That was all my parents told us to look for in a spouse. Though I made a page-long list of my own when I was 16, I threw it out in my early 20s and returned to the basics my parents taught me. Everything else—all the necessary qualities for a good man and a godly marriage—flowed from the things they shared:
- A heart that loves God
- A strong work ethic
- A teachable, humble spirit
The first two are pretty self explanatory, and while they are absolutely essential, I want to concentrate on the third quality. It’s one we don’t hear much about in an age of Internet fame. Being humble (which literally means “low to the ground”) and teachable requires acknowledging one’s limits. And to acknowledge one’s limits, you must actually have limits.
Our world tells men (and all people, really) to PUSH the limits. To see yourself as capable of everything. But the irony of Christian living is this: True confidence comes through humility. When we recognize our own inadequacy and see a need to learn from God and others, we have confidence from outside ourselves. Our failures do not reflect so deeply on us. Redemption is always available.
This teachable spirit manifests itself through attitude and action. A teachable man:
- Can admit when he’s wrong
- Will hear someone else’s side
- Doesn’t think he has all of life figured out
- Embraces his need for God
- Is always willing to learn from others
- Asks questions
These traits characterize someone with a humble heart. As we live out humility and teachability (as men AND women), our attitudes transform our actions. This affects our family relationships, friendships, work ethic and our walk with God.
A teachable heart facilitates a heart that loves God.
A humble heart can naturally lead to a strong work ethic.
All three of the qualities my parents required are connected to one another, supporting and feeding one another in a triune balance.
Humility is not something we can force. We can’t force it in ourselves and we can’t force it in guys we date. Rather, it springs from an appropriate understanding of who GOD is and who WE are. When we have a high view of self and a low view of God, we’ll put our own priorities before His every time. This ends in selfishness, pride and laziness.
But when we have a high view of God, and view ourselves through His eyes, humility follows naturally. We don’t have to exalt ourselves because God alone is to be exalted—and He glorifies us appropriately when WE glorify HIM. It’s a beautiful circle.
So as you date, look for a teachable spirit—and just as importantly, cultivate a teachable spirit in your own heart. God will grant this to you as you seek Him and pray for His eyes. Humility begins with understanding who we are to God, and who Jesus is in this world. We can know both those things through His Word. Start there.