When you think about the people who are only gentle (or worse nice) in your life, how much do you trust them? Be honest. We trust people who know how to wield force and power in appropriate measures. Someone who is always gentle doesn't do this, and we know this truth in our gut: 24/7 gentle people are not trustworthy of the more precious portions of our lives. This is another reason why when we worship God that we thank Him for giving us a good Savior, not a 24/7 gentle one.

The Necessity for Boldness in Family Life

Many Christian men entrust their spiritual advice to a band of men who are gentle but who also do not possess boldness and courage. I did this for a long time, and the advice I received during pivotal times in my life was earnest but only partially true. When the pressure's on, earnestness isn't good enough, and is far from wise counsel. 

Let's make it more personal and less theoretical. Many Christian Nice Guys had gentle fathers, which was a blessing in many ways and a cursing wound in other ways if this is all the power they were willing to wield. We needed them to produce more force than what they were willing to produce on our behalf, as well as for our moms and siblings. I say "willing" instead of "able" because I believe that every man possesses the ability to create more assertive and aggressive acts of force but that these abilities have been perverted or have obstacles in their way. When the men in our families failed to be more than gentle, we were far more vulnerable to attack, misunderstandings, and disillusion regarding authority since one of our most intimate experiences with authority let us down.

Men like novelists Tobias Wolff and Donald Miller show us the neutered life of those who grow up without a father's power because they had no father. They contain gripping accounts of male drifting, fecklessness, even wanderlust. A lack of male power can be just as wounding to women and children as a perverted or overabundant use of power - a wounding that radical feminism promotes today.

When men receive clarity regarding the difference between gentleness and niceness, they see that God gives them permission to be more forceful than they currently realize. Depression often lifts. Hope fills dry souls and spirits are enlivened. But then a fundamental question must soon be answered: Will I wield it for selfish gain, or as a warrior of light? The answer reveals what we love, and where we store our treasure.

Originally posted Jan. 2007

Paul and Sandy Coughlin are the authors of Married But Not Engaged: Why Men Check out and What You Can Do to Create the Intimacy You Desire, which helps Christian Nice Guy marriages grow and deepen. Paul is also a founding member of Godmen (www.godmen.org). For more information about the Christian Nice Guy problem, read No More Christian Nice Guy or visit  Marriedbutnotengaged.com or  Christianniceguy.com.