“I don’t have to prove these principles; I know they work. How do I know? My wife told me so.” - Dr. A. R. Bernard
In 1978, Dr. A. R. Bernard and his family started a church in Brooklyn, New York. Today that church has 37,000 members. In addition to his pastoral leadership, Dr. Bernard has had a huge impact across all of New York City. He has served as president of the Council of Churches of the City of New York, on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Public Library and the NYC Economic Development Corporation and has been the recipient of many prestigious leadership awards.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Bernard speak at a leadership seminar in Buffalo, New York. During his presentation he shared the primary ideas from his recent book “Four Things Women Want From A Man.” Here are those four things.
Maturity. Near the beginning of his remarks Dr. Bernard said, “Maturity does not come with age. It begins with the acceptance of responsibility.” I think this was my favorite quote from his entire presentation. It really is possible to be immature at 60 years of age and mature at 25.
One of the things that attracted his wife Karen to him was his quality, as she described, of being an “old soul.” Because his life situation required it, even as a young man he had to accept responsibility and that produced maturity in words, thoughts, motives, actions and attitudes. Perhaps the saddest words that could ever come from a wife would be, “I just wish he would grow up.”
Decisiveness. Jose Ortega y Gasset said, “Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do next.” Dr. Bernard said, “Decisiveness is insight in action. It’s the ability to know what’s right and, just as important, it’s the willingness to do what’s right.”
According to Dr. Bernard, one of the most important ways we cultivate decisiveness is establishing values or principles that are a set of rules by which you order your life. Whether or not we have a formal list, we all live our lives with a set of values that inform everything we do.
Too often, a husband and a wife may have the same values but they may have them in a different order of priority. Dr. Bernard confessed that some years ago he was guilty of the “sin of transposition” because his church became his “mistress” and became even more important to him than his family. Only after deep change did he restore right order to his values.
Consistency. His words challenge every man, “Women don’t expect their men to be perfect, but they do expect, and deserve, their men to be consistent. It is easier for a woman to forgive her man once a year than to forgive him once a week. And it’s easier to forgive him once a week than to forgive him every day of the week.”
If we are inconsistent, sooner or later it will catch up to us. Private inconsistencies will inevitably become public and our marriages will pay a huge price.
Strength. “Today,” Dr. Bernard says, “women deeply desire strength of character more than strength of body. No longer does Jane need Tarzan. She doesn’t care if her man can lasso a lion, grapple with a gorilla or ride bareback on an elephant like it was a Shetland pony. Nope, today’s Jane doesn’t want a circus strongman. She wants somebody she can trust.”
And in order to have strength, integrity matters. As C. S. Lewis said, “A little lie is like a little pregnancy; it doesn’t take long before everyone knows.”
Each of these four traits has a powerful influence on any relationship. Dr. Bernard also described their applicability to an organization, not just the family. Men need them. Leaders need them. We all need them.
Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President of the University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville. Responses can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; Official page: Facebook.com/DrDonMeyer; Follow on Twitter: @DrDonMeyer; Archives at: valleyforge.edu/thinkaboutit.