General Ministry
Leneita Fix

Leneita has been involved in youth or family ministry for over 24 years serving in rural, suburban and urban settings, camps, small and large churches and non-profits. She has authored or co-authored several youth ministry books, including Everybody’s Urban Understanding the Survival Mode of the Next Generation among others. Leneita is the ministry and training coordinator for BowDown Church, co-founded a coaching and training organization called Frontline Urban Resources (everybodysurban.org) and lives with her amazing husband John and four children in Florida.

Recently a good friend of mine told me I couldn’t “feel” her pain. She is in her mid-30’s in full time ministry and single. I was engaged by 24, married at 25, babies by 26.

She’s right I happened to get married and have kids pretty quickly. However, I started working in some form of ministry very young, and I know what it’s like to be single, and in ministry.

I know what it’s like to have people walk up to you and ask,  “When you will be next?” when they hear of the engagement of anyone in a 5 mile vicinity. In America we do not have pre-arranged marriages, so I was never sure how to “make this happen.” At the same time everyone thinks you have all the free time, so you can just be the one to “drop your life” when “something needs to be done.”

There seem to be plenty of books out there (especially for us girls) about how we are supposed to make Jesus the center of our lives then we are “ready” for our spouse. This is what I was taught. If I could just “Kiss Dating Goodbye,” and be about the Lord, then my husband would come. It was almost like he was locked behind a door, that would get opened when I had enough faith in Jesus. The problem of course is that we are pursuing Christ while having one eye open on the moment we arrive at enough “Jesus time” to “deserve a spouse.”

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Us “married in ministry” folks do a miserable time at helping a lot of times. I  have realized as my friends reach over 30 I don’t always know how to be supportive. The reality is that all of my friends, who aren’t married, would like to be. Yet, at the same time, I know we can’t wave a magic wand and our “prince” shows up. How many of us have heard stories of parents and grandparents who knew each other for like a week and then planned a wedding soon thereafter, only to go on to be married for 50 years? So in our idiocy we start looking around for viable options of other “singles” for you. You date someone for like a minute and we want to talk about the wedding. We mean well, but we are not always helpful.

Part of the solution is that we realize unmarried does not equal undead. Paul himself talked about ministry and singleness being a good combination. You can’t just snap fingers and “get married” so living like you need it to come along any sec can just be frustrating. So my “single” friends know that for now they do just focus on where Christ has them and then see if/when a spouse comes along. So I guess this article is really to us married folks. We need to back off, and for now, let the single be single.

God has each life… He really does…

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  • Kelly says:

    I was in ministry and single until I was 35. You pointed out that a lot of the pressure is on single women in ministry, which I found to be true. I felt that people acted as if something was wrong with me because I lead a happy, fulfilled life serving the Lord without a spouse. Of course now the question has switched to, “When are you having kids?” I’m trying to be gracious again in answering.

  • Chris says:

    Good article and speaking from a single guy I wish there were more for our gender on this issue. For me, I am 35 and have the gift of singleness (after I said “I surrender ALL”…I meant it, even that area). The issue I have with churches (the people not the building) is most suggest ones life does not begin until one gets married. Why is this? Why do people constantly make those single, and even those called to be single feel “less than” because we haven’t “settled down” yet? People think I am gay, weird, an outcast or worse just a selfish boy who isnt’ ready to grow up yet when they find out my marital status. Could it be that I “settled down” when I said yes to Christ and this is when my life began!? I don’t need a partner to be complete, I have Christ.

    I can honestly say after 9 years in youth ministry at my current church I don’t have a problem any longer. They all know me and my calling, gift of celibacy now. Sadly two of those years I was “fixed up” by the church to date a particular lady whom the pastor and other Godly people “knew” was the one for me. I spent two years distracted by what God called me to do. I spent days worrying about if maybe I was wrong all these years of being single that I wasn’t hearing God correctly. I tried everything to make it work but my heart was not in it and I felt so lost. I became angry and it affected my ministry and my relationship with my adopted son. I felt worried of splitting the youth after a break up and being looked down upon for breaking up with her. The battle was intense and never want anyone to experience Gods people persuading them into something for the sake of “you need to and have to be married one day”. For now, I just have a list of snazzy comebacks when someone asks why I am not married.

    • Leneita Fix Leneita Fix says:

      Chris- Thanks for sharing. I definitely think having the gift of celibacy is unique and also foreign to most in trying to understand it. “Why would you want to be single?” I think is probably what people ask or want to. Sounds like you have a way of explaining it now, and truthfully it really isn’t anyone else’s “business” when it comes to our marital status or why. 🙂 If God has called you to be his alone, that is awesome.

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