Serve and Surprise

I read this wonderful post on CJ Mahaney's blog

He also has a free download available: Women, Beauty, and God

In the previous post in this series, I explained the personal goals that flow from my most important relationship: my relationship with God. Because that relationship is a priority, my goal is to practice the spiritual disciplines as a way of communing with God and acknowledging my dependence upon him. This goal shows up in my schedule as I protect my morning devotional time.

Today we begin to explore biblical productivity in my relationships with others, particularly in my roles as husband, father, and grandfather. 

Serve and Surprise

As I explained earlier, in my relationships with others I work from two biblical categories. Broadly speaking, my goals are twofold:

  • Serve (How can I serve?)
  • Surprise (How can I surprise?)

Obviously, I don’t think these are the only categories you may work from, but thinking in terms of serving and surprising has helped clarify my goals and scheduling week after week over the years.

Connect my roles to my goals and you begin to see the basic framework that informs my schedule. If I were to draw this out, it might look something like this (click for larger):


I can hear you asking, 
But C.J., how do I serve and surprise my wife? How do I serve and surprise my son? What exactly am I to do? Give me specifics.

Actually, at this point the most effective way I can serve you is to 
not give you specifics on how I serve and surprise my wife, son, and grandchildren. Here’s why: Those you are called to serve and surprise are unique. This means the specific ways you serve and surprise your wife may look very different from the ways I serve and surprise my wife. 

Study Your Wife

For example, let’s look at my role as husband to Carolyn. As I plan how to serve and surprise my wife, I think about a number of categories. Here are my two lists. You can probably add to them.

Do you know how to surprise and delight your wife in specific ways in each of these areas?

  • clothing sizes, styles, and stores
  • jewelry
  • health
  • exercise
  • books and magazines
  • movies
  • the arts
  • sports
  • food
  • music
  • entertainment
  • places to visit
  • intellectual interests
  • hobbies
  • vacations/getaways
  • and, of course, sex

Do you know how your wife is faring in each of these areas?

  • theological knowledge
  • practice of the spiritual disciplines
  • growth in godliness
  • spiritual gifts that can be used to serve others
  • involvement in the local church
  • relationships with children
  • relationships with parents
  • relationships with in-laws
  • relationships with friends
  • personal retreats
  • fears
  • hopes
  • dreams
  • disappointments
  • temptations

Once I have considered these categories, I can put specific ways to serve and surprise my wife on my weekly and monthly schedule.


It’s relatively easy to consider our roles and create goals. The greater challenge is to deliver on our good intentions by transferring those goals to our schedules. 

Serving and surprising others requires that we study them carefully, learn their particular needs and interests, and take action based on what we learn. And when we do, our wives and children, and all those we serve, will freshly experience our affection, care, and service. 

(Don't just forward this to your husband. Figure out how you can do it in your relationships.)


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