. And at age sixteen my eyes were opened to understand who Christ was, his death on the cross, and the significance of that, and I personally invited him into my life.
Because I came to Christ through Billy Graham, I made inquiry as to where he went to college and found out that he went to a Christian school called Wheaton College in Chicago area. I didn’t even know that there were Christian colleges. So I applied and was accepted and sat in Bible classes that freshman year, taking it all in. My mom was watching me, my dad was watching, my sister was aware of things going on in my life, and my brother-in-law, who’s a professor. In my freshman year, my whole family received Christ. My mom came to Christ first, and then my sister, and then my dad, and then my brother-in-law.
So you combine the marital difficulties of Mom and Dad with my own curiosity, and I think much of that blended together with a real interest in not only knowing what the research points out—I eventually [got a] Ph.D. in Family-Related Studies—so there was a fascination with research, but also the privilege of studying Scripture. I began to look at what the Bible said about male and female. Jesus said we were created male and female, and, for instance, 1 Peter 3, the husband is to live with his wife in an understanding way. Since she is a woman, precisely because of her femininity, God calls the husband to conduct himself in a certain way. And so I began to unpack all the Scriptures dealing with men and women, which became extremely fascinating, and really is the text in the book Love & Respect. There is this challenge before us to, you know, make sense out of our past. Certainly I can see that the Love & Respect book came out of that. And I allowed those past events to affect me, but to try to make sense out of them in order to serve people.
The Message of Love & Respect for a Biblical Marriage
One of the reasons that I wrote the Love & Respect book is that I saw something in Scripture that really was being ignored on the marital radar screen; it had apparently been removed. You know, we had a period there—thirty, forty years, several decades—where the focus was on loving the wife: “Happy wife, happy life.” You know, things can become imbalanced, like on a teeter-totter, it can be anything but balanced, it’s lopsided. And I think there were years that women felt that they were not being understood, that they were not being loved.
I think what happened is that spilled over into the church, that basically men were jerks, men were idiots, men didn’t get it, men were unloving. And in the process, the message was men are inadequate, and we don’t respect them. And that message, men are inadequate, and we don’t respect them, hits at the core of who men are.
There is this profiling of the male, and yet men serve and die for honor. Men are highly motivated by honor, give their very lives for honor. So the disconnect between how women feel about men and how men feel within their own souls was light-years away. So in my study of Scripture I saw something that put this idea of respect back on the marital radar screen. But there’s a lot of land mines with that, and that, when you quote Ephesians 5:33, “Husbands, love your wives,” and there’s no debate on that, and then, “Wives, respect your husbands..”
1 Corinthians 7:28 says, ‘If you marry, you’ve not sinned, but you will have trouble.’” …that verse needs to be put on every refrigerator.
So here you have this discovery in Scripture as well as in the social research that I thought, you know what? We’ve removed this totally, so what we sought to do was put that back on the marital radar screen and in the process try to avoid all the land mines that accompany that message. And so one of the challenges for us is to redefine what love is, and biblically, and not just culturally. we have just huge misunderstandings, and one of our roles is to help couples mutually understand each other, most conflicts are the result of honest differences of opinion, honest differences in preferences. And so neither are wrong; they’re just different.
The Respect Effect
One of the things that we found over the years were the emails coming to me from women who had attended our Love & Respect conference, and what was exciting is that these women heard the respect side of the message, and women, again, are very teachable, very hungry, they want to improve their marriages. There’s very, been very little pushback on the respect idea; there is pushback, but, you know, once people engage me on this, they realize, “Wait a minute. This makes perfect sense.”
One of the things that women began to do is they applied this to their husband, with great impact. They said, “You know what, I’ve got sons. And I think this applies to sons.” And so they turned their attention to what I call respect talk toward their boys and were absolutely blown away, and they began to write me. Hundreds and hundreds of women were telling me, and so this book Mother & Son that I just wrote, called The Respect Effect, is a compilation of these letters and also the biblical base for the teaching.
It is my prayer that this book could serve mothers and parents well. I know many teachers have written me who applied respect in their classroom, and it has revolutionized the way in which the classroom is conducted, because typically boys are the reasons for the social difficulties in that classroom setting. As they applied the respect message, they were blown away. They listen, they stay connected, they don’t resist to the extent that they did when they are treated with disrespect.
One of the things we try to say to people is that we’re on the crazy cycle—without love, she reacts without respect; without respect, I react without love, and we spin on this baby. We practice what we preach, and so we always try to be transparent, saying to people, “Look—you know, no one’s going to do this perfectly. First Corinthians 7:28 says, ‘If you marry, you’ve not sinned, but you will have trouble.’” And that verse needs to be put on every refrigerator. So here we have the, the challenge of being transparent, at the same time saying, “Look, these principles do work. You don’t have to stay in the crazy cycle that my mom and dad were on, and there is a way out of this. Sarah and I have been doing the conference, you know, since ninety-nine, and so, you know, we’re all believers in this message, and the difference that it can make in, in a person’s life.
Love & Respect and Jesus Calling
Narrator: Dr. Eggerichs’ wife Sarah is a great believer in intercessory prayer. They have both witnessed the power of prayer in their lives, and in the lives of those they love. Sarah endeavors to help others find strength and peace in God’s presence through prayer and sharing Jesus Calling.
Emerson: Well, her spiritual gifts are serving, hospitality, and certainly is devoted to prayer. She has the section on the practical application that she helps couples in our conferences. For years we averaged about eighteen hundred at our conferences, and so she’s developed just a tremendous presentation the people really value. They’ll even come up to me and say, “Your presentation wasn’t bad, but Sarah hit it out of the ballpark.” So, you know, we definitely are grateful for what she is doing publicly and how she’s wording that.
Jesus Calling, and the excitement, you know, is clearly there, and Sarah has given that as a gift. She has, there for a period she was every day with Jesus Calling. It is perhaps the number-one devotional she gives away, more than the devotional that I wrote. But, nonetheless, tremendously excited about this, and has been for years. In fact, that book came out the year Love & Respect came out, so, you know, it’s been a long journey on that. But people have appreciated that, and we’ve appreciated it. I know that some people have wondered, you know, “Well, you know, is, is this, Jesus speaking to Sarah Young, and is it something that, you know, is biblically accurate?” She would never have claimed that that’s the case. It’s really, the beauty of it is, all of us meditate on Scripture and seek the Lord’s application to our life. As I pastored for twenty years, exposited the Scripture, and all of us realize there’s a text in context, and a text out of context is a pretext, as we say, and there’s a place for rightly dividing the word of truth.
So then, I think Sarah Young just simply said, you know, “I’m going to kind of personalize that a little bit, to make myself accountable to what I sense the Lord was saying to me, And I, I say that because, you know, she’s never claimed that this was, you know, Jesus audibly speaking to her.
We’ve applauded that approach, and I think everyone who reads it understands that, and has benefited from it. We’ve always received positive feedback from people who have gone through this. I, I don’t know of anybody that said it wasn’t meaningful. It’s short, it’s to the point, it’s got the scriptural references, it is a prayerful approach, it has been something that, you know, most say, you know, “The reading today simply was the perfect thing that I was going through.” I mean, we hear that kind of comment made. So everything that we’ve encountered has been positive. I mean, evangelicals who love Scripture, who are submitted to the authority of Scripture, and, um, you know, get the point that Sarah Young is making here. And she is seeking to bring the Scriptures, uh, in a very personal way.
And we comment on the fact that, you know, we really don’t always do that in the church. We don’t bring that kind of application to the heart and to the Monday-through-Friday lifestyle. And, and what difference is this really gonna make to my heart and mind and soul? I think Sarah Young has done an excellent job in helping people bridge that. Where they may find difficulty in doing that, she has really brought that, I think, front and center. And it has been appreciated by many people.
Marital Respect Made Practical
Narrator: Emerson and Sarah continue to take their ministry to all parts of the world, teaching couples the Biblical principles of “love and respect.”
Emerson: You can do marriage God’s way even if your spouse isn’t responding to you. You can be a loving husband even if your wife isn’t respectful. You can be a respectful wife even if your husband isn’t loving. But it raised the question, “Why in the world would any of us want to do that?” Because the Christ-follower sees Christ standing beyond the shoulder of one’s spouse. That I ultimately love Sarah, not because I’m loving Sarah as an end in itself; I’m actually demonstrating my love for Christ as I love Sarah. And Sarah isn’t respecting me as an end in itself; she’s actually reverencing Christ, she’s seeing Jesus beyond my shoulder. And the believer needs to realize that. What’s beautiful, even if your spouse doesn’t respond, the Lord is going to reward us. Whatever good thing each one does, this he’ll receive back from the Lord. That nothing is wasted; everything matters, everything counts.
Narrator: Dr. Eggerich’s newest book, Mother & Son: The Respect Effect is now available at stores everywhere. For more information about the Eggerich’s ministry, please visit loveandrespect.com.
Next time on the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast, we hear from musician, patriot, and Jesus Calling reader Charlie Daniels.
Our featured passage from Jesus Calling for today’s show comes from the July 24th entry of the Jesus Calling AudioBook:
THANKFULNESS OPENS THE DOOR to My Presence. Though I am always with you, I have gone to great measures to preserve your freedom of choice. I have placed a door between you and Me, and I have empowered you to open or close that door. There are many ways to open it, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective.
Thankfulness is built on a substructure of trust. When thankful words stick in your throat, you need to check up on your foundation of trust. When thankfulness flows freely from your heart and lips, let your gratitude draw you closer to Me. I want you to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances. See how many times you can thank Me daily; this will awaken your awareness to a multitude of blessings. It will also cushion the impact of trials when they come against you. Practice My Presence by practicing the discipline of thankfulness.
Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.