Full article originally published June 6, 2019:
If you look up “Single Men in Missions” online, you essentially get 4 different results.
- Testosterone-filled appeals that feel like an Army recruitment ad. Missions! Battles! Adventure! Dubstep! MEN!!!
- Insightful blog posts written by single women.
- Articles from prominent married pastors insinuating that today’s unmarried men are undisciplined and spiritually immature.
- Dating sites with HOT CHRISTIAN SINGLES NEAR YOU!
As a 31-year-old single man who’s been in missions for almost a decade, I don’t find any of these to be particularly relevant.
So, if you’re a single man wondering if God could possibly be calling you into missions, this post is for you. And if you’re interested in the thoughts of a single missionary, you’re welcome along for the ride.
To my fellow single brothers, I pray God continues to encourage, empower and sanctify you as you continue this adventure with him. Singleness doesn’t have to feel like a curse!
Remember the end goal and don’t give up.
Some days being a single man in missions is unfathomably difficult, painful and heart-wrenching. Other days it’s unbelievably encouraging watching God work in, through and usually despite “my” ministry. Most days it’s some weird mixture of the two.
But even at the end of my worst, most infuriating days, I keep coming back to the same question: “Is obedience to God’s call worth it?” And that has always been a resounding “yes.”
Know your true identity.
In general, American society tends to judge men based on what they do or accomplish.
Throw in the whole stigma of “you don’t have kids and family,” and it’s been easy to get caught in that cycle of equating effectiveness with worth.
As a single man, your worth and identity come as an adopted son of the Father, through Christ’s righteousness, empowered by the Holy Spirit. You are a vital member of the body. You have God-given strengths, gifts, relationships and opportunities. You’ve been made holy, despite your sin, through Christ.
Your value is not based on what you can do. Nor is it based on your label as a “single Christian man.” At least for me, I can’t hear that message enough.
Embrace your unique opportunities.
I still remember the first time I realized my singleness could be beneficial for missions. No, not just because I had an excess of time, but because I could actually relate to the often-marginalized single men in other cultures. Consider the following:
- Roughly 25 percent of the world’s unreached people are single men.
- Roughly 1 percent of the global missions’ force is single men.
- Anecdotally from many of our workers in East Asia, single men are typically one of the hardest demographics to reach.
Remind yourself frequently that you aren’t alone.
It’s easier than ever to feel alone—so much so that sociologists have been referring to our current social state as a loneliness epidemic. While this is certainly a problem throughout the entire process of missions work, one of the most isolating times can be at the very beginning. So, if you have any inkling God might be calling you into missions, please talk with a ministry coach! It’s way easier than trying to do this alone.
Lastly, if you’re a single man in missions, keep up the amazing work, brother! Don’t forget who and whose you are, and remember you’re not alone. I know it’s tough. But it’s worth it.
This article is submitted by John Hawke of OMF International. OMF International is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.