Scott Phillips, Clinton, MS — With the exception of receiving the Holy Ghost, the greatest experience in my life has been the relationship, friendship and companionship that my wife and I have shared. Ministry is a very demanding calling, but a pastor’s wife and family must come before the ministry. It would be very sad if one gained the whole world but lost his family. Marriage difficulties spring from someone being selfish. In order to bring restoration, there needs to be a willingness to forgive whatever act that took place. Preferring the other and listening to their opinion while considering their needs will also bring healing. Because of its practicality on the topic of marriage, I recommend The Acts of Marriage.
John Gannon, Viola, WI — Marriage is God-ordained so when we acknowledge Him in that commitment, a sacred richness is experienced. As a minister, it is vital to be both privately and publicly committed. Pastoring is a team effort and a modest acknowledgement of that commitment, whether it is a hug or kiss, is acceptable and many times needful. Making time for your spouse is vital in keeping a marriage strong. Dates, walks and little trips together will strengthen your commitment. Praying and reading together is another way to keep your marriage strong. Devotional books are effective even if you are not able to do them every day. I would recommend Dr. James Dobson’s “Night Light” devotional because it focuses on the purpose of marriage.
Myron Anderson, Ashland, WI — In this present world, many people are not committed. When counseling a couple who is preparing for marriage, I try to talk them out of it to see how serious they really are. During the counseling sessions, I try to help them understand that marriage is a serious thing that should not be taken lightly. Literature I have found helpful on the topic of marriage includes My Father’s House by Jack Yonts, Sr. and the Marriage and Family Life Seminar by Charles Grisham. As a pastor, it is important to help couples understand that God must be a part of the equation. Quality time to pray and read the Word of God together will help strengthen a marriage.
Stuart Churchill, Kenai, AK — Marriage is a life-long commitment. My wife and I have been married for 48 years and although there have been ups and downs we are committed to one another “till death do us part.” When a couple is struggling in their marriage, I ask if they are praying and reading the Bible daily. It is normal for this question to initiate a response in the negative. If the couple is willing, my wife and I do provide counseling. I endorse the commitment of marriage in my church by encouraging couples to not let love grow stale, but to keep their love fresh and new each and every day. Dates, special times and small vacations will stimulate this essential objective.
John Hatch, Batavia, NY — As the people of God, we need to stand upon the foundation that Genesis chapter one and two provide in regards to marriage. When a couple is preparing for marriage, I recommend the book Getting Ready for Marriage , which requires each person to answer questions about themselves and their future spouse. It allows the couple to discuss central topics such as communication, resolving topics, money and attitudes. The books, For Men Only and For Women Only by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn are also effective because they provide guides to the inner lives of each individual. I personally encourage the commitment of marriage in my church by emphasizing the importance of strong families.
Shane LaPierre, Torrington, CT — First of all, commitment is not an evolving word; it is what it is! Commitment requires dedication to the original marriage vow. Marriage between a man and wife should mirror the relationship between God and His bride, which is the church. When preparing to marry a couple as a pastor, it is best to take time and learn the intentions of the couple. One needs to know that the couple has a desire for the right relationship. It is a matter of priority when it comes to keeping a marriage strong. At the end of the day it is your relationship that is most important. It is what God has given you! Everything else is secondary.
Fred Foster, West Monroe, LA — I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Marriage should be a commitment for life. You have to be loyal to that commitment and love no matter what you face. Love is the bottom of it. Preaching on this topic and identifying its beauty and role in God’s plan helps encourage marriage. Life can be very beautiful with the right spouse. Pastors should look at their own marriage and make sure it is healthy. It is essential to never lose the spark of love. Set aside time to have a date night! From a committed marriage come children and ultimately families. Strong families help build a solid foundation for the church. Committed families inspire a special commitment to ministry.
John Armoto, Indianapolis, IN — Commitment is viewed differently today than it was when my wife and I married 44 years ago. We married “for better or for worse” regardless of what would happen. The idea of commitment does not evolve with the times. In order to keep your marriage strong, you must always stay friends. In a cultivated friendship you are able to share your hurts, pains, strengths and weaknesses. That strong friendship results in a deeper commitment to one another. One thing to remember is to never be afraid to tell your spouse “I’m sorry.” Asking for forgiveness is one of the most beautiful things in a marriage. A good marriage does not just happen. Both individuals need to continually work at it.