A great guy came over to my house last week, asking me for practical application of my last post on dating. He is in a conundrum – he loves Jesus, has served in ministry, is thoughtful, intelligent, and incredibly self-aware. But he has been out of the dating game (and it is a game – a silly, silly game) for years. “How do I get started? What’s the first step? How do I even get to the point where I can ask a girl these dating questions?” Our conversation sparked memories and took me back. I haven’t dated anyone in 4 years. What practical advice could I give this guy? And don’t think that when I use the word “practical” I mean “easiest.” But like Proverbs models for us, wisdom is always imminently applicable to the everyday situation, and easy to put into practice (practical), so how do you date with wisdom? What does godly dating look like … practically?
So let’s just say you are like my friend, out there looking for a godly person to date. I can only speak from my own experience here, so listen – I didn’t always date well. There are plenty of girls I dated out there right now and they will have not-so-nice things to say about me still … years later. Don’t think that I’m something I am not. I often failed to date well, got swept up in the emotions of it, believed my own self-inflated hype, hurt people without knowing it, and really acted like a “guy” for a good portion of my single life. Honestly, I can attribute very few things to my eventually finding, dating, and marrying an incredibly godly, beautiful-inside-and-out, intelligent woman … my best friend … my wife. And none of them were me. So my first advice would be to get/pray for/seek out these things. They are:
1. Being saved by Jesus and having my thoughts, ideas, and beliefs radically changed by Him slowly over time,
2. God’s unstoppable grace and mercy, and
3. Having godly men who were WAY down the road of life, who passionately pursued Jesus, and who were willing to throw some wisdom, advice, prayer, and insight my way.
What I am saying is that God is sovereign, so you go to Him first and always. I covered this in my last post. This post is focusing more on the everyday applicable actions you can do AFTER you pray, repent, seek the Lord, and rely on Him. You don’t start here – you begin and end with pursuing the Lord. Practical wisdom is always an outworking of spending time with Jesus.
The first thing I told this guy sitting in my library who is looking for a godly woman was to get older, wiser men in his life. We need help, because we are young and dumb. Acknowledging that you are dumb and need help is the first step, and it will push you toward finding a mentor. I had mentors growing up. Tons of them. I still have them. The reason I sought them out is because, even as a kid, I knew the example I had was lacking – my father was not the man I wanted to become like.
Statistically speaking, I shouldn’t be saved, shouldn’t be in a good marriage, shouldn’t be a lot of things. My dad was and is a drug addict and alcoholic, who was physically and verbally abusive all throughout my childhood. My parents divorced when I was a kid. Growing up, my dad was a drunk, did drugs, and did whatever he thought necessary to get our obedience, and he had a lot of anger. Probably out of guilt, he also wanted to be our “cool” dad – he would let us drink and party waaaaaaay too early. When I turned 16, he offered me drugs and a prostitute – my “right of passage” into manhood … just dark and twisted passage. Even as a kid, I knew how sick this was, because the first thing I did when I hung up the phone with my dad was call my mentor and ask for his advice, crying the whole time. I didn’t accept my dad’s “birthday present,” but instead went to the arcade to play games, eat pizza, and hang out with my friends. You know, what 16-year-olds are SUPPOSED to be doing.
I knew I had a huge deficit because of my father, even before I was a Christian. Even practical boy stuff – how to shave, how to run a lawnmower, how to handle money, how to treat a woman respectfully – I never learned from him. This pressed me to get help, seeking out older men who were grounded, kind, wise, and who loved their wives and children. God was gracious to lead me to older Christian men who poured into my life and had deep, broad reservoirs of wisdom and experience to pull from. All throughout my childhood, I had zero wisdom. If you grow up with no wisdom, how in the world are you supposed to know what to look for in a wife? You get around those who HAVE wisdom. Wisdom is like a pair of future glasses – it lets you look into the future of your decisions and see consequences and pot holes to avoid. And as a kid and even now at 31, I need men who have walked the road before me to help me.
Fellas, maybe you need to start with finding some good, godly older men to mentor you, because you want women, but probably don’t know the best way to find and date great women. You probably don’t even know what you need in a spouse. You know what you want, but even that is probably off. I’ll explain in my next post. You shouldn’t trust your own judgement. Women, you may want to find a mentor too, because you like guys, but you want a MAN who is going to love you, lead you, and serve you toward Jesus. Maybe right now you can’t trust yourself, your judgement, or your wisdom. You may need to trust someone else’s. This is why, in my last post, I said “If you don’t have the wisdom to evaluate character, you need to wait, mature, get with older folks of the same sex who have wisdom, work on your soul, fast, pray, and wait for evident growth and maturity.”
My main mentor was named Bob. He was my mentor for 18 years, starting at age 13, and I met him at a church in McKinney where he was a counselor and volunteer. He was 55 years older than me, was a Marine during WWII and an Air force fighter pilot during the Korean War. He loved Jesus. He was a man, an incredibly generous, loving, godly man who loved and served his wife and led his children. He took me under his wing and began to tell me what godly, biblical manhood looked like. He invited me to his house to meet his wife, gave me a summer job, asked questions, and listened to that punk 13-year-old talk about his life and “problems.”
This guy was different. He actually listened and cared, and then had really practical advice when I asked for it. When I started dating girls, I knew I needed help, so I went to him with a boatload of questions. I remember one day spending 6 or 7 hours with him, sitting on his porch, drinking coffee (yes, I drank black coffee even then), asking him tons of questions and watching the smile growing bigger on his face. After an hour of me pouring out problems, fears, generational sins, and ignorance, he slowly began to answer my questions one by one. First, he prayed. That was weird, I thought. Then he put my problems, questions, and fears into perspective. He started saying words like “patience,” “prayer,” “wisdom,” and “reliance on the Lord.” But knowing that I was a stupid kid who just wanted to date hot girls, he downshifted to the practical. That’s for my next post.
Suffice it to say that you probably need help. We all do. There’s no shame in that – there is only wisdom in admitting you need help, guidance, accountability, wisdom, and direction. So begin praying for older, wiser people to surround your life. Ask God to give you sages to speak to. Plead with God to envelope you with wisdom that is not your own. Ask, seek, knock.
You may think you know what you need and want in a relationship and future spouse … but keep pleading for the Lord to bring wisdom into your life. You may be surprised at how silly you are. I know I was.
Till next time.