• “The List” – thoughts on singleness, dating and discipleship

“The List” – thoughts on singleness, dating and discipleship

As a member of the 30somthing singles demographic (one that I didn’t think I’d belong to, but find myself in nonetheless!), I often get asked about questions related to dating, singleness and how the two relate to a life of faith. I recently spoke at a retreat for my good friend who is a campus minister outside of Atlanta and we covered many of the “Christian Dating Myths” that seem to float around within the Christian singles subculture, particularly among younger Christian singles. (You can listen to a talk he and I gave in the podcast link at the top of the page on this very subject if you’re curious!)

I also had a conversation with a friend recently about me being single and dating and whatnot and I shared the following regarding what it is I’m looking for in a potential spouse (which is what I believe dating should be about determining):

I’ll be honest, when it comes to a relationship, the kind of girl I’m attracted to is one who:

loves Jesus (rather than just loving being with someone who loves Jesus),
is smart (or at least loves to learn),
is funny (or at least can laugh with me rather than just at me),
is athletic (at least as physically active and in shape as I am),
is physically attractive (to me at least, regardless of what others think; someone I would enjoy kissing on a regular basis!)

If someone doesn’t have these qualities then we could be friends, but probably not much more. It’s tough because most girls who have the first three qualities usually don’t have the last two…and most who have the last two usually don’t have the first three…and the ones who have all of the above are dating someone else or are married! Thus my singleness at 33! 🙂

Now before I get inundated with angry letters from my women readers let me clarify that, yes, I know that I’m over-generalizing a bit in my last paragraph (this was a conversation between friends, not an anthropological study of the female gender!) and, yes, I know that a number of these qualities are quite subjective (it’s my list, though, and I have no intention of speaking on behalf of any other guy out there).

So why have such a list? Should all Christian singles make “the list” and meticulously scrutinize every member of the opposite sex accordingly? Or is such a list a waste of time and an exercise in “unspiritual” daydreaming at best? I can only offer my opinion from my own perspective and experiences. So here goes.

I’m not a big proponent of “making a list” by any means, but these seem to be the qualities that I’m drawn to and that, if missing, lead to me simply wanting a friendship with someone rather than a romantic relationship. God is, of course, a God of surprises, so I would not be the least bit surprised if whoever He ends up leading me to in marriage (if indeed He ever allows me to marry) is different than what I could imagine; but I also know that the deep desires of my heart have been put there by Him and He absolutely does not want me to ever “settle” simply in order to not be alone. (Those who believe otherwise and are married, let me just ask you…did you “settle”? If you didn’t, then why should anyone else be expected to??)

So I find myself waiting and trusting that these 3 decades (and counting) of singleness have been preparation for something despite the pains and heartaches that have accompanied them. This is often, for those of us who are single, the hardest thing to do and many well-meaning married Christians flippantly downplay the very real and very deep pain of loneliness that we often feel crushed under (as lifelong bachelor, and one of my theological heroes, John Stott has put it: “Any single person knows more about loneliness than somebody who is sharing his life with a [spouse] and family.”)

I have no desire to do that, so I hope that in sharing my “holy discontent” with being single–especially during the time in life when most of my friends are now married or will be soon–gives other single Disciples of Jesus some hope and perspective that helps them in some way. Of course, should I die today my life will not have been empty by any means, but the joy of marriage is something that I really would like to experience this side of the Great Wedding Banquet.

What about you, fellow single Dojo readers? What are you looking for and praying for in a spouse (those of you who are wanting to get married, that is)? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on it. And while your thinking about it, let me offer the following to encourage you in where you find yourself right now:

Most of his boyhood friends were probably married by the time they had reached thirty, but not him. He had friends of both sexes, but no wife or children. He was able to relax in other people’s homes, but he had no home of his own. He knew what it was like to care for an aging parent, but he never knew the joys and challenges of being a parent himself. He know who he was, where he was going, and how he wanted his career to develop, but he also knew what it was like to be considered different, a threat to other people, and a misfit. He was a healthy young man with all the sexual urges and temptations that human beings experience, but he never had a wife with whom he could be sexually intimate. He knew how to laugh, how to hold his own in heated debates, and how to play with little children, but there were times when he cried and sometimes he felt very lonely and alone. Usually we don’t think of him in this way, but Jesus was a single adult.” [From: Bob Vetter and June Vetter, Jesus was a Single Adult (Elgin, Ill.: David C. Cook, 1978).]

And to the rest of my readers:

Sorry married people, this post isn’t really aimed at you…

…unless you know of a young lady who loves Jesus, is smart, funny, athletic and pretty, and who is also into redheaded art/martial arts/Bible geeks!



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  1. Chris McCauley

    I feel you JMS, because I have struggled with this issue a lot.

    This is a good list, and it is good to have a list. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with having a list, I did.

    My list was this:

    1. A good person. Believe it or not, most people are about 50/50 when it comes to morality. They will help if asked, and that’s about it. I needed someone who took seriously living their life for others.

    2. Smart: Cannot be substituted for. I have dated people who were not smart. it’s very unfulfilling. If you spend 30% of your time researching or thinking about something or discussing intelligent topics, that’s going to be 30% of the time you can’t involve your partner. Doesn’t work.

    3. Strong spiritual core: This usually goes along with one but not always. People can be selfless without being contemplative. If they aren’t interested in seeking spirituality, it isn’t going to work.

    4. Sense of Humor/Charisma: Shy people aren’t my type obviously. Although opposites attract, they seldom go out together. I’m not going to coddle a wallflower my whole life.

    5. Beauty. Just a hint, the eyes and face are more important than anything else. You’re going to be looking into that face for the rest of your life, make it one you like to look at. The body fades, but the eyes are a window to the soul.

    6. Not have more than one mental disease. It’s okay to have baggage, but not from three different trains. If you go to far on this one you’ll end up a psychologist, not a partner.

    Of course my match far exceeded any of these expectations JMS, and yours, if you find them, will too. They will fulfill everything on the list, and many more things that you didn’t even know you needed but desperately do.

    And it’s better to resign yourself to a single life than it is to desperately grasp at a married one when you’re taking an incredible risk (in any marriage). Discretion is the better part of valor. Ad there’s nothing wrong with being single: monks do it all the time. After all Jesus said of marriage “Many are called but few are chosen.”

    You do tend to get mad at God for not providing you with a wife, particularly if you’re obeying all his laws (or most of them, anyway). The most frustrating thing that people tell you is that it definitely is going to happen, that when the moment is ready, she’ll appear from the clouds, or that God will make it happen. Trust me, it isn’t like that. You need to go out there and grab life by the reigns in the HOPE that you will find that person, and let’s be frank: you may not. This is a fallen imperfect world, not a fairy tale from a romance novel.

    You may get run over by a train tomorrow, or your true love might miss meeting you by a few minutes (you forgot to get gas, and then that delayed you and you missed her). Our time on this earth is short, and can be cut shorter any time by the cruel hand of fate. We can’t control other people and we can’t control reality: it’s controlled by free willed people, and MOSTLY by simple laws of physics.

    All we can do is control OURSELVES, and the first step in that is to at least resolve not to make terrible mistakes. THAT at least you can control, the rest is effort, hope and sheer blind luck. Don’t attribute your lack of a significant other as a reflection on you, and remember that the wisest couples will tell you that they were lucky, not destined, and not skillful in finding their true love, but very very lucky, and they all easily acknowledge that it might not have happened.

    I wish you the best my friend.


    jm Reply:

    I agree Chris. Whenever people tell me “Oh of COURSE you’ll find the right woman some day” I often think to myself “Why? The kids who are dying every day in Darfur aren’t finding their dream spouse. Why should I feel like it’s something God owes me just because I desire it?”

    I believe it’s okay to accept that life isn’t always fair and I may get the short end of the singleness stick. That doesn’t lead to resignation or despair (at least, it shouldn’t!); rather, it leads to a hopeful trust that God’s best for my life includes the experience of finding the woman who will be closer to me than anyone else in the world. Until then, I just have to keep serving Him and others patiently.

    Thanks for sharing man, I appreciate it!


    Comment by Chris McCauley on October 11, 2010 at 6:41 am

  2. Autumn

    Thanks for writing this JM. I think this is a struggle for most singletons, more than we care to admit.

    For years, I never wanted to get married. I started dating when I was 17 only because I was trying to find a date for the prom. I finally started “real” dating after high school but even then, I was so fearful that it was pointless. When I was in college, it was a constant struggle of not feeling like God cared about this part of my life, that He put it on the “back burner” and forgot. There are still times when I become discouraged, but I think that through this sweet dependency on God, I’ve learned that He does care and never forgets. I am confident that there is a God who loves me (and you) and has never forgotten but will pour out a blessing one day and fulfill that promise. I now have a list and I pray God will reveal my husband to me in due time. I think my biggest struggle with dating now is that I need to walk in confidence and not fear, which keeps me from getting to know people and it keeps me from feeling free to be myself… which God is helping me through right now.

    I think having a list can be great, only to keep things in perspective when dating so that we (Christian singles) don’t become emotionally attached to someone that doesn’t even come close to what we want. However, I think a list can also be a hindrance at times. Let’s say (hypothetically) I meet an amazing, Christian guy but he doesn’t match EVERY detail on my list, should I push him to the side? I think having unrealistic expectations can cause me to miss out on something really amazing. For me, it will depend on what he’s lacking in and what I can live without. My list: man of God, who is a prayerful, spiritual leader for our future, attractive, smart, geeky sweet, funny, romantic, good with finances and wants kids… those are not things I will settle on, those are absolutes.

    I know a few women who have lists that are pages long and unless they are getting exactly what they have written down, they won’t give the guy a chance. I think that to expect so much out of one person is extreme and dare I say un-Christ-like. It’s as if they are expecting perfection and when someone doesn’t live up to that, they drop them. Where’s the grace in that?

    I feel there needs to be a balance. Having the list can be good to keep things in perspective, but the list should not have details from a daydream that control every inch of our dating lives. I personally feel the list should consist more of godly characteristics and integrity… not things like “must have brown hair, blue eyes” (which is really hot BTW) but I’m just sayin. I know multiple women who put details like that and will only date those guys and no one else.

    BTW – JM, I believe it will happen for you, praying for you even now. She will be a blessing in your life and I believe you will receive everything your heart desires. :o)


    jm Reply:

    Great thoughts, Autumn. Thanks for sharing. I encourage you regarding confidence; it’s not just a quality that girls find attractive in guys…us guys appreciate a confident (but not cocky or aloof) woman too! 🙂


    Comment by Autumn on October 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm

  3. JessiSo

    Hey JMS,
    Loved your list. And, sigh, yes I’m married… jk. I have the utmost respect for singles. I married what I believe to be my soulmate and it’s still hard. We have 2 little kids and he travels for work. I quit my job at 41 to be a stay at home mom and life is so dramatically different from when we first met (not to mention our physiques but we’re still trying to defy gravity). I was just reflecting this morning on how much work it is to have a healthy marriage. I’m only speaking for myself but after 9 years, we still work hard at healthy communication, boundaries, healthy arguments, intimacy (staying attractive to one another)… I didn’t get (re) married until I was 37 and this was a huge blessing. I have prayed for you since Boston and know God has the perfect Mrs. JMS picked out. Love you tons, bro. It goes without saying but you are amazing. Thanks for sharing your list. I have been able to point several friends to your blog via this post.


    jm Reply:

    Aww, thanks for the comments and prayers, Jess! (Has it really been that long since our Boston life group days?? Wow!) And even though you’re married, as a loyal Dojo reader, your comments are always welcome! 😉


    Comment by JessiSo on October 11, 2010 at 10:44 pm

  4. Bobby Lane


    I pretty much have the same general list. Spiritual, mental, emotional, intellectual, and physical fitness are all important to one degree or another. I liked your description of Jesus. Sometimes we forget that, while the life and times were different, the people do not change. Love is still the greatest human need and, in my opinion, the greatest of all arguments for the existence and character of God. But I am exactly in your boat, brother. I could have written pretty much the same words and nobody would have know the difference (aside from the podcast, and the fact that I am 33). But the crown goes to those who persevere. Carry on, brother! Carry on!


    jm Reply:

    Thanks man, you too!


    Comment by Bobby Lane on October 12, 2010 at 12:21 am

  5. Danielle

    I think it is interesting that this post was put up this week, as I have been thinking about this a lot recently.

    I’m glad that you mentioned what you did about loneliness. I agree with you that people who are married, even though well-intentioned when trying to give advice, have no real understanding of what it’s like to be alone. Often times, I try to convince myself that I am perfectly fine being single, but that simply isn’t true. Now, don’t get me wrong, I live my life without regrets and try to fill it with what I think God intends for me. However, it never completely leaves me, that feeling of being single or lonely. I have found that in my life, I go through phases. Whenever I begin to feel lonely, I think and pray of things I can do to make my life feel more complete. I begin to embrace something new and exciting and I become genuinely happy with my life at that time. Once that period of my life starts to come to an end, I go back to wishing I had someone to share those things with.

    Like I said earlier, I have been thinking a lot about this recently. In thinking, reading, and praying I have learned a few things. I believe that in this time of being single, there is a purpose for me and I have a lot I can do to make myself a better person for God, others, and myself. I also believe that the longer I am single, the more I will appreciate having someone to spend the rest of my life with when that time comes. I have my list, just like everyone else, but more than anything I want someone to share my love for God with, so that we can grow as Christians together. However, in the mean time, I’m going to work hard to fulfill God’s plan for me right now, and in doing so, who knows, maybe (hopefully) I will bump into my future husband along the way!!


    jm Reply:

    I think that somewhere along the way, Christians picked up the notion that singles who feel lonely are not truly loving God fully and “just need more of Him.” I would suggest that this is well-intentioned folk-theology based on a selective reading of a few passages in Paul’s letters.

    The Hebrew Bible, which should be our foundation in forming views of things like marriage and relationships (which is, of course, informed and clarified by the NT since we’re New Covenant people now), speaks of marriage is the norm and something that most should strive to find and enjoy. Jesus does note that there are exceptions based on the calling and gifting of the Spirit, but He also speaks of the blessings of marriage…and even patterns his return around that very metaphor.

    So for Christians who are not married to desire it, even when things in their life otherwise are wonderful and they are loving God with all their ability to do so, is normal and healthy I would argue. The desire, the longing and the discontentment in and of themselves are part of the God-given nature of being a two-gender creation who were created to join with one another in expressing fully the Image of God.


    Comment by Danielle on October 13, 2010 at 1:17 am

  6. Olatunde

    I had a list. My wife was not “the list” I had. But she was everything I wanted. I’ll explain.

    When I made my list, I assumed that I knew myself, my needs, and my desires, and that neither I nor my needs and desires would change. I also assumed certain things about what I found attractive that I consistently contradicted. In other words, I often contradicted my own list in terms of the people I dated. And I wasn’t “settling” when I did this.

    This is what I found in the end: there were “non-negotiables.” Physically, my non-negotiables were that my wife had to be shorter and smaller than me. Emotionally, she had to be sensitive and affectionate. Spiritually, she had to be a deep, spiritual, and growing Christian. When I dated, I rarely contradicted these, and when I did, the relationship was not good.

    There are always variables that one cannot predict, even with the non-negotiables. One of mine was ethnicity. I assumed that I wanted to be married to a woman of the same ethnicity. I never thought this through, or put ethnicity on my list. It was assumed, and thus an unwritten item on my list…until I met a woman outside of my ethnicity that had all of the essentials/non-negotiables. Then I had to ask myself the question: What if I meet a woman who has everything that I like (essentially) but is not what I pictured (on my list.) This woman was not my wife, BUT SHE OPENED ME UP TO THE POSSIBILITY OF A DIFFERENT ETHNICITY, THE POSSIBILITY OF SOMETHING NOT ON MY LIST.

    8 years later, I’m glad I asked.

    So, know the essentials/non-negotiables. If everything on your list, in specific detail, is non-negotiable, then so be it. But be open to the possibility that God knows more about you than you know.

    And I don’t agree with “Any single person knows more about loneliness than somebody who is sharing his life with a [spouse] and family.” I do agree that any married person WHO HAS FORGOTTEN what it feels like to be single doesn’t know more about loneliness than a single person. But I remember loneliness. I remember being desperate for companionship. I literally remember it like it was yesterday. It took me a long time to find my wife. But I felt like I could not live without being married. And in marriage, when things aren’t right, it is a loneliness that is like hell, because the one that should be your best friend and companion forever seems like your enemy. But with this, there is a hope that I know that single people don’t have…the hope of making up. In this way, married people may not fully be able to relate to loneliness because we at least have someone there to be mad at. At the same time, I remember the intense loneliness of being single.

    I’m going to right an article on “reasonable faith” that will encompass waiting for a spouse. For now, I believe it is reasonable to believe that if one feels as though one cannot live without a wife or husband, it is God’s will for those who feel this way to be married. I still understand this. I haven’t forgotten how all of you who are single feel. I urge you to embrace your need and pain and desperateness. If you are a woman, don’t go get a dog and put all of your energy into it. If you are a guy, don’t put your energy into activities. For both Christian men and women, don’t hide behind ministry. Keep seeking until you find.


    jm Reply:

    I like that caveat to the loneliness quote, man. I think Stott was over generalizing of course, but honestly, most married people in the church who’ve been married for a significant amount of time have forgotten what it’s like to be single. The ones who haven’t are a rare blessing to the singles around them.


    Olatunde Reply:

    I feel you. I really do.

    I also remember that from my single life.

    I remember how alot of married people seemed like they “just didn’t understand.” They either conveniently underplayed marital desire, NOW THAT THEY WERE MARRIED; or they were overly practical, focusing on all the negative aspects of marriage, in the name of “when reality kicks in.”

    This used to bother me to no end. Who really has on rose colored glasses these days when it comes to marriage? Who isn’t constantly reminded that the church supposedly now excels in the divorce rate?

    This is why I take every opportunity as a married man to tell all singles that marriage is exactly what singles are looking for! What they desire, marriage actually fulfills. The desire should not be suppressed, but embraced so that God can fulfill it.

    I don’t believe singles should be fatalistic or pessimistic, and I can say this from remembering my own single life. If I had “given up,” I don’t believe I would be married right now. This is not to put a “name it claim it/you don’t have enough faith or whatever” guilt trip on anybody. I’m saying that the desire is from God, and that he is not a tease or a tempter…the devil is.


    Comment by Olatunde on October 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm

  7. Ralph Davis

    Hey, JM, where’d you find that list, did I leave it lying around somewhere? It’s MY list (and I’ve been single a lot longer too)….


    jm Reply:

    Sorry man, I must have stolen it when you weren’t looking! 🙂


    Comment by Ralph Davis on October 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm

  8. I hope this isn’t trite, I don’t want to come across that way. I’ve counseled plenty of married couples who still feel lonely. All of them were struggling in their marriage. I guess I just want to be the voice that says another person cannot completely fulfill you. Just as the theology that we have a empty sqaure hole in us that only Jesus can fill to complete us is bad theology, thinking the same thing about another person is bad theology too. Even in an excellent marriage, there are the same moments of thinking and feeling “isn’t there something more to this life.” I will confess that it is difficult to be empathetic to the issues singles face (in fact, a lack of empathy on my part applies to many things, the issue isn’t the issue, I’m the issue).
    JM-I love your honesty, especially this: Whenever people tell me “Oh of COURSE you’ll find the right woman some day” I often think to myself “Why? The kids who are dying every day in Darfur aren’t finding their dream spouse. Why should I feel like it’s something God owes me just because I desire it?”
    Thanks for the post, my empathy level went up some!


    jm Reply:

    I feel ya, Rich. I think that you’re right on in noting that a relationship isn’t the ultimate cure for loneliness. I think it’s an integral part, but a part nonetheless.

    Everyone, subscribe to Rich’s blog if you haven’t already! I recommend it! 🙂


    Comment by Rich on October 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm

  9. JM,

    I’m one of those married people who don’t understand, so please feel free to ignore this comment.

    Your list may be more of a problem than a help. People don’t fit well on lists. They certainly don’t have a habit of staying the same way you found them. The woman who fits on your list today may not in 10 years.

    About the only purpose I can see in the list is as a tool to reject people. “She qualifies on 1-3, but not on 4 and 5.”

    My advice – for what it is worth – is to ditch the list. Be open to the movement of your heart. Marriage is a life journey. The woman you end up with 40 or 60 years from now will be vastly different from the one who met all the qualifications on your list. So will you.

    Grace and peace.


    Comment by John Meunier on October 14, 2010 at 12:55 pm

  10. jm

    Thanks for commenting John. As I tried to point out, one shouldn’t be married to their list, because God is a God of surprises. But, out of curiosity, what of the attributes I listed would you recommend I ditch, and why specifically?

    Of course marriage is a journey, but shouldn’t it begin with someone who makes us want to spend the rest of our lives by their side? We all change in some ways, but shouldn’t who we are at our core stay the same? I can’t look at someone and know what they’ll be like in 30 years, nor they me.


    Comment by jm on October 14, 2010 at 1:21 pm

  11. Mel

    Ooh I could write an entire book with thoughts on this subject, but I’ll just list a few here…

    I consider it a blessing that I am close to thirty years old and still single. When I look back on previous relationships, I can clearly see that none of them would have lasted long-term. I now tend to look at breakups as positive things because it means that no matter how perfect I thought that person was for me, clearly God has someone even better in store for me. I know that some people who get married young do stay married to their partners, but so many of my friends who married young are now divorced, that it makes me think many people were meant to get married later in life. You have so much to learn and discover about yourself as you grow up. People can get so caught up in the fairy-tale wedding planning, that they focus too much on the wedding and forget that it should be about the marriage. I would rather be happily single than unhappily married.

    I have also had relationships in the past where I completely lost my own identity. I needed to stay single so I could learn to develop my own identity, interests, and values. The greatest decision I ever made: re-committing my life to Christ, is one that I can say I am so glad I made while I was single. My ex-boyfriends were not Christians, so if I would have married any of them, who knows if I would have come back to Church, and if I did, I think I would always be wondering if I really did it for myself, or just to please my partner. So I can’t even explain how awesome it feels to know that I made the decision all on my own. I also used to think that I wanted to wait to get a dog and buy a house until I was married so that we could do it together. Well the more years that passed by I just thought, “You know, I have no idea if/when that will ever happen, so why not just go ahead and do it on my own?” I have had to figure out how to fix things around the house all on my own and do typically “guy” things. The only problem is that I have almost become too independent where now I have to remind myself why I even want a guy.

    Ok, so now for some frustrations that single girls have to deal with. Girls are unfairly judged based on their looks, way more then guys are. We get this impossible standard of beauty that we have to strive for, but often fall short. I have found that some guys want girls who are low-maintenance, but also look completely put-together and beautiful all the time (a trophy wife). They also want girls who are fit, but are not constantly dieting, and that will still eat junk food. Not all of us have the metabolism for this. This makes it very difficult for females to figure out who they should be. Some guys want girls who look like Jessica Simpson, but that are not high-maintenance, which is impossible unfortunately. Guys also sometimes say they want girls who are smart and funny, but a lot also add the unspoken catch that the girl cannot be smarter or funnier than they are. I see girls often dumb themselves down to try and attract guys (and it seems to work too!)

    I’m not trying to be harsh on guys, I know that not all guys are like this. I’m just mentioning the experience I have had with some.
    Ok, so now to jump down off my soapbox and get back to playing World of Warcraft…don’t even get me started on how girls who play WoW are treated…


    jm Reply:

    Great comments, Mel! Thanks for giving a gal’s perspective. And I agree…girls, don’t ever dumb-down to attract a guy!


    Comment by Mel on October 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

  12. Rusty McCarter


    I want you to know I really enjoyed your blog. My girlfriend showed me your blog and I felt led to encourage you in your search but would like to share some very important things with you. I am 42 years old and have waited on my Father for a long time. I fell head over heels in love with Jesus and He took me allllll over the world to share His word with a lost and dying world. I grew up on a farm but had a stable lifestyle with a lot of expectations and thought I always had to be what others expected of me. When Jesus really got a hold of me, my life changed and I understood what love truly was. I realized that if I were faithful to Him in my walk with Him then I would reap it in my marriage when Papa chose to bring it to me. I have had experiences that I would not have had if I were married at the time. This made my heart towards Christ even stronger. The love that has grown in me has given me the capacity to love my mate in the fullness of what He had intended. It’s all about selflessness and being willing to completely die to self. We think we are ready because we want that other part to complete us, but we only need Jesus to complete us and we are to be enhanced by the one God calls our rib!! They are to walk beside you not behind or in front!! He has A LOT in store for you JM, continue your walk and don’t settle for second best because of insecurities in any way!! You are a man of God and a valuable commodity in the Kingdom of God!! Take this advise, when a man is truly ready to die to self and give up his single desires, then you are ready to start your journey. I have finally been blessed with that gift I have been waiting on and believe me, it’s well worth the wait!!! DONT SETTLE OR YOU WILL MISS OUT ON THE BEST AND BIGGEST GIFT (OUTSIDE OF SALVATION) IN YOUR LIFE!!!! Be blessed and continue furthering the Kingdom!!
    Your Bro In Christ.
    Rusty McCarter


    jm Reply:

    Rusty, thanks for the encouragement man. I really appreciate it. 🙂


    Comment by Rusty McCarter on October 20, 2010 at 3:46 am

  13. […] in Christ out there!  She approached me to do the interview after reading my post on “The List“, which was pretty flattering because it means that people out there are actually reading my […]

    Pingback by James-Michael Smith's Disciple Dojo – JMSmith.org » For the single ladies…awww yeahh! [said in Barry White voice] on December 8, 2010 at 6:45 pm

  14. Mary

    Interesting post. I find myself struggling with questions of a “list” as a 33 year old single woman. I think that it can be useful, provided we understand WHY we have the items on the list.

    Here’s my humble opinion concerning your list:

    – loves Jesus (rather than just loving being with someone who loves Jesus),

    Agree 100%! And someone who gets that marriage is firstly about Jesus and how 2 people can serve Him together.

    – is smart (or at least loves to learn),

    Agree 100%! This could sound a little arrogant, but I find that a lot of Christian men are put off by the fact that I like to engage intellectually. I like apologetics and debating. I don’t just nod, bat my eyelashes, and say “yes” to everything. A lot of men find that intimidating. But I refuse to dumb down just to please them. It’s good to hear a man encouraging women to use their brains. This is also a little more difficult for intelligent women as a criteria for men because (if we’re complementarian) we want a husband who is suited to leading us intellectually. We don’t want to feel like his mother.

    – funny (or at least can laugh with me rather than just at me),

    Yes, they must have a sense of humour. They don’t need to be able to crack the most amusing jokes or even be good at puns (much as I enjoy those), but they do need at least an appreciation for the amusing. Laughter does a lot to get one through difficult things.

    You’re also hinting at a gentle disposition, which is important. The person should be kind in their humour.

    – athletic (at least as physically active and in shape as I am),

    I get why this is significant. I think the main things is that the person has a good attitude towards health. They may not even be in shape at the moment, but that can be worked on. The attitude is what counts. I like being active and it would be good to share that with my husband one day.

    – pretty (in my opinion, regardless of what others may think)

    This is flexible. You may want to reconsider making it too much of an up-front factor. I’ve found that sometimes I’m not attracted to a man to begin with, but when we start interacting and engaging intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally, then he becomes attractive to me. Conversely, some men I’ve initially considered good looking don’t look so good to me now that I know them a little better. So I’ve decided that so long as I’m not repulsed (in which case I can’t honestly make myself not be repulsed – but this is fairly rare), I’ll give a guy a chance – even if I don’t find him really attractive initially.

    There are a lot of other things I can think of but most of them fit under point 1 (striving for chastity, honest, open to correction when necessary, etc).

    The one point I would add is having a reasonable measure of common sense. There’s nothing wrong with being a little whacky (it can even be endearing), but he needs to think practically. Has he thought about finances? Has he thought about children? Has he thought about politics? What are his career plans? He doesn’t have to have everything all mapped out (although I’d be pretty impressed if he did have a lot of it mapped out provisionally), but I’d like to see some thought on practicalities and I’d like to see him taking steps to implement some of his plans.


    jm Reply:

    Thanks for the comments Mary! As for the final item, check out my discussion of it in the interview I did at http://www.christian-single-woman.com/james-michael-smith-interview.html


    Mary Reply:

    Thanks, James! I like your honesty and that your responses aren’t simplistic. Cool interview.


    Comment by Mary on December 9, 2010 at 11:59 am

  15. Dawn

    Hey JMS – I loved the post and it seems oddly appropriate with Valentine’s Day around the corner. There is nothing wrong with having a list, maybe if more people knew what they really wanted and would value in a relationship, there would be less divorce.

    Loneliness is a hard emotion to cope with regardless of how full your life may be in all other areas. It’s a sad truth that you can truly be lonely in a marriage as well as in being single. I was married nearly 20 years (married right out of undergrad at 22) and have been single-again for almost 5 years. I was blessed with two wonderful children and for that I will never regret my decision. As far as having a relationship that I would even consider marriage again, I haven’t even come close and don’t know that I ever will.

    My values have changed in 20 years and my faith would play a large role in the decision of starting a relationship…. not to mention marriage. I find comfort in my family, my children, my closest friends, my awesome God and the church family that I have now. That is not to say that I wouldn’t love to share those things with someone. I do know that I wouldn’t settle just to have that. Some things you just can’t compromise if you want a truly fulfilling relationship. I totally agree wi

    Just thought I would give a perspective from a single again…. just out of the twenty and thirty-something group person : )


    Comment by Dawn on February 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

  16. I like it, JM. Being single is never ever easy and honestly, God and I wrestle over it a lot. Elevation just finished a digging ditches (based on Elisha and company preparing for water) sermon series. I keep trying to do what I can to prepare for my man so I’m ready when he’s revealed. Encouragement from fellow ditch diggers is always welcome though!


    Comment by arden on February 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm

  17. Dawn

    Oops, it posted in the middle of a sentence, sorry. Just wanted to add that I totally agree with Mary’s thoughts on “pretty” or handsome as the case may be. Our initial thoughts on this may not be the way we will always feel. The better you get to know someone, you may change your initial assessment. Sometimes they become more attractive and sometimes less. I also liked what she said about being smart. If you feel you have to dumb yourself down or try to act smarter, you obviously aren’t in the right relationship. Even though I have a Masters Degree, the one thing I know is the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.


    Comment by Dawn on February 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm

  18. JC

    I must say it’s a blessing stumbling upon this website. Thank you JM for this honest and straight forward opinions. As a Christian woman, i’ve been struggling with being single for the past 3 years but I am happy that there a few out there who desire marriage. The list idea is so great, and I actually started one last year. Continue to share your insight with us. God bless, JC…


    Comment by JC on March 7, 2011 at 1:43 am

  19. Sarah

    My parents were both older when they got married (he was 41, she was 36) so I’m incredibly grateful that they’ve passed along to me the knowledge that I’m as valid a person (to God and to the world) as a 26-year-old singleton as I would be if I were married and giving them grandchildren already. Despite my young-ish age I struggle a lot with loneliness, in part because of moving thousands of miles from my family (me to California, they still in England) and also because the church structure is so built around families and marriage.

    Surrounding yourself with good company is obviously a good thing to do, but it can also be a constant reminder of how, ultimately, I always have to go home alone, to my empty apartment. It’s hard not to be envious of my carpool buddy, whose husband makes her lunch and dinner for her while I struggle to find the energy to bother cooking good food for one.

    Not to sound depressed. I’m certainly not! I have a wonderful, full life – I’d just like someone to share it with. I know God loves me and I simply trust that, since I have this persistent desire in my heart for a spouse and family of my own, that He will provide. I just wish the waiting wasn’t so hard!

    Thanks for sharing the male perspective. 🙂


    Comment by Sarah on May 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm

  20. Oh, I totally forgot to address the idea of a List. I think having a good sense of what you want/need is helpful, to avoid the trap of dating/marrying the first warm-blooded human available. Your list seems reasonable enough.

    I’ve never had a list of my own, I tend to just fall for different types, in fact the only consistent quality I can see among my former boyfriends would be that they are all very kind people. I guess that was top of my list. It’s been replaced with “God-centered,” followed logically by “kind,” “curious about our world/hungry to try new things,” and “sees the sunny side of life.” And I guess “cute enough to look at!”

    Anything else would be gravy.


    Comment by Sarah on May 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm

  21. […] wrote a post a while back called “The List“, which generated some good discussion, and in turn led to an interview with […]

    Pingback by James-Michael Smith's Disciple Dojo – JMSmith.org » “The List” *Updated* Thoughts on singleness, dating and Discipleship on October 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm

  22. Rachel

    I found your site on another blog so I thought I’d check it out. I think that this was a very well written article. I don’t think that anyone should be criticized for having a list of things that they want in a future spouse. I think that sometimes, lists can get out of control if it’s simply just guided by our flesh but if they are things that God has convicted them about and they have biblical back up, then I think it’s a great idea. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. I look forward to reading more.


    jm Reply:

    Thanks Rachel! Glad you enjoyed the post. I totally agree; lists like this should be guidelines at best, and should only contain that things that are prayerfully realized to be “non-negotiables” or the “desires of our heart.”


    Comment by Rachel on March 26, 2014 at 4:10 am

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