Encouraging Boys to Manhood

“I have found that a man will usually be as much of a gentleman as a lady requires and probably no more.”
-Elisabeth Elliot

Five years ago, I wrote in an article on how to treat the men in your life: “You have a huge influence on the life of every boy or man you know. Be careful, then, how you use it. If you think they’re gross and impolite, they most likely will be that and more–but if you believe they can be chivalrous gentlemen and loving friends, they will try to live up to your unspoken standard.”What unspoken standard do you set for the men in your life?As Kelci put it:

“There are many ways that we can gently push young men into biblical manhood. Our job as young women is to encourage, respect, and affirm the men in our lives.”

The following passage from Eleanor Hunter’s book of old-fashioned advice, Talks to Girls, has always summed up my ideal of the way we can have a gentle influence on the lives of our brothers, our cousins, our friends…

Think a minute. Do you never snub [your brother] or criticize him or make fun of him? Do you never dispute with him? Do you constantly think of little things to do that will please him? Are you gentle and sweet in all your ways with him always? If you are not, you do not love him enough, for it is in such ways that sisterly love is manifested, and I do not think the boy ever lived who could resist a kind and gentle sister.

You are at least partially responsible for your brother’s manners and also for his morals. If you talk and laugh loudly…if you are rude and indifferent in your manners, so will he be. If you do not lead a true and noble Christian life, neither will he be apt to; and what is very sad, if your standard of morals is not high, he will measure all other girls by the girl he knows best. He will think they are no better than you; and one of the worst things that can befall a boy is for him to lose his respect for the character of women; and if your brother does not revere women, you could be responsible for it.

It is not every girl who thinks seriously of these things, nor every girl who is unselfish enough to win her brother’s affection; but those sisters who are loving and kind and true are more than repaid for any sacrifice they may make, for there is no blessing greater than a loving, manly brother.

A girl has a great influence over a boy, and every girl should realize that fact, and she should always try to use it rightly.

[Games] are just as good for girls as for boys. But be sure in all the fun never to do one deed or say one word that shall lessen a boy’s respect for you.

Never let a word of slang soil your lips, and keep the gentle manners of a lady always. Take for your model the lovely lady, Elizabeth Hastings, who, in the midst of a court where she had every temptation to do otherwise, yet she behaved so beautifully that she won this rare compliment from a gentleman who knew her. Said he, “…To behold her is an immediate check to loose behavior, and to love her is a liberal education.” That is the way your boy friends ought to feel about you.

A girl ought to be more to her boy friends than simply someone for them to have a good time with. She ought to be a positive force for good to them; but a girl is often afraid to speak to a boy upon a serious subject for fear he will laugh at her… That is a mistake. If you have a boy friend who is in danger from some bad habit, sometime, when you have a good chance, speak to him frankly and kindly upon the subject.

Girls have a great influence over a boy’s religious nature. Do not be afraid to use it.

-by Eleanor A. Hunter
Excerpted from Talks to Girls: Classic Teachings on Virtue and Values
originally published in the 1800’s, along with Talks to Boys
Copyright 1996 by American Tract Society. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. For copies call 1-800-366-7788.


  1. Re-visiting this post and nodding my head! I have been blessed to be able to “influence” my 4 brothers and I pray I am a good example to them of Biblical womanhood. I agree with what Adrian said up above.
    Only the Holy Spirit can change a man. If we go into a relationship, trying to change a man for the better or to change his walk with the Lord, that is really not wise. We can’t save a man’s soul; only God can. We can influence men for the better but ultimately it’s up the Holy Spirit and our Heavenly Father and all glory goes to HIM!

  2. I agree that women have this power to influence men greatly, and I fully agree that they should use it to the glory of God. However, I would caution against two things.

    One is this: if a man who has watched you and observed your kind and gracious ways still goes out and does not behave like a gentleman, you must not be hard on yourself. That is related to the second:

    You cannot expect the man to change under your minstrations. Remember: only the Holy Spirit ultimately changes hearts. He may very well, and often does, work through you ladies (and bless you for it!), but do not presume on the Spirit to work. In Lewis’s words, “He’s not a tame lion.”

    God bless you.

  3. Thanks for the reminder to maintain lady-like behavior at all times, if possible. Especially when they tease! In the whirl of college life, it’s sometimes very trying for this girl to properly handle the banter of young men who do not share a common faith. How can we show them a loving example of Christ-like humility if one responds with a sharp tongue instead of a “meek and quiet” spirit? Thank you again and again-you’ve helped me to rekindle my *natural, but momentarily misplaced* serenity and rediscover the benefits of forbearance with “them”.

  4. Sarah, I enjoyed reading your post. It’s so wonderful how everyone has a different love language, but it’s also quite challenging to love people in ways that they understand and appreciate the most.-Whitney

  5. Another great post on the YLCF…:)Really, I don’t think there is a single YLCF post that I DON’T like;D… Thanks for writing this one, Gretchen!:) Though I don’t have any brothers, this post has given me more insight into how I can bless the boys and men that I come into contact with (as well as those that will come into my life in the future)…

  6. As a guy, I can attest that you women have a great influence on our lives — spiritual, emotional, and mental.
    The influence is almost scary in its power. You can lead a man closer to God or tear him away. Realize that power and use it to God’s glory.

  7. Thank you for reminding us of this, we do have a great responsibility to show the men in our lives the respect they deserve and help them to grow into biblical manhood.

    I have four brothers, two older and two younger and my older brothers have helped me to become a more godly young woman, I think, by the respect and encouragement they have given me while I was growing up. But, I still need to continue to help my younger brothers to become men of God by respecting them (which looks different than with my older brothers), and showing them an example of a woman who seeks the Lord.
    We really do have a lot more influence upon the men in our lives then we often think.

    Gretchen, is your fiance building your house near where his parents live in Washington, or in Oregon? If it is near Leavenworth, that is a beautiful area.


  8. I wonder if this doesn’t also apply to us as girls. Are we only as feminine and sweet as is expected of us by the men in our lives? It seems like it would be so. I’m trying not to be so easily influenced. If my brother treats me like “one of the guys” (he doesn’t):-) maybe I should try hard not to fit into that category. Regardless of the way I’m treated. Isn’t it ultimately my responsiblity how I act?

    Anyway, I loved the post. I will definitely be putting these thoughts into practice.

  9. I read the article on how to treat men in our lives, and I linked from there to your “personalities” section. I already knew I was balanced precariously somewhere between an ENTJ and an ENFJ. Now I have figured out that I am Sanguine, and my primary love language is “Acts of Service.” How about that? A person learns something new every day. 🙂

    I have been discovering since I arrived home this semester just how much influence I can have on my brothers. A simple compliment is enough to give one a beaming smile and a willing jump to open the door for his sisters. (Ha! He must be “Words of Affirmation!”) The other younger brother sits and works at his computer for hours, then gets up and starts to wander around looking for a hug. Once he gets one from someone, he sits back down and works some more. If people don’t hug him enough, he starts to lapse into melancholy.

    People are just plain a wonderful creation!

  10. That’s a mind turner!
    What a responsibility we’ve been given and how exactly are we using it! We are the women in our brothers/friends/boy down the street who sees fetch the paper you every morning etc. lives, what are we showing them?!?!

  11. Excellent and challenging post! It is amazing what power we girls have, without even realizing it. Thank you so much for running this website. It has been a great encouragement to me.

  12. Wow, I’ve never even thought of that! What an awesome responsibility us sisters have been given, one which we are sometimes not even aware of or don’t take seriously! Let us all be granted that Christ-like cloak of compassion, gentleness, kindness and love so that we may be an example to the men and boys in our lives.
    Incredible post, Gretchen.
    I will really take this to heart.
    Thank you,

  13. Awesome Job…well said, and thank you for responding! Gretchen I love reading your comments and articles…thank you for being willing to serve the Lord by helping keep this website up and going! Blessings, Kelci

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