Tag Archives: purpose

The Purpose of a Single Christian: Is it Marriage?

A young woman (well…my age) sits on our plastic church chairs every week. She serves with the youth. Her presence in community, accountability, giving, and missions work is consistent.

Another young person, a man, also chooses those plastic chairs every week. He’s up early hauling equipment in and out each Sunday, and the coffee plus his smile are what greet folks as they enter a church that meets on astroturf.

This young woman and young man are single. And they just sat through a fantastic marriage series in those plastic chairs, they heard and even possibly served at the marriage conference this spring, and they are constantly surrounded by married couples fighting for God-serving marriages.

And, no, I’m not trying to get them to date each other. In fact, these two are not even real people, but collections of the single men and women our church is blessed to have as members.

purpose of a single christian

I myself teach on marriage every moment I can, partly because it’s where God is constantly growing me and partly because I believe we’re in a war where marriages can work for God’s kingdom.

Are singles left out of that?

Is a Christian single person’s purpose different from that of a married person?

Spoiler answer: absolutely not.

Note: I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be single in the church or in today’s culture. I certainly don’t want to downplay the hurt that some have from longing for marriage when God has not yet provided it. The last thing I want to do in this post is offend. So I’m asking God for help and humility. Thank you for hearing me. I also invite you to please share anything I’ve missed in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Jesus pointed out how all of the law falls into only two commandments, and I’m breaking those out into our two purposes, single or married.

Purpose 1: Pursue love of God before all else

 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  (Mark 12:29-30, NIV)

Being content in singleness is directly related to finding our identity in Christ and casting off anything that steals our affection for Him. (Psst… this is no different for marrieds.) Note that this is best accomplished via obedience to His word and Spirit.

purpose of a single christian

For whatever time you are single, God has ordained it. I believe God is sovereign and in control of all of my circumstances, but in this particular one, Jesus specifically says it is given. In response to disciples claiming it is sometimes better to be single:

“Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.” (Matthew 19:11, NIV)

Since Jesus is our true groom, why wouldn’t we want to pursue a loving and full relationship with him?

…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless….[Christ feeds and cares for the church.]… we are members of his body…the two will become one flesh…I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5, selections made to cut out the marriage parallels in the sentences.)

Reading how He loves us makes my heart burst! He loves me and cares for me! He proved it on the cross and proves it over and over again as I feed on his word. He unites me to Himself. These are all marital ideas, my friends, complete with lovey dovey feelings that might make us blush or roll our eyes if they were on public display. And to think that they are! Hallelujah!

purpose of a single christian

Purpose 2: Make Disciples

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31, NIV)

When God created the first man and woman in the garden, He told them to “fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). But He didn’t just want a full earth; He had put his own image in the man and woman and intended them to make more “image bearers” – more disciples! More people who will worship and glorify His name!

As a single, then, you’re not “left out” of this command. You might go the parental route and decide to become a single adoptive parent or mentor children and youth. Or, you might instead focus on those in your own stage of life who do not know Jesus. Either way, you are creating spiritual children.

I’ve said before that marriage is under attack because it is a primary relational illustration of God’s love for us.

God has given us another relationship that He intended for the world to marvel at and see His work: our relationship with other believers.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35, NIV)

Just being in unity with the body of believers God has called you to, single or not, is a primary way for people to identify the love of Christ! Wow!

What is the purpose of a single christian

A Final Note: Marriage will both end and begin in heaven

Just to state it explicitly: being a married Christian is not better than being a single Christian.

In fact, earthly marriage (intended as it was for earthly things) will end when our time on earth ends.

When the dead rise, they will neither marry not be given in marriage. (Mark 12:25, NIV)

But all the more, we will finally be glorified – ready for our wedding day with our true groom Jesus.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7, NIV)

What is the purpose of a single christian

All of our lives on earth are an offering to the Lord. Whatever relationship path he has us in currently- if you are trusting God in singleness, fighting for a struggling marriage, or mourning relational loss- I pray that we are willing to take a rest in those plastic chairs, settling into the goodness and trust of who He is and what purpose He has given us.

Resource: I gained more insight into this topic from The Gospel Coalition.

The Worst Years

My Worst Years

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jesusabizanda/ (changes mine)

The two years before this one have been the pits. The absolute worst. They haven’t been the worst years of my marriage – those were the seminary years – but they’ve been filled with suffering, pain, depression, and doubt.

The pattern of pain started with postpartum depression after having my second child. It lasted for several months, and while I am fulfilled as a mom, it just left me feeling empty and alone.

Then, on our road to adopting a beautiful 4-year old from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we found out his birth mom was alive and had taken him home. A mixed blessing filled a hurting heart.

For some reason, my marriage wasn’t so hot by this point. It didn’t worry me, but we needed help. After a marriage counseling intensive, we were able to heal tremendously and move forward.

Then, my mom found out she had breast cancer, and she went through a year of hell to be free of cancer.

It was in the middle of her treatment that I found it I was pregnant with Katherine. Oh boy, did this surprise make me cry out to the Lord in doubt and fear.

He didn’t mind that I yelled at him inside. He patiently listened while I ticked off the reasons I could not have another baby. He assured me that He was giving me a gift, a gift I was afraid to accept.

He intended all of this for His own glory. My story is His story, the story of Him always, always drawing me closer to Himself.

I don’t have a conclusion here, or a poignant point. It’s all been said in His holy word, after all. I’m just laying this out there because it is. It was. It may be again soon. But He doesn’t change. He’s there, holding me close. An unmoving rock of grace and mercy.

What Happens When We Don’t Submit?

I’m sure you’re so thrilled that I keep talking about submission! 🙂 Here’s where we’ve been the last few weeks:

Head and Helper in Marriage: Who is the Sous Chef?

When Submission is a Trial

I really wanted to address the practical consequences I’ve seen in my own marriage, but that last post was starting to get … ahem… long-winded, so I’ve created a post addressing only the consequences! Lucky you! If anything, I think this should help us see how much submission to our husbands, or the lack thereof, affects the health of our marriage.

And since I naturally am not a good submitter, I’m the perfect example of how this can go horribly wrong! Here is just a sample of the consequences I’ve seen in our marriage when I have chosen, in disobedience, to not submit to my husband’s leadership.

I make decisions, usually big ones, that negatively impact our family.

For instance, right after writing a series about finding my individual purpose, which included being faithful with what I was doing and not starting something new, I came up with another blog idea that I decided to pursue. My husband gently suggested that maybe this wasn’t the best fit for our family, but I was excited and didn’t listen.

I ended up way overspent, frazzled at times, definitely not making any money, and to top it off, an owner of another blog threatened legal action against me! YEAH – wake up call! I shut the blog down, taking that as a clear sign that God wanted me to close that door.

My heart moves away from my husband and toward something or someone else.

I have already publically proclaimed my struggle with the adultery that you cannot see – infidelity of the heart. It’s something that I don’t want to shy away from talking about. When you are not submitting to your husband, your heart may be tempted to find another leader to submit to – because it is designed to harmoniously follow the leadership of your husband.

And once your heart makes that cross-over, the sin is committed, and you have emotionally disengaged from your husband.

My heart moves away from my husband to another idol – my children.

Maybe you don’t struggle with having emotional attachments to another man, but a more common struggle for women is the emotional attachment we have with our children.

Not that we shouldn’t have an emotional attachment to them – I hope you do! – I’m talking about when you detach the love you have for your husband, and place those emotions on your sons and daugthers.

For example, you cuddle and kiss your kids, but you’re not having sex with your husband. You have in depth conversations at the dinner table about eating peas and which play dates are set up for tomorrow – all the while, you are talking “to everyone” but you are physically directed to your children. You make no eye contact with your spouse. You avoid setting up a date night, yet again, because you will “miss the kids” so much.

I avoid spiritual growth.

For me personally, when I’m not submitting to my husband’s leadership, I become passive spiritually. I say I’m “depending on him to lead us spiritually”, but really, I’m just using that as a cop out to check out from my relationship with God – which is my responsibility (it is his responsibility to lead me in that).

I might avoid spiritual conversations with him. I don’t desire to pray, especially out loud. I don’t read God’s word. I don’t want to write on this blog – because this is one of my primary spiritual growth tools.

I resent my husband.

I could keep going on and on with examples! But I want to wrap up with this – because I think it’s quite a common occurrence: When I deliberately avoid submitting to my husband, I begin to resent him.

I don’t like that he’s my “leader”. I don’t respect anything he says. Every nice gesture is written off in my mind. I think thoughts such as “He never helps me around here!” or “He’s always trying to get me to xyz…” The resentment is just a wall I’m putting up to avoid his leadership, and that wall is made of some very strong materials!

Sound familiar?

When this happens, it takes some real work to tear the wall down. I pray that if you are in that place right now, that you can take the blinders off, cast off the resentment, and see the truth: that God gave you a husband who loves you. Stop looking for the ways he is failing, and start acknowledging the way he is excelling for God’s glory!

What Women Want

What do women really want?

As I was growing up, the message I heard – and adopted for myself – was that women wanted to be respected. To be treated equally to men. To have a career. To be successful. To be beautiful, but only because that gave women power. To get married, but only because that gave women a long-lasting feeling of romantic fulfillment.

So I focused on beauty. And when it got me someone I wanted, I used it to get something I wanted.

I focused on my education and made positively sure that I would have a successful (i.e., lots of moola-producing) career.

I found a man I loved and got married. And then I quickly betrayed him in my heart over and over again.

Now that I will be having a daughter, I’ve been reflecting a lot more on my journey as a woman. I have also been studying womanhood and what the Bible has to say about it. In other words, what is true about women.

And I realized that all of those things I thought were things I wanted? They didn’t bring me respect. They didn’t give me power. They didn’t make me feel loved. Instead, they got me off course from what God really wants in my life: to glorify Him with whatever I do.

These things that were “what women want” – they lied to me. They made me think only of me. They made me only want to satisfy me.

Now that I know the truth – that I was created for God’s glory, I want different things. I want my friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors to know Jesus as their Savior. I want to spend time discipling my children so that they will see a clear picture of God’s love for them. I want my marriage to be a picture of how Jesus sacrifices for us so that we can know Him.

I care much less about “my respect” and “my beauty” and “my success”.

I can think of two women who showed these traits to me when I was in the phase of my life where I was ignoring this truth:

1. My mom

My mom wanted to be a stay at home mom. And so of course, I did not want to be that. She loves her children with all of her heart (do any of us not?), and she wanted to be the chief influencer in our lives. At times, she had this privilege, and at times, she worked to help provide for our family.

And now that I’m a working mom, I totally get it! I want to disciple my kids – especially right now while they’re small. It’s one of my greatest desires. But every message I heard growing up was Children are a burden, so don’t have any and get a career instead.

Bottom line: Mom was right, but hers was one tiny voice in a sea of shouters!

2. Gini Craven

Gini is one of the moms at the blog Mom and Mom. She doesn’t know me; I know her daughter (the other “mom”), Holly. Gini spoke about marriage once while I was in college. She said her husband asked her how she wanted to be treated, and she said, “Like a princess. That’s all.”

I was like, That’s all!?!?!?!

Why not ask for the moon, lady!?

She said it like it was expected. The norm. I just want to feel like a princess. Like I am the crowning jewel in your life. Like you have eyes for no one but me. Like I am protected and cared for by you. On purpose.

It rocked my thinking. But I wrote it off because no one else was saying that. Asking to be treated like a princess was ridiculous. Amateur. Subservient.

Now that I’ve been married for almost 9 years – I totally get it!!

I want to be utterly cherished by my husband. I don’t just want respect or to be treated equally or to be looked at as strong and powerful. I want to be his beauty. I want him to call me his bride until we pass on to see Jesus.

Bottom line: Gini was right, but hers was one tiny voice in a sea of shouters!

This is getting long, so I’m going to try to wrap it up:

You may not agree with me. You might agree much more with the old me. And I understand that. But I would ask you to consider the small voices as well as the shouters.

But let’s not just make this about women versus women – that’s not my goal!

I would just ask you to get closer to God. Read His Word more. Memorize it. Seek out Biblical counsel. Love the people in your life like Jesus does.

You might be surprised to see Him transform your desires the same way He transformed mine.

Nothing New?

Remember a while back when I told you I felt paralyzed to write? Above all else, I think this is what has been troubling me:

What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NETBible)

God’s Word is true and has application in the past, present, and future. What, then, can I say?

I write blog posts in my head. It’s just how I process my life now that I’m a blogger: The title comes to me. Paragraph chunks enter my brain. Often, they’re lost forever before I’m able to capture them in print (lucky you!).

And lately, besides being very burdened timewise, anytime I write a blog post in my head, it’s halfway to the brain’s recycle box before I even try to remember it – because really – it’s all been said.

I was talking about this with my pastor hubby, and I said, the only thing that is different is how the Word of God works through me. (OK I’m sure when the conversation occurred there were a hundred “likes”, fragmented sentences, and nonsensical thoughts, but that was the jist of it. :))

Well! I have to say – that difference is a BIG DEAL!

God’s word does work through us all differently. In different ways. At different times. Through different people.

And God has given us our unique experience for the purpose of making disciples! In other words, I may not have anything new to say theologically or maybe even experientially.

BUT

I have a unique audience. Nobody else on earth knows the exact group of people that I know. I have a unique relationship with each one of them.

I have a unique opportunity to share the grace of Jesus Christ with them.

And I’m not going to blow it because I want to throw myself an it’s-been-said pity party.

Instead, I’m going to embrace the fact that our Lord has the power to make all things new! Including ME, the worst of sinners. Including YOU. 

Who are you denying your voice to? Why?

My Who-I-Am

I was standing with my arms folded, not feeling very connected to the worship that was going on around me. Although I had had a good week and even a good and full weekend, I was feeling bitter. You see, it was a preaching week for my pastor husband.

Preaching weeks are always tough for me. Brad is the spiritual formation pastor at our church, which means he has a nice, full schedule most weeks. When he is on the schedule to preach, none of his other duties  or responsibilities go away. Plus, he takes preaching God’s word with a very real dose of the sacredness of his calling. He wants to spend the right amount of time letting the Word affect him and making sure he’s not communicating anything that isn’t truth.

He gets up early and  also spends extracurricular time working on his sermon. He also tries to do his usual thing with us – spending time hanging out on his half day and Saturday, helping with the evening routines, etc. And he makes it all happen, but mentally, he’s in that place. It’s a place that says:

  • this is a huge responsibility
  • people’s thinking about God is at stake
  • you are not good enough to communicate this

That last one is a lie, and he knows it. He knows that the Holy Spirit will do His work. But he struggles with letting this weigh him down mentally. And when I can tell he’s not connected with us in mind, I get even more selfish than usual and start to pout. Because he isn’t paying attention to us like I want him to.

So there I was, pouting during worship, and I sang the words, “Everyone was made for You [Jesus]”.

And it hit me. My identity is not in my husband. It is in Jesus. And what that means is that my need for attention should be a need for attention from the Father – which equates to time with Him. How much time have I spent with Him lately? Not enough.

And then later, Brad (who by the way, is an excellent preacher), preached on this very idea – that our identity is in Christ:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7, NIV, emphasis mine)

for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16, NETBible, emphasis mine)

See how we are identified with Christ’s burial and resurrection? That’s where my WHO-I-AM comes from. Not Brad. And as much as I love him, I’m glad for this truth.

What can be better than having the God to whom I was an “object of wrath” choose to beckon me to Himself so that my sin can be crucified with Christ, and my life can be a resurrected picture of his grace?

This Pastor’s Wife’s Purpose, Conclusion

We’re finally here, ladies and gentlemen! It’s time for the BIG FAT PURPOSE STATEMENT.

The four questions (one, two, three, four) should give you an opportunity to brainstorm and spend some time with God in determining a specific purpose statement for your life. Bada-bing bada-boom, no?

MY BIG FAT PURPOSE STATEMENT:

My purpose is to glorify God by being faithful to encourage people in my life to take big risks for God.

As I looked through my brainstorming, I noticed a few common themes:

  1. God has given me a heart for people. He has particularly given me a longing for the lost to find Him, but He has also given me a passion to embolden His followers to live for Him and His purposes. So the “people in my life” are not just the people currently in my life, but also believers and unbelievers that I pursue on behalf of Him.
  2. God wants me to be faithful. I am quite scattered in my interests, and it excites me to change things up. But how will I see fruit if I keep starting things over? It is a big risk for me to remain faithful because I will fail and have to depend on Him.
  3. God wants my heart. I also crave more of Him, and I have to fight alongside the Spirit to stay focused and committed to His will, not the world’s, for my life.

So there you have it folks, my purpose in a nutshell. I have to say, this has been an exhilarating process for me, one I’ve never really gone through. I hope this has equally rocked your world.

State your BIG FAT PURPOSE STATEMENT in the comments!

This Pastor’s Wife’s Purpose, Question 4

Are you still with us on this purpose journey? I hope so! Today is the last question, and we’ll follow this up with a final conclusion post containing a BIG FAT PURPOSE STATEMENT. I hope you are digesting and formulating yours, too.

Question 4: How have you answered the question “What is your purpose” in the past? How do you feel like that has changed or not changed?

As I said before, in different phases of my life, I have tried to identify a purpose, or a vision for my life, but I don’t sit still long enough to really think about things like this.

Plus, I think I have gone about the visioning in the wrong way. Here is an example of what not to do when finding your purpose:

  • Look at your current situation and see what’s going on.
  • Assume that must have a big role in your vision.
  • Think of a “job” where you can fit your current situation.
  • Name the “job” as your new purpose.
  • Pray and will yourself to see this as God’s purpose in your life.

It’s a skeleton of a plan, and I think that seeking God would be a better first step than a last step. But I list this out because this is exactly what I have done to “name” my purposes previously. And it never really panned out into something I felt God had really called me to. Go figure.

Thankfully, God is in the business of redeeming, so you might have followed the same path and actually ended up where God wanted you. If so, yay!

Some of the “purposes” I landed on following the method above have been: mathematics professor, famous actor, stay at home mom…..do you see how they are all just jobs or roles? I don’t think our purpose is limited to filling a certain role.

This time, I’m trying something like this:

Now it’s your turn! Link up or comment about how you have been trying to find purpose. How will it be different this time?

Here’s how:

  1. If you’re a blogger – blog your answer and link us up to it!
  2. If you don’t have a blog, add your answer to the comments.

God, guide us, I pray. Push away the manipulations we attempt and clearly show us which doors we should be walking through. And please bless my friends on their purpose journey.

This Pastor’s Wife’s Purpose, Question 3

Remember that journey we’re on to discover our specific purpose? Here we are again! I can’t say it enough – we are here to bring God glory.

But how are we doing this? Or not doing it?

On to Question 3: Where are there gaps in your life? A longing for doing something differently? Or doing something new?

  1. Marriage – This one is totally my fault. I have an awesome marriage, and my husband is my best friend. But I haven’t been investing enough in our marriage. After I won the ticket to Relevant, I spent the next week getting ready for the conference while Brad was ill and Samuel had a cold. Then we all got sick. Brad and I haven’t been getting good quality time. The lack of quality time lingers around like a fight that never happened, doesn’t it?
  2. Spiritual Investments – This is what I call any actions I take towards people I care about with the hope of sharing about Jesus’s saving work on their behalf. This is one of my greatest passions and is usually in the “I’m excited about…” category. But, again, busyness threw off my usual priorities. I feel focused on myself rather than focused on how God wants to use me.
  3. Prayer – I love praying, but I am terrible at it. I blame my doerness. It’s really hard for me to sit still and talk to God. But when I do, it is so amazing and fulfilling. He already knows me, and He’s there waiting, but I keep passing Him by saying, “Later God – I’m busy right now, can’t you see!?” If I don’t spend time talking to God, how can I hear from Him about my purpose?
  4. Coaching – Brad coined this term (for me anyway) this year for any relationships where we talk through spiritual things together. For example, Laura, my accountability diva, and I are in a coaching relationship. Another word for this is discipleship.
    Laura and I meet once a week unless something comes up, and we can just see God’s sovereignty in pairing us up. This is going pretty awesome, I would say (wouldn’t you, Laura?), but I desire more coaching relationships. For some reason, without having any authority at all, being a pastor’s wife means people listen to you. I don’t know why, but they do. So I want to be a good steward of this position and make sure I’m actually telling people things that matter. I haven’t been taking next steps in the opportunities that are in front of me.
  5. My Job – It’s easy to be excited about the shiny new things, but it’s a lot harder to be excited about the things that require endurance. And my job is no exception.
    I work for an amazing company that has blessed me to be able to work part-time from home. But because my heart right now is really with Samuel, it’s hard for me to always have an attitude of joy about my work – well, not about my work, but about working. I like what I do, but my heart is just torn. I know all of you moms feel my pain.

As you can see, I am not presenting myself as a living sacrifice right now. But I’m encouraged that some tweaks in my routine (courtesy of Amy Andrews’ eBook Tell Your Time) might pull my priorities to front and center.

Now it’s your turn! Where do you see needed improvement in your life? Share with us.

Here’s how:

  1. If you’re a blogger – blog your answer and link us up to it!
  2. If you don’t have a blog, add your answer to the comments.

Again, Lord, I see my need for You, and how I am reveling in myself instead of You. Align my heart with yours so that I naturally desire to do Your will in my life. Please bless my friends on their purpose journey.