Our most recent book club selection is Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart. This week, we’re so pleased to welcome the author, John Ensor, for a girltalk interview.
John Ensor and his wife Kristen recently moved from Boston to Miami where he is the Director of Urban Initiatives for Heartbeat International, an organization for Christian communities establishing pregnancy help centers worldwide. In addition to raising three children—all of whom are now grown—John previously served as a pastor and has also authored several other books including The Great Work of the Gospel (Crossway, 2006) and Answering the Call (Focus on the Family, 2003).
Thank you, John, for being willing to appear on girltalk and answer our questions!
To begin with, we’d love to know how you came to write this book on the topic of relationships?
Thank you for the opportunity to join the club. Let me say upfront that most of the questions you’ve raised are substantive. My answers, being brief, are incomplete or unbalanced in some cases. Nonetheless…
There were two compelling reasons why I wanted to take up this subject. First, the culture (and our Adversary the devil, working behind it) appear to me increasingly and relentlessly aimed at staining the consciences and spiritually disabling our young adults before their faith can grow strong and their sense of God’s calling on their life becomes clear. They are being taken out before they can be equipped for Great Purpose. And the spot where that full assault is aimed is our sexuality and intimate relationships. This book is my effort to send a shot across the bow in defense of young adults and the Great Work that lies before them.
The second reason is very personal. I received some clear and challenging biblical teaching on sexual purity, manhood and the joy of marriage within the first few weeks after my conversion when I was 17- back in 1972. Remember, my generation was going to Pot (which along with the alcohol led to unrestrained sexual activity). I was on the precipice; about to plunge into all of it. In the nick of time, because of the first teachings I received from the Church as a baby believer, I was saved from a multitude of sins and a bucketful of tears. I have enjoyed a sweet marriage. So I feel a debt of love that can only be paid forward. And thus, the book.
What is your greatest concern for single men today—what do you think they “don’t get”?
They don’t get what it means to be a man and not a woman. They lack a behavior-guiding, confidence-boosting, soul-satisfying, wife-pleasing definition of manhood. This of course is why the book is laid out the way it is; starting with theology and going to practice.
How about single women?
They don’t get what it means to be distinctively created female and to delight in the pursuit of mature womanhood.
How can a young woman discern whether or not a guy will be a strong spiritual leader?
I honestly don’t think it takes too much discernment; and if it does, you are probably imagining it. If he has a visible conviction about God and an evident hunger for the Word, he has the stuff of spiritual leadership in him, even if he is young and untested. By observing a man in the context of a local church or Christian group, or while engaged in a mission together, they will see either that hunger on display or not. Where young women go wrong is that they give their heart to a man too early in a relationship and then panic and attempt to see in him what is not there. But by watching a man in a variety of settings other than the “date” setting, they will see him more clearly for what he is.
How, practically, can single women encourage godly leadership in men?
The best way I think is for a woman to simply communicate to a young man that she welcomes and appreciates male leadership. Men usually have it within them. But they are not confident. They are unsure. They are not practiced. Strong, natural leaders will always take initiative. But the rest need encouragement, even permission at first. Since whole bunches of churches and even Christian schools have muted all teaching on the subject, precisely when megaphones are in order, not many young men are being trained and equipped by men to be strong, servant leaders. So if the man in your life has not had the benefit of a church that provides such teaching and models, then he may be a very good man, but need some encouragement and suggestions at first. Ask him to read the book with you. He will adapt quickly.
More on relationships with John Ensor tomorrow, including several answers the single guys may be curious to read about...