Got Mission?

Married couples are often asked:

  • “Are you praying together?’
  • “Are you having sex frequently enough?”
  • “Are you going on date nights?

I don’t have a problem with any of these; it’s just that what is often most lacking in such lists is one of the most crucial elements of all: mission.

Other more commonly mentioned items certainly serve short-term intimacy, but mission is what helps couples stay together and grow together for the long haul.

A Kingdom Focused Couple
Consider Jesus’ words in the heart of the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)
If our call from Christ is to “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), how can a successful God-honoring marriage not be marked by mission?

We’re not told to seek first an intimate marriage, a happy life, obedient or successful children, or anything else.
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Jesus tells us to seek first one thing, and one thing only: His Kingdom and His righteousness (the two words define and build on each other, creating one common pursuit).

What does it mean to seek first God’s Kingdom? It means that the couple lives for something outside of themselves, directed toward God. Their focus is the advancement of God’s work on earth even more than it is on how they are doing relationally. Though this seems dangerous, if done right, it actually builds the relationship rather than threatens it.

Every couple will of course have a different mission. Many couples practice and promote adoption. They have a difficult time talking about anything else, and think every family should adopt.

Others build businesses that employ families, support Kingdom work, and serve in creative ways. Some couples are particularly active in the local church, or the arts community, or they reach out to sports minded enthusiasts. The common link that you see in these couples is that their mission is what keeps their marriage vibrant on many levels. It’s always all about the Kingdom.

Discovering Your Mission
How can you and your spouse discover your mission? Think forward to the end of your days and ask yourself, if you knew you were about to see God face to face, what would you most want to lay at His feet, as a couple? What do you think He uniquely created you to do by bringing you two together? And then ask, are we doing anything about that now?

It might be a vision that one spouse plays a supporting role in (I know a husband who has been his wife’s business administrator, book table coordinator, and support extraordinaire as God has used his spouse to bless so many people). But it’s something you are committed to.

Almost five hundred years ago, William Tyndale bucked the establishment by boldly translating Scripture into a language the common people could understand, something considered spiritually threatening at the time, even by the church. Before he was killed for his actions, Tyndale told a clergyman, “If God spare my life, I will cause the boy that drives the plough to know more of the Scripture than you do.”

It all began with a mission. Tyndale could see it, taste it, and picture it: By getting the Scriptures into an accessible language, a common boy could know the Scriptures as well as any clergyman. It was a mission he laid down his life to achieve.

Kick Start Your Intimacy
If you and your spouse just seem to be “existing,” but not really going anywhere, a lack of mission could be the main culprit, so here’s a date night idea: discuss how you and your spouse would finish Tyndale’s statement: “If God spare my life…” What’s your dot-dot-dot? What would you most like to see happen, together?

That’s a good indicator of what your mission as a couple might be. (Yes, it’s possible to have several missions over the course of time: raising kids, being faithful in your workplace, impacting your neighborhood more effectively, etc.)

If you can join your hearts around a common aim, embrace it as a couple. One of you might be the headliner, but as long as you’re both aligned and committed, that’s all it takes. Such a connection bolsters intimacy, meaning, and friendship. It’s truly not about us—not as individuals, but also not as couples.

For over a decade, the dairy industry has kept asking us, “Got milk?” It’s time that the church start asking married couples, “Got mission?”

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Gary Thomas is author of many books on spirituality and the family life. His most recent book is A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is About More Than Just Staying Together? You can follow his blog at

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