A Single Perspective in Ministry
Spring may be my second favorite season. It brings with its warmth, brightness and hope; which sometimes reminds me of the hope we have of glory in eternity that can feel lost during the long and cold season of winter.
But each new spring is a little harder for me to love because of the blooming of so many things; often, this is both a place of love and loathing. I love when the flowers spring up and out, when people seem to do the same, finally free to leave the places they have kept warm and waiting.
In addition, spring is the yearly reminder that there is a cycle of life, which includes the birthing of new life. As a single woman, this can be a hard thing to see year after year – to feel the hope of life all around you and surrounded by warmer days, yet missing the warmth of a partner walking beside you in this life.
I have seen the rich value to having a partner with which to share this life. No longer lost in the mist of the romanticism of relationship, the practicality of a partner is enticing. I am one person. I carry the load of one person. But I carry the full load. All the bills, birthdays, chores, errands; the emotional upsets and joys; the spiritual valleys and plateaus. There is not another person who is in the same space as me to push or pull me, for me to reach out to encourage and challenge, to remind one another of important dates or share experiences with. In short, there is an aloneness to singleness.
This is what is most taxing.
This is also what is most freeing.
In the single space, I have time and emotional space to give in a way that my married friends and those with children do not have access to. I have a perspective that is not pulled on by another person’s need of me.
However, as a single person in full-time ministry, it is easy for me to forget that my entire life is not wrapped up into my ministry because my life is ministry. Yet, there is a healthy separation of the ministry of my life and the ministry of my job.
Whereas others may have a husband or wife and/or children to call them away, to help establish boundaries of work, single people rarely have the same. There is rarely an external call of boundaries on the time of a single person. This allows the lines to more easily blur between the ministry of life and the ministry of job.
We need each other
In his graciousness, God led me into the area of ministering to women before leading me to focus on the women in college, teaching me along the way the value of community and the intergenerational need we have, which can be and should be found in the church.
Just as I have a need for others in my single life, others have a need for me to show up in their life.
The Lord uses people to fill some of the space in my life. The Lord uses people to push and pull me in the truth. The Lord uses people to call me out of the dark places I wonder and to call me upward to the God who’s love I can so easily forget.
Can I say it again? We, each of us in any season, we need each other. As a staunch introvert who needs time alone to process internally all that happens in my days, as someone who falls into the deeper need of quiet than most, I can say without a doubt that we all are in need of each other.
Isn’t this the image of the church? (Romans 12:3-8). As a body made of different parts and each part is needed. Not just to function together to accomplish a greater purpose, but we need each other in order to function well individually. A hand is not free to be a hand if it is busy taking the place of a foot for standing and stability. If we are relying on one another to function together, we are also relying on one another to be freed to be what we are called to be in this season (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
[bctt tweet=”If we are relying on one another to function together, we are also relying on one another to be freed to be what we are called to be in this season.” username=”ys_scoop”]
What season are you in? What is the season of those around you?
Are you single?
I would challenge you to move into the spaces available to serve. Use your time well. You have the ability to move into the places of ministry and into the lives of those around you who are married/with children. Allow yourself the freedom to move into those places and lives. Yet do not be convinced that you are the only one who can do this ministry just because you have the time; this can lead to pride, or bitterness and burnout.
Are you married?
I would challenge you to be careful not to use a relationship to confine you, but use your relationship to spurn you each/both on into deeper areas of ministry. Use your relationship as an invitation for others to come into for dinner or coffee. How will single people have the ability to comprehend that marriage is more than a wedding and is better and harder and worth more than they can fathom?
Are you in the throes of parenthood?
I would challenge you to include others into your life – yes, your messy, chaotic, crazy, scheduled, ever-changing-plans life. Invite the single people and the married couples into your season of life. How else will they know what family looks like? That family can look different than they experienced growing up?
This is not a call to add more but to evaluate what you do, how you do it, and how to do it better. (Ephesians 5:15-21). Maybe that looks like pulling back on the number of things you do so that you can do a few things well. Maybe it looks like saying “no” to good things so that you have time to invite others into your life.
Do not overlook the ministry to one another in the different seasons we have together. I need you to help me in the ministry God has placed me in during this season by letting me be a part of your life. Help me know how I can help you in the season God has placed you; how can I be a part of your life?
Andrea Gaston received her Master of Arts in Counseling and spent several years as a professional counselor as well as an adviser position in higher education before becoming involved with women’s ministry, which led to a focus in college ministry. In the Summer of 2016, Andrea moved from Georgia to Iowa to pursue the opportunity of working specifically in college ministry. She practices working out the rambling thoughts in her head through writing in the messy places of grace blog.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.