7. Provide space to bring feelings about singleness.
Some women feel content in their singleness while others are grieving a life they’d hoped for. One of the women I talked to shared that we’ve gotten better at talking about grief in the church when it comes to certain topics, like infertility. She praised the way the church has started giving the language of grief to this tough topic and allowing spaces to process feelings around the issue. She suggested that we provide the same language and space for singles grieving the loss of what they thought their life would look like. Allowing this space doesn’t mean we’re saying they’ll never find a spouse, but it does mean we’re willing to sit with them in their present situation and process their feelings with them—whatever they are.
8. Treat singles like adults.
This was one of the most surprising things I learned in talking with single women in ministry. They reported how often other leaders (and people in their congregation) treated them like teenagers. If your primary experience with singleness was as a teen, everything you know about singleness may be based on what was appropriate for that age. That makes it easy to revert to an 18-year-old mindset when interacting with singles. But single women in ministry are mature adults with amazing contributions to share. I know I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees with me on this, but the way we speak to, interact with, and talk about singles often sends a different message. For instance, single women in ministry don’t need to be parented or protected—they need to be empowered and encouraged.
9. Treat singles like whole people.
Although I can’t find anything in the Bible that says single people are less spiritually formed than married people, many of the single women in ministry I spoke with talked about being treated as “less-than.” One woman shared that she was relegated to the sidelines in women’s ministry because the ministry director said she couldn’t disciple or teach women who were married. Mentally we know this is silly—Paul and Jesus were both single! But our actions may speak a different message. When we act like marriage is the ultimate goal, it’s easy to look at singles as not having “arrived” yet. Let’s root out this false thinking.