To help introduce my topic, here's a story:
A Tale of two brothers.
Once upon a time, in a land far away (from some of you) there were two brothers named Malachi and Jonah. They were both rather carefree, not much concerned with the things of God or with the details of life. Their days were full of fun and learning. There came a time, however, when their thoughts and hearts were turned towards young ladies in their fair town, and this is the tale of the difference made by the influence of those ladies. Often on the face of Lady Alethea was a smile which told of her love for her Savior, and she, while being friendly, did not chase after Jonah. Lady Madina, on the other hand, was prone to silliness and flirtation, and she did chase after Malachi. At first, the difference in Malachi and Jonah was so slight so as to evade detection. However, as the years went on, Malachi’s leadership waned, whatever desire to serve God lessened, and he just grew more apathetic. Jonah, on the other hand, now thinks seriously about the things of God and the Bible, and his leadership skills have only improved. Jonah and Alethea are engaged to be married-- and no one knows whether or not Malachi and Madina are still together. Alethea is respected and loved by her betrothed-- Madina is treated casually and with little respect.
This tale, though names and details have been changed slightly, is a true one, and I have witnessed it first hand. Let us learn from the mistakes of Madina and the wise example of Alethea!
As you may have guessed from my story, I’d like to talk about how we, as young ladies, relate to men and boys. God has given us a special (and very powerful) kind of influence in their lives-- and if we learn now how to use it well, our marriages and husbands will be blessed. Not to mention our current relationships with dads, brothers and friends!
As I said earlier, we can influence them for good-- like Sarah Edwards did with Jonathan Edwards-- or for evil-- like, unfortunately, our mother Eve did in the case of the forbidden fruit.
And, like I mentioned before about preparing, we are influencing them whether we try to or not.
If you make fun of your little brother when he tries to help you, you are inadvertently discouraging his gentlemanly instincts. When you neglect to say thank you when someone opens a door for you... when you poke fun at masculinity... when you dress immodestly... when you make crude jokes... when you allow yourself to be used as an object... those things all negatively affect the kind of man they’ll be. These things, sadly, are very common in our culture-- and, even a fairly unobservant person can tell you that the majority of guys nowadays are, well, jerks. Even some guys agree with that statement.
The delicate--yet formidable-- art of guy nudging
However! The good news is that if we girls can weaken guys, we can also build them up and encourage them to become more gentlemanly and godly. How? Well, in the book “Authentic Beauty” Leslie Ludy calls it “guy nudging”.
So: what on earth is guy nudging-- and how can we do it??
To start with, it’s not called guy shoving. At its best, it should be barely perceptible. Yelling or putting guys down in an effort to “get them to behave” would be classified as shoving. They are a waste of your time (and lung power) and worse than useless. Nagging and whining and lecturing are also in the "shoving" class and very nearly as ineffective. When you shove, you can expect to get shoved back. So, what is a girl to do??
Develop a Vision
First off, you need to get yourself a vision for godly manhood. Read about David and Joseph and Daniel and other godly men in the Bible. Read about heroes of the past. If you have a godly father, watch him. Study manhood in the Bible and elsewhere. Once you have a vision for the kind of men they can become, you will be able to better encourage them along in their pursuit of godliness.
Be a Lady
One important way to encourage men to reach for godly manhood is to act and dress in a lady-like manner. My sisters and I wear skirts regularly, and generally have a happy countenance-- and you’d be surprised by how gentlemanly the men-- of all ages and from all walks of life-- around us become. It is not at all uncommon for them to open doors for us-- and even offer to give up their seats!
Try it yourself-- wear a modest, full, pretty skirt with a feminine blouse, pair it with a bright smile and some kindness-- and watch what happens.
When guys are in the presence of a lady, it automatically does one of two things: either it scares them and makes them want to get away from you; or it spurs them on to respect and honor you as a woman and it helps them become more manly in the process.
Don't Discourage Gentlemanliness
To borrow a quote from Rebeka:
“Do not refuse to let a man open the door for you. Do not refuse the seat they offer. Because today’s society downplays these manly gestures, many men find these actions harder to express than they would have just a mere century ago. Spurring a man on towards godly manhood is to accept his motions of gentlemanly behavior with grace and and a thankful smile. When we refuse to recognize their signs of manliness, that is a humiliating response to them; furthermore, it makes them more reticent to proffer their seats or open the door in the future. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by quipping back “Oh, I’m fine on the floor!” Cute? Maybe. Encouraging? No.”
Trust and Obey...
Another way we can encourage and help our brothers in Christ is to show that we trust and respect and expect great things from them. This isn’t always easy-- because sometimes you don’t feel like trusting them. However, when they see that you do and that you are willing to follow their lead, they will be more likely to take the lead, thus developing their God given role of leadership. Submitting to their lead is not easy, I know-- which is why I have chosen to practice it to the best of my ability by obeying my younger brothers (17, 8, 5) when they ask me to do something for them. Trust me, that is hard. And lest you think I am just one of those docile, sweet, whatever-you-say-goes type of girls-- let me assure you that I am not. In fact, my personality type (ENTJ) is called “The executive” or the “leader of leaders”. So yes, submitting to my younger brothers is definitely a challenge. But it has been a good one, and I have only benefited from it. I figure if I can learn to submit to my younger brothers, surely I can submit to my husband!
Speaking of brothers, if you have them, start encouraging and "nudging" and praying for them today! They are great for practicing... and, as the young men God has placed in your life at this time, you have a responsibility to help them become the men God wants them to be. The way you treat them will have a huge impact on how they turn out.
Once Again, it's the Little Things...
Besides these two major areas, there are many small things we can do... a well timed smile, a word of encouragement, noticing kind/sacrificial things they do, saying thank you often, phrasing questions in ways that assume the best, letting them know you are proud of them, doing little things for them, encouraging them in their ideas... etc.
How Will This Help My Future Marriage?
Here's a quote from a married lady on the influence the wife has:
“A great deal of what makes marriage successful is how a woman treats her husband. Since men are simple creatures and women are a whole lot more complicated, much of the nature of a marriage is up to the woman. If she treats her husband with love and respect and refrains from nagging or emasculating him, then the chances for a happy marriage are much higher.” From: Rural Revelution
See? We have an extremely important role, and the more we can learn it now, the better!!
Stay tuned for part three!