Modern wisdom says experience is king. In other words, unless you have an experience in that area, your opinion doesn’t count. But Jesus was never a sinner, and look how much he helps sinners! When single people feel like their relationship advice is completely invalid, I think everyone loses.
I have written about this before, and there is a much older version of this article on the fusion website. However, this topic was brought up recently in a roundabout way through some random conversations with my friends.
I was basically saying that in churches (at least the ones I have been to/are linked with) there are rarely any single people in church leadership. The exception can often be the youth worker, who is often younger and therefore more likely to be single. Or the church leader can be single sometimes.
However, in most churches I come across, the people on the leadership team come as a couple.
As I said, there will obviously be exceptions to this, but I was saying that I think this is a massive shame. It can make single people feel overlooked and like they don’t fit in, and churches can miss out on using very talented people just because of their relationship status. (Read 3 Mistakes That Lead to Less Singles in Church)
In churches, it can also make single people feel like they cannot help their friends with their relationships because they are single.
Should I Say Something?
‘I know this couple who I think may have a problem… should I say something?’
This is the exact question a friend asked me when I was chatting to her about a couple she knew.
Yet the problem the couple had isn’t the focus of this post. Neither is whether I answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
This post addresses a deeper issue, namely the two ‘beliefs’ my single friend held. They made her feel disqualified from saying something to her friend because they had different relationship statuses. I think this troubles many people in our churches.
I’m Single, So What Do I Know
As we chatted, the first belief surfaced when she said: ‘I could say something, but I’m single, so what do I know’.
My heart sank.
This belief always upsets me. But is it a surprise she has it? In church single people frequently hear ‘Have you found anyone yet?’ or ‘God is preparing someone for you’. As if we’re outside God’s will until our next date. (Read 5 Clichés Said To Singles, Have You Heard Them All?)
There sat my friend, full of love and genuine concern, believing her relationship status made her irrelevant.
Jesus was never a sinner, but made them feel welcome and transformed their lives
This really upset me because as a Christian, I believe God qualifies the called. I don’t think God will only use the people who come to the altar with everything sorted, who have all the answers, or have reached a certain status in life.
I mean, Paul was never a Gentile but managed to reach many Gentiles with compassion and understanding. Jackie Pullinger was never a drug addict but has saved thousands from drug addiction. Jesus was never a sinner, but made them feel welcome and transformed their lives.
So I challenged my friend’s belief because our relationship status doesn’t automatically disqualify (or qualify) us from being a supportive friend with good relationship advice. Singleness shouldn’t stop us feeling relevant.
We All Need To Learn
As our conversation progressed, another belief arose when she said: ‘I’ll just leave it, they’ll probably fix it on their own anyway’.
Why should we assume that?
No-one is born knowing how to build and maintain a loving relationship. No-one has a relationship manual which fixes every difficulty. I have unfortunately seen many couples feel trapped because they believe they should ‘instinctively know’ how to fix their problems, so won’t get help.
No-one is born knowing how to build and maintain a loving relationship
We are all learning. We all need help. We all need friends around us who can help, support, pray for, and challenge different areas of our lives. In my experience, a loving and concerned friend is just as, if not more important, than their experience and relationship status.
Something Worth Saying
I said to my friend that our relationship status isn’t inherently linked to good or bad advice (or self-worth). No-one has a manual, we all have problems and need help occasionally. By helping my friend take hold of these new beliefs, she realised she may indeed have something worth saying.
I love church. I think the local church is amazing and has lots of things to think about and try and implement. But I think we need to make sure we don’t inadvertently devalue single people in our churches, or in our love lives. (Read, Have You Fallen Into The ‘Relationship Status’ Trap?).
Imagine if we all supported each other and allowed our friends to support and challenge us, knowing they have a genuine concern for us, and we didn’t ostracise people because of their experience or relationship status.
We can do this by not letting some assumptions influence how we interpret their advice.
Do you think experience is the most important thing? Comments welcome below.
Originally posted 21/8/2017