take the virtue challengeI don’t know about you, but I like having goals. I like to know what I am working towards. I always say, “Name it, claim it.” When you write it down, it’s no longer a “thought” or wishful thinking—it is a goal set in stone.

People will tell me, “I’m starting to figure out what I don’t want, and what I don’t want to do, but what am I supposed to be doing in my life right now?” The Virtue Challenge is an answer to just that. Over the years, I have also found that virtue is very attractive.

I started to ask people, “What traits and characteristics do you find most attractive in a person?” When I ask a group of men, they typically get into their “man huddle,” arms draped around each other, swaying back in forth as they talk it over, and there is typically grunting. When I ask women, they practically pull out a four-page spreadsheet with color-coded columns and footnotes, with a slideshow, pictures, and videos to go with it.

As I compiled these lists from what the men and women had told me, two things became very clear: (1) the traits and characteristics that people described as most attractive tended to be the fruit of living out the virtues (such as prudence, justice, courage, and temperance); (2) the lists looked very different from the world’s checklists and its idea of “perfect.” In fact, in striking contrast to the World’s Idea of Perfect, the items on these lists were centered on the interior character of a person, not a person’s exterior qualities. There were no numbers on a scale, specified pounds on the bench press, and not a single feature that could be photoshopped.
Although these lists are definitely not exhaustive, and more could certainly be added, they are a great place to start.

A summary of the list that the guys made for what they are looking for in a woman looks like this:

The Simply Irresistible Virtuous Woman
Feminine Confident Committed
Gentle and kind Stands up for what is right and seeks the truth Her relationship with God comes first in her life
Graceful and sincere Has courage, is not afraid to confront and help someone Puts others first, before herself
Patient and flexible Genuinely excited for another, not jealous or vain Strives for excellence in all things: in chastity, in sobriety, and tries her hardest in academics or her career
Doesn’t gossip, isn’t rude Speaks with conviction Not led solely by her emotions and passions
Tries to eliminate drama, not create it Responsible Maintains balance and order in life
Poised and modest Prudent Lives a life of charity and service
Open to the needs of others Humble and honest Forgiving
Nurturing and welcoming Secure Trustworthy and loyal
Joyful and fun Sensitive to the needs of others Pure

The women out there are probably thinking, “Whoa, baby! Sarah, that is a pretty tall order!” Yes, it is, but before you write it off, take a deep breath and say this out loud: “Striving, striving—not perfect—but striving.” The woman who is striving to live out the virtues on this list is Simply Irresistible. You will not find a woman walking the earth who perfectly embodies all these traits and characteristics. That woman does not exist. What is attractive is the woman who is striving.

Here is a summary of the list that the women made for what the Simply Irresistible man looks like:

The Simply Irresistible Virtuous Man
Masculine Confident Committed
Leader Stands up for what is right and seeks the truth His relationship with God comes first in his life
Provider Has courage, is not afraid to confront and help someone Puts others first, before himself
Protector Genuinely excited for another, not jealous or vain Strives for excellence in all things: in chastity, in sobriety, and tries his hardest in academics or his career
Initiator Speaks with conviction Not led solely by his emotions and passions
Chivalrous Responsible Maintains balance and order in life
Brave and courageous Prudent Lives a life of charity and service
Gentle and respectful Humble and honest Forgiving
Intuitive and patient Secure Trustworthy and loyal
Joyful and fun Sensitive to the needs of others Pure

Again, the man who is striving to live out the virtues on this list is Simply Irresistible. You will not find a “perfect” man walking the earth who embodies all these traits and characteristics. That man does not exist. What is attractive is the man who is striving.

All of the traits on these lists are forms of virtue. Now, remember, no one is perfect, but a person who is striving for these virtues is a man or woman on a mission. That mission is greatness.

Can you imagine a man and woman, both striving for this kind of virtue, coming together… what chemistry! Lasting chemistry, because it is not all about emotions. But most of all, it’s not all about themselves. They have developed virtuous habits. You know that you can trust this person. They are not using you to fill insecurities or want you around just because they don’t want to be alone. A virtuous person wants what is best for others and in turn finds true happiness in the freedom to love and give, even to sacrifice.

Many people like to take my Virtue Challenge together. It goes like this: every week you pick a virtue (you can use the Simply Irresistible lists or any other list of virtues to get you started) and write that virtue down. Under the virtue, you list three practical, realistic, and concrete ways that you are going to grow in that virtue during the week. Beside it, you also list three obstacles that could stand in your way, so that you are ready for them and have a prior awareness of how they might affect you.

Although you can certainly do this on your own, I recommend sharing it with a trustworthy friend, family member, or posse; again, having this accountability and encouragement is powerful. Throughout the week, you can support each other and be there for one another. It is also important for you to see your friends working on different virtues, training for the Game of Life right alongside you. Friends who share life together in this way often forge bonds that can last a lifetime.

Before you go to bed each night, evaluate your day: How did you live out the virtue you are working on? What obstacles stood in the way, and how did you fight back? What do you want to do tomorrow in order to grow in that virtue? At the end of the week, get together with your friend or posse and share how the week went. Be honest, talk it out, and then pick your new virtue to work on in the upcoming week. You may find yourself picking the same virtue over and over again, and that’s okay. Just like a marathon runner, it will be hard in the beginning; but over time, and with hard work and perseverance, you will be amazed by how far you’ve come!

I would love to hear about your progress! Update me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook about how you are doing! Others will be encouraged by you also! We are all in this together! #striving