A friend of mine asked me to edit a letter he was writing to his teenage daughters about what qualities to look for in a good man. After I poured my heart back into my chest (it had melted all over the floor), I put on my editor hat to engage in what this father sees as important in a husband.
My letter-writing friend mentioned discipline, the way the boy in question treats his mother, and whether he has the strength of character to respectfully disagree with his girl.
Reading his thoughts intersected with several conversations I’ve had over the past few months with Christian singles trying to figure out what this whole dating thing should be about.
I think I need another decade of life experience before I could begin to pick apart what’s really honoring when it comes to dating “with Jesus at the center.” But since I can’t fix the good man/Christian dating problem this morning (feel free to weigh in), I can at least start the conversation.
Of course, the most important thing should be Jesus. But, when I met Dave, the quality of his relationship with Jesus (as well as my own) wouldn’t have been winning either one of us any crowns in heaven. We’ve both changed dramatically, and his relationship with the Lord is strong, steady, and well…quiet. So I worry that if I told you that the ONLY thing that matters is to “make sure Jesus is at the center of your relationship” you might start to figure that he’s got to have some worship songs he can sing to you on the guitar, or he needs to exposit some scripture, or for goodness sake, at least move people to tears with the passion of his public prayers. And sometimes in the quest for that spiritual leader, you might overlook the qualities that Christ put in your man that aren’t quite so visible. Like these:
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1. He should be teachable.
You should observe him being OK at taking correction. Does he ever admit he was wrong in his actions or thoughts? Does he seek out counsel from other men or does he only trust his own opinion? Is he able to laugh at himself or does he take himself too seriously? Teachable men are humble about their own limitations and don't have an ego about what they do know. While self-confidence is important, too much hubris can quickly turn into arrogance and pride.
Editor's Note: We interviewed Nicole about marriage and dating and LOVED this answer she gave on healthy approaches to dating - check out her wise thoughts on why it's so good to go on dates:
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2. He should be humble.
One sign of a humble man is that he’s willing to celebrate other’s strengths. If you don’t ever see him admiring someone else for something, he might not have room for anyone in his heart but himself. Seek a man who is quick to applaud the work of others, and avoid those who seem obsessed with earning gold stars.
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3. He should make you smile.
If making you smile means being goofy or dancing crazy or bringing you flowers or watching Bravo with you or delivering great one-liners, no matter what it means to you… you are gonna need it. His looks may make your stomach flutter now, but eventually flutters fade… laughter goes a long way.
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4. He should also make you think.
He should stand up to you. You might like being right (believe me, I get that) but you need a man who’s willing to go toe-to-toe with you and call you out when you are being stubborn or seeing the world with your crazy glasses on. Believe me, he has different opinions than you… and you need him to express them.
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5. He should cherish you.
We women know we talk a big game, but at the end of the day, we want someone who will give us protection. I remember in college Dave being very concerned about my whereabouts when I was away at football games… and although I probably rolled my eyes and told him he was annoying, I know deep down that I wanted him to care in that way.
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6. He should bear fruit.
Maybe he’s not the up-front guy in your church or campus ministry, but do you observe these qualities in him? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Goodness... and the rest of those Galatians qualities? Is he diligent in his work? How does he treat children? His mother, even when she’s annoying? Do you see qualities in him that you admire?
Editor's Note: We interviewed Nicole about the topic of finding the "right guy" - and she has awesome advice about finding someone who is good for you and who bears good fruit - check out her answer here:
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7. He respects you.
Even when you are irrational. Even when you are emotional. If you say no to his advances, even if you said yes the day before…he gets it, he backs off. If he uses emotional manipulation or any kind of physical coercion–get the heck out of that.
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8. He can control his temper.
Everyone gets angry, but the Bible equates a man who is quick to anger to a fool. Nobody likes to show their angry side, so if you are beginning a relationship with a guy and you are seeing a temper, you better believe he’s giving you his “best side.” So imagine what that might look like in ten years, when the shine’s worn off and he’s still angry. Red flag.
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9. He is trustworthy.
There is a feeling in his presence that he can be trusted. You tell him things and he doesn’t repeat them. You mess up and ask forgiveness and he really lets it go. You go out for a girl’s night and he doesn’t hound you every hour. He treats you specially and differently than any of his other friends, but he doesn’t make you his idol, nor does he demand that he become yours.
If trust is breached, he confesses. If his trust of you feels threatened, he confronts it. This kind of trust is built upon consistent and persistent communication, even when you both stumble around trying to express yourself. This man knows that getting things out in the open is worth all the work.
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10. He should think you are awesome.
The best relationships I’ve seen have a bit of mutual awe built into them. This guy thinks you are almost “out of his league”… but you feel the same about him. He admires characteristics in you, and he believes in you. He reminds you of who you really are, and he sees you as you at your best. And in each other’s presence, you are both better people. This is the true picture of a marriage with Christ at the center, and I believe that there are Christian men and women who are honestly following Christ who WON’T meet this criterion together. At the end of the day, there is a mystery of love that can’t be programmed or planned. It requires faith, surrender, and a giving in even when it defies reason. Maybe that’s why they call it “falling” in love…
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Nicole Unice is the author of She's Got Issues, Brave Enough and The Struggle is Real, and blogs at www.nicoleunice.com. Part Bible teacher, part community organizer, part busy mom, Nicole has the uncanny ability to relate to people in all ages and stages of life with her “keeping it real” approach to ordering a life around God’s word. Nicole received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the College of William and Mary and her masters in Christian Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. You can also learn more about Nicole at www.hopecentral.com.
Originally published Thursday, 14 February 2019.