Instructions to Women
About the Guest
Alistair Begg, pastor and host of the national radio program “Truth for Life,” tells young women what to look for in a husband.
Instructions to Women
Bob: Ladies, would you like a little fatherly advice on what to look for—and what to look out for—as you think about a prospective future mate? Here is Alistair Begg:
Alistair: If you find yourself in the company of somebody who cannot be an understudy—who can't sit in the second chair, who can't play second fiddle, who has always got to be the theme of the story, the joke of the party, the success of the event—I want to suggest to you girls, that you might want to take a long, hard look at whether you're in the company of the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, July 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If you're a young woman looking at guys as potential marriage partners—do you know what to look for and do you know what avoid? We’ll hear more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. I think you've seen the thing has been circulated in e-mails every once in a while—kids giving answers to questions about love and marriage. What should you look for in a mate? How do you keep a relationship going? When is it okay to kiss somebody? Those kinds of things. You know what I'm talking about; right?
Bob: I remember one of those questions was, “What should you look for in a mate?” One of the little boys responded and said, "She should like the same things I like. Like, if you like football, she should like it too—and she should keep the chips and dips comin'." [Laughter] Well, here’s the thing. Sometimes all of us have a superficial list of things we’re looking for when we’re thinking about a prospective mate. Some of the things on the list may involve physical appearance, or a person’s financial statement, or it may involve similar interests. Those things aren’t unimportant, but those are not the critical issues; are they?
Dennis: Actually, single people—the older they get, the more that list grows.
Dennis: And some folks could wallpaper a small bathroom with their checklist. [Laughter] Others could wallpaper an entire house, because they're in their 30s, and they're single, and they've not gotten married.
Dennis: You know, you could come up with a hybrid list of what's really important, and I do think it's good to think through what you do think is important in the opposite sex.
Bob: Well, if you were sitting down with your daughters—if they were to come to you and say, "Dad, what should I be looking for? What kinds of things should I be looking for?" I actually had this conversation with my daughter, but I turned it around with her. I said, "What kinds of things are you looking for?" I asked her to tell me what was on the list. She thought for a minute, and she said, "You know, I really haven't thought about that.” She said, "Probably just someone like you, Dad," —and that was all I needed to hear.
Dennis: Yeah, buddy!
Bob: She’s got the perfect thing down there.
Dennis: She knew which side her bread was buttered on; didn't she? You know, I do want to share my list of what I think I would encourage a young lady to look for in a husband, but I want our guest on today's broadcast to do it first.
Bob: Share his list?
Dennis: I do. He is from Scotland. You'll notice a bit of—
Bob: A wee bit—
Dennis: A wee bit of a Southern Scotland accent that he has—but for a number of years he has served as a senior pastor at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the daily speaker on a national radio program called "Truth for Life.” He has authored a number of books. He and his wife Susan have three children and, of course, I'm speaking of Alistair Begg.
Bob: Yes, and I had a friend of mine who sent me a link to this message from Alistair—a message he had given a number of years ago at Cedarville University, talking to college students about what to look for in a future mate. He said, “This is something you may want to consider sharing with your FamilyLife Today listeners.
And we’ve got some listeners—some single listeners—who need this kind of wisdom; right?
Dennis: We do. After Alistair shares his list of what a young lady should look for in a husband, we'll give them a double whammy today.
Dennis: I'll give them my list, too.
Bob: Alright. Let's listen first to Alistair Begg.
Alistair: What I would like to do in the remaining time that I have—and I'm not sure how much I have—is help you by suggesting what you should look for if you're planning on getting a husband. And then, if I have time, I'll tell you what you should look for in a wife. This is just my opinion, and it's really quite a good opinion—as I think you'll agree. [Laughter] There's nothing funny about this—nothing surprising.
Number one—what should I look for in a husband?
The man should be committed to growing in his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ—committed to growing in his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Do not take on a fellow as a discipleship project. Don't take on a husband who has merely mastered Bible trivia. Look for a husband who is serious about growing in grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Imagine that he is going to be—in part—your shepherd and your guide. That he is going to be the spiritual leader of your home; that he is going to be the nurturer of your children together—and think about that long and hard before you sell out for anything else.
Secondly, a husband should be an individual of obvious integrity. If he cheats on the golf course, beware.
Anyone that cheats on the golf course has the potential for cheating anywhere.
If you find him in an employee/employer situation fudging the issue in his sales calls, telling somebody that he can get the product to them in two weeks when he comes afterwards and tells you that, actually, he knew that he couldn't get it there for four weeks, but he said that because he didn't want to lose the sale—on the day he tells you that, you need to have a long, serious conversation with him—and if he seeks to undergird his deceptiveness with argumentation—you should probably kiss him goodbye.
No matter how some men try to justify their use of untruth, those lies should serve as neon signs to prospective brides.
What makes you ever think that if a person would lie to a customer—to a boss, to a teacher, to a parent—he wouldn’t also lie to his wife? You need a husband who is honest to the core; to a fault.
Thirdly, you need to look for a husband who is able to lead boldly—to lead boldly. Not everyone is going to marry the high school quarterback or the class president. That's not the kind of leadership to which I am referring. But every girl needs to look for the kind of man who can think for himself, who can weigh options, and who can make good decisions. No person always makes good decisions. Everybody makes mistakes. Many times good leadership demands the willingness to acknowledge that I’ve made a mistake, and to turn around and make a second decision.
In thinking of a man who is able to lead boldly—we ought to say very quickly that a girl should never settle for leadership that is selfish, bombastic, and domineering.
The leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ—the leadership as espoused by the Apostles—is a leadership that is marked by an attitude of servanthood; an attitude that submits to the leadership of others—and that is of vital importance.
The flip side of it, of course, is simply that a young woman should be more than a little concerned if the fellow that she's dating has to check with his mother all the time—"Well, I need to phone my mom about that"—and all he's trying to decide is whether he should buy the large or the medium t-shirt in Gap. [Laughter]
You know you've got a problem there. In fact, while he's choosing, just slip off ever so quietly into the mall and don't ever come back. [Laughter] If he doesn't have wherewithal to decide between the medium and the large in the navy blue t-shirt, you've got a problem, trust me!
Let somebody else fix it. Forget the project. It's a bad idea! You heard it from our Uncle Allie, okay? [Laughter]
Fourthly, you need to look for a husband who displays the ability to love sacrificially—to love sacrificially. Seek out men who display a self-sacrificial dimension—not a person who says, "Well, one of the things I'd like to mention to you is that I'm a very self-sacrificing person” No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Sorry—take that one off your resume. Self-sacrifice is detected in subtle ways that vary from person to person.
For example—watch at the end of an evening with friends to see if this character is quick to organize and spearhead the cleanup—or whether he just waits for everybody else to clean up.
Listen carefully to his elderly aunt when she tells you whether her nephew has ever been faithful in visiting her in the nursing home. Observe the way he relates to children and to strangers. See if he possesses a willingness to hold doors for passersby with full arms. Watch his attitude to waitresses and to other people who are involved in serving the public. Watch his eyes as he sits in a café and observes the obvious ravages of AIDS in the body of the young man behind the counter, and in these things you'll begin to find out what you're dealing with.
And incidentally—and in passing, gentlemen—married gentlemen—when is the last time that any one of us did anything for our wives that would fit clearly, solidly under the category of self-abnegation?
Fifthly, a husband should be able to laugh heartily. Humor is a vital element in preventing marital failure. The ability to laugh doesn't mean that he's the class clown or even a joke-teller. In fact, he may be hopeless at telling jokes. That may be the funniest part about him. [Laughter] Constantly turning to you and saying, "What was that punch line again?" Finishing his jokes just to be met by vacant stares. [Laughter]
But it is important that he likes to laugh—and a key trait to look for is his willingness to laugh at himself. If he takes himself too seriously, look out.
Listen carefully to him, not necessarily when he's on show, but can he tell us a story where someone else is obviously the hero where he comes off looking foolish? Is he willing to reveal pictures to you of the time when he was less handsome, with his teeth protruding and his ears sticking out? Actually—as you think about it—very similar to what he is right now. [Laughter] When he laughs at the comic misfortunes of others, is he able to laugh without being crude and unkind and cruel? Humor is vital—it's way up on the top of my list.
Sixthly—and there are only six—a husband should model genuine humility. Simply put—a good husband shouldn't be stuck on himself. Genuine humility keeps its focus on others.
You need to watch and see if the other person can share the joy of a competitor's success. I wonder, do you remember—it's hard for me to say, “do you remember”—now the movie is 20 years old—some of you weren't born. A staggering thought to be this old. [Laughter] But go get it from the theater and watch Chariots of Fire. In the fictitious scene that is created—the race between Eric Liddle and Abrams—a race that never, ever happened—but it was good for the story.
Remember, Eric falls—and then when the Vangelis music kicks in, that spurs him on, and he gets up again. [Laughter] Oh, no—that music wasn't playing! Yes, anyway, eventually he runs to victory—and it cuts from the victory to the bleachers—and in the bleachers Abrams sits.
And out comes his girlfriend—very pretty-looking and all in white, as I remember—with a large hat, I think. She sits down beside him, and he's morose. She says to him, "Well, you came second." He said, "I don't want to come second." And then he says, "If I can't win, I won't run," to which she replies, "If you don't run, you can't win."
If you find yourself in the company of somebody who cannot be an understudy—who can't sit in the second chair, who can’t play second fiddle, who’s always got to be the theme of the story, the joke of the party, the success of the event—I want to suggest to you girls, that you might want to take a long, hard look at whether you're in the company of the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.
Bob: Well, we've been listening to Part 2 of a message from Alistair Begg on what to look for in a spouse. I saw you taking notes while you were listening. You weren't changing your list to match his, were you?
Dennis: I wasn't; no. I think he had some excellent points and frankly—you could quit with his list, and it would be plenty.
Dennis: I, however—
Bob: You have your own?
Dennis: I have my own.
Bob: And a few things that weren't on his list?
Dennis: Maybe a couple. I'm going to probably repeat some he had, and that will serve as a method of teaching here—to some of our single listeners, or moms and dads who are coaching singles—as they go about selecting a spouse.
The first thing I'd encourage a young lady is to find a young man who fears God.
And you can tell if he fears God in part, by his language and how he treats other people. Does he treat them with respect? Why? Because we, as human beings, are made in the image of God, and if we respect people—that ultimately I think—can come from a heart that really reverences God.
Bob: Now, it's interesting. You started with a young man who fears God, not a young man who loves God.
Dennis: Well, the Proverbs say, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"—it's the beginning of knowledge. I think it's the beginning point in the Bible of where God starts us. It's from the fear of God ultimately that we learn to love God.
Dennis: A second thing that I would encourage a young lady to look for is a man who is not afraid to love. Now, that may sound kind of like a no-brainer, but a lot of young men today are afraid of commitment, and it's the young lady who is chasing the young man.
Dennis: What we need today are more young men who are not afraid of being real—of being authentic—and of being committed to a young lady in a relationship. We don't need any more young men who are hedging their bets—we need men who are not afraid to love.
Third, I think you need to look for a young man who can admit his faults and can admit when he's made a mistake and admit when he's hurt you. Ruth Bell Graham made the statement, "A good marriage is the union of two forgivers." Now, why would she say something like that? Because you're going to hurt one another a jillion times over a lifetime together—and if you don't know how to ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness and grace—you're never going to have a great marriage. Your marriage is going to stall out and be stunted in terms of growth, early on.
Bob: This ties into what Alistair was talking about when he talked about humility. It really does.
Bob: It takes humility to admit you were wrong—to ask for forgiveness.
Bob: You're looking for somebody who is a humble person.
Dennis: That's right. Fourth, I would want my daughters to look for a young man who is in control of his passions. We live in an age that has been invaded by pornography, by messages of telling people you can have it all, and you can satisfy yourself, and I would want my daughters to date a young man who is fully in charge of his passion—that he can control his desire for the opposite sex.
Bob: It's interesting, because a lot of people think that once a person is married and has the privilege in marriage to enjoy sexual relations, that lust problems are going to go away, that passions are going to be satisfied—
Bob: —and all of that is going to take care of itself—yet we see adultery, and we see pornography in marriage. Just because you have the opportunity for satisfaction in marriage doesn't mean that there aren't still going to be some problems; right?
Dennis: Marriage is built upon trust—and if you can't trust a young man before marriage to control his passions—what makes you think you can trust him after marriage?
Dennis: Fifth, I'd want my daughters to find out if a young man honors his parents. Now, that may sound old-fashioned, but if it's good enough for God to put in the Ten Commandments—to honor your parents, "that your life may be long and it may be well with you"—wouldn't you want your daughter to select a man whose life has a sense of well-being and God's favor?
There have been those who have said, “If you want to see how a young man will treat you, see how he treats his mother.” I think I'd want to take it a step further—how does he honor both his mother and his father? Does he speak well of them or is he angry with them? Or does he refuse to speak about them at all?
What's going on between a young man and his parents is very important.
And the last one—I had six just because Alistair did—and that makes a cheap dozen for the broadcast today. [Laughter] I'd want to know if the young man is in the process of becoming a leader who knows how to serve.
Dennis: All of the male leadership position in the home—that of being the head of your home—that lofty position that seems to have so much authority and so much responsibility—I think, from a Christian's perspective—demands self-denial.
It demands a servant spirit—and if a young man doesn't know how to deny himself on behalf of another person and give up his rights and give up his objectives and give up his goals and his dreams on behalf of another—I would question whether he would know how to take my daughter off and create a family over a lifetime.
Bob: We have taken your list of six things to look for in a prospective spouse, and we’ve got that available on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. Our listeners may want to print off that list—download it—maybe have a conversation about it.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com—and if you’d like to listen to Alistair’s message in its entirety—we have that audio available as well. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and you can either listen to or download the message from Alistair Begg on things to look for in a future spouse.
Then let me mention again, the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. Whether you’re thinking about getting married or you’ve been married for a few years—or a few decades, a getaway weekend—where you’re focused for a few days on strengthening your marriage—is good preventive medicine for every marriage relationship—and it’s especially good for engaged couples, because it pours a solid foundation for you before your marriage ever starts.
We’ll be kicking off our fall season of Weekend to Remember getaways in September. Now is the time for you to look at the calendar and block out a weekend so you can plan to attend a getaway in September or October or November or December. Find a location near you, or a location you’d like to travel to and join us for a fun, romantic weekend adventure at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. Again, find out more at FamilyLifeToday.com.
You know, you look at the culture in which we live, and it’s not a culture that exalts marriage the way the relationship used to be exalted. Part of the reason for that is because the culture has redefined marriage—it’s not the esteemed institution it once was. Well, here at FamilyLife Today, we would like to re-raise the standard. We want to be reminding ourselves every day that marriage is a good gift from God, and that He designed it and that in Him, we can have a strong, healthy, vibrant marriage relationship.
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So thanks to those of you who are Legacy Partners. If you’re a regular FamilyLife Today listener and you’ve never joined us as a Legacy Partner, today would be a good day for you to become part of that team. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and find out more about how to become a monthly Legacy Partner, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, and just say, “I’m interested in becoming a Legacy Partner.”
Thanks in advance for joining with us in the mission of this ministry. I hope you can tune in tomorrow. We’re going to talk about how important effective communication is in a marriage relationship, and why that’s something you should be paying attention to as you consider somebody as a future marriage partner. I hope you can tune in for tomorrow’s program.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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