By Ryan Rindels
For Christian men today, there is a disturbing awareness that the virtue of courage is lacking.
Courage was among the four cardinal virtues the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, identified, as well as temperance, prudence and justice. “Fortune favors the bold,” as the poet Virgil, would say.
Courage was the balance between recklessness and cowardice. It was seen in the man who objected to injustice amid scathing criticism or the soldier who stands firm in the heat of battle, defending his comrades.
In our modern era, the boldness that society assumed men possessed has eroded away.
This is particularly evident in the realm of dating and courtship.
It is remarkable how many young men will not pursue a woman simply because it involves risk. I have observed this in many circles, and it is unnerving. The recurring themes have been fear of rejection, feeling inadequately prepared for marriage, and not making efforts to meet single women.
Being married all of six-months, and reflecting on the time I spent pursuing my wife, I see areas where I could’ve improved, but an aspect I believe I got right was in being courageous. I’ve listed five principles for boldness in a courtship that I believe will benefit young men today.
1. You don’t need to be 100% certain about everything before expressing interest in a girl.
When I met my wife, Janai, I was instantly attracted to her and made the decision to talk with her. Granted, I met her at seminary, so it was safe to say we probably agreed on many fundamental issues, but nevertheless, there were other things I could not have known without spending time in conversation, and I took the risk. I asked for her number and planned some events where we could hang out. It wasn’t too intimate, but she knew I was interested in getting to know her, not just having occasional run-ins on campus.
2. Be upfront about your intentions earlier, rather than later.
There is a widespread myth that being coy and playing it cool is the best policy for a guy. Sure, you shouldn’t tell a girl you love her the first day you meet (common sense tells you that), but leaving a girl in the dark will only frustrate and confuse her. Having intentional conversation will express to her that you’re not playing games. I think that a girl has more respect for a guy who’s too bold rather than too timid. I told my wife I wanted to pursue her in a serious relationship within the first month we met. It paid off.
3. Don’t wait too long to talk about deep things.
Guys and girls are often afraid of sensitive and personal topics because they expose weaknesses, or it might lead to rejection. The truth, however, is that if the person is someone you want to consider marrying, you need to know more rather than less about them. Natural conversation usually leads to sharing dreams, hopes, and aspirations for the past, present, and future. My wife and I had some deep conversations early in our relationship that were pivotal. Like any keeper, Janai told me she was going to be honest and expected me to be equally honest if this relationship was going to go anywhere. We both put ourselves out there and risked rejection; it was worth it.
4. If the non-essentials aren’t worked out, then don’t ditch the relationship.
My wife had come to Golden Gate Seminary from Arkansas with the intentions of going to China as a missionary. I felt the Lord leading me to pastor and plant a church. For a number of months, we weren’t on the same page in this respect. In fact, we didn’t go to the same church for the first two months. As time went on, the Lord worked on our hearts so that we committed to worship at the same church and eventually she felt a call to church planting as well. During this time, I had to trust in the sovereignty of God. I never gave Janai an ultimatum, but I was resolute in leading as a man. I resisted the temptation to compromise by pursuing a calling I thought she would want me to pursue. In the end, she followed my lead and respected me more.
5. Be willing to endure trials and opposition when they come.
To make a long story short, my wife’s parents accepted me, but did not approve of the pace of our relationship. I met Janai in August, and I asked her dad for her hand in marriage by Thanksgiving. I was financially prepared, and I truly loved Janai. We both felt the Lord had brought us together. But much to my surprise and disappointment, he was not happy about it. I asked again in January, but was also told to wait. There were a number of reasons her parents objected to our marriage timeline, but we believed the pros outweighed the cons. Needless to say there were many intense conversations, times in prayer, and counsel from mentors. Janai and I pressed on; at times negotiating for hours on end. Her dad eventually gave his blessing and we married 3 months after engagement. In the end, we didn’t quit, even when the sailing wasn’t smooth. I knew this girl was worth it.
Boldness and courage, placed under the lordship of Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, are fitting for a Christian man.
This isn’t an easy road, but it’s a path we must take. Young men should actively pursue women for the purpose of marriage and the glory of God—courageously.
It’s risky, but it’s totally worth it.
ABOUT RYAN: Ryan is a recruiter for and graduate of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a former IMB Missionary in Suriname.
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