The Secrets to Finding, Nurturing-or Being-an Irresistible Man.
Never before has the search for real connection between the sexes been more important-or more confusing. Single women want to know what they should ask for-not settle for-in a mate, while married women wonder how they can nurture godly character traits in their husbands. Men, both single and married, wonder what women really want. Both genders are long on questions and short on answers.
Where Can Men and Women Go for Help?
In Proverbs 31, Scripture presents a powerful composite of a virtuous woman. But what about the virtuous man-what does the Bible say about him? Popular Bible teacher Michelle McKinney Hammond tackles this timely and important question, digging into Scripture to study key men-from Adam to Christ himself, the ultimate bridegroom-to learn what God requires of husbands and men, and to lay out a trustworthy model of how men and women can live in healthy, fulfilling relationship.
Find out what you can do to identify, nurture-or become-a truly godly man and mate in In Search of the Proverbs 31 Man.
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October 20, 2003
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Excerpt from In Search of the Proverbs 31 Man by Michelle McKinney Hammond
IDENTITY IN CRISIS
Someone--I think it was a bitter woman--once said, "Men! Can't live with them, can't kill them!" I have my own version of this expression: "Men! Can't live without them, though sometimes living with them may take a bit of work." But let's face it, most men would say the same thing about dealing with women!
Ladies and gentlemen, I must confess that I am grieved. As I travel around the country and speak with both men and women, I have seen that our struggle to find lasting love and nurturing relationships is at an all-time high. The men are confused. They no longer know what women want or need from them. The women are disappointed and frustrated. They always ask the same questions: "Where are the men?" "What is wrong with them?" "Why are they not able to commit?" "Why are they such wimps?"
I assure you up front that I have not set out to write a man-bashing book. Instead, I hope to champion God's original design for a man's life. I hope to encourage men and women alike with the following truth: Though perfection in any gender cannot be achieved this side of heaven, worthy efforts can be made with the help of the Holy Spirit. Why is this so important? Because we women need real men in our lives. And because God needs real men in His service.
Let's consider for a moment the crisis that threatens relationships between men and women today. A famous feminist once said that women have become the men they desire. Eww! Why? Perhaps because the world has distorted our roles and perspectives on gender traits. In our politically correct efforts to create a world of equality, we have created instead a great big tangled ball of yarn, with the liberating strand eluding us. We have lost sight of the God-given, unique strengths we have to offer each other as men and women.
As women have become more independent, self-sufficient, and powerful in the business world, I believe many have accepted the subtle lie that they no longer need men. The men, not knowing what is expected of them any longer, have largely abdicated (or been forced to resign) their posts as leaders, protectors, and providers.
On the other hand, the "every woman can be her own island" mentality is hard to sustain. Women have begun to groan under the weight of all they're doing and wonder why men no longer step up to the plate. Weariness has set in. So has compromise. For the sake of having a man, countless women have begun to settle for a new, watered-down version of manhood. Yet these women long for more. Not realizing that low expectations of men further perpetuate the downward trend, women sigh, "Oh well, men just aren't what they used to be."
I beg to differ. I believe that in the heart of every man is a desire to be the man his spirit knows he was created to be. Yet staggering numbers of men fear rejection, and so they settle for far less than what is required of them. Even so, these same men subconsciously resent women, who in their eyes have stripped them of their manhood. A man in such a position digs in his heels. He determines that the ultimate revenge for being backed into a corner by a strong woman is to let her flail just to prove she'd have been better off if she'd let him handle things in the first place.
The Great Man Behind the Great Woman
In truth, women don't want to handle all of life on their own. Though doing everything faster than a speeding bullet, hurdling all aspects of life in a single bound, and leaping over tall dilemmas sounds admirable, none of us is Superwoman. The average woman gets stressed just reading about the virtuous woman so highly praised in Proverbs 31.
We've heard so much about the Proverbs 31 woman. She could bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let her husband forget he's a man--all in one day. This chapter on her life has caused many a woman to have a serious inferiority complex. I've long made peace with her, understanding Proverbs 31 as a synopsis of her entire life, not an average week at her house. I hope that bit of good news will set you women free also.
The man behind this woman, however, has continually intrigued me. Who was he anyway? How did he feel about all this stuff his wife did? The proverb tells us in verse 28 that he praised her. He sounds like a pretty confident man. In fact, in verses 11 and 23, it says he was successful himself and not threatened by this entrepreneurial woman.
What part did he play in nurturing the kind of woman his wife became? How did he help establish the pleasant order that governed in his home? What was it about him that made others think so highly of him? What attributes did he display that filled his wife with confidence about their future, both financially and emotionally (verses 21,25)?
What did he do that made her so infused with love for him that she diligently watched over all the matters of their household to make it a haven for him (verses 12,15,27)?
As I have pondered these questions, a list of attributes drawn from various men in the Bible has emerged in my mind and spirit concerning this mysterious man. The data forms a composite portrait of him.
This strong man had not only the respect of his wife and his community but the approval of God as well. He did not diminish the strength of his wife; he supported it, and in so doing, he created a strong family unit that was a tribute to God's design for marriage. I believe God wants to forge these attributes in the heart of every man. The many faces from that composite of the Proverbs 31 man will form the foundation for the chapters to come.
Diamonds in the Rough
Why have I written this book? Because I love men. Some of my richest friendships have been with men. Some of the wisest and soundest counsel I have received over the course of my life has come from male friends and brothers who have served up the truth to me as completely and gently as possible. I've listened to them as they've struggled with their own issues, whether in careers or in love or in simply understanding what it means to be a man today. I've discovered that they feel things deeply without always believing they have permission to voice those feelings. I have been processing their confusion, frustration, and pain, and I believe I have some insights to help ease it.
Men, I want to show you what God's Word says you need to be. After receiving so many mixed signals from women and culture, who knows what is ideal? You've been told to be hard, soft, strong, sensitive, macho, kind, tough, and the list of contradiction goes on, to everyone's bemusement. If you're scratching your head and trying to figure out what women really want, well...I'm going to make it plain.
Between what God requires and what women desire, we have a lot of ground to cover. Keep in mind that growing into what God has created us to be--whether we are men or women--is an ongoing process. We walk by faith, clinging to His grace every step of the way. I hope you will consider the following chapters as guideposts to help you on your journey, that what I share will help you to reconcile your thinking in troublesome areas. I pray it will give you a new outlook on your God-ordained identity as well as on the state of your relationships with women.
This book is also for women, single and married. Did you know that your posture toward the men in your lives can dramatically affect the outcome of your relationships? Single or married, we first need to make sure our expectations of our men are aligned with God's Word. Second, we need to understand the contribution we can make to nurturing God's possibilities and helping them become reality in our man's life. Women do have an important part to play in completing a man and helping him become all that God created and designed him to be.
Singles, I hope to give you guidelines on what to look for in a man and how to recognize God's man for you. If you go shopping for diamonds without any knowledge of what to look for, any diamond will look good. Once you've been educated, however, you will make more careful choices. Discerning buyers know what to look for in the clarity, color, cut, and carat weight. They know what they won't settle for. They also know the true value of the stone and whether it matches the price tag. Love and marriage are a jewel in the making. You've got to start with the right stone, however, in order to emerge with anything of lasting value.
Wives, I hope to give you a clear view of what God wants your husband to be and how you can be instrumental in nurturing those character traits in your man. To take the diamond metaphor a step further, it is possible to have the right stone, apply the wrong pressure, and end up with a worthless rock. I hope to help you avoid this pitfall.
For those of you who feel you married a worthless rock, just remember that all you need is the right jeweler. Under the careful hand of the Master Cutter, that rock can take on a brilliance you didn't know was possible. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man [or woman] sharpens another." Perhaps in this word picture we should say that a man and a woman can polish each other until they both shine as brilliantly as God intended. So don't get frustrated; the possibilities are endless.
Men, you might be tempted to have the same reaction to the Proverbs 31 man as women do to the Proverbs 31 woman. Again, keep in mind that we are all works in progress. How long it takes you to complete the journey does not matter, but your commitment to continue moving onward and upward does.
It is my prayer that men and women alike will be liberated in their thinking, inspired in their spirit, and spurred on by a new hope for the future of their relationships with members of the opposite sex. I hope we all will become aware of our responsibilities in forging strong relationships and willing to give and take as we submit our natural longings to the Word of God. May the blessings that come from being a man or woman after God's own heart pleasantly surprise us all.