I don’t think it was until I hit 22 that I began to really think about relationships and dating in a more serious way. Don’t get me wrong, I desire companionship and a relationship. However, it didn’t hit me how important finding the right mate was until I began to get heavily involved in ministry. I’ll never forget a saying I heard during a ministry conference.
Ministry is messy because sin is messy. Get over it, get a mop and start helping people CLEAN UP!” -Jud Wilhite
Ministry has become a gold plated opportunity for so many people. They jump into it thinking that their name will rise in fame and forget that it’s one of the hardest places to operate in. Ministry is built in relationships with people and helping them see the light and hope that is based in God. Every person has a different situation and it involves real work. You can’t deal with everyone the same way and you learn how to become a person for all people at all times.
After doing all of that, you can’t just rest in the arms of any person. You need someone who understands what it means to serve. However, it goes past just that. You need someone who understands your heart and will also serve as a protector of that very heart. When you’re in ministry, many people are looking for you to fail. You need someone who will have your back. Ministry can be draining at times.
I remember something Pastor Chris Hill from The Potter’s House of Denver (one of my favorite pastors). He said that a true friend will have your back even they don’t agree. Your companion that God has for you will have your back because they love you. They not only love the God in you but they love the “you” that God has made you to be. Not that many people know the REAL US. You have to have someone who loves the “unprofessional” you. The one who can deal with your “isms” and the parts of you that even you don’t like at times.
The crazy part is that God has that person for us. I posted a very casual video on my Facebook Profile about this. (Click here to watch video). This is why I love God. He is thinking of us at every turn and knows what we need. Life can get so hard at times and it’s nice to have someone who has your back. However, if God has not revealed who that person is to you, know that you must continue to work on yourself and on the things God has called you to do.
In that time, know that because you’re single, the enemy will send all sorts of types of people your way. The moment I decided to get serious about God and His plan for me, all sorts of fake Boaz type men started to come my way. They seemed to fit everything but they were missing one important ingredient: A pure heart with pure intentions for me and for the things of God.
Let’s also note that not every man or woman after God’s heart is for you. They are for someone else so please leave them alone. We can not be leaders who serial date every Christian we meet. If you decide to be a serial dating leader, your entire church will be filled with your ex’s. We must also know that our time of singleness allows us to preserve ourself for our mate. It allows us to develop who we are. You can’t develop who you are when you’re going out with different people every other month.
So here are some things we all must work on as a young single leader involved in ministry:
1. Separation & Friendships
We must learn how to separate our love life and place it on a beautiful shelf until God reveals to us that it’s time to open it. For many of us, our hearts have been hurt so many times because we’ve allowed too many hands to hold our hearts. Let’s preserve our heart. Don’t feel the need to have to be tied to someone every second. Devote and dive into ministry head on. Until you’re married, you can devote 100% of your attention to God’s people and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Enjoy your friendships. Too many people jump into romance without realizing the beauty of friendships. Enjoy hanging out with other young people in ministry. Enjoy young adult groups and hangouts in the town. At the same time, watch who you “chill” with. As leaders, many are attracted to the position that we hold because flesh is attracted to power. Some people are looking to relax with you for reasons that are not beneficial to your development. It can seem like a lonely road but please know that you are never alone. We must stop spreading this thought that just because ministry can seem lonely that it is lonely. As people who study the Word, we should be the FIRST to know that God is with us. Many leaders suffer from isolation and it is the cause of what I call “leadership death”. Don’t isolate yourself on purpose because you think that it is the “leader” thing to do. Always have people in your circle that you can lean on. Just remember: Don’t lean on someone just because it feels good (aka opposite sex attraction). Samson thought Delilah was a pretty piece of work too! The anointing & call on your life isn’t worth a few sleepovers with Tyrone or Tyra.
God’s time is not like our time. He operates on heaven’s time. We must have the patience to wait for the promise. God never forgets His promises. Our lack of patience will show us the very need for it. The more you feed on being single, desperation will creep in because it will have your heart thinking that you need someone when you’re not even ready.
I believe that God does not unlock the next level to us until we are ready. However, many of us take hold to what seems like the next level without God’s permission. The issue is when we jump into relationships that seem like “heaven” without God’s approval. We will end up hurting more than helping our own heart. I’m learning that I’m not ready for someone right now because I’m too jumpy. I love relationships. I love to encourage people and love on people. However, I need to love on myself and encourage myself first. Many leaders don’t pour into themselves as much as they pour into others. There are leaders who are walking zombies due to the lack of self-care. If God hasn’t revealed the person yet, guess what? It’s not time. So just chill. Get a reality check and swallow it. Be okay with it and don’t try to jump ahead of God (remember, be patient!)
4. Social Media Discretion
I get it. We’re all human. However, as leaders many people look up to us. Know that your relationship isn’t for social media until the proper time. When God does reveal to you the person, have discretion. I’ve seen too many leaders jump into a relationship, blast it all over social media and then 5 months later that significant other is no longer to be found on their account. The sad thing is that another 5 months later, it’s someone else with the same captions. We have to be careful what we broadcast out there to the world. I’m not promoting anything about my personal life until God has confirmed to me that my companion is the one and that I’m entering into the serious stages of our relationship.
5. Watch from afar & Let the Holy Spirit Lead
My father always taught me to watch someone from afar. You need to see how they operate without you bringing attention to them. You know how kids act differently when they know their parents are watching? Men and women do the same thing especially when someone may have interest in them. Let’s be honest, when someone you like is noticing you, you most likely act at least 30% differently than you would around your friends or close family members. I love people from afar before even coming close. The people that are in my closest circle captured my heart from afar FIRST. I saw their heart for others and how they gave without any selfish motives. I saw their heart for the things of God and how they treasured the spirit of God. I also saw how real they were and transparent. We clicked. The same goes for when it comes to our romantic relationships. Once God has confirmed it in your spirit, don’t act crazy. Just go with the flow and let the Holy Spirit lead you. He will tell you how to act and what to do. When it’s time, the Holy Spirit will begin to put it on your heart to do certain things for that person. Just watch the love grow from there.