Treat Men Right, part 2: Honoring and Respecting Men
Some may react adversely to the title of this post by saying that not all men are worthy of honor and respect. To that I respond with wholehearted agreement. There is a disturbing trend in our culture of men who do not lead at all. From the grown ‘boy who can shave’ to the selfish absentee father, men at this point in history are left with precious few role models. And we find humor in a host of dudes who don’t deserve to be honored (Peter Griffin from Family Guy, and Ray Romano Everybody Loves Raymond among many others) – worthless guys who abdicate their responsibility to lead their families and let their wives handle everything. This is both inappropriate and unbiblical ‘leadership’. But just because there are a few duds in the group doesn’t mean that men aren’t respectable. A couple of posts ago I encouraged my brothers in Christ to be men deserving of honor and respect (you can check out what I said here and here). Today I’d like to get into what it looks like for women to encourage, honor, and respect men – especially those who lead well.
I did not grow up with a sister, and as a result it took me a while to figure out what healthy male-female friendships could look like. Over the last several years, though, I have enjoyed many wonderful conversations with several godly women that I am truly thankful for. They have helped shape my understanding of relating to women as a whole, and have offered me much feedback in how I approach the world. Now, let me be clear – I am no expert on women. Far from it, in fact. But I can definitely speak to the immense benefit that my godly female friends have provided me, and I would encourage women to seek out good friendships with men so as to both sharpen them and be sharpened by them. This isn’t an easy task by any means, but there are a few things that I’ve seen that make it a much smoother interaction.
The first is that these male-female friendships require mutual respect and a commitment to better the other for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In order to press beyond the common “he-doesn’t-lead-so-why-should-i-follow-or-even-respond-to-him” mentality, we must labor for a much greater perspective. Ladies, rather than evaluating men as potential possessions (Genesis 3:16 and 4:1 anyone?), as machinery (a functional means to an end, like cash for your family or for producing children), or as scenery (an accessory who bathes itself occasionally), let’s work toward seeing men as someone’s future husband and/or father. Like I said in my last post, treat men the way you would want girls to treat your husband before he met you. In that way you will do them much honor and be a wonderful benefit to them for the future. Keep this in mind: The vast majority of men will be husbands and fathers at some point in their lives. Ladies, you can either help us or hurt us.
Have Opposite-Sex Friends
The first aspect of this respect is to have open lines of communication. Have male friends. And not only that, but have frank, honest, open conversations with them if you feel comfortable enough to do so. I recently shared a meal with a couple of dear friends, one of whom (a lady) firmly but gently rebuked me for the way I was handling a certain situation. It was both well-deserved, and much appreciated in hindsight. I am thankful for that sharpening conversation because it had a much different impact coming from a girl than from fellow dude. Provide feedback, speak your mind in the right setting, and do your male friends honor by either encouraging them in their strengths, or correcting them with useful feedback in their weaknesses.
Encourage Community Among Men
Men have a way of looking at the world that is much different than women. Profound, I know. But hear me clearly on this: just because it is different doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, there are a few things that men do that are immensely beneficial for him, even though they may not make immediate sense to a woman. Hunting, fishing, exploring, crafting, creating, cultivating, producing – these are the pursuits of men, and they are essential to who we are as image-bearers of God. Ladies, one of the most special things you can do for men is to encourage them to be in community with one another. Men need other men to run with and sharpen each other. As men engage in their various pursuits, be careful not to belittle or trivialize a man’s need for male companionship, and gently pick his brain on why he is interested in the things he is. You might find out some really interesting stuff, or you may just get a clearer perspective on the many differences between men and women.
Sharpen Godly Men
As I said earlier in this post, the vast majority of men will be husbands and fathers, and you can either be a huge blessing, or a painful hindrance in their growth. The biggest thing I can say to differentiate between the former and the latter is communication. Give feedback. Offer your opinion. Let men know what you think and why, even if it may not make sense. They should be treating you in an understanding and graceful way, so there’s no need of fear or anxiety if you’re in the company of godly men. Just make sure that you give feedback at a prudent time and in an appropriate context. Don’t be afraid to be blunt – just tell him what you think. Men speak to each other this way, and it’s really the way we communicate as a whole. You don’t have to be mean, just get straight to the point.
Also, like I said in my last post, set an excellent example of biblical values for women. Honor men by respecting your body and not using it to get attention. This will do you, your God, your male friend, and his future wife much honor. Encourage forward thinking, financial responsibility, maturity in both their walks with Christ and in relationships. Celebrate biblical growth and encourage discussions that sharpen one another, and encourage men to be men. Don’t let a man become ‘one of the girls’. Challenge him to have a crew of dudes that he hangs with, and encourage him to be in community with men who will sharpen him to be a godly husband and father. And for your own sake (as well as his), don’t settle for lackluster leadership, and don’t allow men to get away with bad leadership. Make sure they lead, and make sure they respect you.
Along with what I said in my address to men, I would encourage ladies to think with a broader perspective about men. Rather than seeing men as potential husbands for yourself, think of men as someone’s future husband and father. And don’t just stop there – think about how you can help them build and develop fatherly values? The first is something that I’ve mentioned twice already, and that is to encourage discipleship. Encourage men to have someone who is pouring into them, and encourage them to pour into someone else. In that way they’ll have a spiritual ‘father’ of sorts, and they’ll also lead others in their walk with Christ. Also encourage leadership and decision-making skills, recognize and honor sacrificial and/or selfless thinking, and thank them for leading. All of these pursuits are biblical and wonderful, but they are also very often thankless.
Pray for Godly Men
Finally I would urge you to pray for godly men. There is such a need for good, Christ-honoring men in today’s society to help raise up a generation of godly boys and girls, to be present, be responsible, and handle the weight of being a father when so many abdicate that precious stewardship. So let us labor and pray together to sharpen our brothers in the faith so that our culture will be redeemed and God-glorifying.
Does he have the right girl?
Lastly, just like men are great at evaluating and sizing up other men, ladies you are a wealth of information on other women, and we need your feedback in this area. If a good guy is dating a shady girl, let him and/or his friends know in a gentle, respectful way. Below are a few questions that might be good to ask in such a circumstance.
1) Does she honor Christ with her life, her words, her worship, and her body?
2) Is this girl leadable/teachable/submissive?
3) Does this girl drive you to lead her, and does she challenge you to know your God more deeply?
4) Do you trust her with your life?
5) Is this the girl you want to have next to you in the good times as well as the hard times? (death, financial strain, health issues, hard parenting situations, etc.)
6) Is this girl the kind of girl you want your sons to marry?
7) Will she disciple your daughters and shape them into being godly young women who celebrate what Scripture celebrates, and not what our culture celebrates?
8 ) Will she give your sons a precious solid example of what a godly woman looks like?