I started dating my wife right after a seven month long mission’s trip in Liberia, West Africa. I had no intentions of this being my relationship timeline, but looking back, I can see how God used this mission’s trip to prepare me for marriage. I feel like God had to teach me to serve before he would allow me to lead a wife.
I’m definitely still a work in progress when it comes to being a husband and a father to my two young children. But I also know God taught me some really important lessons when I was single that have prepared me to better lead my family now.
If you are a single Christian man who wants to put in the work now so you will be a better leader later, I’d like to share with you the top three most important things I’ve learned.
- Treat all women with respect and love, even if you have no romantic interest in them.
God showed me that to be a great leader, my motivation for love and respect towards others must flow out my own character and relationship with God, not out of my desire to get something from the person I am serving. As a young man, I started focusing on being a gentleman to every woman who came through my life, whether it be just holding the door for a woman I didn’t know or something more involved like offering my male perspective to a relational conflict a female friend of mine was having.
Ironically, I believe focusing on serving women in general is one of the reasons my wife began to like me at all. Because I was learning to serve, love, and respect people regardless of what I hoped for in return, this allowed her to feel comfortable with my motives. If I was only kind and respectful towards her and not towards all women, this would have been a red flag to her.
In 1 Timothy 5:2 Paul teaches the younger Timothy to treat “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” Serving all women, regardless of our attraction or romantic interest in them, helps us to glorify God as single men while also preparing us for leadership as future husbands and fathers.
- Learn to be comfortable when people disagree with you.
Sometimes we must make decisions others don’t like, but the best leaders are not those who dogmatically stick to their pronouncements. Rather, great leaders take into account the feedback of others and adjust their position for the wellbeing of everyone involved. When you learn to listen to the complaints, concerns, and critiques of others earlier in life, this will better prepare you to be a sensitive leader for your future wife and kids.
In Henry Cloud’s and John Townsend’s classic book, Boundaries, they explain that great leadership in the home requires the freedom for others to disagree. They share a story about Jimmy, a child who grew up to be a healthy, secure, and stable man:
A hallmark of Jimmy’s family was permission to disagree. When, for example, Jimmy would fight his parents about his bedtime, they never withdrew or punished him for disagreeing. Instead, they would listen to his reasoning, and, if it seemed appropriate, they would change their minds. If not, they would maintain their boundaries.”
The result of this for Jimmy was that he was able to say “No” to peer pressure in the future because he was taught by his parents that he didn’t need to fear abandonment if he rejected other people’s desires for him.
There will be times to stick to our guns, but to lead your future family well, we must learn to allow for disagreements without becoming emotional or upset at those who have questions about or decisions.
- Guard your sexuality.
Not every man struggles to the same degree in their sexuality. But due to the unprecedented access to pornography, there are more young Christian men than ever who have formed lustful addictions early on in life and thus enter marriage with all kinds of hidden sexual addictions.
There is a myth out there that once you get married you will not be tempted by porn and other such sins anymore since you will have more access to sex with your wife. While sex certainly is a part of a healthy marriage (1 Corinthians 7:5), getting married does not magically produce strength in the area of resisting temptation.
For some the lure towards lust will be even greater in marriage because the stress and responsibility will increase at times which are often triggers for sexual sin. To be great leaders, we as men must be self-controlled and authentic in every area of our lives, having no hidden sin (Titus 2:6-7).
In summary, from one guy to another, take advantage of your singleness as a young man. We all want to be great future husbands and dads, but the ability to do this will not happen by accident. God desires for us to live free and love others well, but as we rely on his amazing grace, we must also put in the necessary effort now to be great leaders in the future.