Thoughts On Singleness?

What are some of the potential challenges you face as a single person? I'm trying to think of some things to adress in that regard. So far I've come up with things like making sure you remain accountable, that you don't isolate yourself, and so on. Any other thoughts? I'm working on a lesson along these lines, but was not single very long.

What are some of the special blessings you experience?
  • engelishgentleman
    Blessing (or so I would assume - having only ever been single, it's hard to know): fewer financial obligations; travel flexibility (only one person - myself - to plan for).

    Difficulties: contentedness can be a problem. While I definitely appreciate the wide variety of good things God has given me, it is sometimes hard not to feel discontent about the absence of any...relationship in my life. I generally try to avoid "romantic" movies / music / stuff draws one's thoughts to such relationships, because they tend to do little else than stir discontent. Another problem is self-doubt, or self-recriminations: basically, wondering whether I'm still single because of some failure on my part. Did I lack the faith to see some opportunity I should have taken? Am I too immature or unspiritual to handle such a relationship? Is God punishing me for some failing? What is wrong with me such that the overwhelming majority of my peers are married and I'm not? Such doubts and discouragement may not be right, but it's hard to not have them sometimes. A third difficulty is knowing how to relate to married friends: it feels like they've entered a new phase of life, and it's hard to know how to relate to them. They obviously have new obligations and focus to their spouse, and I sometimes feel like don't know how to stay in touch or continue a friendship (this is especially true with friends of the opposite sex). Let's see, that covers discontent, self-doubt or guilt, and relating to married friends...that's probably enough for you to chew on. Does this help? If you address it a lesson, I'd love to hear how you handle it.
    by engelishgentleman at 12/13/10 8:11PM
  • heidiw
    First, let me just say that I'm really glad you feel the need to address this stage in life. I feel like it get's avoided alot.

    So, some blessings: as was mentioned above, relative financial freedom (to get debt free, and/or help others financially); certainly the ability to travel more than married folks can; also as a single person, I have the precious opportunity to REALLY grow in my relationship with God (whether in prayer, bible study, learning to serve others, etc.). I think alot of single people take this for granted. During my time of singleness, I have the ability to serve God with a truly focused mind. And that is a great blessing. Before marriage and children come along, I can become more grounded than I ever was before.

    Draw backs: Again, Jonathan has things pretty well covered. But the biggest things I've struggled with have been contentment and wondering "what's wrong with me." It's hard to look around at all my married friends (whose ranks continue to swell) as well as my friends who are just dating and not have an attitude of "why not me?". I, and others in my situation, really have to look harder for the blessings and good things in my life. So at the very least, I get to work on staying encouraged and busy. But probably the biggest thing, for me at least, is wondering what's wrong with me. As the truly "good" guys keep finding the truly "good" girls, it's SO hard to not get stuck in that mind set, to wondering what I'm doing wrong, to wonder why NO decent and respectable young man has ever tried to get to know me on a deeper level. ::sigh::

    But perhaps, there is nothing wrong with me. Maybe the Michael Buble song "I Just Haven't Met You Yet" rings truer than I realize.
    by heidiw at 12/15/10 9:20PM
  • slave_of_jesus_jdb
    Blessings: time to serve others in more deeply committed or radical ways, including taking risks that may be pereceived as endangering a family. I enjoyed working at a homeless shelter overnight twice a week a couple years back and it occured to me how difficult it would be for a husband to rationalize taking that much time away from his wife and family. Or if I wanted to do extended mission work of a risky type.

    Difficulties: I am often perceived as a kid (or immature) by coworkers who are only a few years older than me (I'm 29 now), and there may be various reasons, but one I'm sure is that I don't talk about my home life all the time like they do (no wife, no kids).

    As time has gone on, contentment has not been as much of an issue as much as wondering if opting not to get married is in some way a defiance of God's will. What if it would be best for me to get married but I'm blowing all of my opportunities? As Jonathon put it, this is an issue of self-doubt.

    If I knew I was not going to get married, it probably help me to see goals for the future more clearly. I think at issue here is my sense of purpose. What hat shall I be wearing and how should I best prepare myself? Great idea for a sermon. Sounds very practical.
    by slave_of_jesus_jdb at 12/16/10 3:29PM
  • rapunzel
    I agree, it is a good idea for a sermon.

    Blessings: Being single longer than most of my friends has allowed me to see that contentment doesn't magically appear when one gets married. I have friends whose aim was to get married, and now that they are, they wonder why they don't feel content. Then they have kids, and they still wonder why they're not content. I'm glad that I no longer have that expectation of marriage. It's nice to realize that contentment doesn't depend on your situation in life. I've also learned by proxy (unfortunately) that sexual purity doesn't magically appear once you're married, so I can't blame my temptations on not being married.

    All that said about contentment and by proxy lessons, purity is an issue. And it's not just because we're barraged with sexual images by the media, but even sometimes married friends can be more open with that certain aspect of their lives than maybe they ought to be, and it makes me want what I shouldn't.

    Christian society seems to be of the opinion that if you aren't married, you ought to be, and they talk about it incessantly. So even if you're happy being single, they make you feel defunct in some way, whether it's implying you're not an adult until you're married, or that you're too picky and should lower your standards, or that you must be too proud to submit to a man, etc.
    by rapunzel at 12/18/10 10:01AM
  • ominie
    Caroline told me about this post tonight at dinner and I have appreciated getting to read everyone's input.

    Blessings: 1) I feel like God is letting me grow into myself by being single. Each day I learn something new about my beliefs and convictions, and about the kind of man I am looking for to marry...each day I feel a little better equipped for a relationship and so feel assured that God will put me in one when He knows is best. 2) I have begun to understand that being single doesn't just mean that I haven't married Mr. Right yet -- it also means that I haven't married Mr. Wrong! And I am ridiculously grateful for that. I'd rather stay single and grow in the Lord than marry and dwindle away spiritually 3) Like Caroline mentioned, being single has allowed me to see that contentment isn't something magical that happens once you get a diamond ring. Love calls for a lot of attention, prayer, decision-making, and work. I am grateful to learn some contentment right now while I don't have what I want the most...that way, when I do have what I want the most, I won't expect perfection and happily-ever-after's when the baby wakes me up, yelling its head off!

    Challenges: 1) I agree with Jonathan and Heidi. I often wonder what on earth is wrong with me. Yes, I have attracted guys, and while it is always flattering, my heart aches when I realize I'm not interested or when they turn out not to be interested in me. I still ask, "What is wrong with me?" Am I too picky when I turn someone down or am I not good enough when he loses interest in me. 2) Being single makes me worry about money. I know nothing about it and wish I had a constant companion to help me figure it out, buy a car, a house, insurance, etc. 3) If I remain single my whole life, then that means I will never be a mother. 4) I agree with Caroline - sometimes it feels as if the married people are higher up the social ladder/maturity ladder or something and they look down on us for being single. But also, I feel like some people think it's a sign of weakness when you express your desire to get married - they think as a woman you want the easy way out (my husband will work for me!), that you are not content with your lot in life, that you have no backbone to live life alone, etc.
    by ominie at 12/18/10 11:23PM
  • ominie
    Let me expand on "easy way out." Some people seem to think that when a girl wants to get married that means she just doesn't want to work because she's lazy. Some other people also seem to think that a girl wants to get married simply because she has no interests and can't think up anything else to do with her spare time. When they suggest I am one of these girls, I am rather insulted.
    by ominie at 12/18/10 11:33PM
  • slave_of_jesus_jdb
    I don't know if you preached the sermon yet, but I just a had a thought just a couple of days ago that has greatly helped me. I managed to live fairly simply and frugally for many years now, not attempting to acquire many nice or pricey possession and gadgets. Among other practical reasons, I reason that I'll have plenty in heaven and don't need all those things. Especially in the past few months I've thought to myself, "There is nothing I can't give up for God that God can't give back to me in a better way later."

    Unfortunately, however, I had never applied this to having a wife or sex. I'd think, these are things which are only possible on earth with earthly bodies. If I don't do it now, I'll never get a chance in all the rest of eternity. After all, we'll be like the angels in heaven, neither marrying nor given in marriage. But this logic does not really follow. When I give up having an iPhone on earth, I don't think that I'll get an iPhone in heaven in any literal sort of way, but something qualitatively better. Likewise, to do without marriage is not to miss out on any uniquely fulfilling companionship that is only available on earth. Rather, the lack of limitations in our resurrection body will afford a more broad, fulfilling relationship with all of God's people that is more joyful than marriage and any of its benefits. Dare I say it, "Heaven is better than sex!" This is not to say that we should avoid marriage, but simply to say that if we don't get the opportunity we are not missing out on something for all eternity that can't be made up for. This realization has already given me more contentment in the last couple days. Just thought I'd share.
    by slave_of_jesus_jdb at 12/20/10 7:53AM

A brief thought on praise choruses

Should the worthiness of a song be judged only on its own merit, or is it fair to consider it in the context of other songs led at the same meeting? Given the ending of Psalms, it seems some of the oft maligned praise choruses may be fitting in a worship hour that has laid a scriptural foundation. With this foundation laid, it makes sense to break out in a moment of pure expression of praise and gratitude to God.

Of course, it is still fair to generally warn against an entire hour of songs that only say "I will praise Him" without ever laying the groundwork for why He is worthy of praise. It's also fair to criticize songs that express praise in an annoying or unfruitful way.

Make sure your criticism of a song (or songs) isn't something the book of Psalms does. It is often the case that popular criticisms of hymns are not sufficiently qualified or nuanced, and so are too broad to allow even some of the Psalms to be sung (and so the criticism must be criticized).
  • engelishgentleman
    Not sure what you mean by a "praise chorus;" you seem to be using that as a technical term of kind?
    by engelishgentleman at 10/16/10 12:22PM
  • dominic
    Songs like "I love you Lord" and "We will glorify." The criticism basically says those sorts of songs are worth singing because they only say that we praise the Lord but they don't say much of why we praise Him.
    by dominic at 10/16/10 12:57PM
  • ward
    My main criticism of those songs is when we become so enthralled with them that we sing them to the exclusion of the 'deeper' songs.
    by ward at 10/16/10 9:20PM
  • madtomkidd
    Nathan makes a good point. We have a song leader who seems stuck in the 70's & 80's (from a hymn perspective) and, yes, the words are - mostly - scriptural, but there are puddles that would drown them for their shallowness.
    by madtomkidd at 10/17/10 6:39AM
  • dominic
    Yes, I agree, but that's my whole point. After a rich scriptural foundation has been laid in a service for why our God is worthy of praise, then it seems to me that one could sing a song that purely praises God without going into depth for why. That's what I mean when I say the songs should not only be considered on their own worth, but in context of the entire meeting. I used the book of Psalms as my example. There is a richness in the whole book, and by the time you get to the end the praises are in some cases "shallower" but are meant to be an overpourining of a heart and mind that understands something of the depths of God based on the psalms that precede them.

    So I agree we should not only sing those sorts of songs (as I already said), but we also shouldn't think they are totally bad. They actually might be quite useful in the proper context where other deeper songs have already provided the depth for the pure expression of praise.
    by dominic at 10/17/10 8:09AM
  • beunsung
    Thanks for your thoughts on these songs.

    I also want to thank you for the several times you have given me some advice on many different topics. I am thankful to have a brother in Christ that is looking out for me.
    by beunsung at 10/22/10 7:10PM
  • jjorangeswirl
    I really appreciate your thoughts on my questions about the age of accountability. I was wondering what you thought about the idea that if a child is old enough to be baptized then they are old enough to be the subject of church discipline. Would you think a church should be in the habit of collectively correcting a rebellious 10 year-old? I honestly don't have an opinion of my own on this topic yet.
    by jjorangeswirl at 11/15/10 1:49PM

Some Biblical Tips On Starting Preaching at a New Place...

For fellow young, inexperienced men who are beginning to preach: Five Ways to Make Sure a Church Turnaround Fails

Note how almost all of them stem from a failure to have the mind of Christ revealed in Philippians 2. Do I want to be a self-styled glorious hero, or do I want to be the selfless, suffering, patient, uncomplaining servant who genuinely gives himself to the care of others and the glory of God?

Well, it's our last few days in Pine City, MN.

I want to be clear: we aren't leaving due to problems. We love them and they love us. The move is mainly due to my long term plans that in the short term involve schooling in IL. So, while I am excited to begin academic studies again, I'm also sad to be leaving people I've grown to love the last few years. If you've been praying for the brethren in Pine City so far, please continue to do so. Also, if you know anyone looking for a place to preach, let me know! I can point them to some likely support to get them started.

How should preachers' wives think of their husbands?

A helpful article I think. I thank God that I have a wife like this. Because our families are in some way an extension of ourselves, it's easy for a self-righteous person to worship their family in a way that boosts their own ego. If our families are an extension of ourselves, then we ought to be humble about them and help them to give God all the glory through constant growth and sanctification. This is true not only of spouses but of children. I have seen many parents who self-righteously boast to others about how well they have raised their kids, and inevitably, those same kids are actually disgustingly and wickedly self-righteous and prideful.

  • engelishgentleman
    Interesting. Really, I think it points toward the honesty and realism-grounded-in-scripture that we ought to strive for in all our dealings with others, whether in or out of one's family.
    by engelishgentleman at 08/24/10 4:57PM