We all know that maintaining a healthy marriage is important. We’ve probably all read enough how-to books and articles that we could write our own. But in the shuffle of everyday life—between church activities, Bible studies and meeting with broken students—it can become easy to forget why.

We feel torn in so many different directions, torn between our marriage and the needs of our ministry. It can feel selfish to set aside a night each week for date night. It can feel selfish to turn down activities and time with students or to screen calls and text messages. We feel like we can and should do more for our ministry and that those we serve should receive the best of what we have to offer. But the truth is, for married couples, a healthy marriage is the best we can offer to the church.

I know we forget this. Growing up in the church has given me a front-row seat to the heart-wrenching ending of too many marriages. I’ve been a sideline viewer for most of my life and it wasn’t until I got married that I learned the enormous responsibility I had shouldered by entering into marriage.

The world tells us that marriage is just about two people in love, and if they fall out of love, it’s okay to end a marriage and move on. But the reality is there is so much more at stake. The responsibility we assume is this: by entering into marriage, we have agreed to exemplify the relationship between Christ and the church (see Ephesians 5:22-33)—a commitment that will not be broken. Because of this, a strong and lasting marriage is not only essential to the two people in it, but to the entire church.

The church is longing for and strengthened by healthy marriages. Healthy marriages reinforce what is preached from the pulpit. Healthy marriages have the privilege of displaying the life-giving love of Christ for His bride. And healthy marriages help pave the way for the next generation.

This reality is especially true for youth ministry leaders and volunteers. Students are watching and learning from the marriages lived out in front of them and unfortunately in too many cases, what they see and learn at home or school does not exemplify a biblical marriage. Married youth leaders have a unique opportunity to model a healthy, Christ-centered relationship for each student they encounter.

In a culture where divorce is normal and common, young people need examples of strong, loving, godly marriages. What they see and learn will influence their view of marriage and their treatment of and response to the opposite gender.

The reality is that marriage is about so much more than two people. The next time you’re struggling to make time for your spouse, I encourage you to remember why it’s important. Remind yourself of why you are doing what you’re doing, and how many people are relying on you to do it well.

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