City Harvest Church’s advisory chairman turns his teaching on manhood into a New York Times bestseller for couples.
The velvety, turquoise-blue dust cover bearing an endorsement from Hollywood star Denzel Washington and his wife Pauletta masks the depths of the concepts in this petite volume.
Those reading this from CHC will know that Dr AR Bernard has the ability to turn a single Bible verse into a full-length movie with subplots and spin-offs. I admit it took me two weeks longer than I expected to complete this book, because there is simply too much to think about, meditate on, absorb and reflect upon for Four Things Women Want From A Man to be read in a day.
Bernard is the founder and senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, and one of New York City’s most influential leaders. Both Presidential candidates in the next US election have made very public overtures to court his endorsement.
But it appears, at least from social media, that the Dr Bernard we know and respect is focusing on the launch of this book, appearing on television programs to talk about it and taking interviews.
And for very good reason. This is a book that has the potential to change marriages and the lives of men, women, their children and their future generations, if it is not just read but consistently applied.
Those familiar with Bernard’s sermons will already know the four things that women want from a man: maturity, decisiveness, consistency and strength. In fact, these are the four things that God expects from a man, and the four things that men struggle with the most.
In an age where being married is a status that can be changed almost as easily as clicking on a FaceBook button, strong and lasting relationships between men and women are becoming more a rarity than the norm—certainly a priceless commodity. This book addresses the deep desire men and women have for a great marriage, and the natural wiring, wrong thinking, bad habits and influences that sabotage a happy and lasting union.
Bernard begins by systematically explaining how men and women are created by God to be different, and how these differences—meant to make men and women a good match for each other—became less complementary and more antagonistic as society developed through the decades and centuries. These shifts in social norms and the roles of men and women have had damaging impact on the values and principles of men and women—for example, we are now living in an age where, even among Christian couples, the individual’s development is valued over the deepening of the marriage.
Bernard writes: “[M]odern society has convinced us that our marriage partner should be our unofficial tour guide on our own personal journey of self-actualization. So here’s what happens: a spouse cruises along for a decade or two, fulfilling all the socially-accepted obligations—earning a paycheck, raising the kids—expecting the ‘self-discovery’ part to begin any day. Then one morning, the spouse wakes up, perhaps on the wrong side of the bed, and experiences an epiphany: time’s running out! And the spouse announces, ‘I just realized that I haven’t been realized!’ And in this fashion, the midlife crisis begins.”
Light-hearted though he makes it sound, reality bites—this is the scenario not just with couples married 20 years, but those married two, five, 10, 50. Selfishness has hijacked many marriages and caused premature death of these unions.
Each chapter ends with a prayer for men and for women, and the chapters are punctuated with note-taking space for honest reflection on some very hard questions, such as who are the people who add to your life, and who are the ones that detract from it.
Bernard shows how the four things really are building blocks to strong relationships and a man’s maturity is the foundation. Maturity is not a matter of age: a 50-year-old can be less mature than a 20-year-old. Maturity involves one’s values, which have to be built from early, because one needs one’s values to already be in place when satan comes around with a temptation masquerading as a good deal. “Mature people think long-term,” he emphasizes. “Mature people know what they stand for and they know it in advance.”
Decisiveness is insight in action, Bernard says. It is the ability to know what’s right and the willingness to do what’s right. Women want a man who can make quality decision quickly and confidently. “Since Adam and Eve, poor decision making has been part of the human condition. But in today’s temptation-filled world, it’s easier than ever to make poor decisions,” he writes.
While Four Things Women Want From A Man is primarily a book purposed to provide sound solutions to relationships, it is also an excellent book for anyone looking to improve as a Godly person. These four things are things God values and acquiring them can only benefit even the single man or woman. It’s a book of wisdom that bears revisiting, whether you are seeking answers for your marriage or you are looking to realign your value system.
Four Things Women Want From A Man (Simon & Schuster, US$19.99) is available on Amazon.com (hardcover and e-book)