The Top 9 Attributes Every Woman Needs to Become a Godly Man

Vince Miller, founder of Resolute (a men’s leadership and discipleship ministry), recently wrote an article for Desiring God entitled Nine Attributes of a Real Man. He listed nine attributes that I agree would be good for every person. His mistake is in identifying these attributes as being what it takes to be a “real man”.

It’s an easy and inevitable mistake to make when one of your underlying premises is that the Bible teaches men how to be men and women how to be women, and that what it takes to be a Godly man is different from what it takes to be a Godly woman.

The manly list

He introduces his list of attributes and supporting Bible passages with this line:

If you are a man looking for true masculinity, consider whether these nine commitments (among many others) would make a significant impact on your masculinity if actively applied in your role as a leader, employee, husband, father, and son.

Don’t you expect the Bible verses he relies on to be steeped in matters that pertain only – and obviously only – to men? Yet in looking at the nine points and passages he raises I am hard-pressed to see the manly traits Mr. Miller assures me are there. Here’s his list (with links to the passages he relies on to support each point):

1. A man commits to following a greater authority. (Luke 9:59–62.)

2. He commits to sacrifice all else in the shadow of discipleship. (Luke 14:26.)

3. He commits to determined, joyful obedience. (John 6:66–69.)

4. He commits to spiritual discipline. (Mark 1:35.)

5. He commits to abide in the word of truth. (John 8:31–32.)

6. He commits to growth and production, especially spiritual fruit. (John 15:8.)

7. He commits to carry out God’s mission. (Matthew 28:19–20.)

8. He commits to love others faithfully. (John 13:34–35.)

9. He commits to brotherhood and community. (Hebrews 10:24–25.)

None of the linked passages have anything to do with sex or gender roles, yet Mr. Miller insists that in following these teachings and examples from the life of Jesus men can achieve “true masculinity”.

What does that mean for women who follow the same examples – prayer and bearing fruit and loving others faithfully and so on? Will they achieve true masculinity as well? You might think it obvious that women and men both will become more the people God created them to be.

Mr. Miller does not see the life of Christ that way. In speaking of the Incarnation, Jesus being born and living among us, he writes:

God himself breaks into time and space again to give us the model man. His Son, Jesus, is the perfect divine depiction of manhood. He defines true masculinity.

Jesus lived more for men than for women under this teaching.

Leaving women out in the cold

Is there a perfect divine depiction of womanhood, a definition of true femininity for women in the Bible? Not by Mr. Miller’s reasoning. He earlier discusses the most prominent men in the Bible and finds them wanting in their depiction of manhood. His conclusion: they all fall short and that’s why God had to send his Son to show men how to be men.

According to Mr. Miller, God accommodated fallen men by way of Jesus, the perfect man. There is no indication from Mr. Miller that Jesus is also God’s ministry to women, to be the example of godliness that is found lacking in the lives of the similarly fallen and fallible women of the Bible.

Where might women find a corresponding depiction of perfect womanhood? It can’t be Jesus, if Mr. Miller’s understanding is adopted: Jesus is all that masculinity can be and more. I think it’s safe to assume that means Jesus is not – could not be – Mr. Miller’s ideal of perfect femininity. And even worse, it means that the life of Jesus is more meaningful for men than for women.

This is where the ungodly premise of biblical masculinity and femininity falls apart, revealed for the shifting sand it is. The Bible isn’t a handbook for being a more masculine man or feminine woman with each of those being something different from the other.

Being like Jesus does not depend on your chromosomes

The life of Jesus is truly an example for women and men, boys and girls, and there is nothing in it that can be said to be for men separate from women or vice versa. After all, our calling is not to be more masculine or feminine. Our calling is to be more Christlike.

presentation1When Paul said as much in his letter to the Church in Corinth, there’s no indication he limited his words to men readers only:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:2.)

Jesus came so that women and men both could learn from him, turn to him, and become like him. We are each made in God’s image, after all, regardless of being a woman or man, male or female.

Jesus is not the epitome of masculinity for men to emulate. The Son of God is the epitome of humanity for us all.


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30 Responses to The Top 9 Attributes Every Woman Needs to Become a Godly Man

  1. FW Rez says:

    Thanks for this breakdown of Miller’s article on the Desiring God site. It does a great dis-service to the timbre of the gospel message to co-opt these examples and teachings of Christ into being about gender roles. As you rightly point out, “The Son of God is the epitome of humanity for us all”.

  2. Retha says:

    So true, Tim. If a quality is for women too, it is not “manhood.” You are a man writing on “real man” lists, here I, a woman, weighing in on a “real woman” list:

  3. Shy1 says:

    Thanks for this, Tim. As a woman, I definitely am grappling with feeling left out in the cold today.

  4. Thanks for this analysis, Tim. He says that among the flawed male heroes of Scripture, we see “small glimpses of masculine glory: undeterred faith, unwavering conviction, humble service and sacrifice.” That sounds like a lot of women I know, too.

  5. Laura says:

    Great post Tim. Reminds me of a past post of mine, which I have been thinking of re-blogging. Will link to you if I do!

  6. Angie says:

    Oh, yes, I remember that list. Upon reading, I realized I must be a man.

    Seriously, though, you are so right–“[biblical masculinity] means that the life of Jesus is more meaningful for men than for women,” but we both know that’s not true.

  7. Pastor Bob says:

    On the one hand — RIGHT ON.

    On the other hand, most women do a better job of this then men.

    She may benefit from a reminder, he needs something to get his attention.

    yes, generalities (with exceptions) vs stereotypes –
    none desired nor attempted to sought – applied.

  8. Pingback: A more feminine men’s ministry? The top attributes a woman needs to become a godly man?(Evangelicals and Gender Distinctions) | Enough Light

  9. Jamie Carter says:

    That’s why the tendency to separate the Bible into men’s study stories and women’s study stories does so much damage – we’re losing the ability to see human stories about both men and women; rather, all we see is David’s leadership skills and Esther putting together a mean banquet and we miss out on everything surrounding it – the details that were important enough to be included in the Bible and that aren’t masculine or feminine but intrinsically human and meant for everyone.

    • Tim says:

      Jamie, you’ve hit on the problem I see too. And it’s exacerbated by organizing men and women study groups at churches too. I think those should be the rare exception to how we gather together to study Gd’s word.

  10. Kathi says:

    Yes, Jesus has a special connection with men only because he was a man.

  11. Kira Jahn says:

    I can’t tell you how heartening it is for me to read your posts. Recently, I’ve struggled very hard in my reading of the Bible….on most pages, the masculine pronouns, the complete and utter emphasis on the masculine [“he/his/him/fathers/brothers/circumcision/brethren, etc.”] made me first feel sad, then utterly excluded. Was there anything there for me? Was anyone talking to me? I must say it has been extremely hard to face these feelings of being excluded from the table as it were. On top of that, the interpretation of certain scripture [you know the ones] relegating me to silence and submission left me feeling even more bereft and marginalized. Then I discovered sites like yours. And I learned that the Holy Spirit was described in early texts as feminine, the “Image” under which I and all women were created, until the Greek and then Latin translations turned Her to Him. But back to your post, it is wonderful to read of Christian male allies. Thank you for your work.

    • Tim says:

      I am glad you found the post encouraging, Kira. Hang in there; lots of people feel as you do and can use the encouragement you can bring them too.

    • Julie Frady says:

      Kira, the TNIV and the CEB translations of the Bible do a good job of using gender-inclusive language where the original languages do. It is amazing to be able to read Scripture and hear myself included!

  12. Thanks. In reading your article yet another argument for women in ministry presented itself. Paul says to follow him as he follows Christ. Yet Paul was an apostle, so he could be said to be calling any believer, including women, to do what he is doing (within the limits of their own gifting).

  13. Jeff Bacia says:

    As written in the first paragraph, his ministry is to men. This article was intended for men to read. While these attributes are applicable to both genders equally, his point is that without these attributes a man is not a Godly man. His article was not intended in any way to demean women. He could have written that these attributes will help a woman to be a Godly woman of God. But his audience was men.

    • Tim says:

      I’d agree, except that he doesn’t say this is about growing into the man God wants you to be. He explicitly says this is about understanding masculinity as presented in Scripture. That’s where he veers off course.

  14. Julie Frady says:

    “It’s an easy and inevitable mistake to make when one of your underlying premises is that the Bible teaches men how to be men and women how to be women, and that what it takes to be a Godly man is different from what it takes to be a Godly woman.”

    I should point out that that idea comes straight from Aristotle, not Scripture. Aristotle taught that what is virtue for a man and what is virtue for a woman are different. Aristotle also taught that men must lead and women must be led by men. People who teach these things as scriptural are actually teaching what a pagan philosopher said hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth.

  15. Bryan says:

    I think that about 80% of the contents of gender role promoting material are like that – it calls good, Christian attitudes which God wants from men and women “Womanhood” or “Manhood.”

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