Several years ago, I sat in a workshop with 50 other presenters. We spoke on different topics, but we all had a goal of giving more powerful presentations.
What is your why?
“What is your WHY?” the workshop leader asked. “What COMPELS you to speak?”
Bob and I were already deep into marriage ministry. I assumed we spoke on marriage because we knew God had designed it and because we knew married people tended to be happier and live longer. We had also found great joy in our marriage and wanted that for others. We had learned over the years that whatever the status of your marriage—it can get better. And that was an exciting thought. Wrongs could be forgiven. Wounds could be healed. In God’s economy, there is always more abundance.
As I pondered the instructor’s question, I went deeper—further back. I grew up in a home where chaos and lack of security reigned. When I was nine, God gave me a vision for what a stable, joyous family looked like through a friend I met at church. As I got older, I listened carefully to Sunday School teachers and camp speakers who talked about choosing the right mate. I read books about how to be a better wife. I attended parenting seminars. I put what I learned into practice. And, in time, I worked to give my knowledge to others so they could experience it too. A passionate desire to see marriages and families function as God intended was my WHY. That is part of the legacy I want to leave.
I have three recommendations for those who have decided to pursue having an extraordinary marriage and an exemplary family:
- Go to church weekly. Notice, I didn’t say “regularly”—as in once or twice a month. Church is where you learn. Church is where you come into community with others who will show you the ropes and pray for you when you slip—and hold you accountable to do things better for your own good and the good of your family. Going to church weekly shows your children you give preference to God above sports, entertainment, schoolwork, and myriad other distractions. This will not always be a popular decision, but God will reward you for putting Him first. I promise.
- Join a group that will enrich your understanding of marriage. If your church does not offer one, take part in a small group that shares deeply and has couples you can take your questions to and bounce your ideas off of. Discipleship comes from both the curriculum and from the interaction with other couples. Growth comes from accountability to others who know what you’re struggling with.
- Implement what you learn. There is the learning, and there is the doing. Learning without doing will give you a fat head but will not help your marriage. Develop strategies to put what you’re learning into practice. Ask someone to check in with you and ask you if you did what you said you’d do.
Pretty basic, right? But this is the foundation for a solid marriage and family. There were times when it would have been easy to skip church “just this once” or give myself a pass on behavior that I knew should be improved. The short-term pleasure is not worth trading in the long-term benefits.
This is our why.
Recently, we had the joy of taking our 12 and 13-year-old grandsons on their dream vacation as a special 12th birthday gift. We did this because we wanted a chance to “call them up” to being godly young men. They chose a trip to Florida. Sunday was the only day there were tickets available for Disney World. Of course, they wanted to get there as early as possible to hit all the big rides, but we told them we would attend church first. Ultimately, we chose the online service from one grandson’s home church and prayed God would bless that decision. Although it had taken a chunk out of the morning, when we talked to a cheerful “cast member,” she volunteered to put us on one of the big rides as a bonus for being first-timers and celebrating two birthdays. We also walked on to another one of the popular rides which had an unexplainably short line. God amply repaid the time we spent honoring Him! The experience also opened the opportunity to have numerous spiritual conversations during the week. May God multiply and bless those as well. This is the legacy we want to leave for our family. This is the legacy we want for you and your spouse and your kids.
We will be taking a break from blogging. Our weekly marriage tips are still available by entering your email address here on our blog. Bob and I would love to speak at your conference, banquet, or marriage retreat. Contact us at the link above.
Many blessings to you.