How do you know, other than hearing from God, that you are ready to be married?
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
When I was single in college I found myself asking the same kind of question. What criteria should I use to determine if I was ready to make a lasting commitment to another? One Sunday, a guest speaker laid out a set of criteria that changed how I approached your question.
“Being ready to settle down,” began the speaker, “is determined by first asking two questions.”
To this day, I remember his questions. First, who is your Master? In other words, are we looking to control our lives, or will we allow Jesus to set our agenda and priorities? The apostle Paul flatly states that every Christian needs to offer his or her life as a living sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1-2). If you’ve not made this fundamental decision to make Jesus Lord of your life, then answering the second question is impossible. Second, based on the leading of Jesus what is your mission in life? What is it God has created you to do? What context—full-time Christian work, going into business, being a teacher, starting graduate school—most fully utilizes your God-given gifts? At this point, you may respond: I have no idea what my mission is or even what my gifts are? Don’t worry. It takes time to discover God’s mission for you or your unique gifts. However, not being able to answer these questions makes the last question irrelevant: Who should I marry? If you are not sure of God’s leading as your Master, or what God’s mission is for you, then how can you possibly know what kind of mate you’ll need to accomplish your mission?
Today, I notice many singles flip the list. First, they get married, then they seek a career that best suits what they perceive as strengths, and last, ask God to put His rubber-stamp on a pre-determined vision of life. As a single, be careful to first seek out Jesus and his vision for your life. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” Jesus states, “and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 6:33).
Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University and author of several books, including I Beg to Differ and Marriage Forecasting. His most recent publication, Defending Your Marriage, speaks to spiritual warfare in marriage and how to equip yourself to defend your relationship. For the past 18 years, he and his wife, Noreen, have been frequent speakers at FamilyLife marriage conferences. Muehlhoff regularly writes and speaks for the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships. Follow Dr. Muehlhoff on Twitter.