What Does a Married Pastor Have to Say to Singles?
- Thursday, August 14, 2003
Three school kids are being quizzed by their teacher on basic math. "Billy, what is three times three?" asks the teacher to the first student.
"That's a very interesting answer. What about you Mary?", comes the question to the second child.
"Oh that's easy. The answer is Tuesday."
"I see," says the increasingly concerned teacher. Then to the third child, "Johnnie, can you give me the correct answer to the problem? What is three times three?"
"No problem. The answer is nine."
With a sudden swell of relief, the teacher responds, "Correct. That's excellent, Johnnie. Now for the other students, can you tell me how you got that answer?"
"Sure," says the beaming young scholar. "I just subtracted 274 from Tuesday."
This is a column for Christian singles. I'm a married guy. Some folks would say that the logic of a married man writing a column for Christian singles makes about the same amount of sense as little Johnnie's approach to math.
Like Johnnie, I might stumble on some good answers to the questions you face. But how do you know I have any idea what it takes to get to the answers? So right off the bat I'm asking you to approach this column with an open mind, or at least with a willingness to grade on the curve.
It might be helpful for you to know why I care about the lives of single folks enough to write about you.
Well, I was single once. As far as I can tell, virtually every married person I know was single at one time. These were formative years in my life. Much of who I am as a Christian man was shaped in the experience of singleness. I remember with great fondness the sense of freedom of being a single man, as well as the times of loneliness and longing for a partner in life.
I also have had the exciting privilege of serving in ministry to single adults for more than fifteen years, including nine years as a singles pastor. The concerns of single adults have been my concerns in ministry; they are the burdens I ponder and carry in prayer.
Neither of these experiences, however, would qualify me to speak into the life of a single man or woman. I would never pretend that my life as a married man makes it easy to understand singleness in our day. I respect too much the vast differences in these seasons of life to have confidence in my opinions.
It is important for you to know that the idea of The Rich Single Life is not my personal take on singleness. In fact, it's not so much a philosophy as it is an anthropology. By that I mean, what you will read here isn't how I think you should live as a single person, it is a description of what I see being lived around me.
This column is an attempt to give testimony to the flesh and blood lives of my single friends-men and women; brothers and sisters-who are embracing the grace of God to live for God in a very challenging world. My contribution has been to be a thoughtful observer, to try to put into a helpful format a picture of single life that is truly possible, because it is truly being done.
Ultimately, however, this column will only ring true if it is faithful to the truth embodied in Jesus Christ and set out for us in the Bible. There is no shortage of advice for single men and women in the Christian world. All of it, I am sure, is well-meaning and sincere. Much of it is probably very insightful and practical. But I'm shooting for something more than practical. I want to draw your eyes to the Savior.
What you read here may make sense to you, or it may challenge your thinking. Whether we're talking about personal identity, gender issues, decision making, priorities, relationships, or personal growth, I have a controlling agenda and passion in all this. I want to stir your heart to love the Lord in ways that bring Him glory and truly satisfy your soul. Wisdom among Christians is evaluated ultimately on its ability to make us be more joyfully aware of Christ than we are of ourselves. I hope this column contains that kind of wisdom for you.
And this is where we are more alike than we are different. Ultimately, our experience in life is more defined by who we are in Christ and what we do with that reality than with whether we are single or married. One of the goals I had in writing The Rich Single Life was to make sure that if a non-single read it, he or she could still relate to it. This isn't "niche" material. It is a sincere attempt to apply the gospel to our experience as Christians, with a particular application to those who are living in the season of singleness.
So can you get anything from a married guy on how to live the single life? Try subtracting 274 from Tuesday and see what you get.
The Rich Single Life: "The truths contained in The Rich Single Life could revolutionize your understanding of singleness. Andrew Farmer skillfully shows single Christian men and women what a rich and valuable opportunity they have. Just as importantly, he explains how to take full advantage of that opportunity. This book will help you live the single life in all the fullness of God." — Joshua Harris, author and pastor. Available from the Sovereign Grace Store.
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