Should a Guy Pursue a Girl Like a Dying Man Looking for Water in a Desert?

Hey, girls,

Please don’t think that all my posts from now ’til eternity are going to be about what Christian guys think about [insert topic here]. BUT . . . because of your huge response, I’m going to follow up last week’s “What Christian Guys Think About Makeup” with one on how Christian guys think about pursuing Christian girls.

Here’s what I asked my guy friends this week:

What would pursuit of a girl look like for you personally? I ask ’cause a teen girl recently told me her fave quote is:

“The next time a boy pursues you, he better do it like a dying man looking for water in a desert. When it’s the right guy, you’ll know, because he’ll cherish you.”

Might be me, but I just don’t think that first sentence is realistic, and I don’t think it’s gonna necessarily be that obvious. Am I wrong? Please help a girl (scratch that—lots of girls) out.


Here’s what they had to say:

“That’s over the top. I want Christ to be my top priority and then if He brings along a girl, then that’s good. I certainly want to cherish her but not like a dying man. For me personally, pursing a girl looks more like becoming good friends with her first, and when the time is right, with permission from her parents, taking that relationship/friendship deeper.” —Trevor J.

“As the other Trevor said, I think that picture of pursuing a girl is a bit over the top. The picture in Jeremiah 2:13 of forsaking the fountain of living waters (God) for broken, dusty cisterns (anything that is not God) comes to mind. My thirst needs to first be satisfied by God and then by a wife (Pr. 5:15–23).

“For me, pursuing a girl looks like befriending her, seeing what her trajectory in life is like, speaking clearly about exploring the possibility of marriage, and then moving forward from there, certainly keeping her parents in the loop all the while.” —Trevor M.

“Haha yeah, I’d say that statement is a little extreme. The start of pursuing a girl for me is more about getting to know a girl and seeing if there is even any mutual interest. Extreme desperation is probably not the best place to start.” —Mat

Now, I will say God does challenge men (specifically husbands) to cherish their wives, to follow Christ’s example and lay their lives down for her in the daily grind of everyday life:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:25, 28–30).

But expecting a guy to leap from admiring you from a distance to pursuing you with the zeal of a dying man looking for water in a desert seems unrealistic and unhelpful (and quite possibly unhealthy) to me.

How about you? What do you think?

Fact is, there is a man who pursued you all the way to death, the God-Man Jesus. He didn’t do this out of desperation for your love, (Acts 17:25 tells us He doesn’t need anything!) but out of obedience to His Father and out of pure, selfless, sacrificial love that was looking out for your best interests:

God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

How have you responded to His pursuit of you? With an a) “I’m not interested, thank you very much,” or with a b) “I can’t fathom how you would love me, but YES, I give all of myself to You!”

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York. You can catch all her writing on

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  • Natalie

    Jesus did what he did because he was motivated by love! If a guy wants to pursue me in a similar way, that would be great. Honestly, I would be very turned off if a guy pursued me with the “zeal of a dying man looking for water in a desert”! That would make him seem incredibly needy and maniacal. I want to find a man who can comfortably live without me, but prefers not to. I’ve never understood why some girls want guys to worship them! Isn’t it better to be with someone who keeps you on your toes and motivates you to improve and to grow closer to God? I want to be a godly man’s “extra bonus” from God, not his whole life! In the same way, (once/if I get married) I want God to be WAY more important to me than my husband. Hopefully I will be able to live this out, because as much as I would like to have a husband someday… I think that he could easily become a tempting distraction from God 🙁

    • phendricks

      I like this, Natalie, “I want to find a man who can comfortably live without me, but prefers not to.” Thanks for sharing!

  • I think that if a guy pursued me with the “zeal of a dying man looking for water in a desert,” it would instantly turn me off. I want one who is more passionate about fighting to love Jesus, than desperately clinging to me as his only hope and love. I would want someone who encourages me to love my greatest Love more. God has been showing me that guys can’t fill my deepest need for love-only Jesus can. I want, as Natalie said, “a man who can comfortably live without me, but prefers not to.” 🙂

    • phendricks

      How encouraging, Victoria, that God has been showing you that only He can fill your deepest need for love. Keep running to Him when you feel empty! (1 John 4:8)

  • GodGirl

    I love that God pursues me. I struggle with bitterness and hurt towards some people and it’s amazing to see how He loves and pursues me anyway. Plus, He’ll do the fighting back I want to do. My hurt can be surrendered to the Healer.

    • phendricks

      Amen, GodGirl! May you continue to let Him fight for you (Rom. 12:9).

  • Brooklyn Mikinzie

    I never thought about the fact that Jesus is pursuing me! Thats amazing! The fact that He loves me no matter what literally brings me to tears. I am so very, very far from perfect, and completely unworthy of the King’s love. Thank you Jesus for always loving me!

    • phendricks

      Every moment of every day, Brooklyn! In fact, He was pursuing you before you were born–before even He spoke the world into existence! Check out Ephesians 1:4-5,

      “He chose [you, Brooklyn] in him before the foundation of the world, that [you] should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined [you, Brooklyn] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”

  • Emily

    I love how you talk about Jesus pursing us! That’s such an amazing thought! Would you consider doing one of these on what guys think about girls’ clothes? That would be so interesting! Thanks!

    • phendricks

      I will consider that, Esther. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Kayla

    I have a question that’s been on my mind for a while. Is it ok to want to be better friends with a guy to get to know him better before you have any interests in him?
    By the way I choose choice b. 🙂

    • phendricks

      Dear Kayla, That makes me (and even more so God!) so happy. 🙂

      Re. your question, I think if you want to get to know a guy better, it’s ’cause there is at least some interest in him already. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as long as he’s a guy who’s wholeheartedly seeking God, and as long as you’re wholeheartedly wanting to get to know God better–even more than you want to get to know this guy.

      Share your desire to get to know him better with God. Ask God if He’d allow you to truly see what this guy is made of. Don’t feel like you need to make it happen yourself. You can trust God to lead you to the guy He has for you. After all, God is the One who came up with the idea of men and women and marriage in the first place! He’s good at it.

  • Kate

    Forget this kind of man! He is needy, needy and his priorities are mixed up…run the other way!

  • Amber

    amen!! I agree with all the other comments….guys shouldn’t be so needy! I know a guy that flirts like crazy because he is so needy, even when he has a girlfriend! It’s terrible. I want a guy to pursue me but not like a dying man. I want the guy to initiate the relationship. That is how my current relationship is. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me!! 🙂

  • Stephanie Ann

    Totally LOVE the article!!! Thank you so much for writing and getting guy responses on topics like these! So needed in my opinion! Your has been such a blessing! 🙂

  • Carol Arendt

    Someone who comes on strong is a big turn off to me. You have to take time and get to know each other first to have a real relationship anything else is not healthy.

    • Audrey Nichole

      Totally agree with you!

  • EstherD.

    Depends on the day, honestly.. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by His love and want nothing else.. Sometimes, His love makes me feel so unworthy it is terrifying!

    • GodGirl

      I get you! I think a lot of it for me is teen hormones lol! I just love that He is stronger and His love continues to be overwhelming for me . . . it’s refreshing to know I don’t have to be big enough!

  • Sara

    Great post!
    Thanks for writing!

  • GNM

    I don’t see anything wrong with the quote. I believe that the entire, “Let’s be friends first, I’m just window-shopping” mentality belongs in a Nike store, not in Christianity. It perpetuates the idea that men can pick-and-choose based on whatever else is going on in their lives at the time… video games, a part-time job, pornography… and that young girls and women should just be left hanging wondering whether they are pretty enough, holy enough, friendly enough… anything, enough… to distract a guy from them.

    God – not popular culture – advised Adam that is was NOT GOOD for him to be alone. The young men you interviewed all suggested that God’s perspective was secondary to their own priorities and subject to the girls’ parents. Adam did not KNOW that he was incomplete without Eve. Most men today do not know this, so alongside encouraging women to focus on God, also encourage boys to focus on Him, and God will reveal to them that they DO in fact need to lay down their own preferences in order to prepare themselves for a long season of loving, leading and serving a wife and family. If boys grasp this, they are less inclined to be like Adam and labour in the metaphorical garden of this generation, instead pursuing what God created them to experience; the companionship of a wife.

    Godly men in the Bible followed the same example. Jacob did not flinch at the idea of working in a foreign country under terrible conditions – being shortchanged, mistreated, lied to and about and without the support of his immediate family (Laban was a distant relative and not an honest one) the minute he saw Rachel. If Jacob did not pursue Rachel like a dying man in a desert looking for water, I don’t know what comparison you require to show the level of intentionality young men need to invest in pursuing a good, Godly wife. Nowhere does it say that they “dated” and “got to know each other” etc. The Bible is clear that he SAW her. He loved her at first sight. Granted, it was an entirely foreign culture to the average 21st Century American; but the principle cannot be ignored: we over-emphasize caution and passivity instead of encouraging trust and action!

    Boaz also didn’t take a few months to invite Ruth to several Church camps and Youth Nights, a few rounds of bowling before marrying her! He instructed his servants to favour the widowed daughter-in-law of a distant relative’s risking her possibly stealing (how did he know she would not take advantage of him?) and taking for granted her inexperience in what was a costly investment for him: Ruth was UNPRODUCTIVE. The Bible makes it clear that the ears of corn she picked up were specifically planted in order to provide for her. Boaz’s initiative was costly to all of his employees, himself and the community. That doesn’t sound too far off from pursuing her like a dying man seeking water, to me.

    Isaac didn’t even know who Rebecca was, and yet he married her out of faith and a word from his father’s servant. He didn’t instruct her to live in the women’s tent until it was more convenient for him, nor did he hesitate to pray for her to fall pregnant for more than 20 years, according to Biblical history. He did MORE than pursue her like a dying man going after water. He could have sent her back upon learning she was barren, or married another wife (like Abraham did with Hagar or Eli did with Peninah) if it were purely a case of needing an heir for the fulfillment of God’s promise.

    David married Abigail, the widow of Nabal, for little more than serving him food and water and guaranteeing him passage through her land. He has access and choice and did not need to pursue anyone (let alone like a dying man seeking water), yet even at Ziklag, he tore his clothes and wept and mourned sore when the Amalekites ransacked the camp and kidnapped all the women and children. He put his life on the line, repeatedly, for her. That’s God’s model of how men should view the privilege of a wife. That is also why Proverbs 31:10 explicitly admonishes Lemuel to “find” a good wife. The word pursue in the original text is the same word translated as “pursue” in the English King James Version.

    Even though the story of Hosea and Gomer is most often exegised in metaphorical as opposed to literal terms, there is no doubt whatsoever, that Hosea pursued Gomer REPEATEDLY like a dying man in need of water.

    And isn’t the story of Samson and Delilah not about a man who lost his wife and tried, to no avail, to heal his pain and sadness and parchment for a help-mate through unorthodox means? He literally begged his parents to help him gain his first Philistinian wife. He died at the hands of a women, behaving as though he was a dying man in pursuit of water.

    I’m only providing these examples because it’s a bit difficult to dismiss all Biblical narratives of marriages as ones that must neatly fit into a modernised, Westernised box. I’m personally from a culture where arranged marriages have a seven times greater success rate than ones where people court/date and “get to know each other” first. Sometimes, there are other factors which force people to remain in their marriages such as economics, children, fear of shaming families etc; but often, it comes from an acknowledgement that a) marriage is not about enjoying all your own wants (“Me, me, me” culture) nor is it about creating a picture perfect IDEAL (Facebook relationship status and shared email addresses), and having experienced that too many options and choices can create as much devastation to the fabric of marriage than simply loving God, trusting Him and obeying Him in every area of your life.

    Personally, I was not looking for a mate, was happily serving in a church when a woman told me to fast and pray for a mate and in 3 days I would meet my husband. I had spoken to him once, before, and during our second conversation, God opened my spiritual eyes and said, “He is the man you will marry. Psalm 45:11.” When I read that Psalm, it was settled. God can, and DOES work however he wishes, including laying things in peoples’ hearts in response to faith and prayer. I believe and await a powerful testimony of how God abundantly and exceedingly blesses the young woman you spoke to who truly believed – which is rare – that her Heavenly Father loves her enough to send a man who will cherish, love, adore and entice her to be her husband.

  • ChristianGirl

    A guy once asked me if I have a boyfriend and I told him no. He asked if I was looking for one and I told him no but I like someone else. He actually continued to show interest and it looked like he was getting rather desperate for a girlfriend. I have to admit it was a turn off. I like it when a guy is satisfied in Jesus. I also like what Trevor M said about a guy pursuing a girl. When he said the words “(…) and exploring the possibility of marriage…” it reminded me of a movie I really like because the Christian guy said those words to the girl’s father when it was time for the guy to pursue the girl.