In the name of being Christian, many men strive to be nice guys. But while going through life wearing a smiley face may please other people, it doesn't always please God. God wants men to be agents of redemption in our fallen world - and that sometimes requires behavior that's not "nice."
Living the life of power God wants for you means being a good guy rather than a nice guy. It means being bold enough to leave passivity behind and proactively confront injustice.
Here's how you can stop being a nice guy and start being a good guy:
Look at the real Jesus. If you look beyond the sanitized caricature of Jesus as gentle, meek and mild, you'll discover how He embodied masculinity at its best. He balanced love and truth with courage in every situation. He was proactive and commanded respect. He didn't hesitate to display such rugged qualities as toughness, bravery, assertiveness, protectiveness, vitality, intensity, firmness, cunning and shrewdness.
Don't avoid conflict. Realize that conflict is often necessary to confront the world's pain and act as Jesus' ambassadors to bring about healing. Don't shrink back from conflict. Don't be afraid to shake people awake for their own good, even if that means shocking or offending them. Understand that being passive strips you of the power God wants you to have to fulfill His commands to be righteous in our fallen world. Rather than being passive or aggressive, strive to be assertive, like Jesus. Be willing to ask hard questions and confront people when necessary.
Take responsibility only for your own life. Understand that you can't make someone else happy, so stop wasting time and energy trying to please people just for the sake of pleasing them. Don't enable people or try to fix them. Let other people assume responsibility for their own choices and attitudes, and refuse to accept blame that they wrongly place on you. Know that it's perfectly valid to expect to be rewarded for your work, whether you're serving your spouse, your employer, your church, or someone else. Require respect from other people. At the same time, don't look to anyone else besides God to fulfill your ultimate needs. Reject codependency. Take charge of your own life by connecting with God, seeking His guidance and strength often, and moving forward proactively rather than reactively.
Reject a small life in favor of a big life. Instead of living for comfort, live for purpose. Seek adventures that lead to your spiritual growth. Be willing to take risks God leads you to take.
Overcome fear with faith. Ask God to give you the faith you need to overcome fears in every aspect of your life. Whenever a fear enters your mind, feed a fact to it so it becomes more manageable. Ask God to give you the wisdom to discern what you do and don't need to be concerned about in any situation. Use fear to motivate you to become more proactive. Fear only what God will think - not just what other people will think. Know that love and fear cannot co-exist. So let down your emotional guards in your marriage and other close relationships to build true intimacy. Remember that God can transform any kind of pain in your life to give you a greater ability to love. Ask God to give you confidence, and project that confidence in your relationships with others.
Embrace passion. Don't settle for mild living when God wants you to enjoy a passionate life. Understand that it's not sinful to have normal needs and desires. Make those needs and desires clear to other people without apologizing for them. Recognize that your thoughts and feelings should be valued. Take steps to begin pursuing your dreams.
Create a personal mission statement. Follow God's plans for your life - not just someone else's agenda for you. Ask yourself, "What did I dream about before I stopped dreaming?" Consider how the pain that's currently in your life can lead to greater insight and positive change for you. Discover your God-given talents and make a plan to put them to use. Take advantage of ordinary opportunities to serve God and others through your passions. Remember that ordinary moments can become extraordinary when you live with passion.
Accept and express your emotions. Know that it's normal and healthy to feel a full range of emotions. Ask God to help you become aware of your emotions - from joy to sorrow - accept them, and express them in your personal relationships.
Harness anger's power in healthy ways. Rather than denying the anger it's natural to feel sometimes, recognize that anger can be a powerful force for positive change if it's properly directed. Use anger to spur you to confront injustice and work for righteousness.
Pursue satisfying sex. Recognize that your sexual needs are legitimate. Don't be afraid to clearly express your needs and desires to your wife. Get rid of emotional guards that block genuine intimacy with her. Work together to build a mutually enjoyable sex life.
Don't be naïve. Expect people to sin in our fallen world. Don't be ignorant of what's really going on, and don't allow others to manipulate or abuse you. Ask God to help you discern when people are lying to you or trying to take advantage of you. Seek knowledge and wisdom that will help you be shrewd as you navigate life in a world full of sin.
Seek support from other good guys. Build friendships with some other men whose courageous faith you admire. Help each other grow in spiritual maturity and confidence.
Adapted from No More Christian Nice Guy, copyright 2005 by Paul Coughlin. Published by Bethany House Publishers, Bloomington, Minn., www.bethanyhouse.com.
Paul Coughlin hosts a radio talk show on KDOV in southern Oregon and is the author of Secrets, Plots, and Hidden Agendas: What You Don't Know about Conspiracy Theories. Paul has been interviewed by C-SPAN, the New York Times, and numerous radio and television stations across the country. His articles have appeared in many publications, including New Man, Faithworks, and Ministries Today. He has also been editor of a weekly newspaper and a radio station program director. A former Christian Nice Guy, Paul is happily married and the father of three. The Coughlin family lives in Oregon. Visit www.christianniceguy.com.