I was both saddened and excited by her email. Our daughter was away at college and as part of an assignment asked me to list the top five qualities that I would encourage her to look for in a spouse. My sadness stemmed from wishing we’d had this conversation sooner so that she didn’t even have to ask the question. Our kids could lead more secure and focused lives by having a clear response to this question firmly planted in their hearts as they transition from adolescence into adulthood. It didn’t take me long to respond. As the father of four children, I had intended to initiate this discussion many times, yet I never seemed to find the right moment – mostly because I was afraid that my thoughts might be perceived as manipulation. What excited me most about her email was knowing that my daughter is taking the time to cultivate her own criterion for relationships that are both healthy and holy.
Here’s my response:
1. That he share your love and passion for God. There must be a core values match in this area for a marriage partnership to flourish. My experience in ministry has taught me that couples can be unequally yoked even with other believers who do not share a parallel passion for pursuing God’s heart and ways.
2. That he be absolutely, totally, and utterly abandoned in his love and passion for you. Because you deserve it.
3. That he be able to support and even steer you toward the fulfillment of your divine destiny. To accomplish this he will need to appreciate your unique (albeit emerging) calling and spiritual gift-mix. This reflects the foundational purpose for our existence. In addition to the extraordinary opportunity for a growing friendship with God, we are invited to allow God to shape us and send us to serve humanity with wisdom, resolve, and anointing — which increases exponentially through regular affirmation and encouragement.
4. That, when he makes a mistake, it’s by giving, not by withholding. The old adage, “you can’t out-give God” is true. And remember, we don’t give to get — we give to get to give again.
5. That he would actively pursue mutually accountable relationships with other men. Most of the growth I have enjoyed has come through proactively pursuing mentoring and accountability. We all need people in our lives whom we have invited to ask us soul-searching questions – usually it’s about motives, money, and morality.
I love my children. I may have learned more from them then they from me…