A ministry entitled Marriage Mentoring is one of the best ways to strengthen couples of all ages in your church.
Marriage Mentoring is the process of having a seasoned and experienced couple spend time with a less experienced couple to help show them the way.
In his book, The Marriage You’ve Always Dreamed Of, Greg Smalley (son of Gary Smalley) describes a dream God gave him regarding the condition of marriages in America.
He dreamed he was in New York City on September 11th, 2001, and became an eye witness of both planes crashing into the Twin Towers and then falling with a great crash only moments later.
Twenty years is a long time to be married, and it’s certainly enough time to learn a few things. Here’s 20 Lessons Learned After 20 Years of Marriage (Part 4).
15. Marriage is the greatest test of my leadership. I enjoy reading about leadership. I enjoy watching and learning from good leaders. I often reflect on my own leadership experiences in my ministry career as a pastor – both past and present. I enjoy the challenge of leading people well, and I even have a master’s degree in Ministerial Leadership for crying out loud. All of that to say…
Is God able to raise a dead, hopeless marriage? Let me pose the question a different way. Is there a point of no return, so-to-speak, where the hurt is too deep and the relationship too toxic for a turn-a-round to occur?
I’ve often heard people in struggling marriages (and friends and family who love them) say, I’m praying that God intervenes and does a miracle. And while I whole-heartedly believe in the miracle-working power of God, the way that God works to turn a marriage around is somewhat unique in nature – as compared to, for example, a physical healing or financial provision.
Let me explain.
“Most marriages are just a few hard-earned insights away from stability and happiness” –Stephen Fried
In the past, many have felt that marriage enrichment was simply a sideline activity for the church, that once in a while the church should do something to emphasize marriage. But … marriage enrichment is not a sideline. It is at the heart of the church’s mission in today’s world. -Gary Chapman
Do you know someone whose marriage is in crisis? There are few things in life more painful than watching a loved-one’s marriage fall apart…wishing there was something you could do to change it. Is it ever appropriate to intervene and try to help? And what are the potential risks?
We all want to help, but what’s the right way to help? Here’s a few things to keep in mind as you contemplate what to do…or not do.
- Be A Good Listener. Usually when a person is going through a crisis of any sort, what they need most from their loved-ones is for them to listen and affirm their emotions. They want empathy. They want someone to offer the lost art of active listening. Remember the book of Job in the Bible? After he lost everything (family, belongings, property, health, etc.), three knucklehead friends showed up to comfort him; but they were no comfort at all because they couldn’t shut their pie hole. Here’s what he tells them in Job 16:
You are miserable comforters, all of you! Will your long-winded speeches never end? I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
- Be Prayerful. If there there was ever a time to pray, this would be it. Commit to praying for them every day for a week. Ultimately, God is the only one who can open eyes, heal hearts, and repair broken dreams. The battle belongs to Him. And your prayers will do more than help the couple for whom you’re praying. It will open your eyes, and give you the sensitivity you need to know when to listen and when to speak.
- Be Objective. As tempting as it might be to rally to your friends side and agree with everything they say, remember there’s always two sides to every story. If they’re speaking negatively about their spouse, don’t join in. What if they reconcile later on, and then remember the things you said? It could have a long term negative affect on your relationship with them as a couple.
- Be A Resource. In other words, refer them to a counselor, support group, or marriage ministry. Research what’s available in your area. Resist the urge to give a lot of advice. Instead, encourage them to make an appointment with a licensed professional, such as a counselor or pastor. Don’t try to be more than you are. Whatever your relationship was before the crisis…simply excel at that relationship. If you’re a brother, be a great brother. If you’re a friend, be a great friend. If you’re a neighbor, be a great neighbor. And yes, if you’re a parent, be a great parent. People only change when they discover things for themselves, anyway – not when someone is constantly telling them what they should or shouldn’t do.
Should you try to help your friend’s struggling marriage? I encourage you to follow these guidelines. You’ll be glad you did.
* For marriages in crisis, we highly recommend a ministry entitle Marriage Restored. Here’s a link to their website: www.marriagerestored.com
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