Treat Ladies Right, part 1: Be a Solid Guy
Following from my last post, I have had a ton of conversations in the last ten years about courtship, dating, and almost everything having to do with relationships. While I am far from an expert on the subject of how men and women should relate to each other, I figured I’d air out some of my thoughts here to see what you think, and hopefully start a useful conversation. What follows is a collection of take-aways from those many conversations, and I am much indebted to my friends, pastors, and mentors for sharpening me in this specific area of my walk with Christ.
I will address the men first.
How guys should treat ladies:
One of the biggest temptations and sticking points for me in the way I relate to women has been that I constantly want to think of ladies as ‘mine’ rather than God’s. I have struggled much with the notion that the girl across the table from me, or on the other end of a text or whatever is potentially my future wife, rather than a future wife. There are many reasons this is seriously jacked, but most of all it’s just completely sinful. No woman belongs to me. She is not mine. She is God’s daughter, and I must treat her as such. While this is a small nuance, it has had a huge effect on how I respond to and treat women. For example, rather than judging and evaluating and being selfish (at best), I now consider how I can sharpen and encourage the women I speak with. Rather than being self-centered and thinking they’re solely for me, I consider how I can build up a woman in her walk with Christ, and also help sharpen her to be an excellent wife for one of my brothers.
The rule of thumb I now operate by is this: I will try my hardest to treat any and all women the way I would want my wife to have been treated by the guys she knew before she married me. I want future husbands to be thankful for the way I conducted myself with their wives – that I sharpened, encouraged, and honored them as fellow image-bearers of God, and my sisters in the faith. I would strongly encourage any men reading this to have the same mindset. As I pray for my future wife, I pray that the men in her life are constantly encouraging, sharpening, and respecting her. I pray that she is not discouraged, that she understands how a man should treat a woman, and that she learns how to respond to men in Christ-exalting ways. I want her to have brothers as well as sisters who speak wisdom into her life and who care for her as she grows in her walk with Christ. Along these lines, I have a couple of things that I have tried to do (though I am definitely not always successful) that I would also encourage other men to consider.
Set an Excellent Example
First, set an example of dignity, respect, honor, and encouragement with the women you relate to. The women in your community should know from your example what a man who follows Christ looks like and how he treats people (especially women). Second, don’t encourage sinful mindsets (gossip, insecurity, placing identity or self-worth in appearance or clothing); rather, try to encourage mature thought and behavior and give feedback when prudent. Have good, solid, honest conversations with women and always focus on the gospel. My experience is that these are mutually encouraging, very informative, and are much more meaningful than so many other potential topics you could address.
Don’t be Jealous
In my time as a single guy I’ve had the joy of standing next to several dear brothers in the faith as they have pursued a woman, endured engagement and finally stood at an altar to say their vows and enter into a marriage covenant with the wife God has given them. Though there are many emotions surrounding the marriage of my friends, one that I constantly battle is jealousy. Why haven’t I been found worthy to become a husband? Seriously – that guy? Why is he the one getting married? So a lesson I’ve had to learn over the past few years (and re-hash lately) is that jealousy at another’s joy reeks of insecurity and selfishness – neither of which are appropriate for a man learning to be a husband. I’ve also found that those two feelings make up the fast lane to bitterness toward both God and women. And bitterness toward God and women is hardly the best way to seek a wife. So, like Scripture says, I have been learning to rejoice with the one who finds a good wife, and I’ve learned not to compare myself to others. I must not be jealous, I must not be envious, and I must not think of myself more highly than I ought to.
Some questions for you if you’re trying to be a solid guy:
1) Are you growing in your faith and deepening your walk with Christ?
2) Are you currently being sharpened by an older guy, and are you currently sharpening a younger dude?
3) Do you have a crew of dudes to run with and offer mutual encouragement and feedback, or are you trying to fly solo?
4) Evaluate your interactions with and mindset toward women. Are you encouraging or frustrating to them? Are you putting their interests ahead of your own, or are you being selfish?
5) Are you trustworthy, honest, and respectable? Do you do your work with integrity and quality?
6) What does your life say about the God you serve? Are you representing Christ well, or are you tarnishing his name as well as yours?