The single years tend to be the most selfish years of our lives. Many singles spend their time being self-serving rather than serving those around them and the church.
Selfishness begins in childhood. The more our parents coddle, accommodate, and center their lives around us, the more selfish we become. For those who were an only child, this propensity toward selfishness is often higher, as you didn’t have to share your toys, room, and life with siblings who inconvenienced you. As we grow older, selfishness is often mastered during singleness. Then when we do marry, we expect our spouses to serve us humbly, only to find they were expecting the same thing. Conflict ensues along with disappointment and frustration.
As a single person, if you’re planning on marrying, the best way to prepare for marriage is to use your single years as an opportunity to stop being selfish and start serving. Here are five practical ways you can begin moving from selfishness to servanthood.
1. GET INVOLVED WITH A JESUS-LOVING, BIBLE-TEACHING CHURCH
First and foremost, be part of a Jesus-loving, Bible-teaching church. Serve that church, humbly learn from those who have more life experience than you and who have developed a life-long relationship with Jesus, and grow as a disciple of Christ under solid, qualified elders and leaders.
2. HONOR YOUR FAMILY
If you have a family, honor them. Though you may be no longer living at home, the opportunities to serve your family still exist. Help you family out with projects around the house, offer to babysit siblings, cousins, and nephews and nieces to give your married family members time out together, and find other ways to love and serve. Also, allow healthy and wise family members to speak into your relationships and your life.
This is doubly important for young women who have Christian parents who love them. Any man who wants to be with you should want to get to know your church friends and your family, live openly before them, and gain their approval. Any guy who takes a woman away from godly community and family is dangerous and up to no good.
3. MEN, SERVE AND HONOR THE WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE
Men, do you have a mom? Stepmom? Sister? Cousin? Serve and honor them. Here are some practical things you can do now to discipline yourself to serve and honor the women in your life: walk them to their cars, open doors for them, get their coats, pull out their chairs when eating, and more.
Serving the women in your life will best prepare you for serving your future wife. These are simple things that we can do, and even teach our sons, when we have them, to do for their moms or sisters.
Further, the Bible teaches us in 1 Timothy 5:1–2 to treat Christian women as sisters. This means that men should respectfully get to know a woman they’re interested in without any sexual pressure and contact and to serve other women in the church as they would a sister.
If you know how to serve and honor the woman in your life now, then you will be well prepared to serve your wife and children when you have them.
4. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A GODLY DAD OR MOM, SEEK OUT A MENTOR
For singles who do not have Christian parents, I encourage you to seek out older, more mature Christians from the church you are a part of to learn from and serve. We see this precedent clearly spelled out in Titus 2:1–10.
The older women of the church are to train the younger women (Titus 2:3–5), whereas the older men are to encourage the younger men (Titus 2:6–8). God, through Paul, is telling us the importance of training up the men and women of our churches to live godly lives as a man and a woman.
At Mars Hill Church we encourage singles to join Community Groups. Being involved within these groups gives singles an opportunity to meet other singles, serve the church together, get to know others on a personal and spiritual level, and have great mentors to speak into your life and—if you do begin a relationship—speak into that as well with godly wisdom and counsel.
If such groups are not available at your church, then I suggest seeking out the leadership and asking for their help to point you in the right direction to someone who may be willing and available to mentor you.
5. EXAMINE YOURSELF
Too many singles have a list of what they’re looking for in a spouse instead of a list of what they’re looking to be for a spouse.
There are many problems with this, which I’ve laid out elsewhere. As a single person in the church, one of the most important prerequisites to dating and marrying is being the right person for your future spouse rather than worrying about if they’re the right person for you. This means having your identity firmly rooted in Jesus rather than in your identity as a single person, what the culture says about being single, or what the culture says about marriage.
Singleness is not a disease to be quickly remedied. Rather, singleness is a gift that should be stewarded well until the time comes when you begin another stage of life as a married person. Accept that singleness affords you freedom and benefits you won’t have when married, and use this time of life wisely to finish your education, travel for missions, serve the church, establish your career, and create a solid financial base free of debt.
Until you are ready to marry, focus on those issues, and then pursue a relationship. Live your single years to God’s glory to grow from selfishness to servanthood. Don’t waste them.