We’ve all been there – between the rock and the hard place of trying to finagle a way to get the men around us to choose honor over the cultural cues of the world. These practical tips from Leslie are refreshingly simple to implement, pack a spiritual punch, and don’t include nit-picking, complaining, or any tactics that at best reform men, rather than lead them to a close encounter with Jesus Christ. God is, in fact, raising up gentleman for a time such as this, and this episode shows you how we, as women, can serve them unto that end. Take hope and give it a listen!
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’re going to dive into a very practical topic of how to help men in our lives choose honor. Honor is something that is so lost in today’s culture, especially among men. And I’m sure if you’re a woman of any age, you’ve noticed this. Back in the day when Jane Austen romance stories, even multiple generations ago in this country, there was a certain chivalry that men knew that they should have towards women. They were gentlemen. They were sensitive to open doors, pull out chairs for women, and treat them with respect, and now you really see the opposite happening all around. Even the men in our own lives often don’t know how to live honorably toward women simply because they’ve never been taught. There are no role models for them as they’re growing up, so they don’t gain that pattern.
But we as women actually have the ability to help men choose a lifestyle of honor. Sometimes they just need to be championed in that area. So many women today get frustrated with a lack of honor, and they swing to this extreme of constantly criticizing and mocking men. That’s actually counterproductive when women become sarcastic and critical towards men. It does not inspire them to want to be honorable or to change their behavior. But when women approach men with the attitude of Heaven and are Christlike in their example, it can be a tremendous inspiration for today’s men to choose honor over selfishness.
Recovering the Lost Art of Honor
Leslie Ludy: I want to share with you a story which maybe you’ve heard in previous courses or podcasts, but it was when I realized that Eric was a man who had chosen honor towards women. It was when we were first getting to know each other and was past the point where we knew that we were headed towards marriage, but we hadn’t really made it clear to anybody else that we were one day heading in this direction of marriage (except for our parents who were involved in it, but people on the outside didn’t know). We were wanting to do things honorably, and we didn’t know if we should have any kind of physical contact in our relationship. We wanted to err on the side of caution rather than presumption, so we didn’t even know if we should hold hands or anything. Until God made it clear, we had decided we wouldn’t have any physical contact until God gave us a peace that holding hands or a quick side hug would be okay.
We were hiking with a church group one day, and I was up on a steep embankment. I needed help down. Eric was the closest person to help me down, but he started to panic because he realized in order to help me down he would have to offer me his hand, and we had already agreed we weren’t going to hold hands. So he was kind of like, “What do I do? What do I do?” And so he reached out, grabbed a stick, and held that out for me. That was a very awkward moment in our relationship. I took it, and he helped me down with a stick. Both of us, I think, had very red faces because he realized, “Okay, that wasn’t quite right.” At first, I wasn’t sure [and thought], Should I be offended by this? That seems sort of like an insult! Yet I realized the reason that he did that was because he was so interested in protecting the honor of our relationship that he was even willing to look like a fool in order to protect me.
It was a blessing to me. I began to be very thankful that he was willing to go to such extremes to guard the honor in our relationship because most of the young men that I had always known had the opposite attitude. Like I said earlier, honor just wasn’t in the picture. Most of the single guys I grew up around, even a lot of Christian guys, seemed a lot more interested in serving their own agenda than in protecting and honoring women. So often men today treat others with respect only to the point that is needed in order to get what they want. So many of them have a conquering mentality towards women, enticing women to let down their guard and compromise. And it’s all for selfish reasons on the man’s part. That’s all around us. The more I got to know Eric and observed his commitment to living in honor towards me, even at the point of making himself look foolish and awkward, I began to realize that a truly Christ-honoring man does not seek to selfishly conquer a woman’s purity or entice her to compromise her standards, instead he sacrificially seeks to protect them.
Now Eric had not always lived honorably towards the women in his life. Before he gave his life to Christ, he played with girls’ hearts and emotions. He led girls on. He was demeaning and disrespectful towards his mom and his sister. In many ways he looked at women only from a selfish vantage point.
But when he surrendered his life to Christ, his attitude was transformed. He began to really go out of his way to show thoughtfulness and consideration towards the women in his family. He became sensitive to his mom and his sister. He made a covenant with his eyes, as it says in Job 31, not to look at women for selfish gratification. He purposely chose to honor his future wife as he interacted with girls. As our friendship grew and formed, he really endeavored to treat me like a sister with all purity (see 1 Timothy 5:2). Many women today wish that the men in their lives would live with that kind of code of honor. We often sigh wistfully with the idea of gallant men from history or fictional novels, wishing that the men around us could somehow catch this vision for living and acting like a true gentleman.
Now if you’ve ever tried the common tactics to get the men in your life to act more honorably – nagging, criticizing, complaining, or manipulating – you’ve probably seen that those things just backfire on you. Men don’t respond to women’s complaints about their behavior. In fact, they often become even more stubborn and unwilling to change when we do those things. But that doesn’t mean we should just shrug our shoulders and resign to the attitude that guys will be guys, settle for mediocre marriages, obnoxious behavior in our homes, and self-focused men as the only option that we have for a future husband. The Bible makes it very clear that we as women can have a powerful inspirational influence over masculinity. Here are just a few examples.
Biblical Examples of Women who Inspired the Men Around Them
Leslie Ludy: Ruth was an incredible inspiration to Boaz as she submitted herself to Naomi and made sacrifices in order to become that liaison to redeem Naomi’s family line. Boaz said to her, “Everyone in this community knows that you are a virtuous woman” (Ruth 3:11 paraphrased). Queen Esther – she had the amazing grace of God to inspire and influence an ungodly king to save the entire nation of the Jews. Rahab is another one who protected the spies of Israel and influenced and inspired them to protect her family. She became part of the lineage of Christ as a result of what she did in that situation. There’s a great story in Samuel about a woman named Abigail who influenced King David not to react in anger against her husband who had behaved very dishonorably. God honored her for how she handled that with grace and godly wisdom. And, of course, there’s the godly wife in 1 Peter 3:1 who influences her non-Christian husband to believe in Christ because of her good conduct in Christ.
So when you’re thinking about inspiring men to an honorable lifestyle, I encourage you to look at these godly women’s examples and pray about how you can become a godly influence toward the men in your life. Notice that in a lot of these situations the women who were influencing men, the men that they were seeking to inspire and influence were not Christians or they weren’t necessarily behaving in a godly way, but because of the godly, gracious conduct of these women, their hearts were turned.
Practicals to Inspire Honor in the Men Around You
Here are a few key principles that can help you along these lines with the men in your life. When you’re tempted to nag, criticize, complain or just sort of give up in defeat, here are some principles that you can turn to instead.
1. The Power of Prayer
The first one may seem overly simple, but I believe it’s the most powerful tool that we have and that is to pray. When Eric was in high school and college, as I said, he wasn’t living an honorable lifestyle towards women and yet his sister had a burden for him. She began to pray for him diligently, faithfully, every day that God would make him and build him into a true man of God. It took many years of that faithful, consistent prayer, but Eric, even to this day, will credit the prayers and the faithfulness of his sister as one of the key influences which caused him to give his life to Jesus Christ in college. And when he finally chose to surrender to Christ, the first person he called was his sister. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer, whether it’s for a husband, a dad, a brother, or a guy friend in your life.
2. Encourage Rather than Criticize
Leslie Ludy: The second tool that God has given us is to encourage. While criticism will cause a man to become defensive, encouragement causes him to become inspired. A man will remember the words of life that a woman speaks into his life. So encouraging words, even if they’re very simple, will stay with him and become a motivating factor towards positive change. With the men that you are burdened with in your own life, 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, maybe your dad is a good provider for the family. Let him know that you’re thankful for all of his hard work. Maybe he’s not so great of a father in any other aspect, but you can still honor him for the way that he’s provided for your family. Or if your brother helps you move something, show your gratitude for the time that he invested. Maybe he’s a mess in every other way, every other area of his life, but take the time to notice and appreciate the small things that he does right. That will plant seeds for positive change in his life.
Even if you don’t see any positive qualities to start with, you can still encourage the men in your life by showing interest in the things that they’re interested in. That will open his heart to receive words of life, encouragement, and godly wisdom – as he feels that you’re his champion and his supporter, and not just a critic. Remember that Proverbs 15:1 tells us, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” 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 encouragement and life is really the perfect way to do that.
3. Seek to Inspire
Leslie Ludy: The third practical is to inspire. I mentioned Ruth earlier. She set such an inspiring example to the community that she lived [in] when she returned with Naomi to serve in Naomi’s hometown. She could have gone after other men, but she chose to submit to Naomi and become a vessel for the redemption of that family line. It’s very clear, if you study the story, that she laid down her own agenda in order to serve Naomi and Naomi’s God. And that is what gave her the strength and the dignity that Boaz admired and respected. If you want to inspire gentlemanly behavior in the men around you, ask God to shape you into a woman of strength, dignity, and godly discretion.
Now the men in your life may not immediately notice it or appreciate it. In fact, some might even mock it. Eric used to actually make fun of his sister for her strong stand for Christ, but eventually he grew to deeply respect her walk with the Lord, and that’s what will happen with the men in your life. If you are consistent and faithful, they will eventually gain a respect and admiration for the strength, dignity, and godly discretion that they see in your daily life.
Tip 1: Learn the Art of Discretion
Leslie Ludy: Here are a few bonus tips on what it means to inspire men by your example. Be discreet with your words, especially in your digital life. Don’t just jump on the cultural bandwagon and showcase all of your intimate thoughts and feelings for all the world to see. Learn how to guard the private and sacred aspects of your heart and life. That will inspire the men around you to protect those things too.
Tip 2: Choose Decorum
Leslie Ludy: If you’re single, don’t throw yourself at men through flirting, immodesty, or strategically pursuing guys for selfish gratification. All of these behaviors are demonstrated by the sensual woman that we see in Proverbs 7, and God says that “Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.” That is not a path to go down, even though it’s so normal in today’s culture.
Tip 3: Strengthen Your Personal Walk with God
Leslie Ludy: If you’re married and you desire your husband to be stronger spiritually, I encourage out to set an example by strengthening your own spiritual life. Make prayer, time in God’s Word, and serving others a priority in your own life, even if your husband isn’t motivated towards those things because the Bible says that a wife who sets a godly example can actually win a man to Christ.
Tip 4: Find Your Fulfillment in Christ
Leslie Ludy: Probably the most important thing, is to find your fulfillment in Christ whether you’re married or single because if you’re looking to a man to satisfy your deepest needs, you won’t be able to exude true strength and dignity. You can only do that when Christ is your All in all, and He fulfills your deepest needs and becomes the centerpiece of your heart and soul. Don’t let a human relationship take the place of Christ in your life. Remember that when Jesus is your first love you will smile at the future, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.
Tip 5: Take Heart and Have Hope
Leslie Ludy: The last practical I want to share with you is to hope. One of the greatest tactics of the enemy is to take away our hope when it comes to today’s men and cause us to believe that men are never going to change, we should just give up believing that they can ever change. And that’s why women resign themselves to being taken advantage of by men, why we stop praying for the men in our lives, and why women give up on their marriages. But why do we so quickly stop believing that men can change? The reason is that we’re putting our faith in the wrong place. All too often we’re trying to put our faith in men rather than in our mighty God for whom nothing is impossible. So if you’re tempted to throw up your hands in defeat and accept the mediocrity of modern manhood, I encourage you to fix your eyes on the God of miracles, instead of the behavior of the guys around you.
Leslie Ludy: Remember the problems with today’s men are not more severe than the problems with today’s women. It’s so easy for us to point the finger, but just as there are widespread problems with modern masculinity, there are just as many widespread problems with modern femininity. We can’t blame men as the prime culprits for all of our woes, sorrows, cultural issues, and relationship woes. Men aren’t the problem, sin is. And sin is something that each and every one of us has participated in whether we’re male or female.
The bottom line is this: If God can rescue and redeem your life from destruction, can He not do the same with your husband, father, guy friends, the men that you work with? Think about who God is and what He is able to do. Put aside all thoughts of defeat and despair and fix your gaze on Him. The Bible says that those who hope in Him will not be disappointed.
I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. If you would like to go deeper into how to inspire men towards honor, how to cultivate honor in your own life, and how to navigate the confusing area of guy/girl relationships from a godly perspective with a biblical foundation, I invite you to join Eric and I for our Secrets to an Amazing Love Story online course, which is available during the month of February here. This course is great whether you’re single or married. It includes over ten hours of video teaching from Eric and myself, and it will give you the foundation for a Christ-centered relationship whether you’re married, single. Whether you’re not even in a relationship yet, this is a great way to have a biblical perspective on God-scripted love stories.