7 Mistakes Single Guys Make That Will Keep You Single

Often when I talk to guys about dating and marriage I hear a lot about what they are looking for in a woman. They have a whole list of demands that are non-negotiable. Normally, if you add the list up the women they’re describing sounds a lot like them. I barely ever hear a guy talk about how he can become a better man for his future and unknown wife. The problem is, if you are just focused on pleasing yourself, you are going to end up by yourself.th

So to help my fellow man, I’ve compiled a short list to help you begin working to become the man of every woman’s dreams—or at least not a man of every woman’s nightmares. I’ve made many mistakes on my way to getting married. I’ve also gotten to see a lot of other guys make mistakes during their bachelor years. This list comes from many of those experiences.

Now, when I refer to “single guys,” I’m not talking about being without a girlfriend, although many of these things can contribute to that too. I’m talking about single as in what you have to put on your taxes. Unmarried.

Keep in mind that just because you stop making these mistakes does not mean a wife will appear on your doorstep. But your odds of husbandhood will increase dramatically.

**Results may vary according to personality and God’s will.**

1. You don’t clean anything.

Of all my mistakes made in my single years, I may be most ashamed of this. My room in college was so bad that literally you could not see the carpet. My belongings and clothes didn’t just cover the floor, it was in layers—like stratified geologic timeline, layers. The deeper I dug, the farther in the past I could travel, finding things that were months old just lying there. Instead of stepping on my stuff—you never know what your foot may crunch on—I perfected the eight-foot jump from my door to my bed. (Which of course was not on a bed frame or box-spring. Just on the floor.)

When Rebecca and I were dating, she one time saw my bathroom and started crying. Wish I was joking.

If you don’t know how to take care of your space, it reflects on you. That doesn’t mean you need to be OCD and vacuum every speck of dust as it appears. But you should have a general cleanliness that proves you live in a developed country with electricity.

Hot tip: Cleanliness will automatically set you apart from the pack because so many men neglect it.

Laundry is good too.

2. You don’t clean yourself.

Learn how to keep yourself well-groomed. This means you take showers and actually use the soap and shampoo. Don’t forget to put deodorant on.

And shave. The patchy mustache may be fun for your guy friends but according to an informal poll I took of four women I randomly asked, they do not share your sentiments. Most women don’t think it’s as funny as you do.

Also the hair. Unless you know the girl you are into likes long hair, keep it shorter and nice. You don’t need to have some sort of fancy hipster Prohibition-era cut, but you should look like you have a job and a home. Which brings me to my next point.

3. You don’t have a job and are not working towards one.

Some may take issue with this but I think it’s important. Guys, we were created to work. To get callouses on our hands. To get dirt under our fingernails. To sweat. To create. To cultivate. To provide.

If you don’t have money for a date, you shouldn’t try to go on them. And you definitely shouldn’t try to make her pay for one.

If you don’t have a job but are pursuing one, that’s better than being static on the couch while your mom cooks up your Hot Pockets for you. Of course there are exceptions because of circumstances, but most likely you don’t qualify for such an exception.

4. You spend more time with pixels than people.

This includes video games, TV, movies, iPhone, iPad, social media, Candy Crush, or whatever. You eventually need to go outside. Learn to interact with flesh and blood. Learn to have real life conversations where you talk about more than just the latest Halo game or fantasy football league.

Learn to feel what other people feel. It’s called relationships and community. Just like we were created to work, we were created to know and be known. Your shoot-em-up buddies on Xbox Live from Sweden do not count.

If you don’t know how to interact with people, than you will not know how to treat a woman.

5. You are addicted to pornography

On a more serious note.

She may not know about your addiction, but I don’t care. You are not fit to date any daughter of God until you get this under control, let alone marry them.

This is not an unfair standard.

Much porn is linked to prostitution (Normally under-aged prostitution). If you are viewing pornography, even on “free” websites, you are feeding a monstrous system that preys on young and vulnerable women who have no power. At the very least, you are perpetuating a culture that objectifies women and treats them as objects to be used instead of women made in the image of God, whom Jesus loves and died for. Those women are daughters, sisters, and even mothers.

If you think it’s not as big of a deal as it is, read my series for the Ekklesia blog on pornography. It’s a big deal.

Get help and kill your sin.

Women: Don’t lower your standards. You deserve better.

6. You don’t know how to lead.

Specifically, I’m talking about leading spiritually. You should know how to point everyone around you to Christ—especially a woman you’re dating.

You know you’re ready to lead spiritually when you’re able to lead yourself spiritually. This means, you’re disciplined in your relationship with Christ. You know how to study the Bible. You’re a part of a vibrant church that preaches the Gospel and upholds Scripture. You seek the Lord in prayer. You serve your church and give to your church. And so many more things.

Ultimately, it’s not about going through a checklist of things and magically becoming ready to lead. It’s about your heart (Matthew 6:21). Is Christ the greatest treasure of your life? If not, then you need to work on that first.

If something else is the greatest treasure of your life, you don’t know how to lead yourself spiritually, let alone a woman. If you’re not leading, then very easily your sin will lead. If your sin is leading, then you may drag one of God’s daughters down with you. If your relationship is not about Jesus or honoring Him, then you’re not loving her like she deserves to be loved.

7. You don’t pursue women.

Assuming you’ve worked on the previous six problems, if you want to marry a woman, you must first talk to one—actually get to know one.

Don’t sit around and wait for her to come to you. She may never walk up to you because your silence is telling her that you’re not interested. You know what’s going to happen? Some other guy is going to come in and make her feel like a million dollars. Guess which guy she’ll be getting coffee with the next day?

But don’t overcompensate and be a player—or obnoxious. Making multiple women at the same time think you are interested in them is not pursuing a woman. That’s toying with their emotions. You’re using them.

To pursue a woman you have to get to know her. Ask her questions. What are her dreams, hopes, fears, desires, hurts? You should talk less about yourself and more about her.

If you’re growing in these things, pursuing Christ, and you see a woman you’re interested in, calm down. Take a deep breath. Put yourself out there. But this is important to know: If she says no or doesn’t seem to show interest, it means no, so don’t keep bugging her (It’s cute in the movies but creepy in real life). If she says yes, get to know her and see what adventures happen next.

I’m sure I could’ve added more, but seven felt like a good number. If you have more suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comment section!

What I’ve Learned as a New Parent So Far

Real Men Change DiapersIt’s been eight weeks from yesterday since I became a new parent.

While Rebecca was pregnant with Madeline, the number one thing, by far, other parents told me was, “everything is going to change” (Even total strangers would say this to me, no joke). At the time, I had no idea why they felt this was profound wisdom. I knew things would change—it’s simple math that two is different than three—but I had no idea to what degree that change would be.

Right away when Madeline was born, it hit me: There’s no return receipt. She’s here in your arms. You’ve taken out a lease on a human for the next eighteen years. Hope you’re ready, Dad, because it’s happening anyways.

That sounds kind of scary (It was and sometimes still is) but I would never change it for the world. Now, almost two months into this game of parenthood, I’ve realized that the changes never stop and neither do the lessons. I by no means am an expert at parenting—not even close—but I’m learning tons of things through taking care of this little bundle of joy and diapers.

Here’s just a snapshot, in no particular order.

The Love of a Parent Is Different
That’s really the best way I can put it. Different.

It’s not the same kind of love I have for my wife. The love Rebecca and I have in our marriage is work (more on that later), and it was cultivated over a long period of time. I showed up at her house one evening and kept bugging her for two years until she married me. We have ups and we have downs. It’s beautiful and it’s terrifying. Our relationship has to be continually nurtured. If we were to completely ignore each other, our love would grow cold and stale. It’s hard but it’s amazing. That’s marriage.

But the love I have for Madeline is completely different. The second she arrived on this earth, I loved her. I was tired, she was slimy and screaming, but I loved her. We don’t really have a relationship yet because she doesn’t know English. She hasn’t contributed anything to our family except human waste. She hasn’t done anything to earn my love. But I love her. I delight in her. I could stare at her for hours while she just kicks her feet. I want to protect her and give her everything she needs. She doesn’t need to give me anything.

I imagine that’s similar to how the Father loves us. We are poop-covered, crying babies, and God looks at us with loving eyes—delighting in us. That’s grace.

It’s Easy to Neglect Your Marriage When a Parent
I’d heard this one before and seen it happen to other couples, but it was another thing to experience it.

Before Madeline was born, it was fairly simple to find quality time with my wife. It was only the two of us at home and so it would just organically and spontaneously happen. But with the baby here, we’ve been on a continuous three hour loop: feed the baby, change the baby’s diaper, play with the baby, put the baby to sleep, take a deep breath, rinse and repeat. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day but you get older and more sleepy.

On top of that cycle, I have full-time work at Ekklesia and my wife is also trying to take care of the apartment. Oh yes, and we have to do these things called eating and sleeping. Add all of that up and what you get is two really tired spouses who love watching TV and sitting on the couch.

It took us about seven and a half weeks to realize that wasn’t working very well. One day we actually talked (What a novel concept!) and it felt like being with an old friend who had just returned from a long trip. We’d spent hours upon hours together and yet it felt like we hadn’t seen each other for weeks.

It’s easy to fall into the routine of just coexisting in marriage. Kids can easily dominate your relationship and dictate everything. I don’t want to send Madeline off to college and then return home, look at my wife and say, “Who are you?”

Pray Continuously
As I’ve shared earlier, I’m prone to worry and control-freaking. Having a newborn is just one more chance for me to spaz out.

I have to continuously pray because it reminds me that although I am not in control, God is. He loves Madeline far more than I ever could. He has a plan for her far better than I could ever create.

Prayer allows me to place Madeline into God’s hands and feel okay about it. It’s actually a freeing thing to know you are not in control.

Prayer also reminds me Who this is all for. I am not a parent in order to fix my deep identity issues or validate myself as a man. I am a parent to glorify God, exemplify the love of the Father, and point Madeline to the Gospel.

These are lessons I am still learning and will continually learn. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

We Were Created to Work

danger-man-at-work-hiMany people have a love/hate relationship with the word “work.” They like the idea of accomplishing goals and earning their keep, but the actual sweat and effort makes them squirm.

I often hear men boys complain about their workload—the hours are long, the work is menial, their boss is a tyrant, the amount of homework stresses them out, it hurts their fingers—but then with a little bravado in their voice they announce, “Well, it’s just my cross to bear. Work is a part of the Fall. Thanks a lot, Eve,” and then they’re applauded for their perseverance.

CREATED TO WORK

Those guys are wrong. Work is actually not a part of the Fall. Adam began working the very day he was created. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”

Work has always been a part of God’s original design for mankind. We were created to work. We were created to cultivate. We were created to create.

What comes with the Fall is not the reality of work but the cursing of our work (Gen. 3:17-19). Now what we create resists. What we cultivate rebels just like we did to God.

Sin has entered into our work. Instead of working to spread the glory of God, we gravitate towards two different extremes—laziness or idolatry. One man may hide between his parents’ couch cushions to avoid working too hard at Taco Bell. The other works 90 hour weeks, neglects his family, his faith, and his health, all for a corner office.

Both are sin.

Work is a lot more difficult now, but we are still called to work and that work can still be good.

WHO’S THE BOSS

We were created to work but not for ourselves and not to create our own meaning. We work and create because—being made in the image of God—we are to reflect the God who created the world and works in human lives.

Our work is worship to Him. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

You can be a pastor, a lawyer, a mailman, a student, a plumber, a stay-at-home mother, an accountant, or a barista and work hard and well, remembering the whole time your true employer is Jesus Christ. Negative attitudes and half-hearted service wouldn’t please an earthly boss, let alone our Heavenly One.

Jesus died that we would reflect Him in every aspect of our lives. How we flip burgers is not of little value. Everything matters.

That truth should encourage us to make those lattes or crunch those numbers to the best of our abilities—to the glory of Christ. Through your work you can show others how great your God is, that His transforming power infiltrates even the littlest of actions.

You don’t need a seminary degree or a title for permission to minister full-time as a vocation. A banker can make just as much an impact for the Kingdom as a pastor. But this is only possible if our work is for Christ and not ourselves. He is our Lord and Savior and He is the only One who can give our work true meaning.

For further reading check out Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.

This post was adapted from a previous post by me on the Ekklesia Eugene blog.

Awkward Men and Biblical Sisters

The Bible really only gives three different ways a man ought to relate to women: mothers, sisters, and a wife. Paul exhorts men to treat “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2).

Men, you may notice that there is no category of “potentials” or “neutrals.” If they are not your wife, then they are your mother or sister in Christ, that’s it. And so for all men (especially single men), you need to treat the young women around you as you would treat your very own sister.

Normally, 1 Timothy 5:2 is used by leaders with the intent to keep men from lusting after the women in the church and from messing around with them sexually. Most of the conversations take place like this:

Youth pastor: You would never undress your sister with your eyes, right?

Young men: Gross!

Youth pastor: You would never make-out with your sister and so hinder her walk with God, right?

Young men: That’s so wrong on so many levels!

Youth pastor: That’s what happens when you lust after or commit sexual acts with your sisters in Christ.

(All the young men shudder in fear)

It is great to pursue purity and that is definitely one of the desired effects of Paul’s writing to Timothy, but too many men miss the big picture that Paul is trying to communicate.

Instead, they overcompensate.

When they interact with a woman, eyes are on the ground or sky—it’s “Hi. Bye.”—and then back to business. Heaven forbid that they have a conversation with a woman. Their fear of being smitten (or smote) by God—as opposed to being smitten with a woman—ends up manifesting itself as awkwardness and cowardice. They possess the right heart to avoid sin but the end result is a very selfish attitude.

This is not how real brothers treat real sisters.

A real brother not only treats his sister with all manner of purity but loves her at the same time. He loves her through seeking her highest good. He talks to her. He protects her. He encourages her. He builds her up. He has a friendship with her. He serves her. He sets an example for her. He points her towards Christ.

A good brother isn’t consumed with fears of sinning with or against his sister. He really doesn’t think about himself at all. He simply—and purely—finds joy in giving his sister the best.

Translate this over to the church. Christian men, both married and single, need to realize that we have been adopted into a family that in many ways is more real than even our earthly family. Because of that, we have a lot of sisters.

Yes, these sisters need us to treat them purely, but it needs to be so much more than that. A Christian man should be able to seek the best for every Christian woman he encounters. He should be able to love her as Christ loves her.

Instead of walking around thinking about baseball stats to push out impure thoughts, Christian men should focus on protecting those women. We should care for them, encourage them, have friendships with them, and serve them. No ulterior motives. No seeking anything in return.

Doesn’t mean you are the flirty guy. It doesn’t mean you become best friends with every woman in the church. What is does mean is that you are committed as a man to protecting the spiritual well-being of the women of the church.

Now, that means different things for you with different women. Sometimes, you can be close friends. Sometimes, you need to keep your distance.

But don’t be perverted, awkward, or afraid, instead ask yourself always, in every interaction, am I pointing her towards Christ?