How to Determine a Man’s True Character
I clearly remember the night, at around twelve years old, when I first witnessed a scene that broke my heart over the churched youth in America. I was invited to visit a friend’s youth group. As I quietly sat towards the back of the church I noticed a young man walking into the youth group. He quickly spotted a young lady he found to be attractive and began to make his move. My stomach was tied in knots as I watched this young man seek to gratify his own desires at the cost of this young woman’s innocence and purity. I didn’t know what to do. What can I do anyway? I remember thinking. He was at least five years my senior. To my shame, I did nothing.
If we were to all collect our stories I’m sure we would have a number of tales that mirror my own. Some self-seeking men might be more or less subtle, but one thing is clear: it is essential to have a means of discerning between men that are the real deal and those that are just after their own personal gain. My intent in this article is not to give you a critical eye that questions the genuineness of every man around you. Rather, my goal is to assist you in discerning between good and evil, so that you can avoid that which is evil and clearly recognize that which is good. I hope that, as you are able to recognize what is true and what is false, it will give you the confidence to wholeheartedly support and encourage the development of godly masculinity in the lives of the men around you who are pursuing Jesus.
But more important than any practical piece of advice I can give, I want to emphasize this: the way a banker knows the difference between an authentic bill and a fraudulent bill is because he or she has studied what the real bills are supposed to look like, and therefore is able to recognize the clear difference between the true and the false. This is my encouragement to you: get to know Jesus. If you’re seeking Jesus and making Him your aim, you will be able to clearly distinguish the difference between the character of Jesus and the character of one who is playacting at manhood. The men in your life will certainly not radiate the perfect spotlessness of Jesus, and yet you should be able to witness a consistent progression in conforming to the image of Christ’s demonstration of godly masculinity.
Let’s Get Practical.
Here are some things to bear in mind as you’re interacting with the men in your life.
Time will Tell
The first step in determining a man’s true character is to recognize that men are not always what they appear to be. It is important to be guarded and not to immediately allow men into your life just because they appear authentic in your initial impression of them. As the old adage would have it, “time will tell.” How true this is. Be patient, and the test of time will indeed tell you much about what a man is truly made of.
Don’t Become Emotionally Involved
Emotions can’t be your North Star when determining a man’s character. If your emotions take the lead, you can be easily deceived. When emotions are allowed into a relationship too quickly, they can cloud your vision and disable you from determining a man’s true character. The Scriptures say to “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Guard your heart, and don’t allow love to be awakened before its proper time (see Song of Solomon 8:4).
Watch How He Handles Challenges
There are various different opportunities to observe how a man handles difficulty and temptation. A young lady recently told me that her father instructed her to watch a young man and determine his marriage-ability by the way he engages in sports. Is he easily angered and upset? Or does he maintain a calm spirit? Does he make excuses for his mistakes? Or does he take ownership of them and move on? Watch a man when he’s in a difficult or trying situation and take note of how he responds.
Allow Brothers, Fathers, Pastors, & Other Godly Men To Offer Discernment
Godly fathers, brothers, and pastors are a fantastic resource. God has placed them in your life to protect you. If you have a godly father, be open with him and entrust yourself to his discernment. Oftentimes men are able to more fully comprehend another man’s character because men typically struggle in similar areas and can more easily pick up on hypocrisy or immaturity in other men. Allow the men God has placed in your life to speak directly with you and you will find this to be a wonderful safeguard.
Watch How He Treats His Family
Give attention to how a man treats his family and this will tell you a lot about him. Does he treat his parents and siblings with honor, respect, and kindness? If there’s a discrepancy between his homelife and his social life, be on guard. This is a dead giveaway that something isn’t right.
Be Willing to Discern
This is vitally important. As a young woman, there will be men you find to be attractive and pleasant to be around. Check your motives. When you’re attracted to a young man it’s very easy to become unwilling to discern his true character and end up creating a “fantasy man” that isn’t the person you’re actually dealing with. This won’t last, and it certainly won’t build a Christ-centered relationship. Ask God for wisdom and discernment, and then make sure you’re willing to obey when He gives you His perspective.
Watch What He Does with His Time
If you want to know what someone truly values, watch what that person does when they don’t have anything else they “need” to be doing. Watch how he spends his leisure time. Is his time spent in diligent pursuit of Christ and godliness, or is he distracted with frivolous and useless diversions?
Watch How He Treats the “Least of These”
Take care to notice how a young man treats the “least of these.” I’ve often noted young men playing with children and holding babies while looking around them to see which young women are watching and noticing their “wonderful heart for children.” These men are fake — don’t fall for them. I’m not interested in what a man does when he knows someone is watching; I want to know what he does when nobody is watching. Watch how he treats those who would otherwise be considered awkward or misfits. Watch how he treats widows, children, and those whom the world has little esteem for. This will tell you a lot about a man’s true character.
You may be asking the question: do any truly godly men exist? Are there really men out there who are selfless, honorable, faithful, and seek to honor Christ able all else? Don’t lose heart. I have witnessed the beginning of a return to true, godly masculinity and I’ve seen firsthand God’s ability to build a man into a grand picture of what masculinity is meant to be. You may not see it right away, but begin to earnestly pray, placing your entire trust in God, and you will witness God’s faithfulness to raise up men of true godly character in this generation.