Please have a look at these Scriptures first: Ephesians 5:22-33, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Proverbs 4:23, James 3:17, Philippians 4:6, Job 42:2, Ephesians 4:31. I haven’t explicitly referenced these Scriptures in the actual the body of the blog, at each place where they would pop up, but I’ve referred to/encapsulated the teaching in what I put forward.
What Does It Mean To Pursue?
By dictionary definition, a pursuit is an “effort to secure or attain something”. A person can have a pursuit of happiness, a pursuit of a job, or in this case, a pursuit of a woman.
Anyone can pursue a partner, but it’s a godly thing for the man to pursue the woman, rather than for the woman to pursue the man, because the husband is head of the wife and home and so even in the build-up to marriage (in the courtship/pre-marital relationship), he should lead the way right from initiation. Of course this therefore implies that marriage should be the aim of relationships. It isn’t always the result, but the responsibility of Christians is to have it as the intent, should things work out accordingly.
There is no specific Christian way for a Christian man to pursue a woman. All of the books and resources out there can only at best, act as wise suggestions. To follow some of the suggestions would be godly and loving and so it would be a good thing for a woman to hold some of them as things a man needs to do/be before engaging her heart. However the point is, these things are not must-haves, but nice-to-haves. As Christians, the only criteria for a man to pursue a Christian woman is that he and she be saved. That said a woman would be wise to want more than salvation from a man, such as spiritual maturity.
So what does a pursuit from a man actually look like? Here’s my take on it:
A pursuit is an effort towards something. Therefore, the first thing that a woman should be able to identify in a man that is pursuing her, is him making an effort with her. With her and not just concerning her. Making an effort to find out things concerning a woman and making an effort to connect with a woman, are two different things. Though nothing wrong with either, the former is a pursuit of information, but the latter is a pursuit of the actual person.
When a man is pursuing a woman, he is actually pursing the person, not just facts about her through other people and observation. A pursuit of a woman is when a man is actually advancing towards her and not just facts about her. Sometimes a man is in a place where he is seeking to learn more about the woman and she may pick up on this. However even then, she shouldn’t presume what he’s doing to be him pursuing her. He may pursue her later, but she should allow him to actually take that action if he chooses to.
Where there’s no effort on the man’s part, to connect with the woman, there’s no pursuit from him. If he is responsive to her effort and even makes time to communicate once in a while, this should be seen as him just being friendly or polite. Men need to be loved enough by their single sisters in Christ, to be given the freedom to be friendly or polite, without being perceived as someone in pursuit.
Where a man is making an effort to connect with a woman, but he isn’t consistent about it, she shouldn’t see this as him doing anything out of the ordinary. A consistent effort is when a man’s actions aren’t once in a while or when the occasion arises. Rather, he forms a pattern of seeking opportunities or creating them, to a point where if he were to stop it would be noticeable.
Sometimes a man is consistent with his efforts and then he stops. Though this can be hurtful and somewhat difficult, a woman shouldn’t see this as a reason to confront or rebuke him. For whatever reason that he has stopped making that consistent effort, that’s what he’s chosen to do and the best thing for her to do is accept it, maintain integrity and move on. A man is allowed to change his mind, just as a woman is; but of course care has to be taken in how things are done. However (and we’ll touch more on this later) a woman shouldn’t easily allow herself to be in a position where if a man doesn’t ask for more than friendship, then she’ll be crushed. Pain isn’t always avoidable, but we do have a responsibility to guard our hearts as much as we can. Poor guarding of hearts not only causes people to be hurt but friendships and fellowship to be broken. We guard our hearts ultimately to honour the Lord as this is what the Bible teaches we should do. The individual benefits from this, but also the body and community in which they’re a part of.
A Spade Is a Spade, But What’s It For?
If a man is making a consistent effort to connect with a woman, this is a pursuit. It is. The key thing to remember though, is that a relationship is not always the aim of a man’s pursuit. Sometimes a man is pursuing a woman to for example, help her with something. Though this would be an unwise position for him to put himself and even her in, in this example the man’s motive would be good, even though his actions are somewhat inappropriate on the level that they’re on. On the other hand sometimes and sadly, a man can pursue a woman for sinful reasons such as selfish emotional satisfaction, or to fulfil his lusts. These motives, aren’t wise or good but they are a reality in the lives of some men at different points of the lives. Therefore, it’s not just about understanding if a man is pursuing or not, but understanding why.
We’re all going through sanctification, so we all sin and are in need of grace. Men don’t fall outside of this category when it comes to dealing with women. There will be times when even a reputable man errors in his dealings with a woman (whether knowingly or not); so a woman’s default response shouldn’t be to presume him as an unbeliever or being in a ‘backslidden’ state. Sometimes and this isn’t to trivialise it, it’s sin or error that yes has negative and hurtful effects and things do sometimes need to be addressed with spiritual leaders and other wise counsellors, but it isn’t always a reflection of the man’s entire character. Sometimes it is somewhat of an anomaly of his usual behaviour, a season of weakness or even an area of weakness, but he shouldn’t be cast aside as a heathen. Easier said than done when feeling the wounds of being used or badly handled by a man, but much better done than said. Bitterness is never a good thing or a godly thing.
For this same reason, sometimes the way a man is with a woman is kind of jacked up at first, but it wouldn’t be absurd following proper repentance and remorse, for her to give him another chance. There is no man who can hold up the testimony of how he pursued his wife as a perfect template for all men to follow. All would have fallen short in some way or other, because no matter how mature or how careful he is, he’s still not perfect. A husband can only reflect Christ’s pursuit of the church and not actually mimic it, so he needs to be given the grace to get back up after a fall.
As a man’s pursuit of a woman isn’t restricted to him seeking a relationship with her, this highlights why though males and females can be friends and good ones at that, boundaries have to exist in communication, meet-ups and even physical contact. Confusion or inappropriateness is inevitable where this doesn’t exist. Also there’s a high risk for reputations being damaged as other people observe the activities as ‘odd’, considering the fact that the two are ‘just friends’. We should care what people think because what people think of us will impact our ministry to them and even how they view the God we serve.
Before He Makes Anything Clear
Until a woman knows that a man that she desires is pursuing her for a courtship/relationship, or that he is pursuing a friendship in order to establish if this would be a desire of his, she shouldn’t engage her heart with him. The only way to know his intentions however, is if he tells her. Not his friends or his pastor or anyone else. Simply him telling her for sure and not hinting or implying it. Therefore, until the man himself has told her these things, a woman should either wait whilst seeking the Lord, or seek the Lord and move on. Whatever her choice she should always be alert concerning her heart.
That said, there is a need for a man to not procrastinate in making his intentions known, when he has begun pursuing a woman. The simple reason for this is because it can be a very confusing and uncomfortable season for her to be in for an extended period of time, without knowing why. The loving thing for him to do if he is considering a relationship, would be to make a decision sooner rather than later, to move forward or not and introduce that season by talking to her about it lovingly and honestly. The position men have as leaders doesn’t give them free reign to take as long as they please when pursuing a woman, simply because they please. If he isn’t seeking a relationship but has another reason for pursuing her which he thinks is good, again he should very make that clear to her, so as to avoid her getting the wrong idea or holding out for something which he isn’t even considering. So if a woman finds herself in a position where a man is pursuing her, but hasn’t let her know why, she wouldn’t automatically be impatient or ungracious to no longer entertain his advances.
If a man is considering a relationship with a woman, there’s no rule for him to lay all of his cards on the table on Day 1 or even Day 10. As soon as he becomes interested he doesn’t then have to right away decide what he wants to do about that interest. Though the best thing for him to do whilst deciding, is to not pursue the woman for a relationship until he has decided that he actually wants one with her.
If he decides to pursue a friendship with her to help him decide what he wants, but he isn’t yet ready to talk about what he’s thinking, he should try to make his efforts discrete and blend in as much as possible with the crowd; so as not to draw attention to himself. This way he can obtain the friendship, but do so without causing her to have any further expectations or notice a gap if he were stop. So if a woman realises a man pursuing an exclusive friendship with her, but he has made no expression about why, she would be wise to reign in their communication and meet-ups to a level equal with other friends. This way she avoids perceiving him in an exclusive light but still allows a friendship to form. That said, if he does make it clear to her that he’d like to pursue a friendship with her to see if more could possible come of their relationship, then this is great as now the two of them can offer eachother that exclusivity in friendship, with the security that they both are considering the same thing, but without the pressure of being forced to prematurely decide.
How Long Should The Woman Wait?
If a man is pursuing a woman and she is interested in him, but he hasn’t yet made his intensions clear, or if they are in an exclusive friendship and he hasn’t yet decided what he wants to do, she is free to wait for however long she wants to. There’s no right or wrong length of time to wait once she knows that she does want to be with him. Rather it’s about her being godly in her motives to wait, as well as wise and loving. What that looks like can vary by circumstance. However, as she waits she should be careful to not ask him to move things forward or even to push him for an answer. She should let him lead the pace and well as the context of their relationship.
A few key questions to consider when waiting:
- Is the waiting promoting godliness in both parties or is it a well of temptation, anxieties and pain? Even if just for just one person.
- Is the waiting being done in the eyes of others who not only can, but do hold both people accountable in the situation? Or is she waiting in secret for him to decide?
- Does she still desire to progress to a relationship with him for the purpose of potential marriage?
- Does her individual life circumstance allow for her to continue to wait for an unknown amount of time?
- Is the waiting being done in fear?
- Is the waiting being done because she refuses to have it any other way?
These questions should be explored with wise counsel as when matters of the heart are involved we can often struggle to make decisions that aren’t wrongly swayed by emotions. Throughout the season of waiting, the woman should soak herself in prayer and the Word. She should regularly put her desires before the Lord (as there’s nothing wrong with asking for desires to be met) and asking Him to guide them both according to His will. The Word will never say “yes, keep waiting for him” or “no, leave that guy alone”. It’ll rather present godly teachings that she can apply to her life and thoughts. Ultimately though, the woman can only ever walk in faith, trusting God to have His way regardless of what she chooses. Believing that His plans cannot be thwarted.