Unmarried & Unhindered in Ministry (Part 3)

For my final post in this series, I wanted to speak directly to those that are working hard in ministry and are single. Just had a few things to encourage and challenge you with:

  • God knows where you are. He hasn’t forgotten you and isn’t ignoring you. I know this is basic, but it can be easy to lose sight of.
  • Don’t give up on the idea of marriage, but don’t make it your driving passion. A spouse will not complete you, if that’s what you’re hoping for you’ll be disappointed and left still searching for completion.
  • Remember, God is working behind the scenes for your good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)
  • Don’t use singleness as an excuse for laziness or apathy. As I said in my previous post, you’re just as capable and mature as any married minister.
  • Try not to take it personal when everyone tries to set you up with their unmarried cousin, church secretary or youth pastor. They aren’t trying to make you feel stupid, they do this because they really want the best for you.
  • Finally, allow your joy and passion for God not to be determined by your environment or surroundings. Let it be founded in your love for a God that cares more about you then any person ever could.

Unmarried & Unhindered in Ministry (Part 2)

One of the misconceptions of those that are unmarried and in ministry (or out of ministry for that matter) is that singleness is a cause of immaturity. Although, there may be times when this is true, it is the exception rather then the rule.

Let me challenge you with this thought: Maturity is the result of a process and not a specific event. How this relates to our conversation here is that the event of marriage is not necessarily a sign of maturity. Maturity is developed, it does not just happen.

With that said, a single person in ministry should be just as mature as one which is married. Although some of their experiences may be different, they have both had the opportunity to work through the muck and mire of life and to emerge on the other side stronger and more mature.

Unmarried & Unhindered in Ministry (Part 1)

A couple years ago I did a number of blog posts on Singleness & Ministry (here, here & here). Just wanted to add some additional thoughts over the next couple days. To start things off, though, I asked my friend Brad Leach to be a guest author on this topic. Here are his thoughts, enjoy!

How Singleness Affected my Ministry

On September 16, 2001, I launched a new church plant in Metro Detroit. I had been twenty-three for a little less than one week. And I was single.

There were moments during the next six years when being a bachelor felt like a liability. But I thank God for the opportunity to lead a church while I was still single.

Here are just four of the advantages I experienced.

  • Availability: Without the added responsibility of leading a family, I was able to pour an abundance of time and energy into leading our church.
  • Opportunity: There were many things I was free to do that are more difficult for me now that I’m married. For example, I took several mission trips, paid off my Jeep, started a graduate degree, spent my day off building friendships, and hung sports posters all over my house.
  • Growth: The loneliness I often felt forced me to confront several issues in my heart, and provided great motivation to develop greater intimacy with Jesus.
  • Patience: Waiting to meet my wife taught me one of the most valuable lessons in ministry. Patience, faithfulness, and purity always pay off.

Last week I celebrated my first wedding anniversary! I’m so happy I waited for Leah. But I’m also thankful that I didn’t have to wait on pursuing God’s ministry dream for my life.

The Disease of Singleness (Part 3)

In each of our lives, we have and will find ourselves in various ‘stages.’ In each of these stages, God has purposes & plans for us – things He wants to develop in us as well as teach us. For example, as a person goes through their college years, they often learn how to live on their own and to become more disciplined. If God doesn’t develop those abilities in a person in that stage, they will never be able to succeed or function in the next stage of their lives.

Over the last couple months I’ve been reading through 1 & 2 Samuel and have been learning so much about the life of David. One thing that has stood out was David’s stage of ‘solitude’ as a shepherd. He spent a number of years out in the pastures where it was just him, his sheep and God. As discouraging or depressing as the word ‘solitude’ might sound it is actually a healthy, positive thing. Without that time David would have never had the talent he needed to become the warrior he would soon be, nor would he have had the heart for God that he would be known for having. Author Henri Nouwen once said that “solitude is the furnace for transformation.” With that said, we all must understand the stage in life where God has us and what He is desiring to develop in us. In singleness, it can be a great opportunity to develop our talents/abilities as David did. Also, and even more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to develop intimacy with our Creator. Just read Psalms and you can see this intimacy blossoming in the life of David. Today, I challenge you not to squander the stage you find yourself in, anticipating what is next, but make the most of the furnace in which God has placed you.

The Disease of Singleness (Part 2)

The assumption by many pastors is that if a person’s not married then something’s wrong with them. Whether that something is moral, relational, or maybe even spiritual. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, in the New Testament, two of our greatest examples of ministry were single: Jesus and Paul. Although singleness poses its issues, so does marriage. A married person is just as open to moral failures as a single person. In fact, look over the last few decades. All the individuals that experienced moral failures in ministry were married. I am not trying to bad mouth marriage, just to stretch the thinking of those in ministry. Marriage is an institution that was created by God and is a holy, special occasion, but as a church can we open our eyes to this large faction of individuals and embrace them? Not look down on them as if they are second class – not apart of ‘the club’- but love them and involve for who they are, not who they could be if they were married?

I dream of a Church who sees that each person, each group is important to the whole. The children, the youth, the young adults, the singles, the adults, the seniors. They each have so many valuable things to bring into a church. Let’s not over focus on one group at the detriment of another, but to the best of our ability be the church God desires – one of diversity, of change, of transformation.

The Disease of Singleness

With this post, I’m beginning a series of posts that will be discussing the topic of singleness in the church. So leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like you were on the wrong end of an inside joke? There’s not much more embarrassing. In the church world today, it seems that this is the very thing happening to many of our single-church goers. And even moreso in ministry circles. This is most distrubing because according to recent statistics, 41% of Americans 18 and older are single. Many in the church world view a person that is not married as immature or as if something is wrong with them. For example, I had a friend recently interviewing for an associate pastor position and this is how part of the interview went:

Pastor: So are you married?
Friend: No, I’m not.
Pastor: So are you dating anyone? Any prospects?
Friend: No, not right now.
Pastor: So are you gay?
Friend: No.

It’s as if singleness is a disease. A disease which has only one cure: marriage. The danger in that is there are people who are not ready to be married, who have not found the right person God has for them to marry, or who feel led to a life of singleness. In forcing marriage on people, I believe many are undermining the work of God in that person’s life, and creating doubt in the plan God has for them. Something I’ve always believed and have read in scripture is that God equips people uniquely because He has a unique plan for their lives. With that said, in a person’s attempts to help someone who is single, they can actually be setting them up for failure. In 1 Timothy 6:6, the apostle Paul explains that great gain (success) is found not in what we can achieve (marriage) but rather in godliness and contentment. Therefore, in the Christian community we need to encourage people to be comfortable in their own skin, in who God has made them and where He’s placed them, rather than trying to force them to fit into our own little Christian box.

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