In the previous post I explained how many young people are expecting the perfect marriage, meaning the perfect partner, the perfect wedding day and a perfect life. My conclusion was that we need to help our students become more realistic about marriage, so that they are better equipped to make their marriages last. But how do we do that?
I think that if we want our students to develop a more realistic vision about marriage, we need to do three things:
Give them a vision for serving, not being served
Give them a vision for suffering, not perfection
Give them a vision for fixing, not quitting
Serving, not being served
This is a big one and not just for marriage. We need to get the ‘it’s not about me’ message across to our students. This is the iGeneration, the generation that is very focused on making themselves happy. We can blame them for it, but that doesn’t help. What we can do is teach and more importantly, model them servanthood.
That starts with putting Jesus front and center as the Servant King. Time and again we need to stress how Jesus came to serve, not to be served. That He gave Himself willingly as a sacrifice, instead of making people do His will.
We also need to model servanthood ourselves and this is not always easy. If we want our students to learn to put others before themselves, that’s what we need to model to them.
My husband got a call from one of our students who had a crisis and he really needed him. The problem was that my husband had a deadline in his job the next day and he wasn’t done with his work yet. Still, he made time for the student and then pull an all-nighter to finish his work. It made an incredible impression on that young man and years later, he still talks about it.
But it’s also about teaching students to serve themselves. Get them ‘out there’, take them to projects where they can actually serve. It could be a mission trip, but it doesn’t even have to be that big. A group of my former students consistently served in a homeless shelter and it changed their perspective completely.
Suffering, not perfection
One of the biggest false teachings in our time is the prosperity gospel in all its variations. The idea that a life with Christ is a perfect life filled with happiness, wealth and prosperity is a dangerous lie. Christ ‘promised’ us persecution and hardships and told us that if we wanted to follow Him, we should take up our crosses.
Our students grow up in a culture where perfection is the goal. They’re told to go for the perfect body, the perfect partner, the perfect life, the perfect high school experience, etc. We need to show them and teach them that God has a different plan and that it’s the hardships and setbacks that build our character and make us become more like Christ.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that marriage is about suffering 🙂 But it’s not perfect either and there are times where you will have to suck it up to get through it. There will be times where you want to quit, where it does feel like a cross. Let’s be open and fair about this and help our students prepare for the tough times.
Fixing, not quitting
I came across this ‘card’ and I love it. There’s also a deep truth behind it. Our students live in a throw away culture. My mom used to darn socks when there was a hole in it, when’s the last time you saw anyone do that? You throw them away and buy new ones. And that is true for many, many things.
It’s no wonder that many young people don’t know anything else but quitting and throwing away. We need to teach them how to fix things, how to fix friendships and relationships and ultimately marriages. What could that look like?
A vision for fixing requires practical skills that need to be taught, shown, modeled. I think it’s a process that needs to take place in small groups, mentoring sessions and youth events in general. There needs to be a consistent example of fixing instead of giving up or throwing away.
It also has to do with communication skills, something this generation is notoriously bad at. It’s one thing to communicate well online, but it’s something else entirely to talk through issues with your partner. So equip your students with listening skills, help them develop the art of asking the right questions, teach them to help understand the other before being understood themselves.
It also has to do with perseverance, with the humility to seek help when needed and with forgiveness. We might teach on these topics, but maybe not with the bigger picture of a vision for fixing in mind.
How do you feel about all this, do you agree with my ‘realistic vision for marriage’? Anything you’d like to add?