Young women should have standards by which they evaluate whether a young man is suitable for dating, and young men should have standards to aspire toward, but how should those standards be established and who must he be?
Years ago, I read Voddie Baucham Jr.’s book, What He Must Be:… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter. To be honest, I don’t remember his main points (It has been 12 years; maybe I should re-read it), but what did stick with me is the idea that parents should have and uphold standards for potential beaus; standards that will make sure our daughters are guarded and nurtured long after they have been promoted from our homes. I started noticing more carefully what God’s Word says about Godliness.
Fast forward a couple years, and God blessed us with a son. After five daughters, I was strongly impressed with the gravity of training up a Godly young man who would be able to care for a wife and a family. Who must he be?
Fast forward a few more years, and my husband was asked to candidate to be an elder in our church. The training for the candidates was an extensive, biblically based study and one on one counseling with the pastor, as well as having each wife do an evaluation of how her husband measured up to the specific elder qualifications laid out in scripture.
My husband used to sit up in bed, studying by lamplight. He would read through passages in Titus and 1 Timothy 3 out loud, searching out their meanings and evaluating himself. Paul said, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” My husband would ask, “Do I want to be an elder? Why do I want to be an elder?” As I listened to him read, wrestle with his character, and evaluate his priorities, I studied on my own as well. I reached a few conclusions.
- If my husband was chosen to be an elder and he accepted, I would support him.
- If he was not chosen or decided not to be an elder at that time, I was glad he was going through the training process.
- Every man should aspire to meet the qualifications of an elder, even if he never serves in the official church capacity.
Because this is where God set the bar for anyone who is to shepherd His sheep. These qualifications are the standard that describe for us what a Godly man looks like. It is what every man of God should look like. This is who he must be.
If he wants to marry my daughter, yes.
And my sons will know the standard.
The world is in need of Godly leaders at home, at work, and in the church.
I encourage my daughters to make a list. When they meet someone they think they might like, they need to get that list out and remind themselves of the standard. There are the non-negotiable descriptions God has given us, and then there are the negotiable items…those are the things they think they might like, but may change their minds about (like city versus country).
What does that list look like? 1 Timothy 3 and Titus chapter 1 have a lot to say on the subject.
He must be above reproach/holy. This means that he needs to be without blame before others. He needs to know sound doctrine and live by that doctrine, otherwise he will lead others astray by his example.
He needs to be the husband of one wife and have children who are following the Lord/obedient. In Timothy, Paul goes on to say that if a man cannot lead his family well, how can he lead the Lord’s house? Obviously, young men who are seeking to court our daughters are not married with children, but are they devoted to God, have eyes for one woman and know how to teach children? What kind of brother are they? Are they able to lead younger people? Do they set a Godly example? Are they involved in ministry? These are things to consider.
Not arrogant or self willed; Instead he must be submissive to God.
Not quick tempered; Not violent, but gentle.
Not a drunkard; Instead, he is supposed to be of sound mind and self-controlled. This is a fruit of the Spirit. Paul does not go into other types of dissipation, but I encourage my daughters to avoid young men who are in any type of addiction. That includes drugs, alcohol, gaming, and pornography. What else? That doesn’t mean that young men caught in these type of snares can never be good husbands and leaders, but they need to be willing to place themselves under the authority of Christ and have accountability to retrain their thinking to develop healthy patterns. This is both spiritual and physical. Conquerors is a Christian program designed to help men who are or have been caught in addictions to recover. There is a recovery process.
Not greedy for gain (Titus 1:7) a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:3). Both of verses are talking about being greedy for money, but there is also the issue of leading for personal gain. We should have the right heart about leadership in this respect.
Upright/respectable, and well thought of by outsiders. Does he act the same way outside the church as he does when he is with other believers? Does he have a good reputation? If not, why then? We are ambassadors for Christ. We should be living in a way that honors God wherever we are.
Not quarrelsome. Paul expands on this in 2 Timothy 2:23 “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”
Hospitable. In 1 Timothy 5:1-16, Paul tells Timothy that if a widow has no family to care for her that the church may consider whether or not to take her under their care, but there are qualifications for the type of woman considered for this care. She has to be a Godly woman, and one of the requirements is that she has been hospitable to others during her lifetime. This is important to God, and so it is also a requirement for Godly men. It is important to realize that it is more difficult for a woman to show hospitality to others if her husband is unwilling to do the same. They are to be a help to each other, encouraging one another in good works for the Lord.
Love what is good. This is a theme that we see woven throughout scripture. Love what is good. Hate what is evil. We cannot love both. (Amos 5:15)
Be disciplined. We can know what is good, but we have to be disciplined to accomplish it. It takes discipline to choose time with the Lord each day. There is this concept of craving what we choose that came to my attention recently. Having worked in natural health and given nutritional advice to others, I know that what we choose to consume forms our cravings. If I choose to eat a healthy diet, I develop a taste for those good foods. If I choose to eat junk, pretty soon I start craving that over the good foods. It is the same with our spiritual life. What we choose to invest ourselves in becomes what we crave. We can crave more time with the Lord, with family, and activities that make the most of our time; or, we can crave entertainment and time consumers that are not beneficial and can erode our sound thinking. We need to be disciplined to grow in God.
Paul’s description of a qualified elder stated that an elder should not be a recent convert. This is because he can become conceited and sin. Leading a family is a heavy responsibility too. If a young man is a recent convert, consider giving him time to grow and develop roots in Christ’s love before expecting him to be able to support and lead a wife.
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. He should be able to teach. The why is all there. So that he can hold firm himself and be able to correct others. Our world is beset with false doctrine, and so often people who are deceived are very excited to share what they themselves are learning. We need to know truth and be bold to bring correction. We don’t want false doctrine spreading through the church like bad yeast. Throw it out. Have a husband who can understand the truth and use discernment in teaching and guiding his family so that they can remain faithful and avoid the heartaches which follow the ungodly.
Then there is the fruit of the Spirit as laid out in Galations 5:22-23. Does he exhibit these qualities? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Does he honor his father and his mother? Does he respect his elders? How does he treat her parents? Does he treat siblings lovingly?
Is he teachable? This is such a big thing. A mentor once told me that if we keep a teachable spirit, keep on keeping on; but, if we lose our teachable spirit, there’s not much point anymore. God might as well bring us home.
No one expects the 22 year old to be as mature as the 50 year old, but there should be fruit in the life of one who is pursuing the Lord, and these are the signs God says to watch for. This is who he must be. Pray these things for the men in your life. For your future husbands and husbands, sons and sons in law, pastors, elders, teachers, and friends. They need all the support we can give.
Photographs courtesy of Angela Laine, from the wedding of my daughter Angel and my new son in law, Parker.