John Croyle is known as the star football player from the University of Alabama who gave up a lucrative NFL career opportunity to open the Big Oak Ranch — a place for abandoned, abused and neglected children.

On a recent visit to both the boys and girls ranches, I had the opportunity to talk with John. He is full of wit and wisdom and shared these five questions he has posed to numerous young men through the years who asked for his blessing to marry one of the young women at the ranch.

1. Are you going to take care of my daughter financially? I want you to work hard, provide for her and your family, and never use money as a weapon. Many divorces are a result of money issues. She doesn’t have to live in a Taj Mahal, but she should have a safe and comfortable home, clothing and food.

2. Are you going to take care of her mentally? I know how smart she is right now, and you should too. I want her to be smarter after living with you than she is now. You should challenger her mentally, encourage her, build her up, help her to achieve her goals, and assist her in growing closer to God in wisdom and knowledge. 

3. Are you going to take care of her emotionally? Two things will destroy your marriage: self-centeredness and bitterness. Guard against these. Inside my daughter’s heart is a round hole I call “emotional need.” Inside of your heart as a man is a square peg that is somehow going to have to “fit” with her.  Are you willing to knock off the edges of that square peg in order to fulfill her emotional requirements? She doesn’t think or react like you do. You may see something and laugh — she may see it and cry. You may say something that you thought was the sweetest thing in the world, and it may make her madder than a hornet! God designed you to be the one who can meet her needs; are you willing to guard against self-centeredness and bitterness and take care of my daughter’s emotional needs?

4. Are you going to take care of her physically?  As a father, it has been my job to protect my “princess.” As her husband, your job is to protect your “queen.” I want to know that if someone threatened her, you would step in front of her. And protecting her physically also means intimately. What you see on TV, the movies and pornography — that is not real life. Don’t get kinky or stupid with my daughter. And it goes without saying that she had better never live in fear of you physically! Just take care of her in every way possible.

5.  Last and perhaps most importantly — Are you going to take care of her spiritually? Do you know that in the Bible, it tells men to love their wives 33 times? But it tells wives to love their husbands only twice. You are asking for my daughter’s hand. I know what a woman of God she is right now. When I place her hand in yours in marriage, I am no longer responsible for her spiritual health and training. One day, after living together for many, many years — you are going to present her hand to God. Will she be more of a godly woman then than the day I gave her to you? Your job is to be the spiritual leader of your family and raise your children (my grandchildren) according to God’s design. When you meet God in heaven one day, I want him to smile and say, “They are better after having lived with you.”

"If you can take care of my daughter financially, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, then you have my blessing. If you can’t do these five things — I need to know now."

John told me that he has only had one young man who couldn’t answer these questions to his satisfaction. So John refused to give his blessing; the young man needed work on one of these areas. John told him to “fix it, come back, and then we’ll talk.”

That young man went away, worked diligently on that one area and came back to John after “fixing” it. He gave his blessing, and that couple is happily married today.

The Big Oak Ranches for boys and girls are a testament to the faith, dedication and hard work of John Croyle and his wife, Tee. They have raised two of their biological children on the ranch—Reagan who now serves as the Childcare Team Director on the ranch, and Brodie, a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs. For more information on Big Oak, please visit their website at: www.bigoak.org.

Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, speaker, artist, Stephen Minister and Stephen Leader. Her articles are published by Crosswalk.com and "The Fish" family of Christian radio station websites around the country. She shares "Reflections" on Life, Relationships and Family on her website, www.inspiredreflections.info. And she is working on her first book, Your Life, Your Choice -- 5 steps to Peace. Join her on Twitter/InspireReflectand Facebook/DailyInspiredReflectionsfor daily devotions.