Part 12a of ‘Let’s Talk about Marriage’ part of the ‘In Marriage’ series:
Paul David Tripp in ‘Grace Filled Parenting’ says this: “There is nothing more important to consistent, faithful, patient, loving, and effective parenting than to understand what God has given you in the grace of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Understanding God’s grace will change you, and as it changes you, it will change the way you relate to and parent your children.”
We, the church, need to be proactive in helping parents understand God’s grace so that our homes can be restored.
Will You Answer the Call to Provide Help for Couples in Your Fellowship?
A church minister once explained that he was not the best person to talk to about marriage. He also said that giving advice about children was not his speciality. Nevertheless he provided us with details of an organisation that could help. It turned out to be quite helpful in getting us over a particular hurdle in our marriage. I’m referring to that leader, in order to encourage any church leader who may think that they are not called to serve in the area of marriage and parenting.
You may not have the skills to provide the services married couples and parents need but it is still your responsibility to ensure that they are cared for. Therefore, the least that you can do is do some research to find out where such help is provided and be able to direct those who can benefit from the services provided by others. This may mean working alongside other churches or groups within your county or group of churches serving your community.
Marriage preparation is necessary for the young couple—madly in love with each other—planning for the wedding day without any thought of the marriage itself. They are unable to check in with reality while walking on ‘cloud nine’. So pre-marital counselling is essential or they will walk into their marriage with pre-conceived ideas which will destroy the marriage when their reality does not reflect their ideal. Bringing children into that setting will be disastrous. Therefore, post marriage counselling is essential.
It is therefore necessary to introduce pre and post-parental counselling/ teaching/training whether directly, through seminars, workshops or indirectly (by referring couples to relevant organizations or providing literature on the topic). How you present it depends on the type of relationship you have with the people you serve and it must be an ongoing process.
If you are a fearful leader when it comes to providing a service for married couples in your church, I pray that our story will provide insight and help you to understand the importance of caring for the sheep. If you only have one married couple in your church, you have a responsibility to care for them in the same way you would if there were a hundred married couples.
If you only have a youthful congregation with no married couples you still have that responsibility to teach about the principles of marriage. Why is that? The reason is that there are young people in your fellowship aspiring to a life of service through marriage and parenting—you have a responsibility, as their spiritual leader, to prepare them for that journey. The message will be the same, although the structure will be different. God’s Word never changes. It is the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow.
When we got married, there were much more to consider that were never even on our radar. We are two individuals from different backgrounds, on a journey of discovering each other. We took with us, into the marriage, emotional baggage from childhood hurts and sorrows that were never addressed.
Often we had no idea where to begin in offering support with emotional issues. While that thought was settling in the background there were bills to pay, employment/careers needs to address, extended family issues to resolve, financial issues waving a red flag at us and spiritual issues in need of urgent attention. While we were drowning in all the everyday issues we were also aware there were never any discussion of what family looks like to each other and what dreams we would like to pursue.
Slowly we immersed into a world unknown to us that somehow we created. In that world, our marriage was on a back shelf somewhere, we were struggling with our parental skills but it was very much at the forefront from which we’ve learnt the importance of investing in our marriage. We rekindled the fire in our marriage and have since been careful not to let it take a backseat again. We have been purposeful about making time for our marriage.
As we pursue each other, we are showing our son what a healthy marriage looks like. And although there are things we cannot teach him and he will have to find out through experience, about marriage, he will have a great platform from which to leap into a healthy marital lifestyle.
This part of the journey ends in part 12b: Marriage and Parenting Ministries 2