Dating can be so hard.
Many are asking the question, How do I know who is right for me?
And a lot of people are answering that question with, I guess I’ll date around to find out. If I date six people before I find the right one, then I’ll really know what I’m looking for.
But are we asking the right question? The central question shouldn’t be “How do I know who is right for me?” or “What qualities should they have?” Rather, we ought to be concerned with preparing ourselves for marriage. Now is a great time to ask yourself questions like, Am I trustworthy? Do I serve others? Am I responsible?
More importantly, are you in a place with God that would indicate you’re ready to date? Are you treasuring Christ above all? In Philippians 3:1-11, Paul gives us an example of what it looks like to treasure Christ. He says he counts everything that was valuable to him as loss in order that he may gain Christ. But how is Christ gain? What does it look like to treasure Christ?
Paul’s answer: the surpassing worth is found in knowing Christ Jesus his Lord. In other words, it’s an all-satisfying relationship.
Your dating relationships will fail unless you realize your satisfaction is found in Christ first. Otherwise, both people will be seeking fulfillment in one another, and will be disappointed when their partner fails.
You were ultimately made for a relationship … with Christ! Being in the right relationship with Christ is the only way towards the truest form of satisfaction.
So let’s make sure the most our attention is on our personal growth, but then it’s time to consider some qualifications to see if this person is the right person for you to date.
It’s vital to focus on your own spiritual vitality at this point in your life. That being said, it’s also important to choose to date someone that has certain characteristics. You must choose wisely the sort of person you will love and serve in a lifelong marriage commitment.
Three qualifications before we start.
- The qualities that I will list are simply the attributes of a Christian man or woman. In other words, if you love Jesus, you need to be looking for someone else who loves Jesus. All we’re doing is giving qualities that ought to exist in real male and female followers of Jesus.
- “Trajectory” is the keyword here. These are ideals, but you also have to be realistic. You aren’t looking for perfection; you’re looking for a person who is growing, wants to continue growing, and will continue to grow. We’re offering guidelines.
- Each of these statements says, “Look for someone who has this quality.” But that gives the impression that you’ll be looking for someone on your own. This is not the way the process should go. You should not independently select and begin dating someone. Instead, this whole process of “looking” for someone to date-unto-marriage is a family and community affair. Parents should be consulted, as well as other trusted believers, and wise friends and mentors, about a prospective date (“Is this the type of guy you would choose for me?”). It is also good to be in close communication with the parents of the person you’re pursuing.
Looking for the Right Man
1. He loves Jesus above all else, including you.
Unfortunately, it may seem like there are not many men out there. There are many who say they are Christians who don’t really love Christ. Not many men are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the good news about Jesus. But, don’t lose hope, there are men out there who are genuine Christians.
Find a man who genuinely treasures Christ above everything. If you do, you will not be disappointed. If you love Christ, find a guy who does too, and you’ll be very glad you did. This is particularly important because all of the other characteristics simply won’t be present if love for Christ isn’t.
2. He is devoted to God’s Word.
Marry a man who is firmly planted in God’s Word and bears the fruit of love for God and others.
A guy’s devotion to Christ will be clear through his devotion to prayer and God’s Word. He will not be able to lead well, love deeply, or sacrifice selflessly if he’s not receiving power from God through his word and prayer.
Find a guy who cherishes, talks about, and lives out God’s Word.
3. He loves you more than himself.
Paul encourages Christians in Philippians 2:3-4, writing, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (ESV).
Don’t settle for a guy who’s always looking out for his own interests. If he’s self-obsessed, always talking about himself and his “achievements,” don’t waste your time with him.
Look for a guy who finds his delight in the highest joy of others—in Christ. Look for a guy who serves, who lays down his life, for the best interests of others.
4. He is full of humility.
Peter exhorts the church congregation. “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble'” (1 Peter 5:5 ESV).
I don’t think you want to be with a man that God is opposed to.
Many men are plagued by a desire to exalt themselves. Pride and arrogance can take many forms. There is religious pride: look at how spiritually great I am. Or athletic pride: look at my physical prowess. There’s even relational pride: look at how popular I am. Look at me! And our culture exalts arrogant men who say, “Look at me!”
All of us struggle with pride. Yet there’s a pursuit of humility that is beautiful in guys who really know their sin, and really know Christ. Does the man you want to pursue a relationship with exemplify humility? Or is he cocky, arrogant, self-consumed, self-righteous, or self-centered?
5. He loves church more than the world.
Not all men will go into full-time vocational ministry—but all men are expected to love and serve God’s people. Find a young man who pours himself out in ministry.
Don’t be content with someone who just shows up on Sunday, quickly shuffling in right before the sermon, shuffling out even quicker before it ends. Find a man whose life is marked by a love for God’s people. Those marks would look like deep involvement in the life of his church, serving in important ways.
6. He is a protector.
Remember what Adam was doing when Eve was being seduced by Satan? Nothing! One of the sins that accompanied the first sin in the Garden was male passivity and inactivity. He should have protected his wife physically, emotionally, and spiritually by killing that serpent. But he didn’t.
And this passivity is a disease that continues to infect men today. In men, there’s an evil tendency to be passive, unintentional, irresponsible, and to shrink from the duty to protect.
So what does a guy look like who will be a protector? In general, it’s a man who looks out for a woman’s best interest.
He is willing to step up and protect her from physical harm and danger. Even if he is not physically strong, he will do whatever it takes to protect her from physical harm. He is willing to speak up when a lady is being degraded or mistreated.
He’s also willing to protect her emotionally and spiritually. In dating relationships, men assume no biblical authority over women (re-read that. Only a husband has leadership over his wife, biblically speaking. Read Ephesians 5). But men ought to be concerned with the purity of their relationship. Women are, of course, responsible to God for their purity, and the right man encourages her in her obedience to God. He does this by honoring her in seeking to keep his way pure. He doesn’t pressure her into physical intimacy or inappropriate emotional intimacy.
Rather, he promotes her spiritual well-being by seeking to outdo her in honor (Romans 12:10).
Dating to Marry
So hopefully we have provided you with some helpful guidelines to help answer the question, “Who is right for me?” There are so many other factors involved in choosing a spouse.
It’s important to remember that our culture looks very different from the cultural setting in which the Bible was written. The Bible doesn’t address the specific ins-and-outs of modern day dating. But, God has promised that “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV). As you grow to know God better through his Word, he will provide you with the wisdom and guidance you need (Psalm 73:24). And his Word is sufficient for every situation you find yourself in. Seek God through his Word as you date.
Also be serious as you date. The Bible does talk a great deal about marriage, and tells us that it’s a profound mystery (Ephesians 5:32). God designed us to give a lifelong commitment physically, spiritually, and emotionally to one person, solidified by a covenant. Remember that the person you’re dating is one of two options—your spouse, or someone else’s. Treat them in a way that if you end up not being their spouse, their spouse would thank you for the time you spent with them.
Finally, be prayerful. In Romans 12:9-12 we find an exhortation for how to treat our fellow believers. It’s a wonderful passage to pray for you and the person you’re pursuing as you date:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)