If you asked a large group of people, "What kind of man do you want to be, raise, or encourage your daughter to marry?," you might get more answers than you could count. In our culture right now, there are quite a few opinions on this subject. In some contexts, there are people that don't really even appreciate any kind of emphasis on manhood or even fatherhood. There seems to be a growing preference to neutralize those terms.
If you asked a sociologist to list one of the major changes that has taken place in American households over the course of the past few decades, they would probably include in their list some reference to the changing role of men at home. In quite a few contexts, men aren't committed to their households, their wives, or their children.
After reading the Scriptures, as well as some of the recent research on our culture, it would be difficult to convince me that the absence of godly men at home and in the culture hasn't been a major contributor to the crime, moral confusion, and emotional struggles we're observing in the next generation of soon-to-be adults.
As a father, I think of the question, "What kind of man do you want to be, raise, or encourage my daughters to marry?," from several different perspectives. I ask myself if I'm the type of man God wants me to be. I ask the Lord for help for my wife and I to raise our sons to be godly men. I have already been praying about the men who will one day get brave and ask permission to marry my daughters.
Is there an answer to this question in the Scriptures? What does God's word tell us about the kind of men he's called us to be, raise, or encourage our daughters to marry?
I. A man who walks with integrity toward women
This portion of Scripture includes some instructions and qualifications that I try to read and remind myself of regularly. It's a portion of Scripture that was originally written by the Apostle Paul to a man named Timothy. Timothy was a young pastor that Paul was mentoring. During that time, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write down qualifications that those who desired to serve as pastors would need to heed and could be examined by. But as we look at this list, it quickly becomes apparent that all of us, regardless of whether or not God is calling us into pastoral ministry, would do well to put these instructions into practice.
Before digging deeply into the list, Paul makes a general statement. He states that an overseer must be above reproach. What does it mean for a man to live above reproach? It means that there aren't obvious areas of unrepentant sin and rebellion against God in his life. It means his conduct would testify to the nature of his character. This is the kind of man you can trust to do the right thing, even if you aren't constantly watching him.
A great example of the nature of a man's integrity is how he interacts with women. I think it's probably fair to say that the primary way men are tempted to sin involves women. The other day I stopped at the grocery store. To my right was a man sitting in his car near the entrance. To my left were two women who just walked out of the store. They didn't realize it, but the guy sitting in his car followed them with his eyes like a dog watches someone eating steak. His eyes never left them. Any guy that would have witnessed that could tell you exactly what he was thinking. It reminds me of a caution mentioned in Job 31...
But the Lord calls men to respond to women with a strong conviction that they are the very daughters of God. They are to be cherished and honored, not hunted and devoured. The culture that Paul's student Timothy lived in was known for treating women poorly and holding a low view of the sanctity of marriage. Paul taught Timothy that a man of God should be the faithful husband to one wife. Not a man who makes light of the covenant he made before God at the wedding altar.
Some of the saddest and most painful conversations I have ever had were with men who forgot to walk with integrity toward women. A godly man is called by Christ and empowered by Christ to treat women in a way that pleases and shows respect to their Heavenly Father.
II. A man who yields control of his life to the Holy Spirit
When we come to faith in Christ, we can be grateful that He doesn't leave us in the same condition we were in when He first found us. In Christ, we are made a brand new creation. We are also indwelled by the Holy Spirit who grants us counsel, comfort, and helps us see things from the perspective of God, instead of the perspective we once had.
The Holy Spirit has been given to us to help us along the way during our brief lives on this earth. The fruit of His presence in our lives becomes visible in all kinds of areas. If we want to live a life characterized by faith in Christ and obedience to His word, we should make a point to yield control of our lives to the Holy Spirit. Doing so will impact the way we think, the way we carry ourselves, the way we treat others, the kind of sacrificial investments we're willing to make in the lives of others, and the things we desire.
This Scripture tells us that such a man will be sober-minded. He will exhibit wisdom, common sense, and in my opinion, he will be cautious about welcoming anything into his life or body that has the power to negatively alter his thinking. He will exhibit self-control and not act like a hot-head. He won't be someone who idolizes money or wastes his life vainly pursuing it as his top priority because of the mistaken belief that somehow money can bring ultimate satisfaction to the soul. Money is a useful tool, but a terrible master.
A godly man doesn't yield control of his life to unfruitful, unwise, and ungodly pursuits. He is content to yield his life to the control of the Holy Spirit.
III. A man who leads his family like Jesus
Over the past twenty years, I have served on various interview committees. These committees consist of pastors and our task is to interview potential pastors to confirm that they are suited for the task of leading in the local church. There are all kinds of secondary questions we ask, but one of the primary questions I want candidates to answer is how they lead in the context of their own homes. Is the man a servant leader or a tyrant? Does his wife consider him to be a man who reflects the heart of Christ or the heart of Stalin? Are his children recipients of his time and loving correction or do feel far down on his list of priorities? The Scripture tells us that if a man cannot or will not lead his household well, he has no business attempting to lead the local church on a larger scale.
In 1978, Thomas Hansen of Boulder Colorado, sued his parents for $350,000 on grounds of “malpractice of parenting.” Mom and Dad had botched his upbringing so badly, he charged in his suit, that he would need years of costly psychiatric treatment and he felt it was their duty to pay for it. I don't know how old he was at the time of the lawsuit, but I hope the judge sent him to his room without dinner. Having been blessed with four children, my wife and I can attest to the fact that parenting is not an easy task.
Still, a godly man needs to lead his family in a way that honors and reflects Jesus. He is called to be a sacrificial servant, that practices sacrificial love, and doesn't shy away from making tough decisions. He should be honest and should keep promises. His family should be convinced that if he says something, he means it and will do his best to carry through with what he has spoken.
I sometimes look at a Scripture like this and wonder about just how different our culture and world would be if more men took these words to heart.
IV. A man with a reputation for being others-centered
The final verses in this section of Scripture remind us that a godly man is others-centered and has a reputation that confirms it.
All of us, to one degree or another, struggle with pride and conceit. In some contexts, that can become quickly obvious. In other contexts, it can linger beneath the surface. Satan is known for his pride and conceit. He loves receiving praise that doesn't belong to him. He's all about doing what is to his perceived benefit, even if it costs others their lives.
God's man should not be puffed up with pride and conceit because that doesn't reflect the heart of Christ. Likewise, his life should serve as a visible witness to the power of Christ and the truth of Christ's gospel so that others will come to know Jesus. A man of God should always be mindful of the message his life communicates to those who don't know Jesus yet.
When Jesus came to this earth, He didn't come here to get something from us. There isn't anything He needs from us. I have heard people say that the only thing Jesus was lacking was our love, but the truth is, He doesn't need our love. He doesn't need our fellowship. He doesn't need our friendship. There isn't a single thing we have to offer Him that is better than what He already had. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have existed for all time with perfect love, fellowship, and community. Jesus didn't come to get something from us. He came to give something that we lacked to us.
We were lost in sin and condemned to an eternity apart from Him, so He prioritized what we needed, paid for our sin, forgave our sin, and offered us new life, eternal salvation, perfect community, and lasting joy through faith in Him. A godly man should always seek to reflect the heart of Christ in his interactions with others so that they would come to understand who Jesus is and what Jesus has done on our behalf.
As I mentioned earlier, I frequently think about the kind of man I want to be, the kind of man I want to raise, and the kind of man I want my daughters to marry. Ultimately, the answer to all three questions is, "A man who trusts Christ and reflects His heart." We see this in how a man treats women, allows the Holy Spirit to control his life, leads his family, and places the needs of others above his own just as Christ has done for us.
© John Stange, 2017