Frustrated with the state of modern masculinity? In this episode, Leslie shares a surprise secret to encourage and motivate the men in your life towards a higher standard. Learn how to champion godly masculinity without criticizing or complaining, and begin to see positive change in the men around you!
Leslie Ludy: Hey, everyone! It’s Leslie Ludy, host of the Set Apart Girl Podcast: Biblical Encouragement for Women of All Ages! This week we are going to be looking at a key way that we can motivate the men in our lives towards a higher standard without nagging, complaining, and manipulating. Is that even possible? I think a lot of us as women would say no to that question. But it is possible, and in fact, it’s God’s pattern. There is a way that we can motivate the men around us towards God’s standards in a godly, Christ-honoring way. So we’re going to explore that a little bit today.
The Complaint About Modern Masculinity
Leslie Ludy: Now, we’ve all been in that situation where a man in our life – whether it’s a husband, a dad, a brother, a guy friend – does something irritating, rude, disrespectful, insensitive, or selfish, and we immediately think of some kind of snide remark or some angry lecture that we can whip out and throw in his face. We’ve often – if we’ve grown up in Christian circles – been told that nagging and complaining and griping won’t actually get us anywhere with the men in our lives, but for some reason we seem inexplicably drawn to do that anyway. It’s like that nagging spirit just wants to come out! We think that if we can make enough noise, be dramatic enough, hit the guy with that perfectly chosen verbal bunch, it will finally cause him to wake up and get his act together.
But ironically, there is nothing in all of human history or in the Bible that supports this idea. Men do not respond well to our complaints and our criticism. It is not the way to reach their hearts. God’s Word speaks quite strongly against nagging and complaining femininity. Proverbs 27:15 says, “A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” Then again in Proverbs 21:9 it says, “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop than in a house shared with a contentious woman” (RSV). Those are pretty strong words! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the kind of woman that drives a man to have to live in the corner of a housetop or to be the kind of woman who is like a continual dripping on a very rainy day.
How do we avoid the nagging and really begin to encourage men to rise up to a higher standard? We look around at the men in our culture and become so easily discouraged, or even by behavior of the men in our own lives because the standards of the culture are so dismally low. I think that often we resort to snide remarks and criticism because we think that it’s the only weapon that we have against dishonorable masculinity. But in reality, it’s a faulty weapon, and it’s only going to backfire in our face and cause more damage to those men’s lives and to our relationship with them.
Approaching Men as Peace-Makers
Leslie Ludy: The only way to influence a man to be Christlike in his behavior is that we would be Christlike in our approach to helping them change. We can’t sow seeds of anger and contention and expect to reap godly, honorable fruit in another person’s life. James 3:18 shows us the correct pattern that God has laid out. He says, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” In other words, if we want to see the fruit of righteousness emerge in a man’s life, we have to become peace-makers not pot-stirrers!
Now I have to add here, this does not mean we should become a mousy pushover and let men defraud us or harm others. There is a time and place when it’s appropriate to speak bold words of rebuke to a man or take bold action in order to protect ourselves or someone else against evil. If you think about Gladys Aylward when she commanded a crazed prison rioter to put down his weapon and stop killing people, or Mary Slessor when she basically stood toe-toe and face-to-face with a tribal warrior who was about to scald a woman with a ladle of hot oil! These women had to take a strong stand against what these men were doing. But even when we’re called to take these bold steps, they have to be done in the enabling power of God and not in our own fleshly anger. I believe in both of those stories, that those women were yielded to the Spirit of God and weren’t just reacting out of anger and selfish pride when they stood up to those men.
Fleshly anger can never produce the righteousness that God desires. That’s what it says in James, “The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (Jms. 1:20 NIV).
In reality, most daily challenges that we face with the men in our lives don’t call for bold rebukes. Usually we’re dealing with things like rude comments, crude behavior, selfish attitudes, worldliness, and spiritual mediocrity – these are the most typical stumbling blocks with men that we often encounter in our daily lives. But if we’re trying to get their attention and show them that this is not the way they are supposed to be living, and we’re not going to be criticizing or complaining in order to get their attention, then how do we get their attention?
Encouraging Men Towards Honor
Leslie Ludy: I want to share with you an amazing, yet simple tool that God has given us with which we can influence today’s men, and it’s called encouragement. Now this may seem counter-intuitive when you first hear it. I mean, why would we encourage someone who doesn’t deserve to be encouraged?
Here’s a little-known secret: words of life breed life and words of love breed love. When a man senses that we notice and appreciate the things that he is doing right, even if those good things are small compared to the bad things that he’s doing, it actually motivates him to cultivate even more of that positive behavior in his life. He’s thinking to himself, “Hey, she noticed and appreciated something I did! Maybe I should do that more often!”
Criticism usually causes a man to become defensive, but encouragement causes him to become inspired. A man remembers the words of life that a woman speaks into his life. Encouraging words, even if they’re simple, will stay with him and become a motivating factor towards positive change.
As you read these words, you might be inwardly protesting, But I can’t think of anything to encourage him about! His life is so self-focused. I’m not sure how to find something positive to point out. Ask God to show you where to start. Even if you see a glimmer of honor in a man’s life, point that out. Encourage him, and let him know that you appreciate that quality.
For example, is your dad a good provider for your family? Then let him know you’re thankful for all of his hard work. He may not be a great dad in any other respect, but you can still honor him for the way he’s provided for your family. Or did your brother help you move a piece of furniture? Show your gratitude and thanks for the time that he invested to lend a hand. Now he may be a mess in every other area of his life, but if you take time to notice and appreciate the small things that he does right, it will plant seeds of positive change in his life.
Even if there aren’t any positive qualities to start with, you can still encourage the men in your life by showing interest in their unique skills and hobbies. So if someone’s great at computer programing, tell him that you admire his talent in that area. Or if he’s a fast runner, let him know you appreciate his athletic abilities. The more you encourage a man, even in the small and seemingly unimportant areas of his life, the more you’ll gain a voice to speak into his life. This is because he won’t be on the defensive every time you talk with him. He’ll know that you care about him and appreciate who he is, ad he’ll be all the more ready to listen to words of input and truth when the time is right.
Proverbs 15:1 tells us, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” So our goal in communicating with the men in our lives is to dispel anger and self-justification, not to stir it up. And speaking words of love and life is the perfect way to do that.
But What If You’re Single?
Leslie Ludy: Now this is an important side note that I need to add with this concept of encouragement. If you are a single woman, and you’re wanting to encourage a single man, keep in mind that encouragement can easily be interpreted as romantic interest if it’s not handled properly. Prayerfully consider ways in which you can speak words of life without going overboard or sending the wrong message. For example, a quick comment like, “I really appreciated how you helped that person. Thanks for doing that!” is so much better than writing a long, gushy letter detailing all of the qualities you see in that man’s life. I’m sure you get the idea! If you ask for God’s wisdom in how to encourage the single men and guy-friends in your life, He will guide you each step of the way.
Leslie Ludy: Some final thoughts that I want to share with you. We need to remember that the problems with today’s men are certainly not more severe than the problems with today’s women. I think so often we look at the ways guys are falling short, and we point the finger at them. But just as there are widespread problems with modern masculinity, there are also widespread problems with modern femininity. It’s very dangerous to blame men as the prime culprit for all of our cultural problems and all our relational woes. We need to remember that men are not the problem, sin is. And sin is something that each and every one of us has participated in whether we’re male or female.
Remember, if God can rescue and redeem your life from destruction, to deliver you from sin, can He not do the same with your husband, father, brother, and guy-friends? I encourage you to put aside all thoughts of defeat and despair, and fix your gaze on Him because those who hope in Him will not be disappointed. (It says that in Psalm 25:3.) Remember that ultimately you’re not putting your hope and faith in a man and his ability to change but in a mighty, unfailing God. When your hope is in God, you will begin to see miracles happen!
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. If you would like to learn more about how to motivate the men in your life towards honor and God’s standards, I encourage you to look at our new online course called Inspiring Today’s Men. That’s available at setapart.org. These online courses are really great for small groups or even for study on your own at home. In the month of September, there will be a new weekly video with me every week that will explore biblical ways that women can influence men towards godliness. Check that out at setapart.org. I pray you have a blessed and Christ-centered week!