This is a response to a recent blog entry I stumbled upon by user Shape Your Life (SYL). The post was title Nice Guy vs. Alpha Male: An Intro and in the course of about a dozen paragraphs he goes through the common problems he sees with men in relationships today.
Allow me to preface this response by stating that I am not usually one to write about relationships or how men should pursue them. Also, I have a clear understanding that I am coming from a Christian perspective where he is not. Nonetheless, I do agree with much of what he talks about though as I thought on the material afterward I realized that there were certain aspects from a biblical perspective that needed to be added.
This is not a criticism or a rebuttal of the original post, this is simply an introduction by which I want to give credit to a good blogger that made me think.
The Cost of Being a Nice Guy
From my experience there are a lot of young guys out there (of which I was one) who want to be the proverbial “Nice Guy”. They want to be liked by everyone but especially that one pretty girl they’ve got their eye on. There is a sort of romanticized thought that though the world screams that nice guys finish last, the good guy always wins and gets the girl in the end. Sadly, this is often not the case, at least not as they expect, and after giving their hearts away too quickly things go down hill quickly.
- There is a sense of tragedy when they are alone because they’ve convinced their heart that it belongs to her.
- Pain and misery come when their infatuation enters a relationship with another guy.
- They can even slip into a mild to moderate depression that can escalate because of a feeling of rejection, even if a verbal rejection is never made.
- The pain of this desire surfaces and they seek sympathy from others because of their sorrow.
The reality is that while these tender hearted guys who truly long to love and be loved, they are looking for love in the wrong place. I was guilty of this in my younger years and by the grace of God I was able to get over it and move past it because he revealed to me that it was sinful. That might sound harsh to some of you but the truth of the matter is that we feel this way because, as I said previously, we’ve given our hearts away to someone other that Jesus. When men allow a woman to be the center of their lives, it leaves no room for Jesus and it elevates her to a position that she was never meant to hold. Genesis 2 tells us that God created Eve to be Adam’s helper not his first, his last, his everything (kudos to you if Barry White is playing in your mind now).
But on the flip side nice guys want to show love to others, they want to serve others, and tend to be very loyal friends. So before you assume I am picking on the nice guys remember that Jesus was a nice guy too.
Enter the Alphas
In the original post SYL elevates the “Alpha Male”, henceforth referred to as alphas, because of their kind of superior manliness. We should also note that the author wants to distinguish alphas from “jerks” but admits that there is a very fine line between the two. Here’s what I want you to realize: While there is a fine line between jerks and alphas, there is a big difference between alphas and godly men. I would say the key difference between nice guys, alphas, and godly men are where their focus lies.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” -Colossians 3:2
If your focus is on you and your performance in any various field whether it be dating, business, or social status you ultimately lead a hollow life. The pleasures and the power of prestige may be fulfilling for a while, but overtime it fades away and you’re left seeking more. Conversely, a nice guy who just isn’t confident in who he is and is constantly seeking the approval of others will likewise not be truly fulfilled.
Jesus commends us to focus on the Kingdom of God instead of worrying about the daily provisions our bodies need (Matthew 6:25-34). I think that the same commendation can stretch beyond our basic needs to our intentions and desires. What this looks like practically is that in business you’re not looking for the short ladder to success. You’re not opportunistic, seeking more status, power, and glory as Haman the Agagite in the book of Esther did. You’re not looking for more friends and more followers to idolize you and you’re awesomeness. You are hard working in order to glorify God through your work. You are humble so that when you do something good your friends and followers know to give glory to God instead of you. Likewise in relationships, you’re not looking for casual encounters or semi-serious relationships. You’re not looking to date a girl, you’re being prepared to seek a wife that you can care and provide for.
Finding the Balance
The easy part is to criticize the two extremes that men face. The truth is that while many men tend to fall into one of those two categories, many more are somewhere in between hoping to find the balance between a false piety and an overcompensating chauvinism. In the song “Just Like You” rapper Lecrae rightly sings, “Men were created to lead but we needed somebody to lead us.” So I would say we look to the two greatest men to ever walk the earth.
The Manliness of John the Baptist
For those of you who I know will get frustrated at me calling him John the Baptist I understand that a better translation of the title would be the Baptizer but frankly I’ve called him the baptist all my life so that’s where I’m staying. That being said we know that John can be considered one of the two greatest men because Jesus, God himself, said of John:
“I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” -Luke 7:28
Did you catch the last half of that verse? While John is considered by Jesus to be the greatest man to walk the earth (second only to himself, i.e. God incarnate) he promises us that we will be greater than John if we are servants within his kingdom. So what kinds of things did John do that made him so great?
- John was filled with the Holy Spirit.
- John listened to, trusted, and obeyed the scriptures and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- John proclaimed the truth of God boldly, even at the expense of persecution and death.
- John was willing to die for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- John was willing to turn over the possibility of glory and power to serve his Lord God.
- John held other “believers” accountable for their sin, from the poor to the powerful.
I’m not going to go through each one of these and list the references but if you’d like to know, feel free to email me or comment below.
The Manliness of Jesus Christ
Let me reiterate in case anyone missed it: Jesus is God. He wins the greatest man category by default. That being said, what made Jesus so great?
- Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus obeyed the Father’s will.
- Jesus left his throne in heaven and humbled himself to live a life of service to God’s people.
- Jesus pursued the Jews in love even though he was rejected by them (Note: This love was not always the mushy lovestruck kind of love).
- Jesus alone could have given into temptation but overcame where we often fail.
- Jesus gave his life not only for those who cried out for his death, but for us today who mock his sacrifice through unrepentant sin.
Notice the difference? To be what the world may think of as an alpha male you have to be confident in yourself and your accomplishments. You have to have high self-esteem and a positive self-image. It’s about elevating your own status and getting the glory for your works. The trend we see with John and Jesus is that of godly-humility and sacrifice.
Your Own Personal Jesus
The problem that I think a lot of Christians have is that they don’t understand, or at least do not see, Jesus as he is. He is the humble savior who suffered and died to redeem mankind. He allowed the Herodians and the Romans to take his life while the Sanhedrin looked on. But he was no pushover. He cleared the temple on two occasions flipping tables and using cords as makeshift whips. He traveled long distances in the desert, endured long days of ministry, counsel, and healing. He underwent a fast for 40 days in the desert where he was tempted in every way that we are tempted, yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). How many of you can go a day, or even a few hours without sinning in some way (and don’t try to argue that you don’t because that’s just pride).
We relate to Jesus as the humble man who suffered and died a horrible death on a torture machine under a satanic empire but we totally overlook the rest of the story! Jesus is, indeed, the manliest man that has ever lived. But how?
Both John and Jesus were filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That is step one to being a godly man. Nice Guys hold out for hope and alphas fight their way to worldly success but without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit it’s all meaningless and it will all fade away.
Where Do We Go From Here?
So after all that has been said, how does one become a godly man? Let it be known that I am not an expert on this topic by any means; I’m a sinful man who by the grace of God is being changed to be more like Him. That being said, here are a few thoughts to prayerfully consider (in no particular order):
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Both Jesus and John the Baptist were filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Now there are some denominations with some goofy and unbiblical theology who will teach that if you don’t have the gift of tongues (the gifting of the Holy Spirit to speak another language that you might not otherwise be able to, usually spontaneously with a prophetic word from the Lord) then you are not filled with the Holy Spirit. This is not true. They will argue using verses in which the early church members and leaders were filled with the Spirit and then spoke in tongues such as in Acts 2 while willfully overlooking passages like 1 Corinthians 12 which clearly teaches us that there are many gifts and not every believer will be given every gift. It is not the same as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when a person commits their heart and life to God by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
- Don’t worry about what others think. For the longest time I could not stand evangelists. They made me uncomfortable around my non-Christian friends and often times I felt like I had to separate myself from them in order to not be grouped in with the crazy right-winged Christians. What I learned about myself is that I was enslaved by pride and the fear of man. I was more concerned with what other people thought of me than what my God thought of me. Be less concerned with offending them and more concerned about offending Him.
- Love your wife completely. In 1 Peter 3:7 the apostle tells the husbands of the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia (Turkey), and Bithynia to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (the collective of biblical Christians who love and serve the Lord). He tells us to love them in an understanding way showing concern for their emotions and their concerns, and to alleviate those concerns by being men of integrity who treat them with respect and dignity. This also means to love them sacrificially. If you have to miss a stupid football game or whatever your idol might be, so what. Jesus gave up his comfort and glory to die for those who deserved it least (i.e. all of humanity).
- Be Intentional. Make it a point to love and serve others. If you’re married, this applies first to God and then to your wife. If you’re not married and want to be this means to be purposeful in your relationships. As a young man I spent so many years giving my heart away to girls I had no business giving it to. I should have been focusing those desires for a wife on preparing for a family. Instead of seeking a girl because she was kind, attractive, and moral I should have been seeking a woman I could spend my life with and raise a family with. If you’re not married, respect your future wife (if that’s what God has for you) and be intentional for her, not just any cute girl that you want to go out with.
- Be Humble. Not the fake humility of someone who has to talk themselves up as a sweet and considerate guy who helps others. That’s pride, the opposite of humility. Love sacrificially, serve fervently, seek justice passionately. And as the Rock used to say, “Know your role”. Know that you are not the focal point of humanity, and that the world won’t fall apart if you’re not there. BUT don’t be lied to that you don’t matter or that you shouldn’t succeed. All of humanity, not just Christians, are image bearers of the God and are important to Him as they should be to the Church. True humility is not shooting yourself in the foot so you don’t have to worry about power or prestige. If God has that for you, ask him how you should manage it, just don’t make it about you.
In writing all of this I am convicted of the pride and iniquity in my own life and marriage. I love my wife and my three sons, but I do not love them as Christ loved the Church. I often get frustrated when I’m trying to do something I wanted to do (sometimes it’s posting on this blog) and they interrupt me, but by the Grace of God he is working in my heart and changing my attitude. I pray that he would change yours as well.
This has been a long post. If you made it this far, my hat is off to you and I thank you for sticking with it! To close out the post I will ask you a few questions. Feel free to respond in the comments below if you want, but if you are one of the nice guys who wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable doing that just pray about them and ask the Lord to work the issues out of your life.
- Where are you on the manliness spectrum? Do you lean more toward nice guy or alpha?
- If you are married, how often do you pray for your wife? Your kids if you have any?
- If you are single, how often do you pray for your future wife? For her purity and yours?
- If you are in a relationship, are you respecting God and obeying his commands? Are you respecting your partner and their purity?
- Are you and your parter/spouse (or just yourself for singles) growing in humility and service to God and others?
- How are you becoming more like Christ? You can be honest if you don’t feel like you are (we all hit those patches from time to time).
I’d love to hear from any of you who care to respond in the comments below, or by email if you’d prefer that.