The life season of singleness is unique and filled with both challenge and opportunity. Being young and single can be exciting! Singles typically have more free time, energy, money and flexibility than they will have later in life. However, this special season of life can be easily squandered. The Apostle Paul gave brethren in the church at Ephesus timeless advice: "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15–16). Paul encouraged the brethren to seriously consider their lives and their futures and to maximize the time with which they were blessed. In a similar way, Jesus Christ observed, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4). Christ knew His earthly ministry would be short-lived and He committed Himself to maximizing the opportunity while He had it!
How about you? Those in the season of life known as "singleness" need the same determined focus. Learning to be content in this season is essential (Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8), but it is just as important to use this time to prepare thoughtfully for future seasons of life!
While we would not agree with everything he wrote, author Joshua Harris made an insightful observation about the season of being young and single in his 1997 book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye:
For a moment, take stock of your current attitude. Are you so caught up in dreaming of marriage that you're neglecting your present responsibilities as a son, daughter, brother, sister, or friend? Or are you redeeming the time, fulfilling those responsibilities God has given you today?
We cannot ignore our current responsibilities and expect to magically gain the strength of character and virtue that will make us good husbands and wives. If we aren't faithful and growing in the relationships we have now, we won't be prepared to pursue faithfulness and growth in marriage later (p. 170).
Most of us would like God to "give us the hand of His daughter" to be our wife, or "give us the hand of His son" to be our husband. So, what are we willing to do to make ourselves worthy of that kind of gift? Are we preparing well so that God will be pleased to give us His son or daughter in marriage?
This article focuses on the season of being a younger single. However, we will discuss many principles that singles of all ages can apply. The key is to use the season of singleness to prepare wisely for the next seasons in life. Those who successfully do this will be putting themselves in a position to be blessed with an abundant future! Let us look at several areas of preparation that young singles should be focusing on.
How many young singles long to be married and experience the blessing of children? Husbands, wives, fathers and mothers fill powerful spiritual roles! Yet, one cannot become a spiritual leader without preparation. God calls men to be spiritual leaders in their families, and He expects wives not only to be spiritual "iron" that can sharpen their husbands (Proverbs 27:17), but also to lead children spiritually.
To grow spiritually in this season of singleness requires "counting the cost" (Luke 14:28) and considering where one desires to be one year from now, five years from now, and even ten years from now. Next consider: What must be done to attain these goals? A strong foundation is best laid early in life in order to achieve godly goals later on—not just, say, a career a man can use to support his family, but even more importantly, the goals of building a strong marriage and family, and, ultimately, the goal of entry into God's Kingdom. Focusing on establishing a career, marriage and family while not focusing on developing an intimate relationship with God and Jesus Christ is putting the proverbial "cart before the horse"—it is getting one's priorities backwards. Time should be taken to prepare for our future spiritual roles as husband and wife, and father and mother, before those roles are undertaken. Saying "I do" may put a person into a position of spiritual leadership, but it does not automatically make one a successful spiritual leader. These roles need to be developed, and the season of singleness is the best time to do it!
How should singles prepare spiritually for their future roles and responsibilities? The use of spiritual tools should be practiced and become growing habits. Godly singles should make prayer more than just an "every morning" or "every evening" activity, but a part of their life throughout the day. We should seek to make daily Bible study meaningful and more than simply reading "a proverb a day." (This action is excellent, but insufficient by itself for real spiritual growth.) Spending extra time, perhaps on the Sabbath or when fasting, to do deeper study into many different biblical and Christian living topics is also key. Regularly studying Church literature and reviewing recorded sermons and other educational tools the Church provides will add greater spiritual depth and focus, essential for true spiritual leadership in the family and workplace. Singles will do well to learn to meditate on God's way of life and His principles—not in the Eastern mystical sense, but by thinking about the things they have read and learned. Such times of meditation can be used to help plan for the future. And singles will grow by learning to use the tool of regular fasting to draw closer to God, grow in humility, and allow Christ to more fully live in them (Galatians 2:20). Experience has taught the Church that these four tools are powerful and essential aids to spiritual growth.
By redeeming the time spiritually, singles begin to lay a foundation for successful preparation in all other areas of life.
Career Preparation and Skill Development
Along with spiritual preparation, young singles should also use this season for job and career preparations or developing skills that will benefit them in the future. Too many of today's youth squander this time by focusing too much on aimless pursuits and entertainment. Sadly, this frequently results in frustration, as individuals reach their late 20s and early 30s and have little to show for it.
Wise King Solomon admonished his son, "Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house" (Proverbs 24:27, New International Version). God designed marriage and family to be a blessing for men and women. However, He also instructs us to do our part to prepare for these blessings before we take them on. Solomon also "learned from the ant" that we should work hard in our current season of life so we will be well equipped for the next season we hope to enter (Proverbs 6:6–8). So, how can young singles prepare in the areas of job and career? Here are a few ideas:
Obtain your training and education now! A wise person develops the character to work hard early in life in order to position himself or herself for a better future. Putting off training or education always puts greater stress on marriage and family. Position yourself for your future while you are young! Men should remember that an income that sustains you as a single is often insufficient to support a wife and family.
Men: Prepare for work that allows you to support a wife and family. By the time singles today marry and have school-age children, public schools may be so morally corrupt that true Christians will not want to place their children (God's children!) in them. Men should prepare for work that will allow them to support a family so their wives are free to be homemakers (Titus 2:5) and to care for children at home.
Ladies: Develop skills you will need, both before and after marriage. Consider training that not only could put you in a job you enjoy now, if needed, but also will help prepare you for your future roles as wife and mother—running your home's affairs and also caring for and educating your future children.
Examine possible jobs and careers from the perspective of their compatibility with God's way of life. Not all job and career opportunities reflect the principles of God's Kingdom.
Consider taking a career/aptitude test online (many are free) and use it to help you learn more about what you are "good at" and the types of jobs that you might want to consider.
Thoughtful, purposeful job and career training and skills development is important and should begin early. The longer it is delayed, the less prepared singles will be for their next season of life. Remember, also, that it is never too late to pursue further training or education.
Husband and Wife Preparation
So far we have discussed two ways to prepare for future life seasons of marriage and family. But what about preparing for the roles of husband and wife, themselves? The season of singleness is a crucial time to prepare for these roles. Singles should be developing character traits that are vital to a godly marriage. Here are several actions to begin pursuing that will help you spiritually prepare for marriage:
Produce godly fruit. Review Galatians 5:19–23 and examine yourself in light of both the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of God's spirit." Christians strive to put off carnal works and produce more of the fruit of God's Spirit. The more godly character traits we bring into marriage and family, the happier and more fulfilled we and our loved ones will be.
Grow in humility and teachability. Proverbs is full of admonitions to the wise to seek counsel. Humble, teachable people understand their own limitations and seek advice from those who already have attained the success and qualities they themselves wish to develop.
Build godly habits. As discussed earlier, regular prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting are vital habits to build. In order to become the godly husband or wife we long to be, these spiritual tools are a "must" to develop.
Learn to communicate. One of the biggest reasons for marriage frustration and failure is ineffective communication. Learning to listen well and communicate clearly is vital for marital success. Singles should learn to communicate well so that this skill is brought into marriage and family.
In addition to these godly actions, singles should spend time studying their future roles! Proverbs reminds us that wisdom is all around us if we are willing to make the effort to seek it (Proverbs 1:20). We also know that wise people foresee evil and hide from it—or learn how to avoid it (Proverbs 22:3). Studying marriage and family and learning how to prepare for them will help us be successful when finally blessed with that season of life. Below are several suggestions to help prepare for the season of marriage and the roles of husband and wife:
Read and study God's Plan for Happy Marriage. This booklet briefly outlines key actions husbands and wives need to take to make their marriages happy and truly godly.
Read and review Church articles and sermons addressed to husbands and wives.
Interview "congregational experts." Find husbands and wives in your local congregation who set the example of a man or woman of God. Ask them for advice about how you can prepare to be a truly godly husband or wife and what you can be doing now!
Obtain and read some helpful books. Of course, your Bible is a wonderful book that has both advice and examples concerning godly dating and marriage. Many have found benefit from books such as William Harley's His Needs, Her Needs. Consider asking your local ministers for books or resources they might recommend for you.
While we are always learning how to do better, even after marriage, we should invest ourselves in planning for the roles of husband and wife before marriage. It also helps show God you are working to be ready to receive the hand of His son or daughter.
Father and Mother Preparation
Just as singles should begin working to develop the traits of a godly husband or wife before marriage, so, too, should they be developing the traits they will need as godly parents. When we realize that the role of parents is to rear God's own children (Malachi 2:15), the level of responsibility held by parents takes on a new level of seriousness.
Those who are wise take time to study how to answer (Proverbs 15:28) and how to respond in different, foreseeable situations. Here are some recommendations to help singles prepare for the all-important roles of father and mother:
Read Successful Parenting: God's Way. One powerful principle in this booklet is to "create a godly culture in your home." This is an action singles can begin to practice well before marriage!
Read Church literature and listen to sermons about parenting and the roles of fathers and mothers.
Interview congregational experts and ask for advice on how to prepare now to become a godly parent.
Obtain and read some helpful books.Again, while they may be imperfect, there are many helpful books out there, such as Dr. James Dobson's series: Bringing Up Boys, Bringing Up Girls, Dare to Discipline, and The Strong-Willed Child. Ask your pastor and local ministry what books they might recommend.
Being single is a special and unique season of life. While some see singleness as only a season of fun—or perhaps frustration—those who are wise will also use this vital season for preparation and growth. God expects all of us to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18), regardless of our stage in life.
While many worldly singles squander this special season and have little to show for it later on, godly singles will use it to lay an unshakable spiritual foundation. They will use this time to prepare wisely for jobs, careers, or skills that will help secure future success, contentment and peace. And they will use this time to study, prepare for and build the character traits and habits necessary to be a godly husband and father or wife and mother.
Now is the season for young singles and older singles alike to prepare for the next stage or season in life. Dedicated, godly preparation results in blessings and an abundant life. For those already working hard and using this season to prepare, keep up the good work! God will reward you. For those yet to start, do not waste any more time—get busy, apply yourself and use this season to prepare, so that you, too, can reap the rewards God longs to give you!