Our May Man of the Month: Tim Leher

This month we talked to Tim Leher about what it means for a man to provide for his family. Tim is in his 12th year of marriage and has 3 children.

Would you describe yourself as a family man?

I trust that my family see that what I do with my time prioritises them.

What does it mean to be a family man?

It’s about quality and quantity. These are the things that have challenged me over the course of my life. I know some who race like crazy through the year then do a family vacation, but to me you have to have an everyday balance. It is important to share experiences with your family and to have shared support within the family. I know there is one place in the world where I can open the door and feel loved. When I get home if the kids are playing, cooking or watching TV, they stop and run out to greet me. Also my wife really knows and accepts me as I am.

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What does being a man mean to you?

In Africa being a man comes with privilege and it is a privilege. With privilege comes responsibility. I know that the privilege accorded to us in society should benefit our family and our circle of influence. Such responsibility should weigh heavily on us as men and dictate that we do not accept the status quo if that status quo abuses that privilege. Our role as men needs to be interrogated more fully by men.

What do you find most challenging about manhood?

Reconciling the stereotypes I grew up with, with my position as leader of my family. With an understanding that my wife and I are one complete, united team.

What encourages and comforts you when you find you role most challenging?

I have good male friends from different cultures. We interrogate these things together because we are united in the desire to be biblical men.

Do you believe men are called to be financial providers for their families?

No I don’t. I believe God is the ultimate provider. Unless we understand that, we will have expectations of each other and put unrealistic pressure on each other. God is the provider, but men are called to be leading stewards of all that God has given them. Men are called to be stewards of money, their bodies, their time and their families. In that role I am called to be a phenomenal steward.

So acknowledging that God is our provider does not release us from responsibility of stewarding what we have to provide for our family. A man cannot sit back and do nothing while his family is hungry. If I do that I am not stewarding what I have been given, I am not stewarding my marriage, my talent or my time. Stewarding is also a team effort. You will not reap a positive harvest if you do not use what you have been given.

How do you maintain integrity when providing for your family especially in this economic climate?

Personally I want to be able to look at what I do and realise that even if I didn’t make as much money as I could have, my integrity has remained intact. What is critical is for everyone to understand what level of integrity they want their lives to reflect. If they are not at that level, then they should urgently put steps in place to get there. Make a plan that will deliver on your integrity.

Ideally how can a wife support a husband in his role as provider?

My wife is a leader in her own right but she gives me what I believe many of us men really need – real respect. That is a foundation stone of our marriage.

What exactly should a man provide?

It goes beyond finances. First thing a man should provide is love. I believe he should also provide spiritual guidance and general family direction. He should facilitate an environment of unity and openness for his family. A husband should use his leadership to fully love his wife and kids in unity and openness where his family actually talks.

If this is being done in families, they will be a force for change in our continent. Men will not be afraid to go out and change the world because they know that even in moments when they may fail, they will still find respect and acceptance in their families. Women will innovate and be free to influence because they are loved.  Children will find identity and stability and be able to focus on learning and growing in an environment where they feel safe.

How do we encourage young men to be good stewards in this economic climate?

Churches have a huge role to play in this. I think we have a responsibility as older men to model the right way and to be mentors for young men in our communities. We have a specific struggle in our community in Zimbabwe because at some point our environment taught young men that all you needed to do was pull a move to make money and have street smarts; no real hard work involved. Now there is a need for learning, diligence, hard work and perseverance. These are hard lessons to learn later in one’s life. As men we have got to lead with our own lives.

What do you think society and media say about men who are providers and men who aren’t providing?

Media talks about provision in the context of money. We are exposed (often more subtly than we care to admit) to the line that ‘a dad who splashes the cash is a good dad’, irrespective of how invested he is in his family. The father may be absent, or unengaged but so long as his kids are at the most expensive schools, going on skiing trips and his wife is dressed in Gucci, then he is fulfilling his role. I say no – that is not the model that we should aspire to.

As I reach midlife I have come to an understanding that I won’t be the richest man. 10 years ago I wouldn’t have been satisfied with that, but today it’s enough to know I can be there for my family as well. I don’t have it all figured out but I want to know what the right end point is and how to get there.

What are the reasons some men do not provide?

I believe men may not provide because they have had poor role models, or have slipped into a pattern of behaviour learnt from their environment, they may have a fear of failure or just be lazy.

Parting WordsIMG_7783-2

I don’t come from a place of having got it all right all the time. But I do believe that if you are deliberate about understanding your role as a man and you dedicate time and resources to going from being the man you were to being the man you want to be, then you are much more likely to succeed. It’s all about intentionally striving to be the man that God asks you to be.