Last year, my husband and I went to a one-day leadership conference together. The conference focused on building ourselves up for success by establishing goals and plans. As we spent the drive home discussing some of what we learned, an important reality sunk in for both of us: It would take intentionality to make sure we included one another in our dreams, goals, and plans.
Different, But Together
Doug and I are like most couples, I assume. Our personalities are different. We dream different dreams. We set different goals. And, even were we to have the same goals, our methods for reaching those goals would be different.
We are, by design, two very different people. Yet we are also one – one in marriage. And that oneness means we cannot happily set sail on individual courses without threatening to negatively affect our marriage. We have to find a way to come together, considering one another in our goal-setting and working together to create plans that will strengthen our marriage, not create division in it.
The same is true spiritually.
While it is critical to establish individual spiritual growth, going our separate courses without consideration for one another’s growth pattern leads to trouble.
So, how do we combat this? By committing to at least one regular spiritual growth activity…together.
How do we do it?
As with many aspects of marriage, spiritual growth activities will differ for each couple. Some read a devotional together. Others read the Bible aloud to each other on a daily basis, then discuss what they read. Doug and I usually pick several things. Here is this year’s plan:
- Shared Bible reading plan. We read silently to ourselves, discussing together as God illuminates His Word to our hearts.
- Scripture memory. Choosing the same Scripture passages to memorize each week gives us common ground as God works the passages into our daily lives.
- Scripture copying. We use Journibles to make our own copies of the Bible, book by book. We are currently working through John and the second half of Psalms, copying a few verses each day and discussing as thoughts come to us.
- Devotional reading. Last year we had four devotions we were reading together. But, our interests and reading speeds really are very different. So, this year we just picked one to read jointly, adding in others individually as we see fit.
Discussion is Key!
We still work individually, so discussion is the key for us. What challenged me today? What stood out to him? What questions do I have for my scholarly-minded husband? How can the practical application of this thought be hashed out? Do we agree or disagree with the devotional author?
Even choosing the same plan for our devotional time, growing together must still be intentional. We have to choose to discuss. And, we have to make a conscious effort to ensure that neither one looks at the other and says, in effect, “You’re just now getting that?” We learn and grow differently. Each of us can admit that we had already noticed or internalized a concept without demeaning the other.
I want to emphasize one additional point: Growing spiritually together is not the same as doing church or ministry activities together. That’s an entirely different blog post! Although joint ministry is important, growing spiritually together is personal, not ministerial.
How do you plan to intentionally grow together this year?