This past weekend my wife (Sarah – blog love HERE) and I took some time out and attended a marriage getaway. There are tons out there, but we opted for a Weekend to Remember, hosted by Family Life.
Let me just say… WOW! (I would recommend any couple go. No matter where you're at in marriage - healthy or unhealthy or how long you've been married - 6 days or 60 years, go.)
Sarah and I had never been to one, so we had zero idea of what to expect. With some apprehension we walked into the banquet room on that first night and everything was perfect. Ah, I’m just kidding. Walking out of that first session, it was obvious that Satan was on the prowl and wanted nothing more than the weekend to be a complete bust. But, regardless of the apprehension we walked in with, we also walked in hopeful. And that, that one thing is far more important than any doubt or apprehension that may creep in… hope. Hope in God and hope in each other. The weekend was far better than either of us could have anticipated. Over the last few days it has been and will continue to be the catalyst for great change in our marriage and family. During the last session the speaker asked people to share their “one big take away” for the weekend; that one thing that God challenged them on; the one thing that Jesus needs to change in them. That’s what this blog is, my take away.
Let me preface this with this point. Although Sarah and I love each other, marriage is hard. I would say that marriage is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it’s also one of the most amazing things you’ll ever do. The fact that both of us have a previous marriage and that we are a blended family bring challenges all their own. So this weekend was about reconnecting and refocusing. And man, what a weekend it was. After the first session I could tell something wasn’t sitting well with my bride. So I asked her, “What’s wrong?” Side note: when you ask that question you need to be willing to do two things: 1) actually LISTEN & 2) not be offended. So I asked and I listened. And for the first time in some months, we got to sit and actually hear each other. I heard my wife’s heart. It was an amazing, but difficult conversation. Here’s what I heard my bride say, “I need you to disciple me like you do other people. Only, I need you to disciple me first.” WOW, shot in the gut for sure.
If you know ANYTHING about me, you know I am about men’s discipleship. I am passionate about men being MEN and I’m the first to tell a guy what it takes to lead and reflect biblical manhood. But there I sat, in a hotel room in Colorado Springs, listening to my wife say that she felt 2nd to others in my life. And the worse part about it, it was true. Unknowingly, I had allowed my ministry of discipling others get in the way of my most important ministry and push out the one person that I am made to give to. The next morning, during my quiet time, I wandered through my journal and landed at the first entry I had written in it. It was the day that Sarah and I started dating and I wrote these two commitments: 1) Always protect Sarah’s heart & 2) Always give her more than I get from her. In my head and heart I know the importance of those commitments, but in practice, I’ve not done those well. That changed on Saturday, March 10, 2012. This weekend put a lot into perspective and provided a number of tools to start keeping those commitments she didn’t even know I made.
Here’s my take away:I need to take intentional steps to first disciple my wife and then disciple my children. Then, I can give to others.
It is so important for married men to realize that the first ministry they are called to serve in is their marriage. The bible tells us to love our wife as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). That means give to her, sacrifice for her, protect her, nourish her, cherish her and build her up. When you look at all of that, it’s discipleship. And bonus, you get to add something to discipling your wife that you can’t (and shouldn’t want to) have in any other discipleship relationship: intimacy, passion and romance. When you give to her the way you’re made to, then discipleship of the rest of your family flows out of that. From this point on she’ll never again question here rank of importance in my life. As human relationships go, she is and will be first. I’m excited to be able to disciple the most important Jesus follower I know.