(The posts in this series have been adapted from the “Relentless Love” marriage seminar, created and taught by David McKinley and Bret Legg at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, TX.)
But just having the parts of a good marriage story does not magically make the story, anymore than having the ingredients for a good cake magically makes the cake. You have to do something with those parts. You must take action and make the most of what you have if you’re going to make a great marriage story.
Think of the story of Apollo 13. After an unforeseen accident, the crew of Apollo 13 find their carbon dioxide levels climbing to life-threatening levels. To save their lives, they will have to construct a carbon dioxide scrubber out of items they have on board. All the items they needed were there, but in order to turn the story around they had to take action and do something with what they had.
The same is true for marriage. Your marriage story will not be good until you take action and do something with what you have.
There are three main actions you must take in order to have a good marriage story.
1. See the Potential.
The thing that separates the main characters from the lesser characters in a story is their ability to see potential beyond their present situation. A great example of this is the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was able to see beyond the national strife, the prejudice, and the unrest and proclaim, “I have a dream!”
Spouses who cannot see the potential for a better ending are spouses who do nothing and succumb to a lesser story. But spouses who can see and believe the potential for a better ending are spouses who take action to make that better ending a reality.
2. Steward What You’ve Been Given.
The word “steward” simply means to make the most of what you’ve been given. In every good story, the main characters must make the most out of what they have, even it what they have is not very much. You see this in the movie Castaway, with Tom Hanks. Finding himself stranded on a deserted island, Hank’s character must make the most of anything and everything he can find in order to survive. Look at the story of Jesus feeding a hungry multitude using only what He could find…five loaves of bread and two fish. When the main characters make the most of what they have, the story becomes a bigger and better story.
In marriage, you need to make the most of:
- The financial and material assets you have. Every couple should have a spending plan; (otherwise known as a budget.) There are a lot of great helps and resources out there to help you with this. I highly recommend you check out the Dave Ramsey website and the Crown Financial website if you need a place to get started.
- The time you have. You can’t make more time. You can only shuffle and redistribute the time you have. Roughly two thirds of our time is taken up with work and sleep. That means you only have one third of your time to really invest somewhere. Let that sink in. If you live to the age of 90, you only have 30 years of life to freely invest in something. If your story is going to be good, you have to make the most of your time.
- The interests, talents, and passions you have. Everyone has something they do well, something they’re interested in, and something that really moves them. These are the things that resonate with you. They add life and largeness to your story when you are intentional in using these God-given treasures.
- The people you have. That doesn’t mean you should manipulate the people in your life to get what you want. It means you should make the most of your time and relationship with the people in your life. The best way to do this is to ask yourself, “If someone I care about suddenly died, what would I regret not doing? What would I regret not saying? What would I wish I could do over? What would I want to change?” Your answers to these questions will tell you how to make the most of the people in your life…especially your spouse.
3. Serve Those Around You.
In every good story, something causes the characters to turn from their own self interests and focus more on the interests of others.
In the movie, Bruce Almighty, Bruce Nolan starts off as a person who is only interested in taking care of himself. When Bruce encounters God, God grants Bruce His power – which Bruce quickly uses for his own ends. It’s only when Bruce determines to care for others more than himself that the story turns around and becomes a good story.
There’s no greater example of setting aside yourself and serving others than the story of the life and crucifixion of Jesus. It’s the story of God, who willingly puts Himself aside to meet the needs of a desperate world. John 3:16 says it most succinctly.
Zig Ziglar once said, “You can get what you want in life when you help enough other people get what they want.” In marriage, when spouses focus on their needs more than their partner’s, the marriage story tends to be competitive and disappointing. But, when spouses seek to meet each other’s needs more than their own, their story is richer, more expansive, and they tend to see their own needs met in the process.
In summary: actions speak louder than words. A marriage can have all the right parts, but the marriage story will only be as good as the action the main characters put into it. (Pssst…that’s you and me.)
Where are you lacking to put action into your marriage story? What’s keeping you from doing that? Fear? Anger? Insecurity? Worry? This week, start strengthening your marriage story by putting some action into one specific area of your marriage that you know could use it.
Copyright © 2016 Bret Legg