Single men face many unique challenges and opportunities. They are regularly pressured to be married, constantly set up on blind dates, and are left feeling less than a man without a spouse. Recently, I had the pleasure of talking with a handful of single men from our Soma Tacoma family. As a shepherd and elder who cares deeply for the hearts of people, I’d like to speak directly to other single men about a few of the takeaways from our two hour chat.
1. Jesus wants to “secure your undivided devotion”
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided…I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Paul’s call to all single people is clear: as long as you are single, secure undivided devotion to Jesus! When you marry, you add a layer of complexity to your life. Use the extra margin you have today to sharpen your focus on Jesus.
My chief concern for all of our single men is that they passionately pursue Jesus. Not a woman, but Jesus. Love Jesus, serve Jesus, pursue Jesus, know Jesus, walk with Jesus, be satisfied in Jesus, experience intimacy with Jesus, and find every bit of their significance and value in Jesus. Be a faithful disciple of Jesus! That is the Father’s chief concern for you, single men. And though many I talk to are already doing that, the Spirit leads me to echo Paul again by saying, “excel still more!” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).
2. Start with the right question
It shouldn’t be shocking that my conversation included a discussion of how to determine which woman one should pursue. As we talked, I heard the essence of a question that I often hear single men ask (and I clearly recall asking myself when I was a single man): "Who am I interested in?"
I believe when it comes to pursuit, if you start here, you are starting with the wrong question. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love the LORD your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). Everything we do should be motivated by love for God in response to what he has done for us in and through Jesus. We love him because he first loved us (1 John 4:10-11), and love for him is what motivates us to lay down our lives for the sake of others (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Therefore, starting with the right question means asking, “Who would the Father have me pursue? Who would he have me serve and bless by initiating an intentional friendship?”
Finding a wife should not be your primary motive for pursuing a woman. A single man’s motivation for pursuing a woman must primarily be loving obedience to the Father, and secondarily to serve and bless his sister. Pursuing a woman in Spirit-led fashion, regardless of the outcome, honors God and blesses her.
Begin by asking the Spirit to make it clear to you who he wants you to pursue. He is your perfect Daddy, and he knows you (and all of your sisters) better than you know yourself. He is uniquely qualified to guide you. And ask others for help in determining the Spirit’s leading. Don't feel like it’s totally up to you to sit in the corner, listening to the Spirit, until some woman’s name pops into your head. Process this in community. This is nothing new, of course. I remember talking for hours with my friends about the different women we were interested in, trying to determine what we should do next. But we were starting with the wrong question. I wish we’d been armed with the thought that our Heavenly Father had an opinion on the matter. It would have significantly altered the discussion.
3. Having a wife doesn't make you a man. Jesus makes you a man.
As an elder, I know that at times I have inadvertently sent the message that finding a wife makes you more of man. Nothing could be further from the truth. I often ask men, married and single, “how do you know you’re a man?” I believe there are three main ways for Jesus’ followers to answer this question.
First of all, I know I’m a man because I am a male who has been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Men and women both uniquely image God, and as a man, this uniqueness is reflected in my heart and life.
Secondly, I know I am a man because Jesus is the only perfect man who ever lived. Jesus was, in every sense, the ultimate man. He was the man that Adam failed to be (Romans 5:12-21). Jesus’ success as a man supersedes the failures of every man who ever lived. And now, I am in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). His perfect record is given to me. His performance, his work, his accomplishments, his achievements are all all mine and define me as a man. In any way that I seek to prove my identity as a man, I fail; and in every way I need Jesus to prove my identity as a man, he succeeds. Jesus, the only perfect man who ever lived, is the one who makes me a man.
Finally, as one who is in Christ, the Father affirms his love for me by his Spirit. He also affirms that I am his child. And when he affirms this, he calls me “son.” “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). That is how I know I’m a man!
Single men, secure undivided devotion to the one who truly defines you. Love the only one who can deeply satisfy you. Obey the perfect Father who you can trust with your today and your tomorrow. And rest in the fact that you are already a man, made whole and complete by the lover of your soul.