In my last post I began talking about this idea of being a servant leader that we toss around in Christian circles. I’m not going to rehash all of that here. You might start by reading that post. Today I want to talk about the servant part and in another post I’ll talk about the leadership side.
I want to clarify a couple of things quickly. I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t serve people. Not at all. We often should. Again, Jesus served. He called us to serve others. What I’m suggesting that serving and leadership are not the same and our motive for serving matters.
Jesus did not serve in order to gain followers. He didn’t serve to earn relationships. The reason Jesus is the greatest servant is because he didn’t have to serve at all and yet chose to. Not only that, but He gave the ultimate service in dying for us. Jesus served His followers. But again He didn’t serve to get followers.
Not only that, but Jesus knew what people actually needed not just what they wanted. He didn’t serve them based on what or how they wanted to be served. Think of the washing of the disciples’ feet. At no point did the disciples think, “we’ll like Jesus more and follow Him more if He would wash our feet.” In fact Peter saw it as an affront at first. He knew who Jesus was (or at least was coming to know) and he knew that Jesus was the one who should be served. That’s what made it so incredible.
So what does this have to do with being a single man in the church? Here are some thoughts.
First of all, we need to understand a very important fact. Despite what we are sometimes lead to believe by evangelical leaders, you can not serve your way to attraction. What I mean is that there can be this idea that if I serve a woman she will be attracted to me.
Let’s say you really like a girl. You are attracted to her and you want her to be attracted to you. One line of thought is that you need to get to know her and do things for her or even “minister” to her. She is moving and needs help so you volunteer to help move her. You’re in college and she needs help studying so you help her study. You offer to carry things for her. You open every door for her. You look for every opportunity to serve her. She is going through a hard time and you are “there for her”.
Those are all fine things. But none of those things will make her attracted to you. If she is already attracted to you, those sorts of things could help advance the relationship at some level. But they are probably at best neutral in terms of attraction. However, if she is not attracted to you and she knows you are attracted to her it could be a negative. You could end up in the nice guy/friend zone. You are meeting her needs which is great for her, but that won’t make her attracted to you.
On top of that, and this gets back to how Jesus served, if you are serving to get her to like you (be attracted) really you aren’t being a servant. There are strings attached. Women see right through this. They might take the help. But that’s as far as it is going.
This is one of the ways that nice guys get clobbered over and over. “I did all of this for her and yet she chose this other guy. He does’t do anything for her . . . ” Well that might be true. But too bad. First of all, that’s not part of the deal. Service means just that. Pure servanthood operates without expecting anything back. Also it doesn’t matter because if the other guy who doesn’t serve her is who she is attracted to, then . . . well . . . she is attracted to him.
What I’m saying here is that serving the girl is fine. That’s your choice. But if you do it so that she will date you, then that’s really on you.
Jesus served out of strength. He did it out of love. Not romantic love or “feelings” love. He doesn’t call us to do it out of those things either. He wasn’t qualifying himself as worth being with by serving. He was already worth being with and they knew it.
This by the way carries over into marriage. We tend to sell guys on this idea that if they do certain things they will get certain results. Serve your wife to “earn” points (I’ve actually seen Christian leaders say things like this). But that’s not sacrificial service. That’s selfish service. It’s for sure not leadership. I don’t do the dishes so that my wife will like me better. I do it because why should I not do it. I do it because she made a great meal and the least I can do is help clean up. But I don’t do it expecting her to have sex with me. And I’m not counting on it making her want to. I’m for sure not doing it to bank “points”.
Let me be clear once again. I’m not anti serving. But I’m saying don’t serve with an expectation of a result for you. Don’t serve to be more attractive because it won’t make you more attractive. Don’t serve to get something in return. Serving is not a tactic. And it won’t work.
Finally let me add this. If you are serving someone in an effort to chase or get them to like you, I’d stop. Stop being the nice guy. Stop putting yourself in the friend zone. Stop trying to earn it. Don’t be used in that way. I spent significant time there in my life. It’s not effective and it won’t help you. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
Well said. And clearly explained.
Let me pose a thought that is perhaps hindering Christian men as well…..
I have been telling younger men who are trying to date, or get a girl to date them, or at least notice them the following.
Don’t do anything for them. (gasp!) I am sure many Christian women will disagree with me, and I am not dating anyone and won’t be at this point…..it’s a younger guys game / scene. It’s not the same for an older gal or guy trying to date, or find a girlfriend / boyfriend. It isn’t. The reason for this is “time passed”, mistakes made, and hopefully wisdom gained. Both if they are mature Christians at this point, they should know what was done or not done and actually should be transparent on who they are at this age.
I am not expert on women, attraction, dating, sex, or romance……so I have just as much input as all the “experts” do because what they are telling younger men (under the age of 35) to do in Christian culture is batting about 600 and still isn’t working.
Don’t do anything for her. Don’t fix her ‘stupid’ computer. Don’t comfort her from a bad break up. Don’t change the oil in her car. Don’t guard ‘her heart’ and don’t ‘pine’ for her from afar. Don’t offer her to watch her kids while she has a “mom’s night out” with other church women. If you are the guy who is watching her kids while she has a “night out” in fellowship…….she will NEVER date you or like you in a way that speaks dating / marriage. I don’t care what your pastor says, or the Christian pundits say. “Doing things” for her is a
The advice I give is that you offer her prayer when she tells you about her complicated life. You are to lead a life of upstanding character in your Christian walk….you want her inspired and her to desire you in her life. You want to serve in the church for serving sake, not to gain points with the infamous “they” in the church community, including women.
This is why men need REAL fellowship in the Body. They need to really identify their gifts, their strengths, and what they can offer the body in service. They must be utilized, honed, polished and exemplified. Whatever they are. Men must identify these gifts and demand perfection of them. Prayer is key as well. Lots of prayer. The “prayer meeting” is all but dead in most churches today. All Believers must pray, but men really need to be in prayer to get the clear direction…..and prayer doesn’t happen by workshops, or boring Bible studies. It happens when the man understands his personal relationship and begins to pray.
What confuses a lot of men is these two situations:
*If he doesn’t do anything, she’ll never get to know him and thus nothing happens
*If he does do something, he becomes the “really nice guy who is gonna make some woman so happy someday / friendzoned / too serious / not serious enough / comes off as creepy
The balance is to be your own man in Christ. Not to become “the man God wants you to be” (this popular Christian buzz-phrase needs to stop being used). I have noticed that confidence in Christ alone seeps deeply into other areas in a man’s life. Suddenly he’s decided to get out of debt. He decided to change other areas to strive and conform himself to Christ. He feels better about himself. He’s taking on things that he thought he could not do. All of this starts with serious prayer, and discipline. It doesn’t start with ‘doing nice things for that pretty Christian girl’
end of my sentence on paragraph “Doing things for her is a sure fire ticket to being friendzoned, with no way out. Ever.”
FWIW, I agree with you about not doing things for women (as a woman). If a man is doing something for me that I can do myself, it’s just annoying and obvious (I’m not talking about manners like holding open the door). If it’s something that I need help with, I don’t want to feel like I owe him anything. I don’t think you’d be friend zoned if she actually likes you but it’s not going to get you out of the friend zone if you have already been placed there.
I like Justin’s explanation better because he isn’t saying you can’t do nice things for a woman. I think you can do nice things for a woman and be ‘supportive’ of her and have it work in your favor so to speak. You just need the right social judgement that determines when to say yes and when to say no. You can over do it – you can come across as pandering. However, you can also come across as kind and thoughtful and still be considered ‘relationship material’.
And what is to keep men who have the gift of celibacy from being dumped into the nice guy/friend zone? How do we advance a relationship to beyond “just friends”? As you pointed out, our culture today expects all single men to pursue marriage. The church hammers it home every opportunity they get. It’s a biblical truth for them that true love equals marital love equals sex. Young people today learn that at a very young age. True love wiaits, right? Unfortunately, it’s a lose-lose situation for people who do not choose marriage. That’s why I tape my mouth shut if I visit a church. If I say hello to a woman, I’m “making a move.” And if I don’t say anything, I’m a stuckup snob. Yes, pure servanthood operates without expecting anything back. But how can that happen if the church expects all single men to marry and interprets every whisper they make from that standpoint? How can it happen if the largest Protestant denomination in North America won’t even hire single men to be preachers?
Well I have a couple of thoughts. First, you’re right. Especially in that because we have no place in the Protestant church for those with the gift of celibacy there is no help in any interactions, let alone interactions with women. So until we fix the theology and the view points you mention then you’re probably right, the celibate man ends up friend zoned so to speak, even if he doesn’t care that he’s a friend and that’s actually all he ever desires. That’s a good point. My post does assume that the man is looking to get married – although certainly my blog doesn’t as a whole. But since all of protestantism assumes that everyone has to be married, then as you and I both know, it creates a mess. The starting point is wrong to begin with. And that plays out in everything, including this arena.
Good points. Oftentimes, I think I’m closer to my friends than some men are to their wives.
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