Dating: there’s so much bad advice out there these days. So, when it comes to dating, how do we get it right? How do we prepare for our future marriage? First off, let me confess something: this is not about how to get a date. That’s easy—just lower your standards. Make them low enough, and you could possibly get married this week.

But instead of talking about how to get a date, I want us to consider a better starting point. While people frequently discuss how to find the right one, I want talk about something more noble. I want to give you some practical ways to prepare yourself to be the the right one. Here’s five ways to become “the one” someone else is looking for:

Break Bad Habits and Start Good Ones

People often talk about fixing their “marriage problems,” but there’s a problem with that—it’s not always true. Many times, “married problems” are just singleness problems that you bring into your marriage.

In the business world they say the best predictor of future success is past success. The same is true of your habits: the best predictor of future habits is the past. Don’t let yourself believe that on your wedding day you will suddenly be able to start a load of brand new habits. It’s not that easy.

So, as you prepare to be the right one, let Christ break you of your bad habits now. Don’t turn an action step into an aspiration. Take action now. Stop looking at porn now, not later. Quit obsessing about your image now, not after you get married.

Also, let Christ cultivate in you new, godly habits. Start serving in your local church. Learn to be a giver. Pick up your Bible and read it consistently. Find out where your church is involved in missions and join them. You want this to characterize your life. So, don’t wait until later. Start today.

Get into Real Biblical Community

Join a local church and get involved with a group. Don’t just use the church as a potential dating strategy. Look to the church for real community. It’s good to find a spouse, but you also need friends. You need people who can join with you as you engage in God’s mission. Friendship matters far more than we realize: you were made for them, and they make you who you are.

Establish Your Work and Ministry

In the book of Proverbs it says to “get your outside work prepared first, then build your house.” In dating terms, that might mean “get a job, and you’ll be attractive.” It’s not your biceps that make you attractive, it’s your work ethic.

If you don’t have a job, and you still live with your parents, 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 matter if you say you can provide or if you say you’d like to know God’s will for your life. The real question is, are you executing? Is something underway right now? If not, hold off on dating. Establish your work life, serve in the church, and get a plan for future.

Be Willing to Wait

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, if you are a Christian, you should not date a non-Christian. Your faith is important to you and your future family.

Also, let me add this: ladies, there is nothing wrong with setting your standards high. There is nothing wrong with raising the hurdle. And for men, there is much good in learning how to run fast and jump high.

Cultivate Godly Character

We recently finished up our sermon series in Galatians, and one of the main ideas that the Apostle Paul ends the book with is this: what you sow, you will reap. If you sow to sin, you will reap corruption. If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap life and Godly character.

The bottom line is: what you plant you will produce. So work on your character now. Break bad habits now. Read your Bible now. Get into community now. Work on your growth. Don’t think someone else is going to change your ways. Unless, of course, that person is Jesus.

Adapted from Five Ways That Every One Of Us Should Be Preparing for Marriage by J.D. Greear.

Bryson Isom

Bryson Isom

Bryson Isom is the pastor of Valley Life | Camelback, located adjacent to the campus of Grand Canyon University.