Editor’s Note: This article is the first of a three-part series on the topic of missions and singleness.
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On my 25th birthday I remember gathering with some of my closest friends at one of my favorite restaurants. I also remember a friend who stood up and asked, as if rehearsed, “So, Kim, where do you see yourself in 10 years?”
I answered confidently: I imagined myself happily married with three kids—living in our Instagram-worthy home, traveling around the world, and making lots of money. I look back at that moment now and imagine God the Father in heaven, chuckling. As the proverb goes, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
In his infinite wisdom, God has chosen to take my life down a very different path. I’m so glad that he knows best. That following year, when I turned 26, after years of being in the church, I came to fully understand the gospel for the first time in my life. And after that, everything changed.
I got plugged into a gospel-rich community and soon began to understand the beauty of the church. A year later, I went on my first overseas missions trip—and the desire to become a missionary began to grow. I went on two more trips, and the desire continued to grow. Throughout the process, many brothers and sisters faithfully walked alongside me and taught me what it looked like to be faithful where I was even as I looked forward to going overseas.
Looking back, two words of counsel stand above the rest. I want to share them with my fellow single missionaries.
1. Don’t waste your singleness.
Singleness is difficult, especially when you desire marriage. I’m 38 now. As each friend gets married and your pool of single friends gets smaller, it can be gut-wrenching.
We’ve heard many times that singleness is a “gift,” but it’s the kind of gift no one really wants—like a box of stale chocolates. But here’s the reality: single saints are free in ways our married brothers and sisters aren’t. That’s why we must use this time to pursue God with abandon. We should embrace this season with joy and thanksgiving to the Lord. His sovereign wisdom remains unimpeachable, and he has chosen singleness for us—at least for now.
So to my single brothers and sisters: be faithful where he has you! Though I do not have the calling of a wife, God has given me several other callings: as a daughter, a sister, a friend, a church member, and a co-worker, just to name a few. I must be faithful in these areas. After all, there are people around us who have yet to hear about Christ, so we should continue to look to Christ and share the gospel with those around us.
2. Love and serve the church.
Simply put, you need the church and the church needs you. As singles, it’s easy to believe the lie that the church is “for families” and not “for us.” But we’re called to press into relationships for our own good and for God’s glory to be on display through our love for one another (John 13:35).
Some of the most rewarding relationships in my life are with families in my local church. Initially when heading overseas, I felt the loss of those relationships stateside. I missed the everyday rhythm of life with my friends—babysitting, sipping coffee on their couches, playing outside with their kids, grocery shopping, loud family dinners. I missed these moments, the simple life-on-life discipleship that God used to shape me. Over time, the Lord provided these kinds of relationships through a new local church, and once again I saw how necessary it is for singles to be folded into the life of the Body.
To my single friends: prayerfully seek out these relationships in your local church. To those with families: seek out single brothers and sisters! It’s worth it. I promise.
Like all Christians, singles sometimes struggle with self-pity and self-focus. But God has higher plans for us. He intends for us to communicate clearly a message about his own superiority and sufficiency, reflecting ever so faintly the love and devotion the church should have toward him (Eph. 5:22–33).
Brother and sister, if we indeed believe that God is sovereign and doesn’t withhold any good gifts from his children, then we should live that way, until the ends of the earth come to know him!