One of the best trends in Western culture for singles is the increase in singles. Since most of the world revolves around supply and demand, where there is more demand, there is more supply. The same principle goes for singles in Western culture. Since there are a significant amount of singles (nearly half the population), opportunities for singles has increased at a similar rate (minus most churches, which tend to be about 30-40 years behind the curve of cultural shifts). So what does this mean for single Christians in the West? It means opportunity.
In the past, if someone was single, they would often be shunned by the wider population. Though there are still residual effects of bygone eras, we are seeing new opportunities for singles to excel in the modern world. There is a fruitful life reserved for singles who are willing to take initiative in a culture that is half single. Let’s look at some different ways singles can take initiative in line with their calling. I would like to look at 3 areas: Ministry, Missions, and Discipleship.
Ok, so many churches won’t accept an unmarried person in a paid vocation. Churches often hold (albeit legalistically) to 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1 to an unhealthy extremity. Additionally, many hope the married person’s wife will be doing significant parts of ministry as well–kind of a two-for-one deal. But putting aside the errant attitudes of outmoded clergy demands, let’s look at the opportunities afforded to singles in the area of ministry. If only singles would take initiative.
Hearing the voice of the Lord in terms of our calling is huge. Once we know what it is, the best thing we can do is pursue it wholeheartedly. Maybe it’s a paid vocation, maybe not. That really doesn’t matter. It is not typical for God to call us to something we are already equipped to do. That would short-circuit our growth and development. Once we know what we are called to, it is time to take initiative and do something about it. First, we will need to learn what skill sets are needed for the calling. Then we need to map out a plan to develop those skill setes in ways that expand our experience levels.
Example: I know I am called to write as well as pastor. What is the first thing I did? I pursued and educational training in pastoral ministry. I did the research, determined a seminary to attend, and paid the price both financially and temporally to receive a quality education for the ministry. Now, over ten years later, I am still discovering new necessary skill sets and working on developing them. I have begun to listen to podcasts on topics related to my callings. Leadership podcasts, time management podcasts, work maximization podcasts, and author podcasts all serve to put previously unknown skill requirements on my radar. Once I learn about a skill set, I go to work on gaining a level of proficiency with it. In the last year, here are a few skill sets I have taught myself once I discovered their necessity:
- building a wordpress website for my author page and for my church page. 2.
- Managing the websites.
- 3. Linking blog posts between the website and other social media such as Facebook and Google+.
- Formatting manuscripts in preparation for self-publishing.
- Designing and formatting a book cover for my titles.
- Getting an amazon author site and linking it to my published books
- Setting vision and goals for my church (Other Pastors and Elders were a part of this)
- Improving my sermons for better receptiveness
- Increasing both my personal and church online presence.
The list continues, but you get the point. I have a call. I look into what it entails (count the cost). I develop myself in a way that is in line with the call. I took initiative. Much of my early preparation for ministry and skill sets were done in my 20s when I was single. I didn’t let singleness keep me from preparing for ministry. I pursued everything I could.
Missions is another area where singleness can come in handy (depending on where you go). Being a single missionary allows for unencumbered travel. The longest term mission trip I went on was 3 months. However, people in missions have an amazing amount of opportunities to travel and interact with the body of Christ throughout the world.
Regarding short-term missions, a single has much greater opportunities to go. They have less domestic responsibilities and potentially more discretionary income. Affording the trip(s) can be more feasible for singles. If singles were to take initiative in missions, they could be in an environment where their leadership skills can grow. They also have the opportunity to see the world outside their own isolated point of view. Not everyone sees the world as we do. Missions gives us the opportunity to see the world from other perspectives. There are hundreds if not thousands of different views in the world based on culture, language, life stage, financial status, and physical demands. Singles in this era of Western Christianity are in a prime position to make a bigger impact on the world because of their ability to expand the way the see it.
Discipleship has been a buzzword in American Christianity in the past 20 years or so. However, the core of what discipleship is has never changed and never become irrelevant to Christian maturity. Discipleship is really a life-on-life learning relationship. A mentor takes a disciple and teaches them what the mentor knows in real life situations. It is not an education in today’s terms with a classroom, a transmission of information,and a curriculum. Rather it is a learning by experience format that involves the disciple doing the pertinent work and having the mentor critique it. The mentor may not have encountered every possible scenario. They have covered enough to apply decisions and advise through experience and wisdom.
The awesome thing about discipleship is that we don’t need to be married to be learners. Singles are able to dive headlong into a mentoring relationship and grow from it. In my own life, I’ve learned that to be a perpetual student makes one a wiser and more powerful mentor. If a disciple stops learning and growing, their life relevance stops. It is the continual growth into maturity and learning that keeps a potential mentor relevant and powerful–as well as humble.
So in the end, singles should never let their singleness be a hindrance for what God has called them to. Married or not, our calling requires certain degrees of skill-sets, maturity, knowledge, and character. None of which are contingent upon marriage. Singles would be remiss to not initiate their own trajectory of growth in the faith, be it in ministry, missions, or discipleship. Paul exhorts us to “redeem the time for the days are evil.”
As a single Christian, if you haven’t initiated your path into you call, my advise is to get on it. Through prayer, self-assessment, and maybe fasting, determine what your call is. Then determine what would be needed in terms of skill, education, money, time to get there. Then go after it in a planned way, intentionally finding mentors and growth opportunities. Don’t let distractions hold you back.
How do you find yourself responding to this post? Let me know in the comments. If you don’t want to miss a post from me, be sure and register your email. Here at the T. M. Williams author site, it is my goal to Expand Your Mind Through the Power of Words.