Godly Ambition Does Not Mean Pleasing Women

In my previous post, Justin brought up a good point:

“First, the Christian men that are “good guys” could use a little–what’s the word I’m looking for – ambition.”

Hmm, which one of the traditional Christian virtues is that? Which Bible teaching instructs men to be ambitious about worldly pursuits?

John McArthur offers clarification on this point.

In speaking about Paul, he says:

“He had ambition, first of all, that went high, verse 9. “We have as our ambition whether at home or absent to be pleasing to Him.” Just look at the phrase “to be pleasing to Him.” That separates spiritual ambition from sinful ambition. Paul never sought great things for himself, he always sought great things for God. The Apostle is like a violinist who cares not for the audience applause but for the smile of the master who taught him. He lived to please the Lord. Everything he did he did to the glory of the Lord.”

Basically the only ambition Christians (women included) should have is in pleasing the Lord, in pleasing HIM. This does NOT mean primarily pleasing women, as much as many would like. Christian ambition is not about pleasing women, feminists, men, the world, or even ourselves. This is what many will find so upsetting. I’m sure some will say that in pursuing worldly ambitions, you end up pleasing women and this in extension will please the Lord, but that is certainly a stretch. The aim should be God first and all others second. Paul did not seek great things for himself or others as the “Manning up” message forces Christian men to do. He rather sought great things for God. His focus was on Him rather than on the many hoops women and society can make a man jump through. If in a man’s aim to please God he happens to end up with a successful career that benefits himself and family, that then is the best of both worlds. It is a backwards approach though to aim at pleasing the world first and then hope that God will be satisfied with whatever hoops you jump through.

“In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 he really makes some very, very powerful statements about this. Verse 3, he says, “To me it’s a very small thing that I should be examined by you or by any human court.” It is a minor detail in my life to be examined by people. I really have little regard for what you think or what any human tribunal things. Any evaluation by people has very limited value to me.”

Now he’s not saying that in an unhealthy attitude. “I don’t care what you think” attitude which betrays some kind of open display of indifference. But he is simply saying, “At the end of the day I don’t do what I do for your approval. My accountability really is not to you, it’s way beyond that. There is a higher court than any human court.” He even goes on to say, “I don’t even examine myself, I’m conscious of nothing against myself, yet I’m not by this acquitted.”

“At the end of the day I don’t do what I do for your approval. My accountability really is not to you, it’s way beyond that. There is a higher court than any human court.”

I suspect Christian men do not hear that message enough and why would they as it competes and takes away attention from women and the world. It also is the complete opposite of the “manning up” message. “Manning up” is about doing things for human/societal approval. The motivations behind “Manning up” is not to “man up” for God, to please Him, its so women can get married and have their ‘happily ever after’.

We are seeing a growing movement of men who are taking on the above attitude. Whether these men are Christian or not, it still sends a powerful message and cannot be ignored under the “manning up” banner. Men have ambitions, its just not towards women (and this is where the outrage stems). If the man is Christian, his ambition (if biblically understood) is in pleasing the Lord and if a man is not a Christian his ambitions may just be in pleasing himself in the interests of self-preservation (which cannot be judged as a bad thing if the man does not profess to being Christian).

“What motivates you? No earthly reward, no earthly honor, no earthly threat, no earthly possibility, no earthly circumstance, no earthly opportunity motivated Paul. He could take it all.”

By Kevin DeYoung’s standard of ambition, looks like Paul would have been categorized as one unambitious, unmotivated dude. What motivates Christian men should not be pleasing women. The loss of earthly honor that may come from not “manning up” should be of no concern. Saying this will certainly get me in trouble with some traditionalists, but as mentioned above, I am not saying this for their approval.

If “godly ambition” is called for, let it be just that–ambition towards pleasing God. Let it not be used in vain to push man’s ambition towards pleasing the world.

Christian Manning Up

This article takes the cake for being the best example of a “man up” shaming lecture. What makes it so is not the usual talking points, but that it is Christian–proof that the feminism in Christianity cuts deep and if Christians can’t even figure out what is so very wrong about the tone and motivations of the article, there is no hope for their secular counterparts. The problem universally in our culture is with men and Christians and non-Christians continue to make this very clear.

Christian women are pleading: “Please speak to the men in our generation and tell them to be men.” Sound familiar? I suppose the difference with the Christian women in general (not all) is they have to get a male author or anyone other than their ‘oh so meek, feminine self’ to do the legwork for them. Christian women have no issue with taking action in their lives (such as college and careers), but when it comes to what they want in relationships they retreat to demure, helpless wall flowers who need a man who is man enough to tell other men to “man up”. They can’t take their dating life by the horns with the same fervor they took their college education.

Christian men are no doubt asking for women to be women as well. To demonstrate their desire to be women, not by rushing off to careers and taking on manly endeavors, but by being wives, mothers, and helpmates first and foremost.Women who take on manly endeavors and characteristics should not be surprised if men are taking on typically female characteristics, like being less “ambitious”.

“Go to almost any church and you’ll meet mature, intelligent, attractive Christian women who want to get married and virtually no men to pursue them.”

Really? I know commenters experiences and my own experiences will beg to differ. It took me awhile to find a church where the young women were not in mini-skirts, with bra straps showing, and texting away on their cell phones. It took me awhile to find a women’s bible study where gossiping and men bashing did not occur regularly. The women in theses churches and groups were not even close to thinking about marrying, but about college, grad schools, and “fun” dating until they were established. They certainly met worldly standards of maturity and intelligence, but were lacking in more Christian attributes of humility and wisdom.

Men do not think they need to pursue because Christian women have proven they do not have an issue biblically or otherwise to pursue something if they really, really want it. So, why is it different with men? They pursue with a passion careers, jobs, college, and even pastoral leadership, but when it comes to their dating life, they still have the old-fashioned notion that men are to do the pursuing. It just doesn’t add up and women can’t have it both ways. Either you are a pursuer and take on college, career, men, and all your dreams or you meekly and quietly submit to the plans of the Lord and learn to be content in whether you go to college or not or whether a man pursues you or not. There is an attitude of submission that still survives the modern church, but only when it comes to being pursued in dating. Before dating and I suspect after dating, in marriage, a modern Christian woman’s attitude reverts back to pursuer/conqueror/leader. It is just this narrow gap in a modern young woman’s life where she gets nostalgic for the old-fashioned values of being pursued. In short, men receive a mixed message from a woman who is ambitious in all other matters except her dating life.

“These women are often in graduate programs and may have started a career already. But they aren’t feminists. They are eager to embrace the roles of wife and mother. Most of the women I’ve met don’t object to the being a helpmate. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of mates to go around.”

Indeed, they have no problem getting serious about college and careers, but when it comes to getting married, they expect to just roll over and let the men come do all the work and shame them when they don’t. It may be one thing if we lived back in a pre-feminist era when women did not pursue college and careers, when men truly were expected to do the pursuing and courting, but modern Christian women can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist on being an independent career woman and take on the values of the modern world yet also shiver into an 1800 timid, Christian girl when it comes to dating. He insists these women are not feminists, but as my readers know there are also sheep that insist they are not wolves. A career woman with a cross around her neck does not negate her feminist choices. If women were truly eager to embrace wife and mother roles, they would have been serious about it at a young age, more serious than they were about their graduate program. Wife and motherhood should not be an afterthought if it is a priority. There are certainly mates to go around, just not good enough or man enough mates, in other words, mates they don’t want to help.

“First, the Christian men that are “good guys” could use a little–what’s the word I’m looking for–ambition. Every pastor has railed on video games at some point. But the problem is not really video games, it’s what gaming can (but doesn’t always) represent. It’s the picture of a 20something or 30something guy who doesn’t seem to want anything out of life. He may or may not have a job. He may or may not live with his parents. Those things are sometimes out of our control. There’s a difference between a down-on-his-luck fella charging hard to make something out of himself and a guy who seems content to watch movies, make enough to eat frozen pizzas in a one room apartment, play Madden, watch football 12 hours on Saturday, show up at church for an hour on Sunday and then go home to watch more football.”

There really is no sympathy here for the man who really is down on his luck, for the man who is struggling for identity in a struggling economy, which I believe makes up the majority of these alleged unambitious men. I wonder what would be the advice to a Christian woman who is dating or wants to date a young man who is going through a tough time. Is it “avoid them like the plaque” until you find Mr. Perfect (who can then later loose it all or his job in an instant) or can a lesson be learned that if you want to be a “helpmate” in marriage it may involve helping your mate in a “down-on-his-luck” situation.

“I don’t think young women are expecting Mr. Right to be a corporate executive with two houses, three cars, and a personality like Dale Carnegie. They just want a guy with some substance. A guy with plans. A guy with some intellectual depth. A guy who can winsomely take initiative and lead a conversation. A guy with consistency. A guy who no longer works at his play and plays with his faith. A guy with a little desire to succeed in life. A guy they can imagine providing for a family, praying with the kids at bedtime, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and being eager to take everyone to church on Sunday. Where are the dudes that will grow into men?”

I like how he suggests women don’t have such high standards as to expect an executive and three cars, but then goes on with a laundry list of items that women are to expect. His list may seem like more virtuous or Christian qualities than desiring an alpha with three cars, but the desires for perfection are the same. “Some substance” turns out to be a lot of substance and I have to wonder what happens to a man if he fails in any of these ways. If he fails to “lead a conversation”, to have the right level of “intellectual depth”, to “pray with the kids” and especially if he “fails to provide”, what will happen to those men, who cannot meet or sometimes come in short with Christian women expectations? Are young women equipped to deal with a less than perfect man or will they shame him or divorce him when he isn’t? Note it may not even be enough to take the family to church on Sunday, but he must also be “eager” in doing so.

“Men, you don’t have to be rich and you don’t have to climb corporate ladders. You don’t have to fix cars and grow a beard. But it’s time to take a little initiative–in the church, with your career, and with women. Stop circling around and start going somewhere. It’s probably a good idea to be more like your grandpa and less like Captain Jack Sparrow. Even less like Peter Pan. Show some godly ambition. Take some risks. Stop looking for play dates and–unless God is calling you to greater service through singleness–start looking for a wife.”

Yes, men, take initiative in a feminized church, in a feminized work place, and with less than feminized women!* “Circling around” sounds a lot like the secular article that says men are “thrashing around”. Aw, and cue the “Peter Pan” line. “Godly ambition” may come if women start to show “godly submission”, but as long as Christian women are out chasing worldly pursuits, pursuing degrees and fancy careers, there leaves little room for men to show ambition as the women are doing it for them.

*Sarcasm.