Six Tips to the Dating Man

Get ya money right: If you’re dating then hopefully it’s someone you can see yourself with long term. If this is the case, you should really start preparing financially. Although I had an inkling about the importance about financial planning and stewardship, I didn’t understand how much it impacts every area of your life. You don’t have to have a certain dollar amount, or earn a certain income, however you should seriously seek financial guidance. Check out these resources: Dave Ramsey and DFree 

“You don’t have to have a certain dollar amount, or earn a certain income…”

Don’t be scurred: OMGoodness! If I had a dollar for every fearful brother I met,  I’d be rich! I talk to so many men who try to over-spiritualize their insecurity, anxiety, uneasiness, uncertainty and downright fear! A woman doesn’t expect you to be made of iron, she just wants you to be real. I know scurred single brothers and I know scurred “involved” brothers.  I know guys who will meet an incredible woman, know for certain they want to marry her, but postpone “putting a ring on it” simply because they’re afraid of commitment or they wrestle with the idea of not measuring up. Let me help you: YOU NEVER WILL! Move on and put a ring on it anyway. When start stalling because of your overly-amplified, idiosyncrasies and fears you make the relationship all about you. This, at its root is selfish, narcissistic and an inability to walk in faith. I’m not advocating rushing into anything, especially something as serious as marriage; equally I don’t advocate fearful living.  

Take the lead: You don’t have to wait on the heavens to open up and hear a James Earlish voice before you make faith steps. If you like a woman, tell her. If you want to date or court (depending on how you define the process) her then be upfront and be unafraid of possible rejection. There should not be any point in your relationship where your woman has to guess or assume your relationship status. You should have the courage to initiate important conversations, including defining the relationship. Your relationship should progressively move towards the future, even if you realize along the way it’s not with each other.


“Believe it or not, being emotionally vulnerable takes tremendous strength…”



Communication isn’t key, it’s the whole door: If you’re like most guys on the planet, this will probably be the hardest for you. Learning to talk about feelings and emotions isn’t an area in which most of us have proficiency. Believe it or not, being emotionally vulnerable takes tremendous strength, and communicates to your mate you’re willing to grow and you care. This also involves learning the art of listening.

Set boundaries: If you haven’t made a commitment for life, then you’re dating someone else’s wife. I don’t care how spiritual you are, how much you pray and how many accountability friends you have, all is forgotten when you’re turned on.  Nothing functions properly except one thing and it will get you into trouble. Despite what we have been taught by popular culture, media, and music, taking a test drive, having taste tests, using free samples and 30 day trial periods are not real measures of a relationship’s durability or long-term potential. All of these ideologies are MANufactured and don’t consider the very real and costly implications of diverting from God’s original intent for sexual intimacy. Condoms can cover body parts, but they cannot cover hearts. Ideally, in a dating relationship, the man sets the physical and emotional boundaries, not the woman. Not the woman. As a man you lay the foundation in the relationship. She’s looking to you to lead her well and trusts you with her heart and body. Don’t abuse her trust, its’ not worth it. When the purpose of something is unknown, abuse is inevitable. Know what God’s word says about his daughters.

 

“Condoms can cover body parts, but they cannot cover hearts.”



Get some help: I recommend every couple have another couple, preferably older and more experienced, as a support system. You can’t go somewhere you’ve never been without directions so ask for help. Take their advice. Don’t be afraid to allow trustworthy people to get all up in your business. That’s called good leadership and accountability.

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Brother to Brother: 10 Types of Women You Shouldn’t Date

In one of my recent posts, I gave women ten types of men to avoid, and although lots of women enjoyed the insight, the brothers felt left out. So, what about all the good brothers out there? The ones who love God, have common sense, are hard-working, and have a vision? Where do they find love? Although it’s arguable who has it worse, the fact is, for some men it’s very difficult to find a lady who is attractive, spiritual, (but not spooky), and isn’t loco.  As you’re in pursuit, watch out for these of women.

Thirsty Thelma: She’s always looking for man, and will do whatever it takes to get anyone that somewhat resembles a man. Her self-worth is predicated on her relationship status, and unfortunately this makes her vulnerable to scrubs, thugs, and bedbugs. Her Facebook status affirms her. Not God, her uniqueness or creativity. Not even the man she’s with. It’s simply the satisfaction of knowing she has a man.

Freaky Felicia: Self-explanatory right? She’s the kind of  vixen open more than your local Walmart. She’s open for business for anyone…and I mean anyone. You don’t know where she’s been, or with whom she’s been with. Bye Felicia.

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Sleeping Sasha: She’s the main character in a story that’s all about her rescue from the perils of singlehood.  She’s stuck in a Disney movie, waiting for her handsome prince to ride in on a stallion, take her hand, and whisk her away to an enchanted land where love lives forever. A woman waiting on a man to become who she is destined to be is a woman out of touch with reality. These women will put unrealistic expectations on men and often play the victim instead of living victoriously.

Kangaroo Katie: She jumps in and out of relationships. Every time you see her she has a new man. She changes men like handbags. Usually, these types of women have issues they may or may not be aware of, and are looking for someone else to help fix. Sometimes they will superimpose unrealistic standards NO MAN is able to meet. They can search for minuscule, insignificant reasons to break up, and it’s on to the next one. She may even try to “build-a-boo”, by having two, three or five men on the side, each embodying a characteristic she desires.

Holy Heather: Ever met someone so spiritual they were out of touch with reality? Well fellas, this is Heather. She’s disconnected from the universe and masks genuine emotions, desires, and ideas-the ones God gives us-with spirituality. She is the, “Jesus is my boyfriend”, and “I’m just waiting on the Lord” kind of woman. She doesn’t know where she wants to go, what kind of man she’s looking for, or what qualities make her unique because, “The Lord ain’t revealed it yet.” She’s a bystander in life, and in relationships.

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Insecure Ida: Every person deals with insecurities, idiosyncrasies and issues, but Ida is unreasonably insecure. She frequently speaks and behaves in ways to seek attention or affirmation. Initially, it can be cute or attractive to think you’re genuinely needed by her, but it’s fool’s gold. Trying to love an insecure person is like trying to cut down a redwood with a razor blade. You will never say enough, do enough, or be enough to give her what she needs: real self-love that comes from above.

Wonder Woman Wanda: It’s her way or the highway. She runs a strict dictatorship, and being with her is a privilege, or so she thinks. She makes the rules, the money, and tells subjects lucky enough to be under her rule what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. She feels the need to be in control and refuses to relinquish her Queendom. Frequently, people like this are deeply insecure and feel the need to overcompensate in areas where they may feel out of control. It’s a means of security. With her, “don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.”

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Krazy Keisha:  Just like Krazy Kevin, she gets hotter than the pavement in Arizona. She screams, cries, manipulates, and is emotionally unstable. One minute everything is fine, and the next, it’s like a scene out of, The Exorcist. She can also get physically violent, and best believe will slash tires and bust the windows out your car.

Cash-in Candace: I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold-digger, but she ain’t messing with no broke… well, you know the song. If she’s overly-concerned about cheddar, then your life will not be better.  It’s all about the money… dollar, dollar bill y’all.  Her concept of manhood and womanhood may be rooted in false and erroneous ideologies that she will inevitably project on you.

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Heartbroken Haley: Sometimes she walks in circles.  She’s been broken so many times she has built walls taller than Jericho and you ain’t getting through brother. She may have an emotional and spiritual  deficit that may require professional counseling. She’s the younger sister of Wonder Woman Wanda, and without a real intervention, will grow up to be just like her.

It’s tempting to be Billy Graham and go on a crusade to try save a woman from herself, but trust me, you cannot do it. When hurting people hurt people, and are in need of healing, the first step is to recognize the problem. The next is getting the appropriate help. After God made the first woman, that job became obsolete. We cannot make ourselves a wife; we must allow Him to present her to us. This means, like Eve, God makes her. He never told us to fall in love, he told us to walk in it, and sometimes walking in love means knowing what paths to avoid.

 

Can We All Just Get Along: The Un-American Dream

Can we all just get along? For a while, that was the famous mantra uttered by Rodney King after video surfaced of him being beaten mercilessly by several white police officers. Those images of King caused community unrest, and coverage of civic outrage flooded the airways once again showing our deep racial divide.

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Rewind time to 1998, Jasper, TX, where James Byrd Jr. was beaten and dragged to death by several white men. Travel to back Mississippi, 1955, where 14 year old Emmett Till was tortured and killed by several white men for allegedly flirting with a white woman. In 2015, we are again entrenched in headlines with an all-too-common narrative of injustice against black men at the hands of whites, proceeded by a rally for justice. It seems as if everyone chooses their political, social, and theological sides when events like this take place, but what about those who feel stuck in the middle? What about those who feel their voice is gone? What about the angry black Christians? I am unapologetically a black, male, Christian. Those are inseparable and intricate aspects of my identity, and each laments every time I see these headlines. I am emotionally drained and unspeakably angry.

I’m angry because for many blacks these stories make headlines not because of their uncommonness, but because they are commonplace. Many of us either know someone, or have personally experienced the harsh side of injustice at the hands of power and privilege. Although America has some very ugly sides, these stories are not reflective of it in its entirety. I am even more tired of the church’s silence. We worship and attend social functions together, but seldom know one another in deeper, more meaningful relationships. Racism is very alive, even in the church, and silence will not make it go away.

Racism is very alive, even in the church…

I’ve always had a desire to explore my American, African, and ethnic identity. I was the kid some people called “militant.” I still get those references. I wasn’t always able to say this, but I love being black. Growing up in the church taught me many things, most of which heavily emphasized my spiritual identity. However, I was culturally poor, socially ignorant, and ethnically immature. As much as it hurts to admit, the church did a terrible job helping me develop a sense of self, and an even poorer job demonstrating where the gospel intersects social injustice and identity development. I’ve been a member of several denominations, but not once did we have a course, sermon, small group series or discussion on ethnic identity development. The church’s silence on these salient issues was one of the primary reasons I rebelled against religion, especially Christianity. The religion I was presented depicted an erroneous picture of a narcissistic Jesus who forced you to assimilate into a religious experience at the expense of your individuality and culture. It was a real turn off, but by God’s grace I have come to know about my identity through intentional study, conversations, and cross-cultural immersion experiences. A significant amount of these experiences were provided by a parachurch organization, not my local church. The underlying pedagogy in most of my local church experiences articulated that becoming a Christian dismissed my blackness and Jesus was not concerned with “that part of me.” I now know this is far from the truth.

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Through study of the scriptures and crucial conversations, I’ve come to understand this simple fact: although my spirituality supersedes my ethnic identity, it doesn’t diminish it. This means who I am, in its entirety testifies of the indisputable truth that I am uniquely designed to reflect God’s matchless creativity. I still grieve when I see churches remain silent on these important areas of ministry. These areas that can often disrupt our congregational unity. There are parts of the body that are seriously injured and have been for some time now, so where do we go from here?

The first step is acknowledging that some of us are hurting and need to be healed. The second is critical conversations with suspended judgment in emotionally safe zones. It’s going to take more than a Sunday morning exegesis of a couple of scriptures. It’s a healing series. If one of us hurts, we all hurt. These issues pick at an old, unhealed wound because for many of us the oppressed share the same pigment, hair texture, and accent of them in our community.

The first step is acknowledging that some of us are hurting and need to be healed….

We must learn to initiate conversations, ideologically re-posture ourselves, suppress the urge to debate case forensics, and transition into the role of listener. We must journey into our brother and sister’s pain to find the heart of God. When we simply focus on case facts instead of digging deeper to the core of racial conflict, we become the ones with stones as seen in John 8. Jesus stepped in between law enforcement and the law breaker in a beautiful expression of uninhibited, impenetrable grace.

In that incident the law created a platform to promote judgment and condemnation. If not careful, we can operate in that same spirit. It’s a spirit that can produce division instead of empathy, and defensiveness instead of authentic vulnerability. If we are serious about bridging cultural gaps and tearing down walls of racism, then we must be committed to educating one another about God’s creativity and how it’s manifested through our differences. Being multicultural/multiethnic isn’t simply having church members from various backgrounds; it means having multiethnic expressions of ministry, worship, and curriculum while not consciously or unknowingly superimposing one expression over the other.

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Before we get to this place, we simply need conversations about where we are and how it’s impacting us. The longer we wait for our problems to dissolve the more irrelevant Jesus becomes to the one looking for himself in the gospel. Let’s be unafraid to venture into some uncomfortable, messy places that can potentially lead us into healing, empowerment and powerful demonstrations of love. Sometimes the ones on the pews next to us are deeply hurting and in mourning. If we are truly disciples of Christ, let’s listen instead of speak, educate instead of indoctrinate, and walk towards healing. Then, we will be able to better serve all of the complex, ethnic identities that make up our congregations.

Brother to Sister: 10 Types of Men You Shouldn’t Date

All my single ladies… all my single ladies… now put your hands up… and pray! Yes, pray. That’s exactly what you need to do if you’re looking for a good man in today’s times. We are living in a hypersexual, pseudo-romantic and superficial society that continually narrates the old and fictitious tale of guy meets girl, the two fall in love, then they live happily ever after. Well, it’s just not true; it’s possible, just not highly probable. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good man and I want to help you as you’re waiting on Mr. Right or looking for him. I want to help you spot the NOTs so you don’t waste time trying to warm a fire that was never meant to burn. Here are several types of men you need to avoid:

 

Casanova Carl He treats his women like Lays Potato Chips: he can’t have just one. The most important thing you need to know about Carl is stay away. Although he may not sleep around with many women, he likes his “friends” a little too much and doesn’t know how to appropriately detach. He craves feminine attention and affirmation and may not know how to relate to men. He may be  good to hang out with, but keep him in the friend zone.

Krazy Kevin: Here’s Kevin! Run! Get out the way! This is the, “I called you 10 times in one hour because I can’t live without you.” The, “I went looking for you because you were gone more than 30 minutes” kind of brother. He’s unpredictable, controlling, overly critical, sensitive and abnormally attached. He can be verbally and physically abusive. He is literally crazy. A couple of red flags: (1) He tries to get too close way too soon, (2) He show signs of aggressive pursuit too early without knowing anything about you, (3) He is a ticking time bomb. Anything can set him off.  He has so many issues you could fill two landfills and still have more room. These relationships are highly flammable and have a high propensity to turn dangerous. Please stay away.

Krazy Kevin

Wild Wendall: When you see this man please move. NOW! Like, right now! He exhibits unreasonable anger, doesn’t like authority, rules or boundaries. He wants what he wants and when he wants it, including you. Initially, his character deficiencies can be masqueraded by emotional authenticity and admirable drive but buyer beware! Quite often this type of behavior is rooted in insecurity, privilege, and a host of deep fractures. It may also reveal some deeper issues you’re not the person to help fix. I repeat, you’re not the person to help fix. Marriage is a magnifier for who we really are. If he can’t control his habits, sexuality, anger and emotions now it won’t change later.

Passive Paul He doesn’t breathe unless he gets permission first. He waits for you to make the first move for everything. He waits for you to express interest. He doesn’t initiate important conversations, is overly fearful of rejection, and incapable of making decisions and sticking to them. He likes whatever you like and goes wherever you lead. He avoids conflict and seldom steps up, speaks up or stands up.

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Selfie Santiago Simply put, it’s all about him. He spends more time in the mirror than you and everything is about him. His looks, his feelings, his ideas, his dreams, his life! He’s vain and overly focused on appearance: yours and his. Do yourself a favor: take one last picture then crop yourself out.

Brandon the Baby Two words: mama’s boy. Unfortunately, we live in a society where a lot of our boys were raised by single mothers. Historically, this has negatively interrupted our men’s identity development, sense of independence, and unfortunately, you have to deal with it. This guy still lives at home, doesn’t work nor looks for work and still depends on his mama for basic survival. He is a lot like Passive Paul in the sense he doesn’t control his life and waits for others to guide him through it. He will sometimes compare you to his mama and will criticize when you don’t measure up. If you’re not looking to be a mama then leave him alone.

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Lukewarm Larry This guy loves his freedom and doesn’t want to be confined to any religion, world doctrine, or anything that requires commitment. He lives by a smorgasbord of religious, philosophical, and self-derived principles. Essentially, he’s confused. Although he may be intellectually astute and a great conversationalist, unfortunately he stands for nothing. Larry might not lead you down a path of wickedness, death, or destruction but equally he cannot lead you to a place of indisputable truth.

Superman Sean This brother has so much on his plate he bought another one just to make room for everything. He’s the ultra-busy, “sorry, I’ve been too busy to call you back” guy.  He has too many things to do. He habitually returns your calls unreasonably late, misses the appointments you and he set, and puts you at the bottom of his to-do list. He’s not ready for a relationship; he’s just looking for another trophy to add to his mantle.

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Blind Bernard: Bernard is visually impaired and has no vision. He is unable to plan long-term and suffers from nearsightedness.  Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t have to present a ten year plan, but he does have to have a clue about life. He doesn’t know, nor has ever thought about his life passions, the legacy he wants to leave, or your future together. He is often vocationally, educationally, and spiritually complacent. He lacks motivation and frequently exhibits a “good enough” attitude. That is to say, regardless of opportunities and how they potentially impact he and his family; he does just enough to get by.  Not too little and not too much: just enough. Buy him some prescription lenses and leave them at his doorstep.

Nathan Nonbeliever: If you and he don’t spiritually agree, then chances are it ain’t meant to be.  Need I say more? I don’t care how fine, strong, funny, charming, spiritual, articulate, good to his mama and granny he is. If he is not wholeheartedly committed to his relationship with Christ you are going to have trouble. This is not to say if you marry him all hell will break loose. This is to say marriage is a sacred covenant between two people for expanding God’s work on earth. Yes, it can be fun and nice to have someone to lay beside, but if you two don’t have a basic reference point for life then there will be trouble. The price tag of settling for less than God’s best can be very, very expensive and sometimes you need the courage to say goodbye.

 

If you find yourself becoming frustrated and overwhelmed by the perceived lack of good men, be patient. In your singleness try investing in the lives of others and learning more about yourself. We unfailingly find ourselves in broken relationships because one or both of us started as broken people looking for someone to fix us. If you’re single keep an eye out for these men. If you’re currently in a relationship with one of these men and you aren’t married, you may want to seriously consider ending it. You don’t want to spend precious years trying to water and nurture something that was never supposed to grow. Stand in courageous faith, trust fiercely and keep hope alive until God brings you someone.     

 

Books I Recommend:

Too Close Too Soon

101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged

All Black Everything: My Trip to Ghana

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In 2007 I visited Africa for the first time and it was a dream come true. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life and one I’ll never forget. I was part of a seven-week leadership immersion experience with The Impact Movement, a nonprofit organization that empowers leaders of African descent. Prior to this, I only dreamt of going to this great continent and I knew very little about it. In fact, I always referred to it as Africa; just Africa. It was the black man’s Mecca, a distant place that perhaps someday I’d see. After my initial trip I realized that other black people and I had similar experiences. Here are a few.

Welcome home: This was by far one of the more prevalent greetings. This, and Akwaaba, which means welcome. Being in Ghana was like going back to a place I’ve never been for the first time. Yes, you read that correctly, it was like going home for the first time.

All black everything: For the first time in my life I was immersed in an all-black society. I was part of the majority and boy did it feel good. I mean great! I mean amazing! I mean utterly incredible! Words cannot express what it felt like to see people who looked like me on billboards, television programs, in the streets, in the classroom and practically everywhere. Sometimes you never know what you’ve been missing until it’s returned to you. Going to Ghana made me realize how amazing it was to be in an ethnically and culturally diverse majority black population.

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I wasn’t black, I was an American: Simply being an American was one of the hardest adjustments I had to make. Most black Americans, especially men will agree they are constantly reminded of their blackness, and unfortunately it’s rare this reminder derives from a culturally appreciative context. It’s seldom a blatant disapproval based on skin color. Most of the time it’s a subtle reminder that you’re simply different. From the lack of representation in popular media, to the overexposure of fractures within your community, to the inability to simply find the right kind of hair products, you’re always reminded that you’re different. Not in Ghana. I was simply American and for the first time I truly felt like I embodied King’s vision to be judged by the content of my character and not the color of my skin. Words cannot describe how beautifully emancipating it was to simply BE.

My sense of blackness and affinity with African culture strengthened: For centuries we have been presented with a historically anorexic narrative about our history. Essentially, we are taught we are the descendants of slaves. That’s where our history begins and is most significant. Going to Ghana, visiting the slave castles, talking with educated Africans and learning more about African history helped me realize my people were not slaves; they were Africans who were enslaved. That’s a big difference. Slavery is only one aspect of my history, not the complete and full context of it. Knowing this was intellectually and culturally revolutionary.

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I became unapologetically black: Gaining historical perspective concerning my people’s sense of charisma, language, love for music, spirituality and other aspects of black culture equipped me with the cultural esteem to move towards celebrating my identity instead of frequently apologizing for it. I now tell people I’m unapologetically Christian, unapologetically black and unapologetically a man. Simply put, I’m unapologetically ME.

As an American I’m extremely privileged: As the saying goes, sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The average American, regardless of background is extremely privileged. Whether it’s running water, food access, or the ability to freely travel internationally; we are privileged and blessed. If we don’t like the service at a restaurant, department store or shopping center we can take our business elsewhere, but what you do if “elsewhere” isn’t an option? Different countries like Ghana still experience very real challenges such as the lack of employment, restricted education opportunities and resource shortages.

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We are remarkably undereducated about other nations: As a child I was constantly exposed to images about Africa; you know Africa: people dying of starvation, living in spiritual desolation, those uncivilized, savage people-you know Africa. For the most part Americans are severely undereducated about other nations. I was surprised when I met Ghanaians who knew more American presidents than I, knew more about my economy and had a level of cultural fluency that surpassed that of most of my peers and I. It was a sobering reality that we do an immensely disheartening disservice of miseducating and undereducating our children about other nations, especially Africa.

Just as America has many states with even more diverse cultures, ideas and characteristics so does Africa. It’s a continent with over 50 countries which are all very different and equally unique. Visiting Ghana left me with an even stronger desire to explore my history and unfortunately I cannot rely on the traditional American education system to teach me. Since arriving in America, Africans and the descendants of enslaved Africans have been trying to rediscover who they are and desperately reconfigure the shattered remnants of their identity. Who we are as humans and as black people begins in Africa. If you’re trying to find who you are Africa is a great place to start. Sankofa!

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Check out one of my favorite songs Africa Rising.

Find more photos of my trip on my Facebook page.