In the early stages of my matrimonial journey, I experienced an unexpected revelation: I was inadequately prepared for the role of a godly husband. I had been under the impression that routine devotions, church attendance, involvement in a small group, and premarital counseling would arm me with all the necessary tools to navigate the challenges of married life. Much to my surprise, they didn’t.
Our marital euphoria gradually gave way to quarrels and misunderstandings, intensifying to the point where our counselor had to remind us of Galatians 5:15’s stern warning against “biting and devouring each other.” My unpreparedness surfaced in different ways – struggling to guide my wife spiritually, failing to initiate difficult conversations, and faltering in reconciliation after disagreements. I was woefully clueless about how to turn things around.
In the years that followed, my wife and I encountered many Christian men and women who had experienced similar frustrations. Christian women often expressed disappointment over the apparent shortage of men prepared for marriage, while men either didn’t recognize their lack of preparation or were unsure how to prepare. If I could go back and give advice to my unmarried self, I would emphasize the importance of developing a robust plan in preparation for marriage, urging him to seek God wholeheartedly and strive to become a proficient leader, provider, and protector.
The Pursuit of God: A Lifelong Journey
Building a solid foundation for marriage begins with regular encounters with God. We must endeavor to experience His glory, greatness, and grace through Scripture. We need to continuously rediscover the wonder and awe of God, as stated in Psalm 145:3, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” Much like Paul in Philippians 3:8, we should deem everything else as secondary to the pursuit of knowing Christ Jesus.
C.S. Lewis beautifully describes God’s invitation to “come further up and further in.” An ever-deepening understanding of God is worth infinitely more than a million marital tips and tricks. However, many of us might have felt a certain coldness or indifference while reading the Bible. It is, therefore, essential to meditate on the scripture, which helps bring new warmth to our souls (Psalm 1:2).
Engaging in meditation may prove to be challenging in our fast-paced, distraction-filled world. However, it’s crucial to reserve our best discretionary time for Bible reading, typically when we are most rested and undistracted. Begin your reading with a prayer for enlightenment, and when the prayer is answered, take your time to absorb the revelations.
Becoming a Leader, Provider, and Protector
While the pursuit of God provides the fuel and strength men need to grow into their roles, preparing for marriage involves more than this pursuit. God’s calling on men involves developing as leaders, providers, and protectors, roles that God assigned to Adam in Genesis 2 even before Eve’s creation or the Fall.
To become better leaders, men can practice humble initiative, embodying both strength and humility, characteristics embodied by Jesus, our ultimate exemplar. Men should be aware of their tendencies towards either arrogant initiative or selfish passivity and actively work to grow and change.
As providers, men are tasked with primary provision for their families. This doesn’t necessarily mean the husband will be the sole breadwinner, but it does mean he will take ultimate responsibility for ensuring his family’s physical and spiritual needs are met. Even before marriage, men can adopt this role by working hard for the right reasons, with the aim of serving God and others.
As protectors, men are called to face danger, if necessary, to safeguard their wives, just as Jesus sacrificed His life for His church. There are countless opportunities to practice this protection role. We live in a world filled with injustices, and Godly men step in to make a difference. Furthermore, spiritual protection involves believing in God deeply and being ready to face resistance when speaking truth in love.
Seeking Guidance from Godly Men
Alongside seeking God and striving to fulfill His callings, it is invaluable for men to seek guidance from a Godly married man who can provide mentorship. Proactively find someone you respect, willing to be open, and spend time with him and his family. Ask him about the lessons learned from his successes and failures in marriage and think about how you could implement those lessons into your own life.
As men, whether we marry one day or not, we are all called to pursue Christ relentlessly (Philippians 3:8–12). However, as we seek Christ and mature as leaders, providers, and protectors, we’ll be better equipped to date — and ultimately marry — a Godly woman, should that be God’s will.