One of the things I love best about being single (and self-employed) is the freedom to be in ministry. No, I’m not in full-time ministry, but I am free to do ministry whenever I want. I can drop everything and go help a friend move. I can move my schedule around so that I can take month and help friends in another country. Whatever God opens the door for me to do, wherever He opens the door for me to go, I just go.
I don’t have to discuss with a spouse. I don’t have to provide a place for children. I am literally free. And that’s something the Apostle Paul mentioned in the Bible in several different places (namely throughout 1 Corinthians 7). That doesn’t mean marriage is bad or that dating is bad. On the contrary, if you need to get married, you should. Paul said that too. I just know for me personally that if I wanted to pursue a ministry of some kind full time, I don’t think I could be in a relationship full time.
I don’t have the ability to split my focus that way. If I’m in a relationship, I need to focus on that relationship. If I’m doing what God has called me to do outside my home or my country, that’s what I have to focus on. Maybe it’s because I’m old fashioned. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman. Or maybe it’s because I really haven’t seen too many examples of spouses or significant others who are willing to take second chair to God’s direction in my life.
There are notable examples, of course.
I have no doubt that if I’m supposed to be in a relationship eventually, God will provide the right person and the right circumstances that will allow me to be a godly wife and still scratch my ministry itch. But once I’m a wife and a mother (if that ever happens), that should become my ministry. Granted, that doesn’t mean I’m banned from all other types of ministries in the Church, but it does mean that my perspective will need to change. As a woman, I really don’t feel like I can pursue a full-time ministry and take care of a family at the same time.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35: “I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”
This is one of those conclusions I’ve drawn for myself. Doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will agree, and they don’t have to. We’re all different, and we’re all in different places in our walk with God. But if you really want to devote yourself and your life to serving God outside your home, think really seriously before you open yourself to a relationship. Just pray about it. A lot.
Not so much for the menfolk. That’s a whole different ballgame, and I am not equipped to speak for them. But as a single woman speaking to single women, I’ve noticed that trying to juggle full-time ministries and full-time relationships usually ends up in heartbreak of some kind. Not saying it can’t be done. And not even saying it shouldn’t done. But what helps you serve the Lord best?
Have you ever tried to split your focus between something God has called you to do and a relationship? Could you give them both equal time and energy? How did it work out?