I went to one of “those colleges” for undergrad. “Those colleges”? Yeah, “those colleges.” I can still hear the administrator’s voice during freshman orientation: “Look around, your future family-in-law might be in the room!” I went to one of “those colleges” where people meet their spouses the first day of their freshman year and date for four years (or less) and get married. I was recently the wedding officiant for two of my closest friends with this exact story.
Other stories include those people who begin dating in the Fall of their senior year, get engaged in the spring, and then get married the week after graduation. Ring by spring anyone? Yeah, I went to one of “those colleges.” However, I don’t have one of those “love at first sight” stories. My story is just the opposite.
My Story with Singleness
I asked out several God-fearing women during college, and I experienced a lot of rejection. There were women who turned me down with respect, and there were those who all but claimed I was not “godly” enough to date. In my graduating scholarship cohort, seven of eight men were either dating or engaged. I was the only one who was not. Maybe it was God’s timing. Or maybe it was because I needed to grow. Maybe there was something else.
Either way, I graduated college as a single man, and I went into ministry as a man without a partner. Now, my point in sharing this is not to hash out my personal struggles for the world to see. Instead, I want to give a voice to those who may be overlooked in the church.
So, single people, this article is for you! If you are feeling the heartbreak of a recent breakup or cannot seem to get a date if your life depended on it, you are in the right space. Please, stay for a while.
Now, I am about to make a bold claim: the church does not know what to do with single people. Most of my experiences and the experiences of my single friends with the church and romance land somewhere between being repeatedly told that “You just need to rely on God/not worry about dating, and she’ll come” and being used as free labor since the married people have each other to worry about and your Friday nights are free. (Can I get an amen?)
There is sometimes such an emphasis on marriage in the church that the gift of singleness—to use an overused phrase!—and its value to the kingdom is virtually ignored. Now, before you read on, let me spit a little truth. I do not desire to be single forever. I want to be married to a God-fearing woman and raise a family with this woman. Although I am searching for her, just because I am searching does not mean I cannot leverage this season of my life for the kingdom.
My life’s purpose is to serve Christ and his kingdom forever, regardless of my Facebook relationship status, and the same should be true for every Christian. The Bible says in Matthew 6:33 to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The most important thing is seeking the kingdom of God. Everything else is secondary to this mission.
You might say, “I know this already. This is nothing new.” Then, I offer this rebuttal: it is not merely about knowing this information—we must apply it as well. Our focus as believers is supposed to be on the kingdom. I know many singles (including myself at times) who desire to be married more than they desire to serve God. If that’s you, can I tell you something? If your primary focus in life is to be married, then you have missed the point of the cross because you are missing the point of love. See, love does not only look like a diamond ring on Instagram or marriage quotes on Twitter. Love also looks like feeding the homeless or volunteering in your church’s understaffed ministry.
Micah 6:8 says this, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (NIV). Notice that those basic instructions for living and serving the Lord do not require that you have a spouse. More important than marital fulfillment is serving others and telling them about the greatest example of love, Jesus Christ.
Our focus as believers should be on leading just, forgiving, and merciful lives motivated by love for God and one another. When our focus is not on those things, we become preoccupied with temporal things, which eventually leads to bitterness, disappointment, and an inability to love like Jesus. Whether in singleness or in marriage, our ultimate priority should be the King and his kingdom.
Making it Practical
Now, what does this look like practically?
Volunteer in your local church & community. This is a place where one can find opportunities to give back and help bring about the Kingdom of God to Earth. Lead a small group. Work with the homeless. Do something! Do not waste your years being upset about your singleness. Leverage these years of singleness for the sake of the Kingdom. Get involved wherever you are. Open your living space up to those who need somewhere to go. Impacting lives for the sake of the Gospel is what we are called to do, so do it!
Stay Focused on the Gospel
You might find that while you are leveraging your singleness for the kingdom, someone who you are serving with may catch your eye. If that happens, pray about it and seek wise counsel about moving forward. That can be a great way to meet a spouse. However, regardless of whether this happens, the goal of our lives is not to get married but to make the name of Christ known.
Do not get involved in gospel service just to try and find a spouse. It is likely to backfire. Instead, serve because it is what God is calling you to do, and it is the best way to use your singleness for the sake of the kingdom. At the end of the day, the Lord hears your cries for a companion, but he wants you to seek him above all else. As you seek his kingdom and his righteousness, “all these things” will be added to you. Don’t worry about what may happen. God has got you (Matthew 6:33–34).
Now, let’s go change the world.