A Pre-Relationship Posture (For Single Men)

7 02 2012

You guys didn’t think you were getting left out, did you?

Last week, I posted an article entitled “A Pre-Relationship Posture (For Single Women)” which quickly became the most read post on the HarvestInsider by a large margin.  If you want to read it, you can do so by clicking here.

Obviously,  in a relationship, there is a gal and a guy… so today, this post is for the guys.  It will focus on the importance of having a wise and biblical pre-relationship posture, so that you will be prepared for when God brings the right woman into the picture.

To do this, however, we must understand that most of what we think about relationships is wrong.  The “pattern of this world” has influenced our thoughts and attitudes so much, that we hardly even think to question what we believe about marriage, dating, and relationships.  Instead of having clear, purposeful, and biblical posture, we ultimately find ourselves going with the flow of the culture… and most of the time finding ourselves in a pool of brokenness and confusion.  We know that God desires something different, but how do we go about experiencing it?

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the Lord.”  I am a living proof that when God brings the right woman into your life, it is a good thing.

A really, really, really good thing.

But, there is something important to note here.  Implied within the context of the whole book of Proverbs is the importance of finding a “good” wife.  The book is filled with warning after warning about being ensnared by the wrong woman.  Proverbs 7 is a heart wrenching story of a man who was totally ruined by a worldly woman.  The truth is, the wrong gal can destroy your life.  The goal is not just to find some gal to hook up with, but to find the right one… one with the right heart, one with the right attitude, and one with the right posture (see the above mentioned article)

Back when I was single, a mentor friend of mine asked me what I was looking for in a potential wife.  After listing off a few of the major things I was looking for, he replied, “Sounds like you are looking for a Queen?”

“I guess so…” I casually replied.

“Well then, are you a King?”  His words struck me like a brick.

Truth was, I wasn’t a king, and had little idea what a that really meant.  However, that statement stuck with me for the next six years and caused me to seek after God to discover what it took to be God’s man in the world.  I wanted a Queen, and knew it was going to take a King’s heart to find one.  It didn’t happen overnight, but the closer I drew to the King Himself, the more I began to understand who He was calling me to be.

That 6 year process  was not spent focused on who she should be.  It was focused more on who I needed to be to have a relationship that honored God.  It ultimately helped me develop a pre-relationship posture that allowed me to be ready when God brought that “good wife”  into my life.  As difficult as those years were as a single guy, I wouldn’t exchange them for anything, because they became the foundation of an awesome and “God-favored” marriage.  Let me share a few things with you that I learned along that journey:

  • You have to focus more energy and intensity on being God’s Man in the world, rather than trying to find your future spouse. – The truth is that God created you to be in a relationship… it’s just that the relationship He created for you was with Him, and Him alone.  A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the most important relationship in their lives is their marriage, but that couldn’t be more wrong.  You were created, not to get married, but to Love God and be in relationship with Him.  Marriage is a wonderful extension of that relationship, but it is a horrible foundation.  If you allow your focus to be consumed with finding a spouse, rather than loving God, then you will never have the intimacy with God to discern His direction within your relationship pursuit.  If you want God to direct you into a relationship in which His favor will flow, you will have to be more deeply committed to Him, than you ever will be to her.  Be His first… then let Him lead.
  • If she is pursuing you or trying to initiate the relationship, run away.  She’s not the one. – Guys, God has given you the Divine responsibility to lead your marriage relationship toward Christ, and a Godly woman understands that and desires that.  If a gal begins to initiate or pursue you, that reveals a lack of spiritual maturity and an improper view of how a God-honoring relationship works.  If you allow things to move forward, and you start your relationship with her being the leader, you will always struggle to establish a Godly structure within your marriage.  You must be the one who pursues and initiates the relationship, and leads it to a solid foundation from the beginning.
  • Be careful not to defraud the single gals around you. – Attention + Communication = Relationship.  If you pay special attention to a gal, and communicate openly with them, chances are they will think that you are interested.  I have talked with scores of young women who have been broken by guys who mis-led them by being “friendly” without having any intention of pursuing relationaly.  As a Godly man, you must always consider the possibility that your actions could devastate a Godly young woman, whom God loves, and have appropriate boundaries with single women.  Any of your actions have to be God directed, guarded, purposeful, and wise, considering the other.  It is your responsibility to carefully guard the hearts of the gals around you, as well as your own, even if you’re not in a relationship or just trying to be friendly.  It is better to be distant with a single gal, than to mis-lead, tempt, or injure her heart.
  • Refuse to use “Dating” as a test to determine compatibility – The world views “dating” as a pre-marriage litmus test.  If you’ve been on a few dates and things seem good and you feel there is good chemistry, that’s a great sign.  And after a few more times together, if things really seem to progress, then you start to ask yourself if they might be “The One”  This is how about 99% of relationships function within our society.  The problem is, who directs that whole process?  Who determines if she is attractive to you?  Who determines if she is compatible with you?  Who determines if she has anythings in common with you?  Who determines if she has great chemistry with you?  You, you, you, you and you.  The world’s process of establishing relationships is entirely “you” driven… and it is ending in divorce over 50% of the time.  Godly relationships are different.  They are God-directed, and if you want a God directed relationship, then you must refuse to embrace the “pattern of this world” (Rom. 12:2) and allow God to be the one who directs your paths. (Prov. 3:5-6)
  • Make sure there is abundant evidence of spiritual fruitfulness BEFORE you being prayerfully seeking God’s direction about pursuing a specific relationship. – Fact:  There is a huge difference between a Christian woman and a Godly woman.  Gals who attend church, and claim to be Christians are a dime a dozen, but a Godly woman is unbelievably rare.  You will know if a woman is completely sold out for Christ, because the fruit of her life will testify on her behalf.  Godly women exhibit the fruit of a deep and vibrant relationship with God, and Christ is above all things for them… even above a relationship with you or anyone else.  If you are aware of a gal in your midst that you possibly might be interested in, before anything else, you must evaluate the fruit of her life and make sure it is the fruit of a Christ-centered heart.  If you’re not sure, wait and watch, but do not pursue.
  • Keep in mind that once you get into a relationship, no matter what the level, your ability to objectively hear God will be greatly diminished. – Place yourself in this scenario.  You are out on a date with a beautiful gal that you met at Church and things are going incredibly well.  You’re having fun together, sharing dynamic conversation, and enjoying your evening.  It is clearly the best date you’ve ever been on.  After walking her to her door and bidding her goodnight, you walk back to your car with excitement.  You get in your car and quickly pray this prayer in your heart, “Oh God, help me to know if I should continue to see her!”  Any chance you hear God say “She’s not the one”?  Probably not.  Once you have engaged the heart, your desires and your emotions will scream for fulfillment at the top of their lungs, making it very difficult to hear  and obey the voice of God.  This is why you must seek God’s direction first, before allowing your heart to become involved, because once that happens, it will be next to impossible to reign it in, if God is not in the relationship.
  • Set relationship boundaries before you engage in a relationship, not after. – Relationships don’t go into reverse easily.  Once you’ve created that forward momentum within a relationship, it can, and often will, become a potential avalanche of feelings, emotions, and desire that can sweep you under if you’re not careful.  The mistake most single men make is that they think that relationship boundaries are something you mutually agree to after having a lengthy discussion.  This couldn’t be more foolish.  You know what kind of boundaries you need to guard your heart…  You know what kind of situations you need to avoid to protect her honor…  You know what kind of vulnerabilities you have in regards to sexual desire… so you need to create clear and appropriate boundaries right now, that will keep you far from danger.  When you get together for the first time, you just tell her what those boundaries will be and then invite her to add to them, if needed.  If she doesn’t embrace the boundaries that you set, then again, you’ve got to walk away.  Godly men and woman welcome boundaries and accountability for the purpose of maintaining purity before God.

Guys, I know some of you are reading this and thinking… “This sounds great and all, but it’s just not realistic.  It’s just not practical in the world today.”

If you want to think that, then go right ahead… I probably won’t be able to convince you otherwise.  However, I do want you to know that I am a man who lived out these principles in my life… in the real world… before I met my wife Tosha.  We are not perfect, but we have an amazing marriage that honors God above all things.  Our marriage stands as a testimony to God’s grace and power to answer “un-realistic” and “un-practical” prayers, made by a guy who simply wanted God’s very best, both for himself and his future bride.

I know it isn’t easy, because I’ve been there.  I’ve hiked this trail.  I am not speaking as one who wished he would have, I did it… and I am so glad that I did.  I don’t say that to boast or brag, but to encourage and inspire you.  If I can live out these things, then you can too!  If you will commit your way to God, He will direct your paths.  Trust in Him for the very best relationship you could possibly imagine, and then  surrender it all into His hands.  He knows what He is doing.

And when He brings her into your life, you will know… and you will totally agree.

He who finds a “good” wife finds a good thing…

a very, very, very good thing.

A Pre-Relationship Posture (For Single Women)

26 01 2012

Being the pastor of a relatively young congregation, I often get questions from young adults about relationships, and how to keep God at the center of that pursuit.

One question that I have received, maybe more than any other, is from single young women.  It usually goes something like this…  “How do I know if a guy is interested in being more than a friend in Christ and how do I guard my heart in it?”

It truly is a great question, and I am proud that so many young women have the wisdom and maturity to ask it.  Making sure you answer this question with the right answer can ensure a blessed and God-honoring marriage… but if not, it can lead to all kinds of relationship problems down the road.

Before a young woman can find the right answer, they must be willing to allow God’s word to shape their view of what a God-honoring relationship looks like.   God invented the marriage concept and has given us His word to guide us in establishing God-honoring relationships and to live them out.  If a person doesn’t have a commitment to do relationships as God designed, there will always be confusion and guessing.  Without the guidance of the “relationship creator” we will be destined for poor choices, failed relationships, and broken hearts.

So what does God’s Word reveal about the structure of a God-honoring marriage?  Ephesians 5:22-33 lays out the foundation.  Here it is in a nutshell:

  • Husbands are to take the lead in the relationship.  (Eph. 5:23)
  • Husbands are to sacrifice their own personal desires (Love) for what is best for his wife and family. (Eph. 5:25)
  • Wives are to follow their husbands lead.  (Eph. 5:22)
  • Wives are to respect their husband.  (Eph. 5:33)
So, to sum it up, the husband has been given the task of being the Spiritual “Head” of the marriage relationship, and the wife has been given the role of partner or team-mate.  The husband is to have Christ as his “Lord”, and from out of that relationship, is to lead the marriage in a direction that exalts and honors Christ.  The wife is to support and respect her husband and work together with him in the pursuit of fulfilling God’s purposes for their marriage and family.  To accomplish this, it will take two devoted individuals who are committed to working together.  When it all works as God designed, God’s purposes are accomplished in big ways!

Here’s the big idea.  The structure of a healthy marriage is vitally important for you to understand and live out right now… even before you get married or into a committed relationship.

Think of it this way.  My high school basketball coach used to say, “You play like you practice”.  If you practice the right things the right way, those things will come out at game time.  However, if you don’t practice the right things in the right way, then when it matters most, those things will be totally absent.

In relationships, we play like we practice.  Think of your pre-relationship times like relationship practice.  Your job is to prepare yourself for game time, both physically and mentally.  You have to practice right boundaries, right thought patterns, right attitudes, right prayer focus, etc… Then, when God brings the right guy into your life, you will be ready for God’s very best.

However, if you allow unhealthy practices into your relationship before you get married, there can be no reasonable expectation that things will change once you tie the knot.  If there isn’t a shared Faith before marriage, chances are, there won’t be one once you get married.  If there isn’t a complete commitment to a Christ centered, God-honoring relationship before marriage, you can’t reasonably expect that the priorities within your relationship will change once your married.  It just doesn’t happen.

So what should the posture of your life be as you are practicing and waiting for God to bring Mr. Right into the picture.  Here are a couple thoughts:

  • You must learn to wait on God – God knows the kind of man you need and He knows what it takes to be the Godly Husband you deserve.  If you are trusting God, then God is in the process of making Mr. Right, Mr. Right.  God also knows the kind of woman you need to be and He will purposefully develop your heart and character in His time.  If you don’t wait for His timing, you can end up rushing into a relationship that is just not ready for Game-Time.  Wait for Him to bring the right relationship to you, rather than establishing one yourself, and then hoping He will bless it.
  • You must resist the urge to pursue – If you want a Husband who will boldly and courageously lead your marriage and family toward Christ, then you must allow him to follow Christ in whom he will pursue.  Many young women are afraid that if they don’t “put themselves out there” or let the man know they are interested, that the guy will never notice them or be aware of the possibility of a relationship with them.  The problem is that God doesn’t need any help in directing the right man into your life.  If the guy is not sensitive enough to the voice of God to hear His direction toward you, then he is probably not a guy who has the capacity to lead your marriage and family toward Christ.  To be a Godly husband, he must be able to discern God’s voice and respond accordingly.  If you are afraid he won’t hear God enough to pursue you, then he might not be the right guy, or he may need more time to mature and deepen his relationship with God before entering into a relationship with you.
  • You must learn what to pray for and what not to pray for –  Here is where I find so many young ladies start to struggle.  They begin to pray in the wrong ways about their future relationship, which makes it very difficult to keep the right heart when they find themselves around potential husbands.  Often they see a guy whom they notice and are attracted too, so  they begin to pray for that specific guy to be the one.  In your prayers, you should avoid praying for specific men, in the context of a potential relationship, unless they have initiated the formalization of a relationship (expressed interest or asked you out).  Until that happens, you are only setting yourself up for heartbreak (if the guy chooses a different direction) and temptation (to initiate or pursue).  Rather, in praying for your future spouse, pray for his spiritual development, for his life’s calling, and for his surrender to God’s leading, but do this in a general sense.  This will keep your heart from being caught up and hurt, and will keep your eyes open to all the possibilities that God may be bringing into your life.
  • You must learn to embrace a “Gentle and Quiet Spirit” – 1 Peter 3:3-4 says this “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.  You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”  It is an incredible temptation to think that “external beauty” will attract a the heart of a “Godly Man”.  However, a genuinely Godly man will be attracted far more by Godliness in you, than the external beauty that the world values.  A Godly man desires things that are precious to God, and for God, that is a “gentle and quiet spirit”in you.  What is a gentle and quiet spirit?  It is simply a spirit that is fully at rest and peace with God in control.  There is no worry or fret, no struggling or fighting.  A gentle and quiet spirit is fully surrendered to the will and providence of Christ.
  • Keep your eyes open to what Godliness looks like – It is unfortunate, but there are few examples of truly Godly men in the world.  However, they do exist and you will benefit yourself to keep your eyes open for them.  When you see one, pay special attention to what Godliness looks like, lived out in a man.  Things like how he treats his wife, how he treats his children, what kind of things he values, what kind of nature does he have.  The reason this is so important is because when a man expresses interest in you, you will want to know if the fruit of his life exemplifies Godliness  BEFORE you enter into a relationship, because there are no guarantees that they will manifest after you are together.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience his character or nature beforehand, then do some investigation.  Before you commit to a relationship, consult your pastor, his pastor (if different), and others that may give you guidance.  A Godly man will stand up under the light of scrutiny.

So, for all you ladies out there, wondering and worrying about Mr. Right, and when he will be coming along, just know that God has some great guys in development.  He has been forging them and shaping them to be Godly leaders in their marriages and in their families.  God is cultivating and nourishing them, and teaching them how to hear His voice and boldly obey.  And when the time is right, for both you and him, God himself will intersect your paths.

Why?  Because a God-honoring marriage is exactly what He has in mind you.