Author John Eldridge says a man’s most key stages of life for emotional development and leadership are the warrior stage and the lover stage.
In his warrior stage (late teens into 20’s), he is learning about perseverance.
In his lover stage (30’s and 40’s), he is learning about tenderness.
From his late teenage years into his 20’s, the warrior stage is where the young man thinks about what goals he wants to go after. He asking himself questions like:
What will my major in college be?
What type of girl will I date?
What standard of living do I want?
What character traits do I want to be known for by others?
How will I respond to temptation?
Am I going to persevere when I experience failure?
Will I endure when my heart gets broken?
I’ve had young men tell me, If my girlfriend breaks up with me that’s it, I’m not getting married. If she were to leave me, I’m giving up on love. If I become single, my life will be over for me.
And I’m like, You’re only 20 years old? There’s so much life ahead of you. And also, your girlfriend is your idol. And also, you need to know you’re not called to be whiner, you’re called to be a warrior. You’re called to persevere, to lean on the Spirit when under trials, disappointment and pain.
Women have a huge influence in this stage for men.
Ladies! Let him persevere for you! Let him prioritize you to show how important you are to him (not by his words but his daily actions) Let him fight in hardship for your relationship.
Young women should not get so easily emotionally wrapped up into a guy too early. Make him earn it.
Jesus wasn’t sent to earth as a 33 year old and then laid His life down for you. No, He had to earn His perfection. He fought temptation every day.
I know a lot of people think of Jesus on earth as this happy-go-lucky hippy who was always nice and listened to Simon and Garfunkel but Jesus was a warrior. He persevered under letdown and heartache and temptation. He lived for 33 years under that pressure, He earned it
Ladies, please make the man you’re dating earns your affection and commitment. Don’t make it easy on him because you’re afraid of being lonely. You deserve a warrior.
And married men, please know you still need to persevere for your wife.
Most men aren’t warriors, they’re hunters. They found their woman, hunted her down, put a ring on her finger and then shortly after stopped fighting for her, stopped prioritizing her, stopped serving her. Like a hunter they stopped their interest when the hunt was over but warriors serve and prioritize their wives every day. Warriors persevere in hardship for their wives every day. And they consider it an honor.
Pastor Tim Keller says, “For most of western history the primary and most valued characteristic of manhood was self-mastery. A man indulged in excessive eating, drinking, sleeping or who failed to rule himself was considered a waste, an unfit person to rule his household, much less be a leader in society.”
In the warrior stage a man learns to discipline himself. He leans on prayer and the Bible daily. He leans on Christian mentors and Christian friends to help him be disciplined so he’s prepared and held accountable to lead a godly household.
The biggest fear a woman has is abandonment. When a man doesn’t show her consistently that he will be there for her, she’s wondering if she can trust won’t be there in the storm and that he won’t prioritize her when it’s calm. Warriors persevere.
After a man learns about perseverance, he then can focus on being loving. Once he enters into his 30’s and 40’s where he is establish gin himself vocationally and in the home, he must learn about the habit of being tender to those around him.
In the Old Testament, David was a warrior. He was tough. As a shepherd, David killed lions and bears to save his sheep, He took down the giant Goliath with boldness. As a king, he took down invading nations with his army in battle. Certainly David was tough.
But he was also tender.
David was tough and tender Yes he’d slay giants and win battles and kill lions but he’d also sit down and get his little lyre guitar out and his harp out and write songs and poems expressing his emotions to God, himself and others. He had a balance of tough and tender.
Some men as employers are to tough, not tender, on their employees.
Some men as boyfriends are too tough on their girlfriends.
Husbands are too tough on their wives.
Fathers are too tough on their children.
On the other side of the coin there are men who aren’t too tough, instead, they’re way too tender. Having an extreme of tenderness can turn into cowardice. Too-tender men don’t pray with their wife or family and lead their family spiritually, they’re afraid to. They don’t hit conflict head on, they’re passive aggressive.
In Genesis chapter 3, people blame Eve for bringing sin into the world (which she did disobey). She ate the fruit that God told her not to, she was deceived and chose to not believe God even though she believed in God, she didn’t trust Him. She sinned.
Guess who was standing there the entire time? Her husband. Her tender not tough husband. Her coward not warrior husband.
Adam’s not in some other part of the Garden of Eden worshipping God, raising his hands, singing while his wife is off secretly disobeying God. No, he’s standing there next to her (Genesis 3:6)
He says nothing, does nothing.
And the silence of Adam is something I see in men today.
The silent Adams let women lead in the church. They let women do all the serving. They let women battle the spiritual wars all by themselves. They let women lead their families spiritually, emotionally, relationally.
When God comes to Adam and Eve after they both sin and eat the forbidden fruit, guess who God calls out to first? Adam.
I want to be tough and tender for my wife and our three daughters. Even though I have the physique of a junior high student. I’m gonna be tough in the moments that matter and tender in the moments that matter. And it takes prayer, patience and accountability on when to know to be tough and when to be tender.
In our neighborhood this summer, there was an 8 year old boy who reached out and touched the backside of one of my daughters – because he wanted to.
When my daughter told me about it, I went straight outside with the fury of a father internally but with the gentleness of a seeker externally. I confirmed what the accusation was with the boy first, and when he admitted to it, I told him that my daughter wasn’t property he could claim or a desired jewel he was allowed to touch. We marched straight to his grandparents home, who were watching him for the weekend, and I had him say what he did and he apologized.
And as tough as I was on him, I was also tough with my daughter letting her know that boys don’t get to touch her whenever they feel like it.
A criminal breaks into my home – I’m going to be as tough as I can be. A guy wants to date my daughter, I’ll be tough.
But if my daughters want me to dress up for play time with them and sip tea and do our nails and let them put make up on me, I’m going to be tender in those precious moments.
If my wife is having a rough day emotionally, I need to be tender and step it up around the house so she can rest and pray. I’m going to listen to her and pray with her as we go on a walk to process things.
In the book of Revelation we see Jesus as the lion and the lamb. It’s takes prayer to know when to be the warrior and when to be the lover, this balance of tough and tender. Without the help of the Holy Spirit and without prayer and without Christian accountability, a man will default into being too tough or being too tender when the situation and God’s calling requires the opposite.
Thanks for reading. You so SO LOVED!