Date to Serve (Dating 101)

051207-N-3019M-010VISION. That’s what this Dating 101 series is all about: casting a vision for dating that lifts us up above the small-minded, selfish, petty, fearful, and shameless aims that motivate so many to date.

To that end, this week we’ll talk about service, and more specifically use military service as a metaphor to imagine how you can “be all that you can be” in your dating life.

First, let’s consider what kind of soldier inspires us. Isn’t it the one driven solely by their love of God and the country they have sworn to protect; particularly their loved ones back home? Their motives are humble, pure, noble, and sacrificial, for they truly see their role as one of service.

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. –  2 Timothy 2:4

What’s your Motive?

For many in uniform their motives are not nearly so lofty. Then again, neither are the intentions of most out there dating. But as we reflect on lesser aims, I believe we’ll find the humble attitude of service will shine all the more brightly.

Some join the military because it’s what their friends are doing, or it’s what their father and his father and his father have done. In similar fashion, some date simply because it seems like everyone’s doing it.

Others join the service for the experience. With high hopes and big dreams, they look forward to the rigorous training and foreign travel. Many date with that same “bucket list” mentality, where life is all about that next experience, whether they have Hollywood-sized expectations for dating or they just want to have fun.

Or how about that guy who enlists all for the love of guns and weapons, as if those things were the end unto themselves, instead of a means (more specifically, a last resort) to accomplish a greater end (like peace, order and security). Likewise, there are those who date because they love the romance and making out, as if that were the whole point. Never mind what the purpose of romance is supposed to be. Never mind the danger of all that sexual forepla – I mean, making out. It just feels so good! A lot like playing with guns.

Sadly, a few sign up for the armed forces because they’re angry. They’re mad at the Taliban or ISIS or their own family or the whole world. Powerful emotions compel many to date as well. Fortunately, few date out of anger, but a lot do so out of deep loneliness; driven by the desire to belong or the hope of finding love.

Quite a few view their military service merely as a stepping stone to their education. This reminds me of all the daters out there who are more or less spouse hunters, and dating, merely a stepping stone to their marriage.

Finally, some are like that guy who enlists for the status; the guy who brags about the unit he’s joined, the training he’s endured, the battle he’s seen, the wounds he’s suffered and the medals he’s won. In like manner, some date so they too can brag about it: around their friends and in social media. It’s all about status.

Honor: to Chase or to Live?

Now let’s go back to our first category of soldier. Those who inspire us because their desire is the opposite of the status-seeker. Instead of securing bragging rights, their passion is to serve; to serve their country and their loved ones who live there.

They serve by submitting to their commanding officers and giving their all for their unit. They do this with the belief that their sacrifice will matter not only to their family back home, but everyone who enjoys living in the freedom which their sacrifice preserves.

These soldiers don’t have to brag. Their lives are lived for honor and so honor follows them.

Now I ask you, doesn’t that sound like a great way to date? Date to serve!

How? Not by making it up as you go along, but by submitting to the teaching of God’s word and His church. Then, instead of spending your time trying to please yourself, or assess the worthiness of your date, or worse – take advantage of them – you give your all for them. You show them honor, by seeking their best interests, protecting their reputation and making each date as enjoyable for them as possible.

And you do all this in the belief that your sacrifice will matter, not only to the person who eventually becomes your spouse, but every person you date who does not.

This is dating like Jesus would.

No. Jesus never dated. He was never a soldier nor wielded any weapon either. However, He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.

May you find inspiration in this last act of service He performed before going to the cross…

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him…

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” – John 13:3-5, 12-17

We have our marching orders! Let us go and do likewise! Happy dating! And happy serving!

Looking for more of a road map to a different way of dating? Check out our LoveEd video series: Purpose-Driven Dating on our FMUniversity YouTube channel!

For the next post in our Dating 101 series click here:

Date like You’re Never Alone (Dating 101)

DNA: It’s What’s For Dating

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The LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation, will empower you to prepare for relational success when it counts: BEFORE YOU FALL IN LOVE! It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. Check out the first two 8-lesson study guides in our store. You can walk through it on your own, but it’s more fun with friends, so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study. Even better?  And ask a married couple you respect to lead it!

Categories: DATING, Dating 101