When my husband, Dale, and I counsel premarital couples, we encourage them to intentionally start serving together, right from the start. In our book Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage (Focus on the Family, 2008), we talk about the importance of having a "servant's heart" toward each other – and to everyone.
The apostle Paul put it this way: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). This passage encourages us to have a servant's heart, to have an unselfish determination to serve others. And when couples choose to unselfishly serve others together, they experience peace, contentment and a deeper bond that strengthens their marriage.
This is easier to do with God's help, of course, since selfless behavior doesn't always come naturally for many of us. But where do we start?
Thankfully, there's a promise in Acts 1:8 that tells us how we can accomplish this: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Practically speaking, you can consider your "Jerusalem" to be your local church, "Judea" is your neighborhood, "Samaria" is your community at large and "to the ends of the world" is a call to support and serve missionary efforts across the globe. Adopting this perspective makes fulfilling the Great Commission quite doable.
Serving as a couple has benefits that go beyond bonding, contentment and peace. There's a sweet intimacy that comes with working together on a service project or giving together to those in need. Couples who embrace God's call to serve others experience an added closeness, and there are special moments and memories that naturally come when you do things together.
Moreover, participating together in ministry opportunities – whether in your church, neighborhood, community or the world – can also help you to grow in your faith as a couple. Working side-by-side to fulfill the Great Commission – in whatever capacity – deepens your spiritual intimacy like little else can. Being the Lord's witnesses by serving, giving, encouraging, caring and loving as Jesus loved is rewarding beyond words.
But in the end, it's not really about you, is it? It's about them – the poor, the needy, those who need a touch from God. Serving others strengthens the infrastructure of your church, your neighborhood, your community and the world. It transforms lives – theirs and yours – and brings people together. Whenever you serve others, you become the hands and feet of your Savior. You change lives.
As you consider the ideas in the following articles, remember that it's not about duty or the amount of projects you do. It's about demonstrating the love of Christ to those around you. It's about being unselfish, considering others better than ourselves. Do this, and you will be His witnesses, during the holiday season and all through the year.