No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts Men, Women and Children [NOOK Book]


You can live with purpose, meaning, integrity, honesty, love, and faith. It's time to be who you were meant to be.

Tires of seeking other people's approval and how this "disease to please" ruins your life? Fed up with being passive, fearful, and anxious when you wish you were assertive and proactive--the way you see passionate, vital men live? Paul Coughlin unveils a better ...
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No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts Men, Women and Children

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You can live with purpose, meaning, integrity, honesty, love, and faith. It's time to be who you were meant to be.

Tires of seeking other people's approval and how this "disease to please" ruins your life? Fed up with being passive, fearful, and anxious when you wish you were assertive and proactive--the way you see passionate, vital men live? Paul Coughlin unveils a better way with a powerful message that elevates the true biblical model of manhood above the prevailing views of church and culture.

"John Eldredge gave men permission to be 'wild at heart.' Paul Coughlin shows us how to do it. This book is a road map to a larger life."
--Dr Kevin Leman, Bestselling author of The Birth Order Book and Women Who Try Too Hard

"Paul Coughlin is challenging our thinking on what it means to be God's man in the twenty-first century. The apostle Paul pens in 1 Corinthians 16:13, 'Act like men.' That begs the question, What is a man? Coughlin is asking that question. This book is his excellent answer."
--Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D., Author of Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585588381
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 509,780
  • File size: 370 KB

Meet the Author

Paul Coughlin is an international speaker and hosts a radio talk show in southern Oregon. He is the author of No More Christian Nice Guy, Married But Not Engaged, and No More Jellyfish, Chickens or Wimps. Paul has been interviewed by Newsweek, Good Morning America, Nightline, C-SPAN, The New York Times, and The LA Times, among other media. His articles have appeared in many publications, including New Man, Faithworks, Today's Christian, Today's Christian Woman, and Ministries Today. He has also been editor of a weekly newspaper and a radio station program director. Paul is a happily married father, and is a contributor and blogger for The Coughlin family lives in Medford, Oregon. Visit Paul's website at
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Read an Excerpt

No More Christian Nice Guy

When Being Niceb"instead of Goodb"hurts Men, Women and Children
By Paul Coughlin

Bethany House Publishers

Copyright © 2007 Paul Coughlin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780764203695


Are churches really inundated with aggressive, obnoxious, self-centered man-jerks who need to change their barbaric ways? This is what you would conclude if you went to an average church service. You would likely hear men being told to be more gentle, combat their selfish ways, confront their nasty competitiveness, become less willful and opinionated, and control their dangerous emotions and related passions.

Sure, there are men in church who are too rough, angry, nasty. But they are a minority, practically an endangered species. If you see one in church, stand next to him and have someone snap a picture. Put it in your scrapbook. Get his autograph. Both might be worth good money someday.

On average, Christianity and related men's ministry are preaching to a marginal group of guys on Sunday mornings. Our pews host men with different inclinations and hang-ups. They aren't willful, opinionated, or passionate enough. They are men who have been rendered drab by a religious tendency to erase their individuality and a discernible pulse. They're flat-lined, robotic, low-voltage men whose shut-down personalities are a far cry from the founders of ourfaith.

It's not just Christianity either. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach complains about the same maddening tendency within Judaism. "As many of my friends have become more religious, they have allowed their personalities to atrophy ... Their sex lives have been undermined by inhibition and a discomfort with carnal indulgence, to the conformist trends of the religious clergy which has made so many rabbis ... dull and uninspiring. Religion has snuffed out the spark of many of its adherents."

Church is host to generations of nice, pleasant, and pliable men, careful not to ruffle feathers-especially female feathers. They're rule-bound. Disciples of status quo. They have been trained well by our culture, especially our churches, to bring harm to no one or no thing. They worship at the altar of other people's approval. This is their life-and it sure isn't living.

They have a light approach toward life, which unfortunately for the weak and the timid includes blatant injustice. They are nice and amiable in the face of evil, making them victims and reducing those who are charged with their care to victim status as well. They may well be considered accomplices.

On one hand they make great neighbors because they live by all the man-made rules we heap on each other. Their etiquette is astounding. Their lawns are green and manicured, and if they have a dog, it likely won't go number two on your lawn. In America, this means a lot.

But if you're looking for someone who can help you through a Dark Night of the Soul, he's not your man.

As popular writer Philip Yancey observed, "Evangelicals can be the kind of responsible citizens most people appreciate as neighbors but don't want to spend much time with."

Part of this is due to the fact that many evangelical men don't possess much energy or vitality. They think it's Christian to embrace low-voltage living, to become sideline people. Their wives are often more interesting and alive than they are. Many complain how passive these men are, which is peculiar since many churches unintentionally guide them toward passivity. Our churches are anvil factories, not hammer factories. No wonder a great man like Abraham Lincoln attended church but was careful never to become a member.

Happiness eludes such men, but they can't admit it. It's not "Christian." They don't think it's okay to be real and human. Many are ashamed to be human, to be made in God's image. They don't know how to be authentic.

What makes this problem so ironic, dangerous, damaging, and, yep, sinful, is that these men hardly behave like the real Jesus, the person they claim to follow. I'm not talking about hypocrisy either, the ailment that plagues us all. Hypocrisy is when we claim to adhere to the right ideal but don't in real life. No, we aren't even aiming at the right ideal, the real man himself. Right now our ideal is to be the nicest people on earth. Our goal should be to become the best good people on earth. The gap between nice and good is as far as the east is from the west. The difference between our fictitious Nice Nazarene who we currently follow and the real Jesus we largely ignore is dangerously wide as well.

So why do churches tell the mass of nice, compliant, and submissive men to be more patient and kind to a fault, when they really need to hear a completely different message? That's where No More Christian Nice Guy comes in.

It went to the heart of this problem, apparently very deeply. Wrote one reader:

"No More Christian Nice Guy is the most applicable and real take on Christian masculinity to date. It surfaced many of the lies the church and my parents (often unintentionally) embedded in me at a young age, forcing me to wrestle with my own version of the 'Christian Nice Guy' syndrome. Coughlin's transparent heart seeks to aid hurting men, while his personal recovery story is filled with life-giving honesty."

Readers also noticed that it was different than other books on this topic. Wrote one struggling Christian Nice Guy, "I know that evangelicals write a lot of books on living the victorious life. Your book seems different. More real.... I wonder if sometimes I have twisted theology to avoid really living life."

Other readers tell me how No More Christian Nice Guy takes the life of Christian men and lifts it to a whole new level, above what they've experienced before at church or during men's functions. They wanted a Study Guide to help them sink this message deeper into their souls.


This Study Guide is not an attempt to give you yet another Christian obligation. If that's how you feel, then put this Study Guide down now. Run! This isn't dreaded homework. And if you're the kind of guy who needs to be told what to think, then this Study Guide definitely isn't for you. There's no crooked religious finger pointing at you, trying to shame you and turn you into a nice little boy.

This Study Guide is designed to meet the needs of individuals, small groups, and even larger groups like Sunday school classes. I hope prisoners get together and ingest it too. You'd be amazed at just how many passive men snap (i.e., passive-aggressive behavior) and commit heinous acts that they regret for the rest of their lives.

It's remarkable (and maddening) how quickly we forget what we need to remember to really live. This Study Guide will reinforce the truths you've already been exposed to and want to stick in your marrow. Some may want to use it as a devotional.

* * *

This Study Guide is for you, Nice Guys in general and Nice Guys with a Christian excuse in particular. It's also for the women who know them, love them, and sometimes want to scream at them. It's for the kids who are abandoned by their checked-out father, a guy who smiles a lot but shows through various ways that it's not a smile born from happiness, joy, peace, or contentment. Babies smile when they have gas pains. Nice Guys smile from pain as well. Their kids sense this. I'm here to tell you that your senses are right. This Study Guide will help hone your senses and inoculate you from becoming a Nice Guy (or Nice Girl) in the future.

It's also for guys who are already Christian Good Guys. They will have their character affirmed and strengthened. And they'll be better able to help their brothers who struggle with niceness, this vice that masquerades as a virtue.

This Study Guide is designed to help you become the right kind of dangerous, like the Jesus that is found in history, who is different from the one many of us have found in Sunday school. Otherwise you're no match for evil and its ploys, for manipulators of many stripes and flavors. This is one reason Jesus told us to be wise as serpents. The same word for wise has been translated as shrewd and cunning. Yet we associate these character traits with criminals, which is one of the biggest mistakes many Christians make. Get ready to become the right kind of cunning, the good kind of shrewd. Your life will take off.


You'll need a copy of No More Christian Nice Guy, otherwise this Study Guide just won't make sense. You'll also want a notebook to write down longer explorations into the Christian Nice Guy problem. My favorite notebook by far is Moleskine (pronounced mol-a-skeen'-a, don't ask me why). Most major bookstores carry them. And if you read the promotional material they come with, you'll find that keen-eyed Hemingway, who hated pretense-though not as much as Jesus-used one as well. I hope this helps you cut through malarkey. Moleskine are more expensive, but having gone through dozens of other notebooks, I can say they are worth it.

And notebooks have a way of becoming among your most important possessions. Wrote the apostle Paul to young Timothy, "When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments" (2 Timothy 4:13).

Consider using a digital recorder too. I carry one most everywhere. I've found that sometimes the answers to soul-mending questions don't come right away. Sometimes the nuts of your life are hard to crack at first. You think hard, you search your heart and pray deeply, and still the answers refuse to show themselves. But then, usually during recreation or mundane times like driving, an insight shines. It's bright, yet it's a bit unfocused. It doesn't shout, but it's powerful nonetheless. That's God's grace helping you out. Record it. It will be useful later.


Each of the twelve lessons include a summary and numerous questions to ponder, helping you to progress out of the Christian Nice Guy ghetto and into the ranks of the Good Guy Rebellion.

Along the way are Good Guy Workouts, exercises that help you move from passivity to assertiveness. The move is easier than you might think. You could say it's like climbing a ladder. In fact, that image shows up as a reminder to push past your passivity and do something proactive and assertive. Groups may even want to award a symbolic "Ladder of Assertiveness" whenever a Nice Guy ...

Recognizes a moment when he is usually passive and often dishonest

Responds assertively

Reminds himself that this is how the real Jesus behaved

Retells his story to someone else who understands his struggle and celebrates his victory.

Some sections have Bonus Information, insights into the Christian Nice Guy problem not found in the Nice Guy book.

Look for the Good Guy Rebellion Roll Call, letters from readers that help shed additional light on this problem.

You'll also see Jesus the Naughty Nazarene. It contains examples of Jesus' tougher language and behavior. If your average Christian man behaved this way, we would label him as naughty and a troublemaker. These examples show just how far off the mark we've gone.


I wrote part of this Study Guide on the northwest slope of a nearby hill. Haggis, my puckish cairn terrier, accompanied me. I wanted to get as close to the bone of this topic as I could. I wanted to figure out the best way for men (and women) to take the insights from No More Christian Nice Guy and make them their own. To lift it up, wrestle with it, or throw it to the ground if they want. Drink it in, hold it above their head like a sports hero, and dance their own funky dance. Or kick it to the curb.

This Study Guide will help you to see you more clearly. This is your life, full of your choices and your decisions. Take these ideas and make them part of your DNA. Or part of this week's trash. Become an active agent in your own life-moving yourself toward the best outcome you can help muster, stumbling arm and arm with your good God while discarding the dangerous notion that you have to do it so perfectly. That's an illusion-and an excuse-that keeps you stuck. Asking the right questions helps you get to you and God.

I'm telling you the setting of this creation because I'd like for you to do the same. Get outside if you can as an individual or a group. Suck some fresh air through your city nostrils, put some sun on your pale, cubicle face. You don't have to climb a hill, scale a north face, or ford a river either. Just go in your backyard or on the patio or lanai. Take up a seat in a park. If someone's next to you, show them the cover and watch their eyes light up. It's fun, and it may lead to an enlightening conversation. Throw down a blanket or tarp somewhere. Getting outside clears your head like smelling salts under the nose of a boxer. There are fewer voices in your noggin to contend with, so answers reveal themselves more readily.


Please know that this Study Guide isn't coming to you raw and untried. Numerous people who found No More Christian Nice Guy indispensable joined our Focus Group. This brave clan of men and women helped bring you a better resource through which you'll grow, and I'm grateful to each one of them.

Wrote one member of the Focus Group:

Dear Paul,

Your Study Guide is outstanding. Great information and even better questions. Your straight-forwardness is exactly what we men need to hear. It needs to be shouted from the biggest megaphone there is. Thanks for caring about men.



This material goes deep into people's lives. Like someone pulled from the tide, sometimes seawater needs to come out before that person can breathe again. You are the lifeguard, and they are your people on your beach, flirting with the tide that makes life exhilarating and dangerous. They simply will not learn much about themselves if they don't get wet. So don't try to control the outcome too much. Pray that lies will be exposed and that souls will become teachable and thirsty for insight. Pray they will seek the truth through any obscurity and know that such a condition is temporary.

Lives don't go wrong overnight. Success as well as failure leaves a trail, a progression to analyze. And contrary to some church lore, lives usually don't get better overnight either. Be willing to live with unraveled edges: statements that may not be accurate now but may become so later. Let change happen. Let freedom reign.

You are handling people's souls, so you must ensure complete confidentiality during your gatherings. It's a sacred act when battered souls come out of their timid hiding places to reveal their sins and the sins committed against them. Telling people outside your group about what happens during your meetings is a breach in trust and respect. Enforce this policy.

There is one exception: If a man in your group is harming a child or woman, move ASAP. Christian Good Guys protect those in need. Always. The guy may thank you later. Or not. That's his problem. The child or woman will certainly be grateful (it may take time), and your Father in Heaven will be proud.

Groups may also want to read each lesson aloud. This makes it more personal and helps the insights go deeper. Try to bring into your group at least one guy who doesn't fit the Christian Nice Guy mold. But don't go and grab his opposite, some gruff grump who has a mile-wide and an inch-deep opinion about everything. Bring a guy into the group whose first desire when he enters a room isn't to make everyone like him. A guy who's comfortable in his own skin and who knows how to do conflict pretty well. A guy who doesn't have to be right and perfect all the time. A male with a backbone.

Why go through this soul work? Because there's a name for people who realize they aren't helpless in the face of problems and turmoil. People who embrace the gifts and common sense God gave them. Men and women who know that some of what they hear in church isn't true, yet their faith is still strong. They still believe, they still attend because their hearts accommodate human frailty. They recognize that life is often not clean and tidy, that ambiguity often reigns. They are people of courage and faith who hold their ground regardless. People of will, not because they're selfish, but because they have normal wants and needs, and they know it's no sin admitting this. They have been called many names throughout history. Today we call them successful. You aren't used to being successful, Christian Nice Guy. You may even fear it. You're used to finishing in the frustrating middle, where the mass of ordinary "dead" men somehow manage to live. But God didn't call you to be ordinary. He wants you to be like his son, the Divine Dissident. He's the bold Emancipator from sin, lies, and convenient rationalizations. He has the keys to your freedom, if only you'll release him from the Nice Guy straitjacket, his mild-mannered Sunday best in which we have him bound.

Paul Coughlin


Excerpted from No More Christian Nice Guy by Paul Coughlin Copyright © 2007 by Paul Coughlin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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