Admittedly, this article is going to rely heavily on semantics. So to start, we really need to define what I mean by the term “nice.”
What Do I Mean By “Nice”?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with a man being polite, cordial, hospitable, friendly, agreeable, and so on. So in that sense, it’s fine to be “nice.” I’m certainly not saying men should be rude or disrespectful.
But rather than using the word “nice” to describe the care, thoughtfulness, and social hospitality that a grown man should possess, I prefer to use the word “kind.” The Bible commands all Christians, men included, to be “kind,” not “nice.” So as you will see, I’ll being using the words “nice” and “kind” in two very different ways in this article.
It takes strength to be kind, which is why we can only truly be kind when the Holy Spirit is producing this fruit through us (Galatians 5:22). While kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, niceness is not.
When I use the word “nice,” I’m referring to a soft, non-threatening, and unguarded attitude. Think of the difference between a Golden Retriever and a German Shepherd. The German Shepherd can be kind, loving, and loyal to his family. They’re not mean to strangers. But nice is not the word for them. The Golden Retriever, however, wants to be friends with everyone. You just point at him and he rolls over in submission for a belly rub. A man should not have Golden Retriever energy. A man should have watchdog energy.
As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” Love, yes! But in this description of what it means to act like a man, I don’t sense any whiff of “niceness.” Watchful, firm, strong – this is what it means to love like a man.
A lot more could be said about what it means to be “nice” versus kind, but hopefully you get the picture enough to track with what I’m talking about throughout this article.
So here are 4 reasons a Christian man should avoid being “a nice guy.”
1. You Won’t Respect Yourself If You Are Just a Nice Guy
I’m not talking about a worldly self-love. Rather, I’m referring to knowing your true identity as a man. God’s original design for men was to rule and subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). While we should be kind as we rule over God’s creation, niceness is just not going to cut it. God made men to be strong and even violent when necessary (like when fighting against an invading army). This is not bad. This is good.
A man who is walking with God and embracing true masculinity will be dangerous to those who deserve to be fought against. Those he is called to defend will feel safe because they will know he’s able to protect them. A nice man cannot fulfill the biblical role of a godly man as originally intended by the Lord.
In many ways, David was a man worth modeling our masculinity after. Notice what he said to his son on his death bed. 1 Kings 2:1-3 states, “When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God . . . .’” Of all the things David could have departed his son with he said that to be a man, you have to be strong.
I say all of this because no one will know the truth about you more than you. You can grow a beard, get big muscles, talk aggressively, and project a worldly masculine exterior. But if you know deep inside your chest that you don’t possess the godly essence of masculinity through the power of the Holy Spirit, you will not respect yourself. You will not know your true identity as a man. You will feel lost, weak, and scared.
Only when you have been validated by your heavenly Father as his son will you know who you are as a man. Niceness is not our calling. Niceness is wrapped in weakness. God’s sons are kind, but it’s a kindness wrapped in strength.
2. Other Men Won’t Respect You If You Are a Nice Guy
Of course as men we should show respect to all humans regardless of their behavior because they bear the image of God. So I’m not saying that other men have the right to be disrespectful to you if you are too nice. In fact, most guys will probably like you if you are “a nice guy.” “Oh, yeah. I know Matt. He’s nice guy! I really like him.”
Being likable, however, is not our calling as Christian men. It’s not bad to be likeable, but as Christian men, we are called to lead. At times we need to submit to other men, and at other times people will need to submit to us when we have that office of authority. But the whole structure of authority breaks down when the men who are leading lack true strength and are simply “nice guys.”
Men you are called to lead will walk over you because they will not sense your leadership. In immaturity, they will try to take the reins when they don’t sense your ability to lead.
Secondly, men will not trust you if you lack strength. Nice men can always be manipulated because they are afraid to offend others. People with bad intentions love nice guys because they are easily controlled through just a little bit of confrontation. So other strong men will not want you to lead them because they will sense you will be misled by bad men.
Notice how Paul mentored Timothy, “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:11-12). Men are called to lead. And you cannot lead other men if they despise you because you are weak. They won’t respect you if you are too nice.
3. Women Will Not Respect You If You Are a Nice Guy
Women like nice guys but they don’t fall in love with nice guys. Why? Because deep down women know there are violent men out in this world, and they know that they only true protection against a violent man is a good, strong man.
This is harder to see in our society because we have societal barriers that are generally affective in keeping women safe these days. But when you take a step back, even in today’s day and age, women know they are only safe against violent, evil men because there are good, strong men willing to protect them. When you call the police for help, when you need the fire department, when theirs a threat of war – who’s primarily showing up? Men.
All that to say, one reason women want a strong man and not a nice man is because they know this world is full of evil men. Even if all these desires for a strong man are subconscious, they are in her. She’s already thinking about her future children. She knows for the sake of her future family, she better marry a strong man who can take care of her and the kids when push comes to shove.
And to be clear, I’m not just talking about physical protection. I’m talking about all forms of protection – financial, emotional, spiritual, etc. A good woman is going to want to obey the command in Ephesians 5:33, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” To love your wife, you will need to be more than nice. She wants to marry a man where it’s natural to give him respect because he deserves it.
4. The World Will Like You If You Are a Nice Guy
If the world likes you, you are not following God passionately enough (James 4:4). Can you show me one saint in the Bible that was loved by the world? All the disciples except one were martyred. John the Baptist had his head cut off. All the great kings in the Old Testament had enemies. And most importantly, Jesus was not loved by the world. In John 15:18-20, Jesus said:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”
If none one is trying to cancel you, are you even a Christian man? Seriously. If you’ve never had an enemy, the only possible explanation for that is that you’ve never taken a public stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s not our mission as Christian men to be loved by the world or hated by the world. Our mission as Christian men must be to love people, to preach the gospel so the lost can be saved, to train disciples in obedience to God’s word, and to do all of this for the glory of God (Matthew 28:18-20).
Most of the world will hate us for that. But that’s not our concern. As Paul said, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).