This is a “delicate” article for me to write on some levels. For one, I am biased, being a man and being married. For another I have daughters. And for another I have been around long enough to see what works in the Christian church.
It has to do with “where have all the men gone” and I want to change it. I want the church family to be a healthy place for everyone. I have been seeing a move in the men of God coming and I think this is a piece of it.It has to do with young men and women and relationships.
Many years ago, when I was a church leader, there were various books going around that were on some levels just “behavior modification” books. Some had to do with child rearing (Help me God if you ever walked down those paths! The kids did not get a chance!), while others had to do with courting versus dating and young people in relationships. Both were slippery slides. Why would I say that? The observation I have viewed over the years was this.
- They were predicated on behavior modification and not transformation. The children “conformed” okay until right about until you weren’t looking! Then it was a mess.
- They were all about rules and not about relationships. They learned to trust systems and not God.
- A lot of young people left the church. The devil was less in the children and more in the “training.” (This was not the only reason but it is a large reason.)
This morning I awoke from a dream. In this dream I was in what looked like a cafeteria in a school or college. I saw that there was a young lady at one of the tables. I was talking to her. She was sharing some of her story. She had on a gold ring. I somehow “remembered” it from many years ago I thought. Delicate, gold and simple. She was a beautiful young lady. As she sat at the table, she talked to me about “finding the right man.” I looked at her and did not see deceit, just earnest desire for a good man. (We often go around on that thought process about what a good man is. Again, a lot of it is predicated on rules.) She did not understand “what was wrong with her.” As I watched her interact at the table with others I saw despair over her. At that moment I looked down at my phone. The phone was “reading” interactions at the table and telling when there was the possibility of relationship. I awoke thinking, “that is one cool app!” (Who needs a prophet, right? J )
Interesting dream-cool app-lonely young woman.
“But why would we need the app” I asked myself. Why in a dream? I began to think about it. I think it comes down to walking with young men and women. Helping them remove the white spaces of misunderstanding and misinformation.
I have always spent a lot of time with young people. Whether I was a youth leader in a Baptist church or a church leader who worked with the young it has been one of my passions. Over the years I have had thousands of conversations. A few years ago, I had a conversation with some young women, as well as my daughters. Because of that conversation I began to pray and think a little differently.
One of the topics that trended was the lack of men stepping up to the plate. They wanted them to “Put on their big boy pants.” Ask them out. Act grown up. I listened. I could not imagine being without my wife. I felt pain for their situations. I have walked with my own boys on this issue. I have walked with many others as well.
A date? What are you talking about?
First let me say that I recognize “dating” freaks most parents out. It is a step of trust. One thing to get a car. Go off to school…BUT A DATE! Did we really kiss “dating good bye?” I am not suggesting candlelit dinners in your home, but coffee is not going to kill anyone.
It is one more step where your child begins to taste the independence you “hopefully” modeled for them but when they go after it…freak out time. And the child is thinking they brought me up to be independent and I am trying to but now they are freaking out. A little bluntness. If you brought a child up on rules and not reliance on God you may see your world crumble. At 16 years of age, you have little restraint. This is a time of engaging conversations and not raging condemnations.
Talking and interviewing young men over the years of ministry, I find some real unusual thought process about dating. (One young man share with me a few weeks ago that he noticed our local college women seemed all professional and businesslike and the “men” looked like the 12 year old boy band members.)
I find a lot of young men have long distance or text/Skype relationships, but most of them were fearful of “messing up” or “ending up with the wrong one”. This fear caused them to seldom date and keep female relationships platonic and confusing.
The young women including my daughters shared some of this thought process. I’ve heard from Christian women that they either have said no to dating altogether (because the Christian guys don’t do any asking) or go on dates with men who aren’t Christians (because at least they are asking).
Men are waiting for “the one” and the reality of it is life is slipping away. I have watched my own daughters and a number of spiritual daughters go away, while men are waiting for the one.
A possible solution. I am asking for men (and women) of maturity to step in and start working with these young people. Over analysis is creating paralysis. To encourage them by walking with them.
The amazing thing about grace and the empowerment it brings is the idea that we can have a date and if it does not work out, walk away friends. (Stop leading the girls on guys! Make a decision!) I have watched way too much hurt over the years from lack of integrity, missing communication and no clarification.
Men-it is okay to ask someone out. I guess my daughters would tell you it is okay for women to ask a man out.
I am looking to see a move of God predicated by men stepping up to the plate. Putting on their big boy pants.
As a dad, I have watched the heartbreak of my children, my spiritual children and others over relationships. Long before eHarmony and Christian Mingle God was in the business of communication and relationship. I am not suggesting do not text or use web sites for the love of your life, but I am suggesting God is more in the deal than you may realize.
My wife and I got married over 20 years ago. We had gone through the heartbreak of broken relationships and had the baggage and scars to prove it. Frankly we were set up by God for one another. She thought I was weird, neither one of us were on the other’s radar screen. But it was not until the day of our marriage (Just being honest.) that I knew God was in this. When the spirit of God came down during the service, you knew.
I am interested in what both men and women have to say. Feel free touch base with me.