The Single’s Training Ground
You have been entered into the marathon. You have been given a number. You have taken your mark. The starting gun has been fired.
This particular marathon will prove to be much harder and longer than the norm. Twenty-six miles, shortness of breath, leg cramps, and moments of regret somewhere in the middle will seem mild comparatively. Because, while the race has a clear starting time and location, the end point plus the terrain and challenges in between is entirely unknown.
Single believer, how do you feel about being signed up for this marathon called “The Christian Life?” Unlike the tug of war where you are at the mercy of whichever team proves the strongest, the results of this event are entirely up to you. Instead of being stuck on a rope and mercilessly tugged back and forth, you are running to break a rope at the end of this marathon that says in big letters CHRISTLIKENESS. (Be honest…did you think I was going to say marriage?)
Whether you knew what you were getting yourself into or not, you’re in this race for the long haul. Therefore, it’s important to know how to run it well. How you train will make all the difference whether you’re on the track, in the mountains, or on the pavement at any mile marker (at least that’s what I have been told...).
So how do we train well and thus help ourselves continue pressing on regardless of what’s along the route?
Cultivate habits of godly obedience (1 Cor. 9:25-27; 1 Tim. 4:7-8).
Do you consistently practice the spiritual disciplines?
Do you regularly attend and serve the local church?
Men, do you seek to emulate the 1 Timothy 3 elder qualifications?
And women the Proverbs 31 woman?
Do you faithfully use your time and money?
Do you work for the glory of God?
Make these actions and attitudes a normal part of your training routine. Every good runner has specific exercises and diets to help increase their strength and stamina. Neglecting our spiritual muscles will only make it harder to get back into the routine or to run the race later as the terrain changes and the challenges come. Identify where you are weak and then discipline yourself to pursue obedience in that area. Let it become natural and a joy to open the Word, go to church on Sunday, be a faithful steward and servant, and let your light shine before men in all aspects of life.
Pursue discipleship (1 Cor. 11:1; Tit. 2:3-6; Heb 11:1).
Do you have at least one person in your life that you can learn from as you both seek to imitate Christ, either formally or informally?
Do you seek to gain wisdom from older saints in how to continue pursuing godliness?
Have you humbly acknowledged you desperately need others’ perspective into your training schedule to help you see your potential weaknesses?
Every good runner needs a coach. Take time to identify who can be that for you. Pray the Lord would help you find a man or woman in your life that is a little ahead of you in their race. Perhaps it’s a parent, a pastor, or an older saint. Humbly ask them to come alongside you to help you identify your weak spots, encourage and exhort, and keep your eyes fixed on Christ. It does not have to happen in a formal, weekly setting; find ways to be part of their everyday lives and for them to be a part of yours.
Also, do not underestimate the opportunity to learn from the people in your ordinary, everyday life. I learned how to live as a single to the glory of God by watching other single women around me at work and church. Each member of the church has a specific purpose, just like the physical body (1 Cor. 12:12-26). Therefore, every member, no matter their age, marital status, or testimony, can teach you something.
Pursue accountability (Gal 6:1-5, Jam. 5:16).
Do you have at least one trustworthy person who knows your deepest struggles, can ask the hardest questions, and point you back to Christ and the Word?
Are you humbly willing to let them into your life and know the things hidden in the dark places of your heart and life?
This may come from the person(s) who serve as your discipler. Or it could come from a select few trustworthy individuals who know you well. Remember those godly habits we would quickly and happily break if left up to us? A brother or sister can come alongside us to make sure we stick to them so we can keep running unhindered, on the right path, and with greater success. It is not necessary to have every acquaintance or friend know these things, but it is essential that we choose godly individuals that we feel comfortable sharing our burdens with to help us carry them.
Fight for a life of purity (2 Cor. 6:16-7:1; Th. 4:3-5; 1 Pet. 1:14-16; 1 Jn. 3:2-3).
Are you pursuing sanctification in all areas of your life, separating yourself from worldly temptations and fleshly defilements?
With your hope fixed on heaven and your eyes on Christ, are you fighting to be pure and holy as He is?
Do you seek to be found spotless and blameless in thought, speech, and action as you renew your mind to obey His Word?
As one pastor has said, if we think purity relates only to sexuality, we misunderstand the holiness of God. Purity means to be set apart, undefiled, unmixed, and free from pollution. Therefore, any sin we commit makes us impure and unholy and adds weight that slows us down. Our whole life, then, needs to be committed to pursuing purity in everything we think, say, and do. We have been made blameless by His Son, but we still have a responsibility to live blamelessly until we become like Him in glory. And that must motivate us to pursue holiness in the fear of the Lord. As you fix your eyes on Christ, identify the sins that entangle you, repent, ask for His help to overcome them by His Spirit, and then take diligent effort to mortify them as we renew our minds with His holy Word.
The Rewarding Results
Single believer, whatever the trail, the checkpoints, and the challenges, run your race in such a way that you may win (1 Cor. 9:24).
Warning: you will stumble and fall at some point in the race. But that’s why there is grace.
As we train, listen to “coaches,” ask for help, and remove burdens, we will find ourselves becoming stronger and more equipped to handle whatever lies between us and the finish line as each mile marker passes by. We will be strengthened to lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, run with endurance the race that is set before us, and fix their eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (Heb 12:1-2).
And guess what? As you are doing all these things out of a desire to become more Christlike, you are also molding yourself into someone that a godly person of the opposite sex would desire to marry.
REMEMBER: that’s NOT the goal.
But walking back down the aisle married does nothing to change who you are except that you are now joined to another sinner for the rest of your life. Don’t wait until that person shows up to start making yourself “ready.”
Oh, by the way, this race is not just about you.
Have you noticed that all the other people helping you in your race are also running their own? Each is passing their own mile markers and struggling through challenges as they strive towards the same prize as you. Single believer, you have a responsibility to help them in their race too. Think of it like the Olympics: running individually yet all for the same country.
So, what does it look like for you to come alongside the rest of the church in their pursuit of Christlikeness? If singleness is supposedly a “lesser state” of Christianity,” what can you possibly contribute to the church, especially to married couples? Thus commences a new kind of training: your coaching certificate.
Madelyn Moses serves as the producer of Side by Side Productions, currently working on a docuseries on a biblical view of singleness, launching Fall 2023. She earned her MA in Biblical Studies from The Master’s University (Santa Clarita, CA). She resides in Bucks County, PA and attends The Master’s Church of Bucks County in Richboro, PA.