Practical Dating B

brideIn my last post, I introduced my mentor, Bob. We had a lot of talks, but one in particular stands out in my mind. He spent the day with me, pouring out wisdom on how to date and pursue women in a godly way. And since so many of you have reached out to me about my post about Men wanting Women and how we are all Drug Dealers when it comes to dating, asking how to practically apply the principles, this post is for you.

Sitting out on his porch and drinking coffee with me (as a punk kid), Bob starting teaching me how to date women. He began to show me that, while looks are great, they are the furthest thing from priority. He cut right to the heart and asked me if physical beauty lasts. “No,” I said, “but it matters, right?” I remember him telling me, You can marry into more heartache and pain than you could ever imagine. Dating should never be just for fun, because marriage isn’t just for fun and it’s not a game. If your hope in dating isn’t to marry a godly woman, you are wasting you time and theirs. I had never heard anyone say anything remotely close to this before, but I  knew it was true. Truth has a way of making itself known. He went on to say that dating doesn’t SOLVE problems or RESCUE me from anything. It only amplifies my existing sinful condition. So, rather than just judging by beauty, how was I supposed to find a godly woman? Here is the wisdom my mentor gave me:

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Watch women. Wait, be patient, and be observant. I watched girls a lot. Believe me, I know how creepy that sounds. But I would pray, ask for God for direction, meet a girl at church, then step back and wait a little bit. I would see how she worshiped, if she was involved in the sermon, took notes during the sermon, showed up for prayer nights, served in ministries …. I tried to be deliberate and intentional. These are very telling actions. It’s not just enough to meet someone at church. You want to know that they know and love Jesus, that they want to grow in their love and knowledge of Jesus, that they are willing to serve, pour out, and give.

Think about what you really need to make it in life, knowing your wants will change throughout life. And what do you really need in this life, Phillip? Jesus. More of Jesus. In other words, look for a woman who is growing in depth and wisdom and looks to Jesus for her direction. You and I need more of Jesus in life, so if your prospective date is not growing in Jesus, you may need to rethink the relationship. You really need someone to challenge you and push you towards Jesus.

Beauty is fleeting. It is. Outward beauty fades and eventually everyone over a certain age pretty much looks the same. So if you are marrying someone for their beauty, just know that the minute their beauty begins to fade, your heart will lose its attachment. And just know you will never be satisfied. If physical beauty is your measurement of success in the dating scene, you are chasing a unicorn – you are chasing a dream and you will never be satisfied. Now, let’s be honest men, you want to be physically attracted to the person you are dating. But if you are with someone with a beautiful exterior but does not possess an equally attractive character, you are chasing looks at the expense of everything else, and you have an idol. You should be more attracted to their character and personality than their looks. If your heart and mind are disagreeing with me right now, just know you will never be satisfied. Never. Because beauty is fleeting, but a woman of noble character, who can find? urlLook for character. Are they a good friend/daughter/worker? Does their life reflect the Gospel? Is she currently cultivating her relationship with the Lord?

Look for depthAre they serving? When they speak about God, do you see depth? Does she hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Look for passionDo they have convictions, and are they dedicated to them? You don’t want to marry a woman who is a pushover, but a woman who knows what she believes and stands up for Jesus.

Look for honesty. Do they admit some flaws and failures to you? This is a good sign. Are they fighting sin in their lives with the Gospel? This is huge. Or do you just see what they want you to see – a “perfect,” “flawless” life? Be wary when someone appears to have it all together.

Look for deal breakersAre there things she says she will “never” do, like go where God sends her, go into ministry, submit to her husband, refuse a biblical definition of marriage, submit to the Scriptures…? Deal breakers.

Some of this can be done by watching their lives, getting back to the first point of watching and waiting. But there are a few other practical actions you can take here. If you know any of her friends, maybe get around to asking them about her. Look for their faces to light up when they speak of this girl. Listen for qualities and character. Also, before you drop your “game” on her, try casually talking to her about her interests. You should be getting to know her somewhat at this point. Look for character, depth, and passion. You want to look for Jesus in her, Bob would say.

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This advice is completely opposite from the world’s, isn’t it? Notice it is not as romantic and idealistic as the world’s ideas on love. Love at first sight. Romantic passion. Do what feels right and good. Follow your feelings. That’s a bunch of crap. Where is all of that sentiment when you are in the middle of a fight, when the floor drops out from beneath you, when your relationship is strained, when you have to work as a team to survive? Are feelings and passion and looks going to keep you together when the world and all of its weapons tear at your life? Sentiment doesn’t last. Substance does.

Also, these women Bob is described are not the same women the world tells us to look for. We are told that the man with the hottest woman wins in this life. We are taught that the woman with the longest legs and biggest breasts and most seductive nature is what all of us should pursue. Men are trained to be shallow, passive, and stupid when it comes to relationships. We are taught that sex is the goal of dating and marriage. This is not what God has for us, men. If you marry the woman you are dating, she will be there for the best and worst times in your life, so she better have depth, character, passion, and an unrelenting love for Jesus Christ so that she can be a minister of love and reconciliation to you. And you need to be the kind of man who attracts godly women, namely a godly man. This is not a game.

When I started to see these trends in the woman I was talking to, I would ask Bob what to do next.

Look for group opportunities to meet up with them. Always try to start out in groups – going straight to the exclusive date is a bit intense and adds a level of intimacy that is not needed that early. Group time is great for casual talk, getting to know each other, and still not be super-awkward if you don’t click. You can still walk away with no harm, no foul.

prayer01Now, you gotta be praying through this process, he would tell me. Rely on God to lead you and guide you through this time. She won’t be perfect, and neither are you! He always stressed that we are works in progress. Build a friendship with her while trying not to get too romantic or emotionally invested too early. Really invest in a friendship.

For the first date, Bob had great ideas that kept both the guy and girl from wasting their time. He told me a great opening question that I used on every first date. It sounded something like:

  • So tell me about Jesus.

Then, sit back and listen and watch. Watch for her face to light up. Watch for her passion and desire for Jesus. Listen for her love of Him and for her testimony. Is she saved? Does the name “Jesus” appear, is He her Savior, is the name of Jesus sweet, like honey on her lips? Or does she attribute a church or a certain pastor with her salvation? Look for the feeling of the room to shift. Look for the girl’s entire person to speak of zeal and love of Jesus.

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If you see this, you are on the right path, Bob said. You should always be self-aware during dating, asking yourself the same questions and holding yourself to the same expectations you are holding others to. Get accountability. Get wisdom and insight into your life. Get a mentor. Save yourself from years of shallow, meaningless dating.

As you date this person, you want to continue to see these qualities and characteristics grow, continue to see her love and passion for Jesus grow, continue to see her teachability and submission to God’s Word and Holy Spirit grow. You want to see the Hidden Depths.

Is she (and are you) teachable? Does she listen to the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, and where her life doesn’t line up with it, defer to the Bible? Being teachable is a big positive. You want someone in your life who thinks God is their highest authority, not themselves.

Is she quick to apologize? Does she see her sin for what it is (sin) and take it to the Cross? Does she accept apologies quickly? Being great at apologies is huge. Believe me, you will be apologizing often.

If you see these traits and characteristics in increasing measure, put a ring on her. When you find a woman like this, you better lock it down and not waste your time. A woman of godly character is difficult to find, and a man of godly character is even harder to find!

Look, Bob was not perfect and neither am I. Far from it. Life had beaten up Bob pretty well, and he made a lot of mistakes in his life, just like we all do. But he had learned from them and was kind enough to pass his lessons on to the next generation. And I trusted a man who loved Jesus as much as he did, who survived two Wars, who had been married for 50 years, who – at the age of 60 and 80 – was madly in love with his wife and with Jesus. So I want to pass this wisdom on to you, too. Learn from others’ mistakes so that you don’t jump headfirst into decades, if not a lifetime, of pain, suffering and regret.

None of this advice matters if you are not pursuing Jesus. But if you are, I hope this was helpful. Good luck out there.

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