This post on Sacred Marriage: Marriage Can Build a Servant’s Heart was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Welcome back to our series on “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. This week we will be discussing Chapter 11 of the book titled “Make Me a Servant: Marriage Can Build In Us a Servant’s Heart”. Whether we admit it or not, we probably got married or seek to become married out of selfishness. Now, it may not have been an awfully selfish reason such as just for money or status. It could be have been that we wanted somebody to raise a family with, to have fun with, or to build a life with. Those are pretty solid reasons to get married in my opinion. However, they are still focused on mainly benefiting yourself.
The point being, we enter serious relationships or marriage for selfish reasons, not selfless reasons. I don’t know anybody who get married out of a drive to serve another person. If people did marry simply out of a servant’s heart, then they would marry anybody! But, we do not search for somebody we can serve. Rather, we find somebody who we think is a good fit for us and can fill some of our needs and desires. And that is OK. There is nothing wrong with that. That being said, Thomas challenges us to consider how we can shift our view on our marriage from what it may have initially been at the start. He asks us to think about how we can be a servant to our spouse, as opposed to focusing on how they can serve us.
Why does Thomas encourage us to be a servant to our spouse? Because this is how Jesus lived His life and thus what God calls us to do. In the same way Jesus served others and sacrificed His own life, we are to do the same. Thomas believes there is no better context to practice these virtues of service and sacrifice than our marriages. After all, this is somebody you likely spend every day with and are planning on being with for the rest of your life. As such, they sure are a good person you can learn to build a servant’s heart with.
Now, notice that Thomas uses the language of building in us a servant’s heart. That is because learning how to serve others before yourself is a process. It does not come naturally. Our instinct is to look out for ourselves and what we want and need. It is not to ignore our desires and put our spouse first. Yet, that is actually what Thomas hopes we can make an effort to do. Step by step, favor by favor, you can slowly change your heart into that of a servant.
Now, to be clear, this should not be a one-way street in a marriage. It should not just be one person serving the other person and the other person doing nothing in return. BOTH partners should be sacrificing themselves for the sake of the other in an overall balanced manner. If you feel like you are the only one doing any kind of serving in your relationship, and your partner is clearly making no effort whatsoever, I am sorry. That can be extremely draining and difficult. Please do not be the person who only takes and never gives back.
On the other hand, also be aware that only serving others while not allowing yourself to be served back is also not ideal for your marriage either. If your partner is in fact making attempts to put your needs above their own, accept them! Serve them by letting them serve you. Because if you are so stubborn that you will only give and not take, then your partner is not given the opportunity to build a servant’s heart themselves. This is something that took me a long time to learn myself. I hope you can see why there needs to be a balance.
To sum it up, while we may not have entered into a relationship and marriage out of an intention of serving them and thus glorifying God, it is certainly possible that it can slowly become a great opportunity to do so. I pray you can become more like Jesus in terms of having a servant’s heart in your marriage and all your relationships in your life. As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, suggestions on topics, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you can take away something helpful from this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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