Sometimes the best way to figure out how to do something is to watch someone else do it. Why else would the Internet be filled with how-to videos? Often it’s easier to show than to tell. This same principle applies to navigating singleness. We need someone we can look to who lived the single life well.
The Bible doesn’t let us down. The apostle Paul exemplified godly singleness. He even said, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The final portion of his letter to his young protégé, Timothy, written from prison, shows us a well-lived single life. His example gives us a vision of what our single years, when lived to the glory of God, can be and accomplish.
Paul showed us even from a prison cell, close to his death, he was directing ministry. He concerned himself with the people who would carry the torch of the gospel after he was gone. Notice that Paul’s ministry strategy involved mentoring young people who, in turn, would use their lives to help others.
Paul was surrounded by protégés and good friends. In addition to the people we're investing our lives in, we need others who can share our burdens and struggles—brothers and sisters to lock arms with. From Paul, we see singleness as a stage to cultivate deep friendships. Many of us have acquaintances and coworkers we see and interact with. But we’re talking about relationships that go beyond a surface level—friends who push us forward in God’s call.
God’s presence filled Paul with the courage to proclaim the gospel, even while on trial for proclaiming that same gospel. Paul leveraged his time in prison and his life of singleness to advance the gospel. He didn’t seek to be put into prison, but he used his imprisonment as a platform for evangelism.
Whereas most people would have ended the letter by asking for help in getting out of prison, Paul found a way to rest in God. He had a broader view of the work of God, trusting Him with his ultimate redemption and rescue. Therefore, nothing could touch him. It’s impossible to control everything in life, but it’s possible to be both known and loved by the Creator of life itself. This truth gave Paul peace, and it can give us peace as well.
When you rest in God, you recognize your life is about your relationship with Him. The way you relate to God is far more important than the way you relate to other human beings. Identity isn’t found in your friends, your dating relationships, or even your spouse. Identity is found in your relationship with Christ. He’s the only person who’s able to define you. When you’re in Christ, you’re adopted into the family of God as a son or a daughter of the King. Ultimately, flourishing in singleness (and in every other stage) depends upon having an identity that isn’t found in your relationships (or lack thereof) but in Christ.