One of the greatest challenges of the single life for many is the unfulfilled desire to raise children. For all the work involved, God has made having and raising children one of the deepest longings of our hearts. I feel it every time I’m around kids. I feel it when I’m playing with my young nieces and nephews. I look forward to having kids of my own one day. I look forward to reading them the stories of Narnia and Middle Earth as they fall asleep. I know parenting will be a great challenge, but it’s definitely one I’m looking forward to.
I was recently reminded that in one sense I’m already a father. As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, we all must be born again spiritually. All Christ followers experience two births: one physical and one spiritual. And as we grow in our faith, we are often given the privilege of leading others toward their spiritual birth and raising them in their faith.
If you help others put their faith in Christ and teach them to live for Him, single or married, you are a father — you are a mother. Jesus was once told His mother and brothers wished to see Him and responded, “’Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:48-50). The Apostle Paul knew this truth when he wrote to the church in Corinth, “For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15b). Both of these men were single, and both acknowledged their family ties were not limited to their earthly families. They believed they were fathers and mothers to those who came into and grew in the kingdom through their ministries.
I won’t explain away the pain and longing of many to have biological children. That is a very real blessing and one that many who read this will one day enjoy. But I do suggest that instead of waiting for children, many should see they have been given opportunities to parent within the kingdom of God.
I’m sure there are some who’ll read this who’ve lamented for years that they don’t yet have children, but as a result of their years of faithful ministry are already a spiritual mother or father to many. The great thing about being a mother and father in Christ’s kingdom is that those roles are eternal. Earthly relationships don’t necessary carry on eternally, but spiritual relationships are forever.
So, to the singles who long to be parents, see the people around you who would become your children in the Lord, who need to be born again and who may need the spiritual parenting you can provide. The lives of many great single men and women throughout history affirms the great privilege of parenting, whether your children be physical or spiritual.
Copyright 2012 Andrew Hess. All rights reserved.