Ken is the Chairman and CEO of Promise Keepers. These questions are adapted from Ken’s recent appearance on New Life Live, a nationally syndicated Christian counseling call-in program hosted by Steve Arterburn.
Question: My wife and I have been married 32 years but separated for four years.She said she’s not happy and checked out of the marriage. I found out she was having affairs. She doesn’t want to be divorced because I take care of everything, and she likes that. What do I do?
Answer: I’m deeply saddened your wife has chosen to violate your marriage with the sin of adultery. Yet it’s also clear your wife has reached a point she doesn’t respect you. You need to re-establish her respect for you. Go to her and ask her, “What kind of man do you want me to be?” Then see if you can be that man. You will also need to draw boundaries about the kind of behavior you are willing to tolerate from her. In order for you to have a real marriage, she will need to give up her sin. Finally, don’t forget the power of prayer. If we humble ourselves and hit our knees, it’s amazing what God can do to affect other people’s hearts.
Question: When a marriage fails, is it always the man’s fault? My wife is moving out and we’re headed for divorce. I feel like I’ve done everything I can. How is it my fault?
Answer: You, as the husband, are accountable for what goes on in your home, but not everything is your fault. You are the leader and must lay down your life to try to address whatever challenges arise in your home, even if you did not cause them. However, you cannot control other people. If your wife chooses to leave, she is ultimately responsible for her own actions. Jesus, the Love of our souls, still has people reject Him. If you’re struggling under false guilt, let it go. But do continue to pray for your wife and hope for reconciliation.
Judge Vance Day will serve as president alongside Ken Harrison, the Chairman and CEO of Promise Keepers.
Our Lord is calling men across the nation, indeed the world, to be Servant Kings. Each generation has a calling upon it to stand tall for what God is doing here on the earth.
In the 1990s, we sensed God moving and accepted His challenge to step up and call men to action. Praise God, we saw Promise Keepers become the largest movement of men in the history of the church, with millions of men repenting of their sins and dedicating their lives to Christ. Now, we sense God’s calling upon Promise Keepers once again. We all know that our nation urgently needs a revival of godly men living out true masculinity.
Last month we laid hands upon Judge Vance Day and affirmed his calling to be President of Promise Keepers. He is a man of great integrity and steadfast resilience. He has been tested in the crucible of intense fire and shown his mettle to be that of the Lord. He is a faithful husband, father, brother, and friend. Judge Day is a man who mirrors the admonition of 1 Timothy 3: 1-7. He is a man of the Word and possesses a joy which only comes out of severe testing. We trust him.
Ken Harrison, who will continue as Chairman and CEO of Promise Keepers, and Vance Day have stepped into a rich heritage of leaders who have accepted the challenge to call men together for restoration and revival – not only in this nation, but across the world.
Today, men of God have a choice to make. Are they committed to reading the word of God daily? Are they determined to embrace brothers who are racially different? Are they loyal to their local pastor and church? Are they protecting their wives and children? We are convinced the answers are “yes” from Ken and Vance to each of these questions! Accordingly, we challenge men of God to join Ken and Vance as warriors determined to ignite revival in America in this hour!
We congratulate Vance as he accepts this great responsibility and calling. We will be praying for him. We ask that you do so as well.
The largest movement of men in the history of the Church is once again calling on men to rise up as warriors for Christ. Join 80,000+ guys on July 31-August 1, 2020 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (home of the Dallas Cowboys) for a weekend that will change your life.
As a person grows in Christ, he or she becomes a prayer warrior. I can’t think of a better example of a person who serves others through prayer than my own wife, Elliette.
She prays with women constantly. She prays late at night when someone needs help; she prays early in the morning with women who need her guidance; she prays in the hospital for people who are suffering.
Elliette prayed one day for a heroin and meth addict whom I’ll call Andrea. Elliette had prayed with Andrea’s grandmother for a year that her granddaughter would come to Christ. Finally Andrea consented to meet Elliette.
When she did, Andrea showed off the “daughter of Satan” tattoo on her neck, along with satanic symbols tattooed on her arms and chest. Unimpressed, Elliette explained that God defeated Satan and was waiting with open arms for her to turn from the defeated master of this world — and run to Him.
Elliette soon had Andrea and her boyfriend praying to receive Christ as their Savior. Only a few days later, Andrea learned she was pregnant. She was terrified because of all the drugs she had done and the damage that would have been done to the growing life inside her. She called Elliette and begged for money for an abortion.
Elliette didn’t give her the money.
Instead, she gathered several women and they prayed for Andrea and for her baby’s life.
I asked my men’s prayer group to do the same.
Elliette asked Andrea to meet her, and she showed up with another addict, a friend from high school who was not the father. This young man insisted Andrea must have the abortion. He explained that of their eight-person group of friends from high school, he and Andrea were the only two still living four years later. All were dead from suicide or overdoses.
He didn’t want to lose his last living friend.
Andrea and her friend raised the money for her abortion. Then Andrea called my wife and apologized for what she was about to do — as she was walking into a Planned Parenthood clinic.
We prayed. Inexplicably, Planned Parenthood turned her away. Our suspicion was that Andrea was too high on drugs at the time.
Andrea made another appointment the next week and called Elliette again as she walked into her appointment. “How could I not have an abortion?” she asked.
She hadn’t been able to stop her drug use, she said. The baby was loaded with heroin and meth and would likely be disfigured and sickly, she felt.
Her next appointment for an abortion would require more money because she was now nearing the 26-week legal limit for terminating the life within her.
While we were praying, the nurse gave Andrea an ultrasound. When the nurse left to go get the doctor, Andrea wept. The nurse never returned.
No one came.
After a very long time, Andrea got up from the table and walked out — only to make another appointment for another day.
Andrea’s next appointment for an abortion would require more money because she was now nearing the 26-week legal limit for terminating the life within her. She struggled to save enough money, but a few days before the deadline, she had saved enough.
On the day of her appointment, she headed to Planned Parenthood again. True to her pattern, on her way there Andrea called Elliette.
And that’s when God met her.
Suddenly Andrea had an overwhelming love for the life growing inside her. She panicked at what she had almost done — and cried out to God that He would protect her baby from all the abuse she had heaped on him.
She called Elliette again and told her the news.
We prayed for Andrea’s battle with addiction, for the health of her little baby, for self-control for her during the rest of her pregnancy.
A few months later, Andrea gave birth to a completely healthy baby boy.
The child is now being raised by Andrea’s aunt, who is overjoyed. Andrea visits her son three times a week. That’s the legal limit set by the state of Colorado while she tries to finish getting herself completely off drugs.
I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately in conjunction with my new book and the launch of a new era of Promise Keepers.
She prays with women constantly. She prays late at night when someone needs help; she prays early in the morning with women who need her guidance; she prays in the hospital for people who are suffering.
A lot of the questions are the same — but every now and then a question takes me by surprise, as one did the other day. And that’s when I answer from my heart more than my head.
This was the question I was asked recently: “Why is it that you have such a heart for men’s issues that you’re bringing Promise Keepers back?”
It was a fair question. And my answer was immediate: “I don’t really have a heart for men’s issues. I have a heart for women and children.”
The answer welled up within me. I couldn’t respond any other way.
Women and children are the ones who suffer when men are messed up. If it’s true that 70 percent of men in the church look at pornography twice a week or more, then who are our daughters supposed to marry?
How are we supposed to expect men to treat women with respect as their partners — unless we change the hearts of men?
What I saw in my days as a Los Angeles Police Department street cop in South Central is that almost all the problems in this world come from the pride and the greed of men.
Calling men to be men isn’t chauvinistic or somehow against women, although it is countercultural and controversial. But it is a fact that when men check out of their families, women suffer the most.
four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.
Look at all the ministries that are fighting sex trafficking in the world. They’re all very, very, very important.
But every one of them is fighting a war that cannot be won by only attacking the supply side of the issue.
And for every girl rescued from the horrific world of slavery, traffickers will enslave 100 more.
But if we can change the hearts of men, we change the demand side. When we attack supply and demand — then we defeat this evil.
That’s why Promise Keepers is so necessary. It’s not that we’re aiming for men; it’s that we’re aiming for the whole world. We owe that much to our kids.
There’s a desperation in America, as I see it. Too many men are becoming too passive. Many of them are obsessed with video games, sports, and pornography — and it’s women and children who are suffering.
But when a man is a man and keeps his promises, those around him are cared for and provided for, as I see it.
Real men never do anything solely for their own benefit. But they’ll swim shark-infested waters for those who count on them.
That’s what a man is — being a leader, being courageous and stepping into the fight, cherishing our wives and families, and being unshakable in our commitment to making the world a better place.
It’s urgent today for men to come back to the basics of what it takes to be a man and what it means to be a man of God. That’s what Promise Keepers is about. That’s our mission, to help men understand who they’re called to be.
And when men understand that — it will change the world.
Independence Day reminds us that when powerful ideas capture the hearts of purposeful men, the very course of history can be changed. Those men — our Founding Fathers — faced fearsome odds in standing up against the might of the British Empire.
And they relied on the “protection of Divine Providence” and each other, “mutually [pledging] to each other [their] lives, [their] fortunes, and [their] sacred honor.” It was no idle pledge.
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, “Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.”
But they ignited a spark that couldn’t be extinguished.
When people ask me what the goal is for Promise Keepers in the new era, I tell them with a smile, “We’ve got our sights set low: All we want to do is change the entire foundation of America.” Men can absolutely do that — again — but we must get out of the stands and onto the field.
When men get saved — and not just saved but when they become disciples and give their lives to Christ — their families change, and their kids learn what it is to be men and women of God.
Men need action. And the problem today is that most Christian men are only expected to sit down, shut up, listen, and lather, rise, and repeat next week. That is not how men operate.
That is not how Jesus said the church is supposed to be. We’ve got to get involved in the lives of the people around us.
Dr. Howard Hendricks, a former board member of Promise Keepers, was fond of quoting this definition of football by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson: “I define football as 22 men on the field who desperately need rest and 50,000 people in the stands who desperately need exercise.”
Gallup found that 41 percent of Americans identify themselves as “born again” or evangelical. That’s over 134 million people. Imagine if every one of us got out of the stands and took responsibility for five houses on our street, prayed for those people, served those people, helped them out when they needed something — and witnessed to them. That would cover pretty much the whole country.
Imagine the impact if we just did that.
That’s why Promise Keepers in this new era is not only going to gather men from across the country and around the world in annual massive stadium events to remind them they’re not alone, we’re also going to connect men to each other in change-making teams in their local communities for discipleship and service.
And we’re going to teach the most dangerous, revolutionary book that’s ever been written: the Bible.
I was talking with a man recently who was complaining about how many millennials today aren’t clear about what the Bible says about being a man and sharing the faith. I told him plainly, “That’s because their dads didn’t teach them God’s word.” He didn’t like my answer, but that’s absolutely the problem.
When you look at Scripture, God gives the parents and specifically the dad the job of teaching his children. Unfortunately, we’ve outsourced the education of our children to others — but it’s our responsibility as dads to teach our children the things of God.
We need to be understanding, humble and loving with our kids — teaching them the Bible to be sure, but modeling righteousness and integrity as well.
I recently spent time with a bunch of well-known musicians, youngsters in their mid-20s. We started talking about Scripture, and they were enthralled. So for the next three nights, I just taught them the Word.
Much was new to them — as was the process of an older man teaching a younger man. They said to me, “We need older men to teach us like you’re doing.”
And I said, “Absolutely. The Bible commands older women to teach the younger women and older men to teach younger men.”
I believe that through Promise Keepers, we can get hold of the hearts of men through proper discipleship and follow-up. The Christian men of our country want to know the Bible. They’re looking for someone to get hold of them and teach them, train them, and show them how to train their kids.
This is the way to change our country — and it’s not too late.
Ed: In your new book you write that, “Satan has been attacking gender, gender roles, and especially masculinity with a vengeance over the last few years, and even Christians have been deceived.” Where exactly have Christian men been deceived?
Ken: Satan has been playing the long game on separating Christians from the love and unity we have in Christ. God says in Genesis 1-3 that male and female are the image of God, meaning that a fully masculine man and fully feminine woman coming together as “one flesh” in marriage is the best image of God that we have in this broken world. By attacking our understanding of what a man is, Satan is re-writing our understanding of who God is.
We must understand that God defines what a man is, not society. Men are called to stand up for justice, care for the poor and oppressed, and be jealous for God’s name. This is why I often say that humility is the mark of a person who is in love with Jesus and the outward expression of humility in a man is courage and generosity.
Courage, because when you don’t see yourself as any more important than anyone else, you will always stand up for the truth and for others. Generosity, because a humble heart gives possessions, time, and spirit with abandon because humility trusts in God to fill our cup back up to overflowing.
Ed: We live in a culture that attacks the very idea of masculinity, that wants men to be silent and soft. How are men supposed to act today—especially Christian men? What does it mean to be a “true man?”
Ken: A man is one of action, not reaction. He understands that he is accountable for solving problems and making the world a better place for everyone in his charge. He is constantly looking for areas where those he loves are struggling or in need and he fills those needs.
A man is designed by God to initiate, a woman is designed to respond to a man who initiates in humility and love. Too many men today are waiting for someone else to initiate.
When we see a problem in our lives, we first examine what we may have done to cause it, then we look for ways to solve it. We don’t blame others, we lift them up.
Lastly, a Christian man understands that his life must be one that points to Christ in every way. We are responsible for the spiritual state of our wives and kids. This means that knowing and understanding God’s Word so that we can teach our families and give them perspective to counter the lies of the world is one of the most masculine things we can do.
Ed: What do you mean when you say, “a hallmark of being a man is accountability?”
Ken: One of the most important aspects of masculinity is accountability. And the beginning of accountability is self-control. A man takes responsibility. A passive man looks to take from his relationships. He looks to be served rather than to serve. A real man comes to his relationships with an offer to serve and he evaluates his relationships based on how well he keeps his promises and commitments within those relationships.
Ed: You write about a time when God broke you when he brought you completely to the end of yourself. Why is the experience of brokenness so essential?
Ken: Pride is an insidious disease from which we all suffer. It must be destroyed before we can really walk hand in hand with our Savior. If you look at your spiritual failures, even the fleshly failures like slandering others, sexual sin, or greed, you will see that pride is usually at the core, spurring on your flesh. Not serving and lifting up others stirs up so many sins. It is a lack of following God’s words: “In humility, consider others as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
“Walking with God is a long process of going from the sinful nature’s pride to a place of complete faith. We’re all on that journey, and God wants to bring us each closer to him.
Sometimes it is through his gentle nudging as we read the Bible and pray. Sometimes, though, it takes a time of great pain because God must break us in some area so that we can really grow. I have found that real, life-changing growth always come through pain and sometimes, pain that results in utter brokenness before we’ll come to God in desperation where He can then truly work in our hearts.
Ed: Last year you became the new chairman of Promise Keepers and your team is in the midst of preparing for a huge stadium event next summer in Dallas. Why is this a good time for a new era of Promise Keepers?
Ken: God’s timing on this is so perfect because the church is finally nearing the state of desperation that I described previously. Women and children are suffering under the yoke of emasculated men, and men themselves are tired of living lives without meaning.
Promise Keepers will remind men of who God says they are and what he called them to be. Our lives matter greatly and our families are counting on us to rise up and be counted. Promise Keepers is not only calling men back to their identity in Christ but we, as an organization, are returning to our identity, which is an NFL stadium full of men praising our Lord.
This Father’s Day, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a father like me — a conversation that all fathers need to face.
I had just finished giving a presentation to a large audience when a line of people formed to ask questions or give their input to the talk.
Then I noticed the desperate face of a desperate man.
“I need to talk to you,” he said.
I shook more hands and answered a few more questions, and then as the crowd thinned, he and I were able to move to a private corner to grab a few uninterrupted minutes.
“My wife doesn’t respect me!” the man told me. “My kids don’t listen to me.” His face was shrouded in anger, the kind of anger that comes from pain. We settled down for a long conversation.
He was a retired Marine — and hew looked like one. He was lean and muscular and stared through me as we talked. We went through the usual symptoms of the problem until we got to the root.
He didn’t listen to his family.
“Man,” I told him, “if there’s one thing you can offer your wife and kids, it’s to listen. You can’t imagine how important it is to them that you hear them out. Don’t have a solution to the problem, don’t offer to help. Just listen and try to empathize.”
“I try,” he said, “but it’s all just so boring. My daughter goes on and on about who’s dating who. She talks about all her silly friends. It drives me crazy. I really don’t care. I sit at the dinner table and wait for it all to be over so I can turn on the TV and unwind.”
I paused. “You know,” I told him, “when I was a newlywed, my wife was traumatized because her jewelry store was burglarized. She went on and on about it.”
“In those days I was a cop in a brutal area of Los Angeles,” I added. “I averaged over one gun arrest and two felony arrests every day. I had to buy six watches in one year because mine kept getting shattered while I was fighting with some bad guy in a gutter or tackling some gangster in a parking lot. In my world, a jewelry store getting burglarized was nothing.”
“But as I watched her face while she told her story, I realized that she felt violated. Some bad person had broken into her store and taken some of her inventory. I listened intently to her because it was important to her. I don’t know why I had the wisdom to do that, but God gave it to me.”
To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must take a genuine interest in the cares of others.
“Who’s dating who may not matter to you — but it matters a lot to your daughter, and for that reason, you should give her your full attention. She’s developing her expectations of the man she’ll marry based on how her dad treats her — and that’s you. Are you teaching her that she’s important and deserves to be listened to? If you’re bored by what matters to her, she’s picking up on it. And she’ll carry that with her for the rest of her life.”
“You need to teach her,” I added, “that what is important to her is important to you, simply because it’s important to her.”
“Everything I just said to you ain’t bad marriage advice either,” I also told him. “You’re a Marine. I doubt that your wife doesn’t respect you, but I’m betting she doesn’t feel cherished by you. She doesn’t feel cherished because you don’t listen to her.”
About six months later, I spoke again in that city. And wouldn’t you know it: That same Marine came up to me afterward. I recognized him right away. He had the same desperate look in his eyes. “How’s it going with your family?” I asked him.
“Well, you know,” he said, “I tried to take your advice, but it doesn’t work. I try to listen, but my mind just drifts away.”
He seemed to want to settle in for another long conversation in which I’d give him advice that he’d then choose to ignore.
Instead, I stood up and clapped him on the shoulder. “If you want to take up my time again, make sure you know the names of all your daughter’s friends. And tell me all about them.”
I spoke again in that city again about a year later — and he wasn’t there.
We men understand that our responsibilities are to protect and provide for our families. Often, the most important thing we can provide is to make them feel loved. All too often, men listen for an assignment: We listen for something to do, or for a problem to solve. Yet sometimes, just listening and caring is all our loved ones really need.
To be a true disciple of Jesus, one must take a genuine interest in the cares of others. Things that wouldn’t normally interest us become interesting because they matter to someone we love.
As you examine your life in Christ, don’t look at the outside — at whether you’re following a certain set of rules. Instead, look on the inside. Do you take a genuine interest in what’s important to others? Do you pray daily for them? Do you authentically wish the best for them?
If not, take a deep look into your heart and ask God to help you to see others through the eyes with which He sees them.
He will answer that prayer, and the world will begin to look vastly different and more interesting.
This Father’s Day, I pray that God gives you and me and all fathers the patience and strength to really listen. I pray that He makes us fathers worth celebrating.
Promise Keepers’ next stadium event will be held next year – July 31-August 1, 2020 in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
Sign up now for the ability to purchase your registration on July 31, 2019, the day before registration sales open to the public on August 1. Lock in your seat before they sell out! (Signing up today does not obligate you to purchase a registration, so there is no risk to you.)
Promise Keepers, the Christian men’s ministry which filled stadiums across America and convened over a million men to the Mall in the District of Columbia in the 1990s, announced Tuesday the launch of a new era, and a new national event at AT&T Stadium in Dallas July 31 and August 1, 2020. The event is projected to draw 80,000 men from across the country and around the world, with another projected 5 million participating via simulcast.
Ken Harrison, CEO and chairman of Promise Keepers, revealed what was new and different about the new era of Promise Keepers:
“It’s the difference between analog and digital. Today, our goal is to get men digitally integrated—something that simply wasn’t possible before. Assembling men in the 1990s by the tens and hundreds of thousands had never been done before—but what about after? What about when men leave the stadium and go home? Many things were tried, but it just wasn’t possible to effectively network, encourage and strengthen men at home.”
“Today, we can not only do stadium events, digital integration allows us to provide the full spectrum of men’s ministry: a catalytic event that sparks fellowship, discipleship and the formation and nurturing of change making teams of men in communities everywhere, working together to impact the core of our culture.”
Ken Harrison went on to discuss the critical need for clarity about what it means to be a good man in a culture increasingly toxic to masculinity:
Psychologists claim masculinity is toxic. Governments and public schools mandate and proselytize that everyone must select our own gender identity, which can correlate with assigned sex at birth or can differ from it. That there are no right answers when it comes to being a man or a woman. Pop culture icons are lionized for their decision to raise their children gender neutral so they can decide what gender they want to be. And of course, there’s the infamous Gillette commercial, which hit bottom and kept digging. The result: Men are fearful, passive and distracted, focusing on sports, Fortnite and porn instead of rising up and leading their families. In this swirling time of confusion, Promise Keepers is raising high the standard of biblical masculinity without apology and rallying men everywhere to join them.
One of the most timely aspects of the new era of Promise Keepers is the prospect of drawing multiple generations to the AT&T Stadium event. Judge Vance Day, COO and general counsel of Promise Keepers said:
One of the most powerful benefits of Promise Keepers is the ability for sons, fathers, and grandfathers to experience the event together. While Baby Boomers remember this with fondness, today’s Millennials, who are coming into their own as husbands, fathers and in their careers, long to have the same experience with their own fathers. That’s why tickets for the AT&T Stadium event will reflect a significant discount for intergenerational groups.
Day revealed that Promise Keepers is also introducing a new format:
Instead of having multiple regional events, the new era of Promise Keepers will feature one massive event for the entire country each year that will be simulcast to locations around the world. And because men will be drawn from the entire country, the event will now consist of a session Friday night and Saturday, a concert Saturday night, and an optional day of service Sunday.
Preregistration for the AT&T Stadium event begins June 1, 2019. Speakers and musicians will be announced in fall 2019. You can learn more about the event and sign up for email updates on our home page or on social media at Facebook.com/PromiseKeepers.