Last week a few of our staff members went to lunch with one of the oldest couples in our church. These folks have been married for over 60 years, and they have faithfully served in church for all of those years. The wife has served as a children’s teacher decade after decade, and the husband has served in numerous roles including teacher, Sunday school director, committee member, deacon, and elder.
As we ate lunch, we asked this couple how they have stayed connected to each other and involved in our church for more than 60 years without getting burned out, jaded, frustrated, angry, or upset. We wanted to know how their love for each other and for the body of Christ grew over time. What was their secret? Why has their marriage and their church experience been so different than others who struggle with commitment? What advice would they give to young couples in our church? Most of all, why were they so happy when so many folks are miserable? Here were a few of the thoughts they shared.
- Expect conflict. In your marriage, as a parent, and in your church, expect conflict. Conflict doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong marriage or the wrong church. It’s just conflict. Deal with it and move on. Don’t stay angry, don’t get bitter, and don’t look for greener pastures.
- Learn how to listen. As we ate the wife talked about how her husband was a good listener who rarely interrupted. From time to time he was known to “change the subject,” but he always listened. I know that both of these folks are slow to speak and quick to listen to others.
- Love people. This couple has stayed married for 6 decades because they love each other, and the same is true for church. These folks love people at our church, even the ones who are hard to love. As I think about their love for people, I believe it’s a reflection of God’s love.
- Have fun. Yes, they talked to us about discipline, and how they see parents struggle to discipline their kids (she would know, she works in our children’s ministry). But more than discipline, this couple talked about how they have always had fun as a family and had fun at church.
- Be humble. They didn’t actually say anything about humility, but they didn’t have to. They display it on a daily basis. They show humility in the way they treat each other and in their decades of service to other people. They don’t see themselves as special or entitled. They just serve.
Marriage is not easy, and neither is serving in a church. However, it was refreshing to have a living reminder that after 60 years of marriage and church involvement, it’s possible to still be happy.
Originally published January 23, 2017 on landoncoleman.com.