I can write about chiseled features, a shirt stretched across broad, muscular shoulders, a lithe, athletic build, and thick waves of dark hair, curling slightly at the ends, but that isn’t what makes a hero sexy—at least not enough to keep readers flipping pages.

Three thousand people surveyed by a British Health Care Company found a man’s chest to be the most attractive male physical characteristic, followed by hair and arms. While I did notice my husband’s broad shoulders and tall physique, it was his self-confidence and the way others looked to him for leadership that woke something inside me, like the delicious smell of coffee in the morning.

muscled chest

A muscular chest and thick hair may turn heads, but it is a firm sense of integrity and principles that turns women’s hearts. They don’t have to be able to bench 200 lbs. or drop and do 100 pushups. They don’t need muscles bulging on top of muscles. It’s inner courage and strength of conviction that’s sexy.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Nehemiah. Nehemiah is an attractive character. He was a cupbearer to the king, which was a distinguished career at that time. It would have come with prestige and a nice income, but that wasn’t his allure. Nehemiah was unafraid to show his feelings in his passion for his homeland and anguish that his ancestorial city lay in ruins. His ability to display and understand emotions, while an admirable quality, wasn’t what made Nehemiah so captivating

What’s attractive to readers and heroines is the confidence the hero exudes (albeit not always right away) that he will stand his ground to protect his beliefs and loved ones. Even against opposition, Nehemiah showed leadership in directing his men on how to rebuild the wall and a devoutness toward God, instructing his men, “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families (Chp4. v14).” This is the point when I need to turn down the AC because my Bible was getting hot.

Nehemiah continues to impress by standing firm against Sanballat and other enemies. His dedication to his principles showed when he told Sanballat’s messenger that Nehemiah was doing a great work and he wouldn’t come from his ladder. He displayed integrity and wisdom when he saw through the lies of the false prophet sent by Tobiah and Sanballat and rebuked them. “Why would a man like me run for cover? Why would a man like me use The Temple as a hideout? I won’t do it.” Nehemiah drew a line in the sand that he would not cross and communicated that others would pay the price if they crossed it.

This don’t-mess-with-me-or-you’ll-regret-it is what I call a Nehemiah moment—an amazing display of inner courage and fortitude that makes for a swoon-worthy hero.

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