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Breaking Stigmas of Singleness from a Single Female Pastor

with

Meredith Knox

Today Kait and JJ are joined by Meredith Knox to talk about singles in the church and if singleness limits you in leadership or calling. 

Introduction

Hey hey hey Heart of Dating family!!! We’re back this week with another episode in season 12 all about tools to THRIVE in singleness. Today we SO EXCITED to have a new friend with us, Meredith Knox. She’s a single female pastor who loves the Lord and is passionate about singleness not limiting you. This episode is going to be FUN and we really thinking it’ll spark up some inspiration in you! Let’s jump in! 

You’re in a relationship…why do you think you guys are content to take your time as opposed to how Christians typically a little more sped up?

Dating in your mid-thirties is much different than dating in your early twenties. The sheer amount of time you’re able to spend together is much more free when you’re in college than it is when you’re in your mid-thrities and coming into a relationship twitch two fully formed lives already. Neither of them felt like they were lacking in their lives before they started dating. 

The church didn’t INTEND to forget about singles… but in many ways they HAVE. And in many ways whether explicitly or implicitly they highlight marriage as the pinnacle. Can you talk about your experience with this for a moment?

For Meredith’s church something like 40% of the congregation is single (over the age of 19) which is a large portion of the community AND this is in the South, not even in more urban cities, northern or western communities. Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly important for the church to not just recognize single people, but truly incorporate them into the lifeblood of the church. Meredith wants to be very clear that she LOVES the church. She thinks that any time there’s a hyper focus on something within the church, the orgional intention was pure. So the hyper focus on marraige, the orgional intention was pure. The truth is that marraiges and families need help. We need marriage series and help for families. She thinks it may have been an effort in trying to get people to mature and grow up by using marriage as that thing you grow into. But maybe marriage was just misused as a tool as a form of discipleship versus just older men or women discipling a younger man or woman. Meredith believes that marriage has become a western church idol, but she doesn’t think that anybody set out in doing that. 

It wouldn’t be too far fetched to say that the overwhelming majority of people in leadership positions in the church are married and is probably mostly men. Do you feel like you’ve experienced that gap as far as the single gap and how it’s viewed and then as a woman in leadership?

Definitely! She doesn’t think it’s anyone’s fault necessarily. Most of the rooms she’s in as far as leadership goes, she’s the only female and the only single. She’s heard from well meaning people as a form of encouragement, “man, the leader you are now and the role you have in ministry now, just imagine what’s gonna happen when you get married.” As if part of her calling was on hold until another person ccame ot complete it or fulfill it. To which she says, she’s pretty sure Jesus is the only one who can make the claim and fulfill it. 

Meredith went through different seasons of how she responded to these well meaning words. In each season, God changed her focus of what calling actually is and what is required to fulfill it. At first she believed them and she’d pray about it and focus on what her life could be like what her ministry could be like when that person was finally here. That might seem innocent, but she thinks that it’s actually a focus of fear of man. In some way there’s this idea that other people will view me in a certain way when I’m married and then I will be deemed this level of a leader or this level of authority once I’m joined with someone else. 

Once she moved past believing them, she went into overcorrection, by combatting them. Then it became a “I’m going to show them.” If I’m single that means I have more time and I’m gonna super fulfill this calling, I’ll lead more groups and I will take on more serving responsilbitites. Really if the first one is a fear of man, this just becomes an idolatry of self, and what I can do. 

Then she felt like God brought her to this season of not wanting to believe them, not wanting to combat them, but she wanted to honoringly ignore them and just follow Jesus. 

Proverbs 4:25-27

Do you feel like people’s singleness is limited when they do anything other than gaze at Jesus and what he has for them immediately in that moment?

To be human is to live with limits. There are limits in marriage, there are limits in singleness, and there are limits when you have kids. Meredith says she thinks that we become discouraged in singleness when we focus on the limits and not the freedom that specific phase of your life affords you. 

Psalm 27 

Does singleness limit the ability to be a leader? Why do we see so few single pastors in the church?

In Meredith’s experience she’s seen that people who are single in leadership within the church or pastoring or teaching hte Bible is becoming increasingly rare. She can assume a few reasons why this is. There are a few Biblical examples, Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 where it outlines leadership and has phrases like, “should be a husband of one wife,” “their children shouldn’t be acting crazy.” In the examples we have where it outlines leadership that explicitly they’re married. To which Meredeith would ask, what do you do with Jesus or Paul? 

Meredith is honest that being single in leadership isn’t easy. 

How so? 

You pour your heart and soul into a message to preach, you preach on Sunday. It’s emotionally, physically, and spiritually tiring and then you go home. There’s nobody there. It’s lonely. There’s a lot of really weighty things being a pastor. Close community is HUGE. If you can’t be a good friend, you’ll never be a good spouse. You can’t just go process those weighty things with friends, like you could a spouse. Whe thinks for a lot of people who are single, the higher you get up in influence and leadership, just practically the harder it gets. 

FOR SINGLES who feel like singleness limits them and feel afraid to step out… what do you have to say to them?

Meredith would say she sees you, and she gets it. First, the spirit of God is not confined to your relationship status. Zechariah 4 is clear about that. You are not waiting on some kind of spiritual upgrade via marriage for you to be able to step out and do all God has placed inside of you to do. 

For single men, the Holy Spirit is the only helper you need. Yes, women were giver the title of helper and she’s going to talk to that in a second, but the Spirit of God is more than enough of a helper to come alongside you and be the strength that you need to do all God has placed inside of you to do. If you are truly being led by the Spirit, he will also not keep excusing you form asking out beautiful, viable women candidates at your local community ;) Ask out the women that intimidate you. 

For the single ladies… Meredith used to hate the title helper but then she realized in the Old Testament, it’s the Hebrew word easer and the only other time it’s used in the Old Tesament is to refer to the strength of God that comes alongside men. AND the Holy Spirit is called the Helper, so what an HONOR that the Holy Spirit would be please to share that title with us. To the ladies she’d say, there is nothing, especially if we are given that title, what limits us from walking in our idientiy with the Holy Spirit? What could be on the other side of you stepping out in that step of faith? 

How would you say you got to that point? Was there a defining moment of your singleness where you got there or were you always this way?

She has not always been this way. This has come by way of a lot of wrestling with God, a lot of not doing it right, by way of tears and loneliness. We have to stop being so afraid of loneliness. Loneliness is really just space. Geneis 1 taught us that God loves to fill open space. What the world would say is void and vapid, the Holy Spirit looks at it and goes, “that’s some space I can work with, let me go make  new creation out of it.” 

It’s a transformation from loneliness to aloneness with God. 

We need to talk about the fact that many WOMEN specifically feel like their only SOLE purpose is to get married, be a wife, and be a mom… Can you talk about how the Old Testament command to “Be fruitful and multiply” isn’t confined to marriage and creating biological children?

Meredith wants to be very clear that she is by no means diminishing the role of a wife and a mom. She would also like to bring alongside the biblical reality that those are not your ultimate description as a woman, as an image bearer of God. 

We equated be fruitful and multiply to get married and have biological children. Then we get to the new testament and you have Matthew 28, go and make disciples. 

God has expanded Meredith’s vision for what fulfilling the role of a mother looks like when it comes to the new covenant and the new Kingdom of Jesus Christ. That as a woman, we are indeed called to mother. You may never be called to mother, biological children, but Meredith has had the role of discipleship and mother to many of her kids in student ministry. 

John 19 shows Jesus redefidning what family is right before he dies. 

Yes, you are called to be mom, you go out there and you mom it up. Find a younger woman in the faith and just help, pick her up. There is beautify and grief in that. 

All of our waiting is trying to to reveal to us the ultimate thing we are waiting for. That is this full union with Christ. 

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