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5 Ways That Every One of Us Should Be Preparing for Marriage

(If you’re in the Raleigh-Durham area, one of many ways you can get involved in this sort of community is through Christ-Centered Fellowship, a single adult fellowship for those in their 30s and 40s. They host fellowship events—dinners, game nights, ski trips—and also meet together for times of Bible-based teaching and discussion. Best of all, CCF brings together singles from multiple churches in the Triangle. So you can connect with other single adults while helping to strengthen the connection between gospel-centered churches in our community.)

3. Establish your career and your ministry.

When I was in high school, I read Proverbs 24:27 in my quiet time: “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” I went to my dad and asked what that meant. His response? “It means, ‘Get a job. Then girls will find you attractive.’”

He was right. Guys, you’ve got to get your act together before you invite someone else into your mess. If you don’t have a job and you still live in your parents’ basement, you’ve got no business dating. But more than that, you should be pursuing God’s will for your life now, instead of hoping that you’ll figure it out eventually. It doesn’t much matter if you say you can provide and you say you’d like to know God’s will for your life. It matters if you’re acting on that.

4. Decide now the kind of person you are going to date.

It’s far too late in the game to wait until a dating opportunity arises to ask what kind of person you would or would not date. So decide in advance that you will wait for the man or woman that is God’s gift to you. This means, at the very least, that if you are a Christian, you should not date a non-Christian, unless your faith—and the faith of your kids—doesn’t really matter to you.

And don’t try to justify it by saying (as I’ve heard so many times), “Well, he is a Christian; he’s just fallen out of church.” Can I tell you what is going to happen? The person you’re dating will start coming to church, and you’ll think that things are really changing. But they’re just trying to win you over, and when the dating stage is over, they’ll stop. I’ve seen it more times than I can count, and it would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic. Let me be blunt: You would be better off dating an honest pagan than a hypocritical Christian.

5. Cultivate gospel character.

I often chuckle when I go to weddings and hear them read the “classic love passage,” 1 Corinthians 13. What Paul has to say about love, of course, is extremely relevant in marriage. But the context of that chapter isn’t romance: It’s the local church. He’s talking about virtues that we all need to master and live out in the church—your ultimate, forever family.

Love is patient and kind. Gospel-centered love puts other people first, anticipating their needs and serving them, even when they disappoint you. Love keeps no record of wrongs, meaning we forgive quickly and refuse to hold grudges. Love doesn’t boast and isn’t proud, which means we approach others with humility instead of assuming life is about us. And love never gives up. This sounds sweet, but it’s not easy. When people fail us and hurt us, we want to shut them out. But love endures.

None of this is possible on our own power. Thankfully, we aren’t left alone. 1 Corinthians 13 gospel love isn’t an abstraction; it’s a Person. And as we grow closer to that person, to Christ our Bridegroom, we’ll grow in our love for one another.  

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.