The fire blazed as I belted out silly songs and danced like a fool in front of the young campers. That was more than 14 years ago. My husband, Adam, and I were serving together as counselors for our church’s youth camp, and he still says it was in that moment that he knew he loved me.
Although Adam and I are wired differently, we have continued to find common ground in areas of service. We enjoy working with youth and are passionate about helping couples grow closer to the Lord and one another.
Zephaniah 3:9 says, “For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder” (NASB).
This idea of serving God shoulder to shoulder can be a powerful example of how to maximize impact in your community and in your marriage. The book of Nehemiah tells how the Israelites rebuilt the broken-down wall of Jerusalem in an effort to fortify their city. They worked side by side as families to repair what had been damaged (Nehemiah 3). They faced obstacles and opposition as they served together, but they stayed focused on their goal and committed their hands to the work that was set before them.
Serving together may be work, but it can also be fun. It can create intimacy and improve communication if we invest in our marriage at the same time we invest in the lives of those around us. Adam and I have found that if we make time to serve together, we experience many benefits: Our marriage relationship is strengthened, our personal weaknesses are refined and our team impact is maximized.
Strengthen your marriage
In our busy culture, we can quickly feel disconnected from our spouse. Serving together can be a meaningful way to reconnect and focus on what we have in common. A simple way that Adam and I serve together is by mentoring young couples. Over coffee or dinner, we ask intentional questions about their budding relationship. We talk about their struggles and how we’ve coped in similar situations in our marriage. We encourage them in their relationship as we share openly about our own trials and triumphs. Our marriage is strengthened as we invest in others, and we are drawn closer together through these shared experiences.
Serving with your spouse can be a fulfilling way to connect, but it can also be challenging to find the time. Instead of adding more commitments to your calendar, consider looking for ways to serve within your present schedule. For example, if your spouse coaches soccer for one of your kids, maybe you could assist with coaching and spend that time together serving your community at the same time you invest in our child. If you and your spouse look at your current activities, you just might see how you could join one another in serving.
Refine your weaknesses
Serving together can also help refine weaknesses. For example, I am a planner and like to have all the details worked out prior to a youth event. I sometimes err on the side of caring more about the details than caring about the people at the event. But Adam is a people person. He is more interested in the people than the details. Serving alongside each other, I have learned how to be more sensitive, and he has learned how to be more detail-oriented as we work toward a mutual goal.
After you serve together, consider discussing how things went. What went well? What needs improvement? Were you on the same page or did you frustrate each other? These conversations are not always easy, but they can provide opportunities to refine areas of weakness and help you grow closer as a couple.
Maximize your impact
Marriage involves two individuals who can offer diverse talents in various serving opportunities. Adam and I have learned that as we join forces we can have a greater impact in an area that is important to both of us.
We know a couple who met on a mission trip to Guatemala. Throughout their marriage, they have traveled to various countries and hosted missionaries in their home. One of them is a generous giver and great conversationalist, while the other is committed to prayer and is a thoughtful host. Both are drawn to missions and enjoy encouraging those who serve the needy. They serve together by combining their time and talents and have found they are more effective working as a couple than they would have been as individuals.
Keep in mind that serving together can also take place outside of a structured ministry. It can be as simple as raking a neighbor’s yard, visiting an elderly friend, or compiling a care package for a soldier serving overseas. There are endless possibilities for serving shoulder to shoulder.