Relationships

Dating Do’s and Don’t for Aspiring Missionaries

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Written by Lillian Hunsberger

It’s come to the point where dating has seemed to be more like a game. A difficult game. The end result? A happily ever after or a heartbreak, or sometimes you seem to break even and are able to remain friends with the person that you once held your heart. The players? Yourself and whoever might come along your way. Sometimes it feels like you’re playing with your best friend and other times it’s just some random stranger.

I’ve come to the point where I’m confused by dating. Who should I date? How long should I wait? How long should we be friends first? There needs to be a dating hand guide to help explain this to me! But alas, there isn’t.

And the game only gets more confusing when you add that we are aspiring missionaries. There are a million questions that we are asking ourselves. Is this according to God’s will? How can I know if there is a future here with them? Are they called to missions too? A lot of the time we find ourselves simply asking, “God, what’s next?”

Dating Dos

There is a lot of things that we can do in order to make our “dating game” a success.

Do Desire God’s Will Over Your Own:

We’ve probably all said The Lord’s Prayer countless times. Part of that being “your will be done”. You don’t know what’s going to happen next, and that’s okay. I use to believe that I could write the best story for my life. Especially as a writer, I used to believe that my story would be far better than the one that God was formulating for me. The truth is that I can’t even begin to comprehend the ways God is working in my life.

Let’s look at the life of probably the best role model, Christ. Even in the midst of despair and heartbreak, Christ submitted His life to the Father’s will. As He prayed in Gethsemane “And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will'” (Matthew 26:39).

Christ didn’t want to get killed. But He knew it was according to the Father’s will, so He submitted to it.  We must do the same in every aspect of our lives, especially dating.

Do Know Your Calling:

So many times we feel God at work in our lives, we feel Him leading us in one direction or another. You need to know what your life is committed to. The things that your heart desires. Where your passion lies. The truth is you want to travel this life with someone who wants a similar story and path as you.

  • Journal the things God is calling you to. Habakkuk 2 talks about how we should write down our vision. In the Message Bible, it states it like this: “Write what you see.Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run.” Even when you are on the run, and it feels like life is moving far faster than we could ever handle, we should still be able to see God’s call on our life.

  • Continue Listening to God for “changes” in your calling. A lot of the time it seems like we hear one thing from God and instead end up going in the complete opposite direction. God isn’t changing His words to you, or what He’s telling you. We are, maybe, just getting more intentional about listening to His voice. Either way, seek to hear God’s voice every moment of every day, especially when it comes to your calling.

You need to be sure that their calling doesn’t impede your calling. For God’s calling on your life is going to be far more fulfilling than any relationship.

Do Seek Out Wisdom:

Know that there are other people out there who want the best for you. There are those who want to grow you and see you succeed. So in two ways, seek out wisdom.

First off,  personally seek wisdom from those around you. God has placed people in your life so that you have those people that you can talk to, and draw closer to God through. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15). You need to be seeking advice from the wise around you. If one of them doesn’t approve of the relationship, there may be a problem present.

But also, your significant other must be willing to seek wisdom, themselves. It should be a red flag to you if your significant other is unwilling to have wisdom spoken over them. Yes, sometimes it can be an uncomfortable experience. Keep in mind the truth in Proverbs 4, “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

Do Know Your Boundaries/Limits

Before you go into a relationship I think it’s important for you to know your boundaries on a lot of levels. First a physical level. To be blunt, the devil tries to use relationships in order to tempt us. There are several warnings against temptations, especially towards sexual immorality. Examples of this can be found in Ephesians 5:3, Galatians 5:19-21, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Corinthians 6:18, etc…

The devil has a good way of making us believe that we can straddle the line between purity and impurity. But the reality is we can’t, and it’s hard to see that when you are dating someone. So be careful, and know that the temptation is going to come. Be prepared in order to fight for yourself, but also on the behalf of your significant other about this.

But also know your emotional boundaries. Coming from someone who used to depend a lot on people, it can be extremely hindering to your relationship. The same can be said about someone who needs people to depend on them. There is only so much you can do in order to help your significant other, and even before dating I believe you have to define what it is that you can do.

Do Love God First

“You should love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30). You cannot love someone else without fully understanding the love God has for you. Then, attempting to reciprocate that to first God, Himself, and then also to others.

The first step in dating should always be the step of faith we take toward our Lord, Savior, and greatest Treasure, King Jesus. He captures our heart; we find our deepest joy in him. We hide our soul in Him and stop trying to save or prove ourselves. Our goal should be to devote our minds to know Him more and more. We should plead with Him to transform our mind and will to His. We put all our strength into His goal and plan for our life: to make disciples who love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

There needs to be a concise realization that God is the one who presents love as a possibility for any of us. For He is love (1 John 4:8).

Dating Don’ts

There is a lot of things that we can do in order to make sure that our relationship thrives, or at least has a chance in the big, scary world out there.

Don’t Date Someone Unwilling To Live Out — “Missionary”:

The life of a missionary is going to be hard. It’s going to take culture shock, learning a new language, trying a lot of new things, and at some points, looking like a complete idiot. You want to make sure that your girlfriend/ boyfriend is willing to struggle through the hardships that come with the life of a missionary.

It takes a particular person to want to leave everything they have in order to help those who don’t have anything. One of my good friends once explained it like this to me, “It takes a special heart in order to go out and serve the world. You need resilience in order to fight your battles and intercede for the battles happening around you. It takes a special person in order to be willing to go from everything that they are, and start again in order to love those around them. It takes a special individual in order to be a missionary because it is hard. It’s really hard. But it’s worth it. It’s special in order to understand it, but it’s even more when you actively live it out. ”

So be careful, living the life of a missionary, can be difficult. You need to find someone who is okay with the potential of taking it completely on if you end up getting married.

Don’t Be Unequally Yoked:

The first example that comes to mind for me when I think unequally yoked is the idea of missionary dating. Missionary dating is when a Christian dates a non-believer for the purpose of converting them over to Christianity, though I’m not going to go deep into this because you can read more about missionary dating and the reason why you shouldn’t do it… here.

Another idea that comes up when we think about being unequally yoked is the idea of spiritual maturity. It wouldn’t be wise for someone far in their walk with God to connect hearts with someone extremely new to the faith. In Hebrew 5 it talks about how the spiritually immature need to start first on milk, and then later move on to the meat that sustains.

It’s similar in relationships. We need to find those who are in the same place as us spiritually. For when we are struggling, it’s hard to grow more when you are bouncing ideas off with people who are so much less mature than you.

Don’t Lower Your Standards:

So what if your calling is in line with this guy? Or she is a devout Christian? Can you just try to date them and see where it takes you?  Here is my advice for you. It’s not bad in order to date a Christian (again, I really suggest you date other Christians), but that shouldn’t be the only reason you date them.

There is an importance that comes with having things in common between the two of you. You need to make sure your heart doesn’t get swept in a person because you see the Spirit in them. The spirit moving in anyone can be a very emotional experience, and when our emotions get involved, it can be extremely difficult. But God gave your emotions in order to be a gauge and not a guide.

So, be aware of what you deserve, and don’t allow your emotions dictate everything that you do. You have standards, and sometimes they can be flexible, but they should not be thrown away in order to fit the person you are looking to date.

Don’t Be Stubborn:

You need to know your mission, and where you are being called. But you need to keep in mind that once you are with someone else, there needs to be a molding process that combines the callings into one.

There is going to be some tension, and a lot of seeking God out together, in order to realize what exactly God is calling you to. Even if it’s only for a season, God wouldn’t have brought the two of you together if you weren’t supposed to learn something from this relationship.

Yes, God is calling you to something amazing in your life, but the truth is that your path is going to take time. And especially if you are planning on ending up with a significant other, make sure you are willing for yourself and your calling to be molded into something new.

Don’t Try To Rush It:

We sometimes are so quick to rush into things. It’s as if we forget that the God of the universe is looking down and guiding us. He has a timeline that He is working through in order to make your life the best that it can be. So don’t rush it. Singleness isn’t too bad. It is actually a gift that God has blessed you with for the time being. You can read more into that here.

God will bring along someone when it’s time. I’m gonna make a radical statement: You shouldn’t date until you are 100% content with the idea that God could be calling you to singleness. If you are okay with the idea of you and God forever, then you might be ready to add someone else into the equation. Because if you aren’t okay with the idea of just you and God as an equation, you are going to search for aspects of God in others. Whether that be fulfillment, purpose, or even just love.

God is the only one who can be everything you need. He’s the only one who can satisfy completely.

Dating As “A Game”

The truth is, dating is not a game. A lot of society sees it as such, but there is a true purpose behind being in a relationship. You are striving in order to find someone that you would be willing to be with for the remainder of your life. Dating isn’t about the popularity status, it’s not about finding love and acceptance, or even about finding yourself. It’s about finding someone to walk with in life, and someone to help you grow in Christ.

The truth is that it takes dedication in order to prepare yourself for the future relationships that await you. Preparing yourself should be what you focus on instead trying to figure out who you can get into a relationship with. How can you prepare yourself?

Preparing Yourself

  • Pray, Pray, Pray: Pray for yourself, and the molding process that God is going to take you through in order to prepare yourself for your future spouse. But also be praying for whoever this person may be. There are going to struggles in their life, and having a prayer warrior on their side is going to help (even if they have no clue as to who you are).
  • Allow God to mold you. In the state you are right now, I’m sure God can help you grow in some way. Maybe it’s to overcome that sin you have hidden in the past. Or that God wants to bless you with more spiritual gifts. God could just be drawing you closer to Himself. Allow Him to do that.
  • Trust God. He knows what He is doing with your future, and with your relationships. If God wants you to get married or start dating — you will. But until God gives the green light, going will only cause more of a mess than it needs to be.

There is a lot of things you could do to prepare yourself for the future, but the most important thing is to go into dating with the mindset of God. God MUST come first, or else your foundation will fall out beneath you. For when we trust in Christ we can confidently say, “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken” (Psalm 62:2).

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