Best Of: Looking For "The One"

From the team: It’s our fifth birthday here on the blog. To celebrate we are featuring the "best of" the blog all month. This post on finding "the one" got you talking. With 116 comments, clearly many of you are wondering if "the one" is out there. Here is my two cents on the subject.

bride and groomIt’s the stuff fairy tales are made of. One guy. One girl. Destined to be together forever as husband and wife. They are made for each other, and they fit together like two pieces of the same puzzle. They spend their whole lives looking for each other, and when they meet they "just know" that they’ve found "the one." 


The idea that there is one person out there for us is certainly a romantic one. But to be honest, I’m not sure it’s biblical. I’ve been looking, and I can’t find any evidence in Scripture that God creates one specific person to be our mate. I know that this has the potential to burst a lot of bubbles, but I still think it’s a subject worth tackling (I’ll get to why in a minute). 

There are lots of great romances in the Bible. Let’s start with Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2 we read that Eve was created to be a helper to Adam. There wasn’t much risk that these two wouldn’t match up since they were the only people in creation. I’m not sure God’s plan for who we are to marry outside of the Garden is so specific. 

Abraham and Sarah were happily married, but we don’t learn anything about their story until Abraham was seventy-five years old. There’s no evidence that God instructed Abraham to marry Sarah because she was "the one" (Gen. 12). 

Jacob loved Rachel, but he met her because he stole his brother’s blessing and was forced to flee his home (Gen. 27–28). Ruth married Boaz, but it was only after her first husband died. I can’t think of any examples where Scripture seems to indicate that God chose who an individual fell in love with and married. 

The Bible does indicate that God knows who we will marry simply because He is omniscient. First John 3:20 tells us that God knows everything. Psalm 147:5 says that His understanding has no limit. But knowing who we will marry and choosing who we will marry are two different things.

I realize it may seem like I am splitting hairs here, but there is a reason why I think it’s worth making the distinction. Thinking that God has created someone just for you (and you for him) sets you up for disappointment. Through His Word, God does command us to marry a believer (2 Cor. 6:14) and several passages give us helpful guidelines for what qualities to look for in a potential mate (1 Cor. 13:4–7, Titus 1:5–9). But if you’re looking for a perfect match, you won’t find him. If you head into marriage thinking that you were made for each other and will fit together perfectly, you may find yourself disillusioned when trials come and your relationship is strained. We know from Scripture that God designed marriage and He created men and women to complement each other, but it isn’t perfect. You will never find "the one" who "completes you" like a missing puzzle piece. 

Well . . . I guess that isn’t exactly true.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding (Eph. 1:4–8). 

Now that’s romantic. 

Best Of: Have You Been Hurt By A Leaving Youth Pastor?

From the team: It’s our fifth birthday here on the blog. To celebrate we are featuring the "best of" the blog all month. This post on leaving youth pastors sure got you talking. With 98 comments, it’s clear that many of you have felt the sting of a leaving youth pastor.

As part of the research phase for Lies Young Women Believe, I surveyed approximately 1,000 young women from across the country. I interviewed many of those man walking awayyoung women in small groups over coffee in living rooms just like yours and mine. During those interviews, one issue consistently evoked more emotion (specifically tears!) than any other issue. Any guess what it was?

Leaving youth pastors.

We talked about dating. We talked about daddies. We talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of female friendships. We even got into a heated debate or two about cultural issues, but nothing evoked a more emotional response than the topic of youth pastors who leave.

As a youth worker myself, I was a little floored by this discovery. But the sixteen-year-old version of me wouldn’t be. When I was sixteen, my youth pastor left my church to become a church planter in a different state. I was devastated. I cried for months. More than ten years later that incident remains one of the most painful things that has ever happened to me.

Satan used that pain as an open door to lie to me about my faith and myself. Our focus groups confirmed that he has done the same for many of you. Letting those lies go unchecked can wreak havoc on your spiritual life. As we talk about the church this month, I feel compelled to tell you what I wish I had known as a student facing the pain caused by a leaving youth pastor. More importantly, as I think about the tears you may have shed or the ones you may shed in the future when your spiritual advisor leaves, I desperately want you to understand God’s truth.

Your youth pastor is not your connection to God.

Nancy and Dannah address this very lie in Lies Young Women Believe:

Your youth pastors and leaders are important spiritual leaders in your life, but we have access to God through Christ and Christ alone. Bible scholars call this "the priesthood of believers" (see 1 Pet. 2:9). In Old Testament times, God appointed certain men as priests. They led the people of Israel in worship and offered prayers and sacrifices on behalf of God’s people. Today, Christ is our High Priest. By His death on the cross, He made a complete sacrifice for our sin and invites us to come directly into God’s presence through our relationship with Him. "There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:5–6).

It’s great to have an awesome youth pastor (or youth pastor’s wife or volunteer youth leader) who challenges you in your walk with Christ. But it is so important for you to realize that that person is not your connection to God. Jesus alone serves that function. Don’t let a leaving youth pastor sever your connection to God.

A leaving youth pastor provides an opportunity to draw closer to God.

Sometimes due to moral failure or strife in our churches, our youth pastors leave under extremely painful circumstances. Other times we simply lose the opportunity to regularly see someone we dearly love and want to spend time with. The resulting emotion is often a broken heart. God has a specific promise for us when our hearts are broken.

Psalm 34:18 promises, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

God presses in to us when our hearts are broken. He doesn’t run from our pain; He runs toward us in the midst of it. If you are facing a leaving youth pastor, take the opportunity to draw closer to God. Press into His Word with new fervor. Use the time you are accustomed to spending learning from your youth pastor to seek God yourself through prayer and Bible study. Intercede for your youth pastor and his family as well as for your church and youth group during the transition.

Seize the opportunity to step up to the plate.

A leaving youth pastor inevitably leaves a void. But ministry must go on. Ask yourself what you can do to keep the wheels of your youth ministry turning until a new youth pastor is found. Can you head up the praise team? Can you be in charge of loading worship lyrics into the computer for weekly worship? Can you lead a group of other students to welcome visitors? Can you volunteer to teach the lesson a time or two or to find others who are willing to teach? There is probably a long list of responsibilities that were typically handled by your youth pastor. Those things still need to be done. Don’t sulk about the way things are; take the opportunity to minister to others and cast a new vision for your group.

Don’t take your ball and go home.

Many of the young women I spoke to explained that because of a leaving youth pastor, they left their youth groups or the church altogether. This is a clear example of why Satan takes advantage of situations where a youth pastor leaves by lying to us. Reacting to your hurt over a leaving youth pastor by dropping out of your church or youth group is simply the wrong decision.

Dannah writes about this very truth in LYWB:

Having been through this experience, I understand your hurt! Still, you can’t blame anyone for the choices you make about church. We are each accountable for our own actions and reactions. You can’t blame your youth pastor for any choice you may make to disconnect from the Body of Christ.

God’s family works best together. You need them, and they need you. No matter how many bad experiences you may have in church-and we know you will have them because Satan hates the church and is always attacking-the best place for you to grow, serve, and be discipled is in a local church body (Lies Young Women Believe, 122).

When we face pain like that caused by a leaving youth pastor, sometimes truth can be difficult to hear. I imagine that if someone had sent me the above list of truths when my youth pastor left, I would have been tempted to try to ignore it like a kid sticking his fingers in his ears. My pain in that season felt very real, and as a result I felt justified in acting out in lots of ways that hurt my faith and hurt others. I hope you will choose to respond differently. If you’re facing a leaving youth pastor, I challenge you to mediate on God’s truth, respond by trusting Him and loving His church, and be thankful that you’ll never have to face a leaving Jesus.