Lately I’ve been discussing how our married friends in leadership can minister to LDS singles more effectively. It all started two weeks ago when I shared what stake leaders can do to minister to singles. Then last week I focused on what ward leaders can do and how home teachers and visiting teachers play a pivotal role in walking with singles.
Yet a focus exclusively outside of singles ignores a major component in ministering effectively to singles. We LDS singles can do much to support one another and lift ourselves to higher ground.
Yes, stake and ward leaders are busy people with enough commitments pulling them in different directions that singles can easily get forgotten. But I firmly believe another obstacle impedes our leaders from doing more to help LDS singles. They don’t see us doing much to help each other.
Seeing the separation
Honestly, who can blame them? If you don’t see people who need help doing what lies in their power to help themselves, how motivated will you be to help? It’s human nature to feel it easier to help those who are showing by their actions they’re doing what they can to help themselves.
Of course, our culture plays a role as well. For many years, singles have their own activities and often their own wards. These factors combined with marriage as a rite of passage within the culture encourage our married friends to think of singles as a group that doesn’t quite belong. It makes it very easy to think, “Well, you singles can do your thing over there, and if you ever get married, then you can join us in the main group over here.”
The end result is that many of our married friends in our wards and stakes see us more as time and energy saps than as the children of God we truly are. Understanding how to minister effectively to singles can help with that. Doing the little things that truly help singles doesn’t take much time or energy.
Seeing the situation
That perspective of seeing singles as a group apart from the main allows leaders to rationalize more easily a disengagement from the lives of singles. And who can blame them for having that perspective when we singles ourselves have disengaged from other singles’ lives?
I know there are exceptions, but the rule across the Church is that singles who attend activities aren’t there to support others but rather to seek out a personal agenda. They’re there to check out the dating scene or, for those who have tired of dating, to enjoy themselves.
I’ve spoken before about how the dating forum and the activity club each encourage us to focus inward when we should follow the Savior’s example and focus outward. Building a support network helps us to obtain and maintain that outward focus.
What if every LDS single who arrived at an activity was warmly welcomed? What would happen if all singles could feel loved and supported by their own? How much goodness would then result? And how much potential are we wasting by not reaching after that?
Seeing the solidarity
We LDS singles don’t have much moral authority for arguing that our leaders should support us if we aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities we ourselves have to help each other. We have activities to fill needs, not to fill a calendar, and to provide space for singles both to give and to receive support, not just to accomplish a personal agenda.
Yes, we want to find our eternal companion, and yes, we’ll always be looking and wondering if So-and-so we just met is that one. That’s human nature. The trick is not to allow that good agenda to crowd out the better or best agenda of building a community in which we all love and support each other.
When we congregate to support each other before seeking our own personal interests, we better follow the example of the Savior. We also better align ourselves with the true purpose of our journey in mortality — to learn how to become more like Him. How can we do that without seeing others the way He sees them and seeking to serve them the way He would serve them?
In the end, we get what we give. When we give first priority to fulfilling the needs of others, we set an ennobling example for others, including our married friends, to follow. When all of us — married and single — come together into a community of saints who care for each other regardless of status or situation, then many of our needs will be met just by being who we are. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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