One of the main reasons I submitted a request to be a reviewer for Mind & Media was the chance to educate and understand more of what it means to be a Christian through books written by various authors. One book that I was very interested in reading was No More Christian Nice Guy by Paul Coughlin and I was blessed to respond fast enough to get on the list. The reason I was looking forward to this book was because I personally feel that American liberals and the media are trying to minimize the role of men in our society and I thought that Paul’s book may help give me some ideas to combat this misguided practice.
The full title of the book with tag line is No More Christian Nice Guy: When being nice – instead of good – hurts men, women, and children. Paul makes a distinction between a Christian Nice Guy (CNG) and a Christian Good Guy and details the characteristics of a CNG while providing tips for conversion into a Christian Good Guy. Several questions are posed in the beginning of the book that help you figure out if you or someone you know is a CNG. If you answer Yes to too many then you should really keep reading the book and figure out how to take charge of your life. Some questions really hit home for me, i.e. “When wondering “WWJD”, do you assume a gentle response?” Wow, that is exactly what I used to think when using the WWJD method. If I was getting angry or worked up I would think WWJD and try to turn into a lamb and just take what was going on at the moment. How wrong I was and thanks to Paul I understand what we should really be thinking.
Paul spent time showing how Jesus wasn’t a push over type of guy and stood His ground when He needed to. I see in churches today where men are not encouraged to “Go for it” and are more likely to be instructed how to respond rather than be proactive in society. Many sermons in America tell us things we should not do to avoid sinning where we also need to hear what we should be doing proactively to spread the Word.
I did answer no to many of the questions, but do consider myself a CNG in many areas of my life. Overall, I do have more of a passive nature than an aggressive nature and am quite sacrificial with my time. I devote most of my time outside work to my wife and daughters and have given up a lot of what really interests me (rugby, daily exercise, quiet reading time), which I think was a bit too extreme. That’s not to say that after reading the book I am going to now stop spending time with my family, but I am going to balance my life out a bit more and get involved with activities that help me personally.
Paul provided details about his childhood and while I couldn’t relate because mine was pretty good, it was helpful to understand that many CNG traits are formed when we were young. I think that some of my passivity resulted because I have an extrovert mother who raised me that reduced my need to stand up for myself at times. It is important to sit back and think about your childhood to better understand who you are today and to also help you raise your own children correctly.
I thought the chapter on how being nice ruins love and marriage was completely spot on as I have had some recent marriage issues that I feel my passivity had a lot to do with. I know my wife likes it when I take a stand and speak up rather than playing the meek and mild person that society expects of men today. As I mentioned above I also was sacrificing too much of myself thinking this was helping my marriage and family, while I was probably making too great of a sacrifice and actually hurting these relationships. Striking a healthy balance can help you grow personally while providing a rock for your family to stand on.
My recent problems with my wife also had to do with lack of intimacy and Paul challenges us Christian men to stand up and shout about the joys of intimacy in marriage. My wife and I are doing much better now as I try to follow this advice and I completely agree with Paul that women are much more attracted to these type of men than a passive nice guy.
Throughout the book, Paul also talks about emotions and how Christian Good Guys shouldn’t be afraid to show them. I personally show my happiness and anger, but rarely cry and show my sadness, disappointment, and other pure emotions and will try to be more open without being a wimpy guy.
Issues at work are also covered in a chapter, but thankfully I didn’t fall into the Nice Guy role here which has a lot to do with the nature of the work that I do and the confidence I have in my abilities. My workplace is also very professional and there are rarely personnel issues to deal with. However, the issues were well covered and addressed in the book and I can see how they apply to many in the workplace.
The last couple chapters tell you how to move from being a CNG to being a Christian Good Guy and I am personally trying to apply those methods to my life since I see real value from being a Good Guy rather than a Nice Guy. If you are a Christian man or know one then I highly recommend you check out this book. I look forward to seeing how being a Good Guy can impact my life and the lives of those around me as I take a stand for being a man.
I also recommend you check out the interview with Paul Coughlin that Stacy Harp produced.