Christian singles, do you want to build healthy and successful relationships? If your answer is “yes!”, then you must learn how to pick people with godly character traits, as well as be a person of godly character!
First, let’s take a look at what healthy and satisfying relationships look like…
Henry Cloud and John Townsend teach in their book, Safe People, that healthy relationships include four qualities. First, they are safe emotionally and physically. Second, they have boundaries that are respected. Third, they draw you closer to God and help you to grow spiritually. And fourth, they do not compromise your Christian values.
There are some other identifying marks of a healthy relationship which Cloud and Townsend mention. For example you will feel built up not torn down. In other words the relationship will help you become who God wants you to be. Also, you will be drawn closer to others in a healthy way. In healthy relationships you can also expect mutual trust, respect and vulnerability as well as a balanced sense of giving and taking.
Most importantly you will experience healthy and satisfying relationships by looking for a mate based on Christian principles and by choosing to be a person of godly character yourself. Naturally, it is common even for Christian singles to be attracted to the outside of a person: their looks, their status, their achievements, and their intelligence. But remember, it is the inside of a person that we experience in relationships.
The time to evaluate character in others is before you get too deeply involved. As Cloud and Townsend say, “When the attachment deepens, the reasoning weakens.” The scriptures warn us to, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23.
At this point you may be wondering, what kind of character traits should Christian singles look for and aspire to? Ruth and Boaz, two singles from the Bible, exemplify the kind of character traits to look for in a potential mate.
Ruth’s character traits were: devotion to God and to family — the evidence of her character was in her actions. She was humble and teachable. She was focused on her responsibilities. Her faith was in God to provide for her – she trusted Him for a future spouse. She was a woman of her word. She did what she said she would do.
Boaz was devoted to God and to his farming responsibilities. He did not let his heart become entangled and he was not distracted from his priorities. He was a man of his word. He did what he said he would do. He was a Christ-type — he exemplified the character and work of Christ – especially in his act of redemption for Ruth.
If you want to become a person of character, you must take personal ownership of your character development. You must be willing to stop blaming others for your short comings and failures. You are the only one who can do it. If you have a pattern of painful relationships take an honest look at your own character traits. Confess to the Lord the things you discover about yourself and make a plan for change. For example read a book on the subject, set personal limits and develop an accountability system.
If you have unresolved issues from your past such as trauma, abuse, abandonment or neglect and you recognize a pattern of painful relationships, find someone who will help you work through them like a pastor or a counselor. When people have been traumatized by these things as children, they often need to make changes that will bring healing and wholeness in order to function well in close relationships.
Finally, Christian singles need a plan for spiritual growth. Your plan should include making knowing and loving God a priority in your life. Choose to order your life around knowing God rather than finding a mate. Then pray for a mate who is committed to the same things. You see, God’s primary work in each of us is to conform us to the image of Christ. As you devote yourself to God and His word, and yield to His Holy Spirit, your character will change. As your character changes you will likely experience more relationship success.
Jean LeStourgeon, MA, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Palm Bay, Florida. She also operates the website Christian Counseling Online where you can find topics for Christian Singles on Developing Healthy Relationships andTips for Single Christians Dating, all from a Biblical perspective.