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December 02, 2013

No More Mr. Nice Guy

A number of years ago I read an article about a growing sentiment that men care more about being “nice” than being godly. Let’s face it, it is much easier to be a “nice” dad versus a godly one. Just like today’s nice guy, a nice dad leans toward passivity, is often non-confrontational and is a peace-keeper versus a peace-maker. Sadly, the nice dad syndrome has infected as many Christian men as non-Christian, and the fall-out is both tragic and devastating to our kids.

I can speak from a very personal level as I’m a recovering “nice guy.” For 25 years, I allowed the culture around me to train me in the area of niceness. In many ways, I was in a different boat but riding the same current as everyone else. Every once in a while, I would see a Christian dad paddling against the main current. He was often alone in his efforts and he was never considered a nice guy. He definitely would not party, never watched movies with nudity or profanity, and spent most his free time helping others or leading Bible studies.

Back then, I looked at that guy as an over-the-top Christian. Why? Christ defined who he was and how he lived in every aspect of life. There was no compartmentalization of his faith. He infused God’s Word into every area and relationship in his life. In every way, he was a man on a higher life mission. Yet, what really made me dislike this non-nice guy was that he made me feel uncomfortable. I enjoyed riding with the current and having everybody like me. It wasn’t like I was the worst dad out there. I coached my kids’ sports teams, read to them at night, helped them with their school work, and attended church on Sundays. I was like most Christian dads out there and felt that I was nailing this dad thing.

Then it happened. About fifteen or so years ago, I suddenly realized that something wasn’t right. My life was not much different than the non-Christian dads out there who were nice guys. Sure, I didn’t party like them and I went to church on a regular basis. Yet, I also knew that I was leading my family down a fairly broad road and not the narrow one God wanted for us. I could no longer just ride the cultural current that was taking my family closer to the world but farther away from God. I can only look back now and say it was God’s Spirit moving me toward some serious growth in my walk with Him. It was my spiritual tipping point. I could no longer be just a nice dad. I had to become a godly one. Even if it meant losing my nice guy status.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Galatians 1:10

This verse says it all. Do I care more about what man thinks or what God thinks? If I want to be liked by everyone all the time, including my kids, I will need to wear my nice guy hat. To stand for everything is stand for nothing. This fits a nice guy well. However, if I want to please God and be a godly father, I must stand for Him. I must be anything but a passive man in my roles as a husband and a father. I need to be willing to engage my kids for Christ at every stage of their development into adulthood. I need to set an example for my sons to strive toward and be the kind of man that my daughters could one day marry. God has given me the honor to lead my family closer to Him everyday and I must relentlessly embrace this calling.

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