Skills in Singleness

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If God does indeed have a purpose in my singleness, then it probably follows that the best use of my time of singleness is NOT moping over my lack of a husband, a boyfriend, or some other “significant other”.

But what should I be doing while I’m single?

The love months of my youth gave some advice: pray for your future spouse, prepare to be a good spouse yourself. Good advice, but incomplete (in my *humble?* opinion.)

I would propose that while singleness can be used as preparation for marriage, the primary goal in singleness should not be preparation for marriage but… well, glorifying God by being conformed to His image.

You can learn skills in singleness that can bless you, your friends and acquaintances, your family, your church–and ultimately God–whether you remain single or eventually marry.

What are some of these “skills in singleness”?

I think Paul’s letters to Timothy are a good starting point.

  • Learn to be a person of prayer (I Tim 2:1-8)
    Too few of us, myself included, have established strong prayer lives–yet Paul states that this is essential for living a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
  • Learn modesty, good works, and submission (I Tim 2:9-14)
    Women are encouraged to adorn themselves with modesty, with good works, and with submission. This is a skill we can grow in, even as single women.
  • Learn discernment (I Tim 4:7-8, 6:20-21, II Tim 2:15-19)
    Paul commands Timothy to “reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise [himself] toward godliness.” So we too, would do well to develop discernment in doctrine and practice.
  • Learn to walk in purity (I Tim 4:12, 5:22, II Tim 2:21-22)
    Contrary to the depraved world in which we live, where singles are encouraged to do whatever they like, Christian singles are called to live lives of purity.
  • Devote yourself to the Word of God (I Tim 4:13,15-16, II Tim 1:13-14, 4:2-4)
    I believe single adults have a unique opportunity to dig down deep into the Word of God–both reading it, speaking it, and doing it. Paul says singles are not distracted–what better time to “give attention” to the Word?
  • Learn to walk in your giftings (I Tim 4:14, II Tim 1:6, 4:5)
    Singleness is also a great time to learn what your gifts are and to begin to practice them. Don’t sit around and wait until you are married to get involved within your local church and your community. Ask God what role He would have you play–and get doing it. Don’t waste your singleness by living only for your own pleasure.
  • Develop healthy relationships (I Tim 5:1-2)
    Paul encourages Timothy to develop healthy relationship with older men and older women (treating them as parents) and with younger men and women (treating them as brothers and sisters). We can learn how to glorify God and honor others in our relationships.
  • Learn to take care of your physical body (I Tim 5:23)
    Of course, I’d add this part–but Paul says it: “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.” We can (and should) learn good health practices while we are still relatively young. Learn good sleep habits. Learn to eat well, to exercise, to get regular medical care.
  • Learn to be good employees (I Tim 6:1-2)
    This is a biggie. We can, and should learn to be good employees within this world. Remember that your reputation as an employee can either bring God glory or blaspheme His name. That’s a big deal.
  • Learn contentment (I Tim 6:6-10)
    I’ve spoken already of contentment with being single–but contentment goes further than that. We can learn to be content with our circumstances, with our possessions, with our relationships.
  • Be discipled and disciple someone (II Tim 2:2)
    Paul encourages Timothy to take what he (Timothy) has learned from him (Paul) and to teach it to others. Timothy is one link in the chain of making disciples. In the same way, we ought to be links in the chain of discipleship. Seek out older believers who can mentor you. Don’t wait until you have kids of your own to begin to pass along what has been entrusted to you. Find a younger man, a younger woman, a child, that you can commit the word of God to. I promise you won’t regret it.
  • Maintain your focus (II Tim 2:3-7, 4:5)
    Endure hardship. Resist temptation. Look forward to the prize. Don’t let either the trials or the pleasures of this world distract you from the treasure that is Christ Jesus.
  • Learn humility (II Tim 2:24-26)

    This one gets me every time. Learn humility–avoiding worthless disputes. Being gentle. It’s tough, but it’s necessary.

Recognize that singleness is not a sit-on-your-hands-until-something-better-comes-along time. Singleness is a time when we should be fully focused on God and on advancing His kingdom. Singleness is a time when we can develop our relationships with God, with His body, and with the lost. Singleness is a time to grow in godly character and to be conformed into the image of Christ. Don’t waste your singleness.

(A few extras I might add from my own experience to the list above: learn to hear the voice of God, learn to trust God with everything, learn to resolve conflicts, learn to serve one another with love, learn to budget your time and money, learn to give sacrificially of time and money, learn to be a member of the body.)

On Book Reports and Learningbo

Why do they make kids write book reports? I had to write at least one a year for the first six to eight years of my academic life–and I’ve never written one since. They’re useless, pointless, an exercise devised by sadistic teachers trying to impose petty rules on defenseless children, stifling their creativity. Or is that what book reports are all about?

On further reflection, I can see some good in book reports. They forced me to read–a skill that serves me well now, both at school and in leisure. They gave me practice with grammar and spelling and sentence formation–skills I use every day while writing notes, e-mails, and letters. And, those book reports tried to teach me the concept of a short summary, and not giving away the end of the story–skills I appreciate the most when someone who doesn’t have them tries to recommend a movie.

The seemingly pointless book report apparently does have a point–not in and of itself, but as a tool to develop students as people.

There are a lot of things in life that I think of as pointless–many of my classes, group projects, certain deadlines. But perhaps, like my book reports as a child, these too have their purpose. I am learning promptness, patience, “interpersonal skills”, communication skills,
problem solving skills.

I begin to think that the subject matter might be the least important part of the college experience. Intrinsically, it has little value–unless, of course, the “real world” is consumed by equations without applications, five minute PowerPoint presentations, and interviewing your grandparents to learn about your food heritage. Rather than those things, the skills that college teaches are not taught in a classroom–at least not by being lectured in the classroom. Instead the skills that college teaches are the skills that can only come through trials.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

Speaking of Book Reports–check out my “Book Reviews and Notes” section