What Should A Young Man Be?

What Should a Young Man Be? // jessconnell.com
To the young lady, looking at a young man, as a potential husband:

When you consider what you’d like in a young man, be honest… what ranks up there?

  • Good looks?
  • Nice eyes?
  • Enjoyable sense of humor?
  • Taller than you?
  • Fun to talk to?

Heck, I remember looking for those things (and getting them :) I love my husband’s blue eyes…)… so I’m not knocking these “lesser” desires… but of course that’s not all there is to a husband.

And to moms looking at their sons, growing toward manhood:

When you consider what you’d like your sons to be, be honest… what ranks up there?

  • Funny?
  • Talented at sports or some other pursuit?
  • Clever/witty/smart?
  • Hardworking?

I have an appreciation for good humor and a good work ethic too… but the Bible urges us to shoot for more than just these things.

Let’s look at what the Apostle Paul challenges the young men in the church to be:

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.. ~Titus 2:6-8

These are less likely to be at the top of modern American “lists” as desirable things for a husband– but they’re things God commends in young men:

  • Self-controlled/sensible
  • A model of good works
  • Integrity in teaching
  • Dignified
  • Sound in speech
  • Beyond reproach/condemnation, so that opponents have nothing bad to say

What do these things look like? Pastor John MacArthur says:

As in verses 2 and 5, “sensible” carries the broad meaning of having common sense, good judgment, and self-control.

…The phrase “in all things” properly belongs at the end of verse 6. It refers to being sensible and emphasizes the broad scope of this admonition. Young men, who frequently are impulsive, passionate, ambitious, volatile, and sometimes arrogant, are to exercise self-control and show good sense and judgment in all things.

…Self-control, a synonym for sensible, is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). With the Spirit’s help, therefore, young men, like all other believers, are enabled to master all areas of their lives in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.


  1. Young women who are considering young men as potential husbands
  2. Mothers of boys who are thinking about what they’re “aiming for” in their mothering

To those evaluating potential husbands, ask yourself these questions about him as he is now, not what you hope he might one day be. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a helpful one, straight from Scripture, as you evaluate a young man.

To those evaluating your sons, ask yourself if he’s on his way toward this? Is this truly your target (what you’re aiming for)? Is this the road he is on? What needs to change for him to be this sort of man by the time he leaves your home? What sort of training, teaching, correction, or rebuke does he need in order to get on this path, and flee from youthful foolishness and self-focused, arrogant thinking? Do you need to devote yourself to faithful prayer that God will use you and your husband to help make him into this sort of man?


  • IS HE SENSIBLE? Self-controlled? Does he exercise good judgment? Is he given to impassioned judgments and unreasonable beliefs, or is he steady? Sensible? Reasonable? Reliable? Does he take life seriously? Is he prudent in discernment?
  • IS HE AN EXAMPLE IN GOOD DEEDS? Are people around him challenged to be more like Christ? Is he a servant? Kind? Truly interested in others? Focused on meeting needs of people around him? Is his life a pattern that others would do good to follow?
  • DOES HIS TEACHING HAVE INTEGRITY? Is his doctrine pure and unadulterated? Or does he corrupt biblical ideas with worldly thinking? Is he (as other translations render it) “sound in faith,” “well-grounded in faith,” “robust in faith?” Does he know Scripture well? Not just obscure random parts (i.e., all about end times/eschatology?), but the whole counsel of God’s Word? Can he explain the Gospel clearly and effectively? Does he apply the Gospel to his own heart? (If this is the man who will be teaching your children, or your grandchildren… is his teaching solidly biblical?)
  • IS HE DIGNIFIED? This means serious… which not many people nowadays value, but it is a biblical value. A good sense of humor is enjoyable when we are young, but someone who takes life seriously is valuable as we age. When your children are disobedient, you want a man who takes it seriously and isn’t a slave to joking, pleasure, and amusement as a means of escaping the struggle. When life gets hard (that’s what all the “or worse,” “or poorer,” “in sickness,” business is about in our vows), it is a blessing to be with a man who soberly assesses life and walks in dignity and honor.
  • IS HE SOUND IN SPEECH? Are the things he says wholesome? Accurate? Healthy? Life-giving? Is he given to ranting? Anger? Filthy joking? Immaturity? Are the words that come out of his mouth respectable and worth listening to?
  • IS HE BEYOND REPROACH? The idea of this is that even when someone disagrees or doesn’t like him, they should have have nothing bad to say about the sort of man he is. It should be the case that, if someone was trying to criticize him, they shouldn’t have any clear evil or wickedness to point to.

As you look at a potential husband, or at your son as he grows toward manhood, keep this description in mind.


Perhaps you think this list seems out of reach?

Perhaps every young man you know is wrapped up in hobbies, movies, video games, or worse (porn, a hook-up culture). This list is not out of reach. This is what God expects of young men. The young man who is pursuing Christ should be on this trajectory. As a young woman pursuing God, this is the sort of man you should be looking for.

Certainly, he won’t be perfect, but this is the sort of young man he is supposed to be. If he’s not, don’t marry him. As someone who regularly counsels wives, I’m telling you there’s nothing harder than a woman who married a boy who, at 36, 46, 66 years old, is still (for all intents and purposes) a BOY in his inclinations and leadership as a husband. It is HARD to respect and submit to a selfish, indulgent, foolish, decades-old BOY. Marry a godly man. WAIT for a godly man.


Of course, your 3-, 7-, or 11-year old son will not wholly be described by this list. But this is what we’re shooting for– this is the SORT of man you should want your son to grow to be. So as you see his weaknesses emerge– self-absorption, a lack of discernment, self-focused actions, rude joking, bad judgment, laziness, volatility– correct him. Let wisdom be on your tongue as you instruct your sons toward manhood. Use Scripture as it’s intended— for correction, teaching, training, and rebuke.

At 3, the battle might be foolish joking. So work on that. At 7, the battle might be selfish actions rather than servant-hearted ones– so work on that. At 11, the battle might be understanding the Gospel and how to discern truth from error– so work on that. At any age, anger, foolishness, laziness, selfishness are things to be fought. So take up the battle and make this passage of Scripture part of the “target” you’re aiming for as you mother your son.


This is what Titus 2 tells us a commendable young man looks like. Let’s make sure we’re valuing what the Bible values when we look at a young man, whether as a mother or as a future wife.


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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you Jess. This is a wonderful post and really helpful to focus on with my 10, 12, 14 and 16 year old sons. I have forwarded it to my husband so we can focus together and pray. God bless you for always standing strong on God’s Word.

  2. shannon bradbury says:

    This was an eye opener for me. I have 4 boys and this helped me with ideas to train them.A great read!

  3. Karen says:

    As a mom of boys, I really found this helpful Jess – thank you.

  1. July 31, 2015

    […] but I *do* think a great deal too many adult men seem to be mastered by video games, and as I think about what my boys are growing into, I don’t ever want them to be mastered by playing with plastic and pixels. We believe an […]

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