Singleness and Serving Without Burning Out!
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2 v20
I have the absolute joy of being paid to work with 11-18 year olds, telling them about the good news of Jesus and encouraging them as their faith develops.
We often do talks about subjects like Sex and Relationships when the focus can twist towards why we can’t do anything we choose and why God sets rules. By the end of the session we’ve seen how this guidance is positive and encourages us for what is good rather than being cruel or restrictive.
For me, that is how we should see singleness.
A season of singleness, whether that is short or long term, isn’t about a restriction on what we can do for God. Instead it offers a wonderful opportunity to serve God and to devote ourselves to His work. For many that looks like increased service in their church or for Christian social action organisations.
However, regardless of the time you give, the commitment involved or the visible fruit we see, we are called to be doing this work for our God. In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he says,
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”
1 Corinthians 10 v31
A season of singleness is an incredible opportunity to serve God for His glory.
There can be a temptation to serve God in a highly visible way in the hope of recognition or to give as much time as possible to show your commitment (even if this often leads to unhealthy burnout)! But… if we truly understand what Paul is saying, should we not focus on two priorities?
Use the increased time given in seasons of singleness to serve God (often in ways others who are married cannot so easily)
Turn the focus of our WHOLE life towards God so that we do not need to simply add to our busy lives and burnout
Let me give an example. I am famous for two things: my constant laughter and my often unhealthy work ethic to spend every waking hour doing something. My project this year has been to focus on the two principles above to make my life less busy but more committed to God.
Instead of wasting so much time on Netflix or doing other things that can be unproductive if given vast amounts of time, I’ve been careful to regularly plan in times of service. Once per month I have the privilege of leading Street Pastor teams in Nottingham and at least half of my evenings are used for God-centred activities such as running Church youth groups, going to my own house group or spending an evening reading a good Christian book to enable me to serve with more wisdom. By putting service of Christ high on my to-do list, I remind myself continually of His importance
By modifying my diary to focus on Christ rather than add to my current commitments, I avoid burnout. Instead of listening to the latest music on my train journeys I spend time reading one of the gospels or an epistle. When I meet friends for dinner who aren’t Christians, I make sure to be evangelistic in how I speak of my life, my job and my church. When I send out a monthly newsletter at work that can easily feel like a chore, I remember that the organisation of meetings is just as good a chance to serve God as physically being there for an extra meeting. An evening babysitting for a family without taking payment is a way of showing my love for them.
Serving Christ in our day to day lives is such as great thing to do, both for the fruit it produces and also for the useful reminder that our primary focus should be using our time on this earth for the glory of God.
Singleness offers us a unique opportunity to devote ourselves to this work but we must not use this as an excuse to fill our diaries to bursting. Let our service to Him show our sacrifice of our time to Him, but equally show our willingness to let Him work through every part of our lives. Even if we wouldn’t normally consider it gospel work, God can use your life to His glory.
God is not the God of Sundays.
God is not the God of rotas.
God is the God of our lives.
Let Him work without boundaries.