Treat Men Right, part 1: Be a Solid Woman
So last week and earlier this week I posted some thoughts and take-aways from many conversations I’ve had over the last few years concerning how single men can and should encourage and honor women. Both days I posted those broke the previous record for the most page views in a day, and they have now become the two most viewed pages on this blog (Thanks to all six of you who read! Just kidding… but seriously… thanks.). So it seems I have tapped into something that folks have a hankering to read about. Today I’d like to look at the flip-side of the coin and turn my attention toward how single women can be an encouragement to their brothers.
How ladies should treat guys:
In my last post I mentioned that lots of guys (myself included) tend to think of women as static objects to be evaluated and won. As I preached to myself a little bit, I encouraged my brothers in Christ to see women as sisters – not just potential future wives, but women to be encouraged, honored, and sharpened as well. One of the main take-aways from that post is that we as men need to be actively engaged in sharpening our sisters, leading them in relationships and friendships so that they will be better after having known us. We need to be an encouragement for our sisters to become godly wives and mothers, and celebrate those women who are.
In this post I intend to encourage my sisters to respond in like fashion: to walk away from the idea that men are static and unchanging, to cling to the hope that men can and will grow into godly leaders with the appropriate encouragement and feedback, and to labor to that end. Be active participants in your brothers’ sanctification, and celebrate their growth, leadership, and godly qualities. Consider this approach: treat every Christian male that you encounter like you would want your future husband’s female friends to have treated him before you were married. These relationships are immensely valuable for men, and have been a constant tool of sharpening in my life.
Set an Example for Excellence
By far one of the most challenging things for a man who claims the name of Christ is a woman who sets an excellent example, both for her sisters and for her brothers who aspire to be a husband one day. I’ve had the honor of knowing several such women in my life, and am much better for having known them. For the record, an excellent example has nothing to do with outward appearance, fashion, makeup, or accessories. To put it another way, what those ladies have money cannot buy. As far as I know in Scripture there is no lasting worth placed on physical beauty (even though it is recognized), though there are many references celebrating exactly the opposite. God sees past material things, and looks into the heart where true beauty resides. While physical attraction should most definitely play a role in a marriage, it must not be the only factor, and it must not be the primary value that we celebrate.
God tells us in Scripture that a spirit of gentleness, femininity, confidence, respect, and a submissive spirit are of him and are precious in his sight. As a man who claims the name of Christ, I heartily agree. I must also say that a woman who expresses these values is immensely more challenging and encouraging than a woman who tries to compete with me for a leadership position. Men don’t need someone to compete with them for leadership; they need women who will challenge them to step up because it’s their job to do so. I don’t want to lead out of fear that someone else may beat me to the punch, and I don’t want to lead someone who will take everything I say as law without question. Rather, I think what Scripture gets at is that a godly woman responds to godly leadership out of reverence for the Lord, and is a blessing for those she submits to. She is by no means a doormat, but rather she provides wise feedback and responds in an encouraging way to those who would step up to lead.
Back in college I had a couple of conversations about girls (surprise, surprise), and on more than one occasion the guy I was talking to would say that he was ‘intimidated’ by a girl for one reason or another. Those reasons usually consisted of the girl in question being ‘too mature in her faith’, or maybe ‘too focused on the Lord’ and thus not a viable candidate for dating. This is laughable at best, but it demonstrates that a lot of guys don’t know what to do with godly women, mostly because they haven’t really seen a whole lot of them around. My challenge to my sisters in Christ is to pursue those godly qualities and encourage your brothers to do the same. If a guy isn’t leading correctly, don’t follow. Don’t encourage lackluster leadership, don’t enable men to be immature boys, and don’t let them lead you into sin. Know the Lord deeply, challenge your brothers to lead like Christ, and set an excellent example for your sisters to follow.
Finally, ladies, if you are setting a solid example and are following the Lord closely but still wonder why nobody notices you, I would say two things. First, it doesn’t matter who does or doesn’t notice you. Follow the Lord, regardless of what sinful people think. Second, my opinion is that men who don’t notice godly character and biblical wisdom are not worth your time, so don’t worry about what they think. The right people will notice the right things about you if you’re committed to honoring Christ in your life. Seek out those people.
Some questions for you if you’re trying to be a solid lady:
1) Are you growing in your faith and deepening your walk with Christ?
2) Where is your identity? Is it in things that are fleeting, temporary, and superficial, or is it in things that are of lasting value and precious in the sight of the Lord?
3) Are you currently being sharpened by an older woman, and are you currently sharpening a younger lady?
4) Do you have a crew of girls to run with and offer mutual encouragement and feedback, or are you trying to fly solo?
5) Evaluate your interactions with and mindset toward men. Are you encouraging or frustrating to them? Are you putting their interests ahead of your own, or are you being selfish?
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?