Season of Singleness

I remember so vividly my freshman year of college being asked what I thought I would do with my Christian Studies degree I was pursuing. Without much hesitation, I said, “I’d really love to be a pastor’s wife.” As confident as I felt in God’s call to church ministry, I still limited myself to what God’s plan could be for my life. Don’t get me wrong, the call to be the spouse of a pastor is holy and beautiful, but my 18-year-old self limited my heart initially from believing God could call me into leadership on my own. That 18-year-old girl for sure couldn’t anticipate that for the next 18 years, I’d navigate full-time ministry as an unmarried woman.

But, here I am, a month away from my 37th birthday, and not only am I thankful for God’s ability to help me see the path I was being called to in church leadership, but I can honestly say I am thankful for these years navigating it all unmarried.

Here are a few takeaways I have found on this journey:

Just as my married friends have shared that marriage can be a fulfilling kind of hard work, navigating singleness as a church leader is also a fulfilling kind of hard work. Despite the stereotypes that the single life means all freedom and flexibility, it also means the hard work of juggling all the things. There is no one to trade off with on taking out the trash or folding the laundry after a 15-hour ministry day of cleaning up after a big group of teenagers or emotionally pouring out into other families for hours on end.

It is hard work to navigate the boundaries of Sabbath when there isn’t another voice at home to help hold me accountable to those boundaries. But along with the hard work of finding balance in singleness, there is also the fulfillment of budgeting, saving, and reaching financial goals on your own. I told myself for many years the lie that I should only buy a house when I am married. You know what, I totally bought my first house this year—and as a new build, I learned I am capable of making all kinds of decisions about this house on my own. The longer I walk this journey, the more I’m in awe of God’s provision and guidance.

The lie I listened to for so long that a husband would be the only means to being able to buy a home or really provide for myself financially is a reminder again of the limits I put on God’s plan for my life instead of living into the freedom that comes with fully trusting in the God of the Universe’s care and love for me exactly where I am.

I began my first full-time youth ministry pastor position the day after I graduated undergrad in 2006. These years have been filled to the brim. Sometimes the singleness seems to blare; celebrating my best friend’s marriages, throwing their baby showers, pouring myself into the celebrations of others. Even leading and building ministries for families when I have yet to build and grow an immediate family of my own. But louder than the blaring of what I do not have—has been the fullness and the goodness of what I do have.

Louder than the blaring of what I do not have – has been the fullness and the goodness of what I do have.

The relationships I have built within the ministries I’ve served as a youth and family ministries pastor are rich because of this season of my singleness. The flexibility it’s given me to balance my ministry life as well as fully invest in the lives of my friends, my family, and my young niece and nephew are gifts I could have never imagined back when I was that 18-year-old college freshman.

Nearly two years ago, I  completed licensure to be a foster Mom. Even just four years ago I would not have allowed myself to entertain that calling—again listening to the lie that it would only be possible to be a parent to a child as long as I had a husband to share in the role of parenting.

God continues to transform and open my heart through this journey. The longer I fully trust my Creator, the more I find the freedom to stop listening to the lies of what I think is not possible and lean into the freedom of God’s abundant joy in each season—especially the season of singleness.

Steph Riebe
Steph Riebe

Steph Riebe is Family Ministries Director at Mt. Olive UMC in Grant County, Indiana. Steph received her Masters degree from Wesley Seminary in Family Ministry and has served in local churches as a youth and family pastor since 2006 in Michigan, Mississippi and her home state of Indiana. Steph is a textbook Enneagram 2W3. The best gig she ever landed began in July of 2014 when her niece Mae arrived and only got sweeter in 2017 when her nephew Walter joined the party. She loves hosting friends and family in her home, a good pool or beach day, road trips to see her people, Disney World, pretending to be a runner and all things home decor.

1 thought on “Season of Singleness

  1. I love this idea, and I love that you learned to value your own ministry not just the ministry you would have been able to do as a pastor’s wife.

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