During a college student’s years at a university, he/she will inevitably encounter the Three M’s of life:
- Who will be my Master?
- What will be my Mission?
- Who will be my Mate?
I’ve always counseled students to approach these questions in that order: Master (God or me?), then Mission, then Mate. Alas, students are impatient to get to #3.
I believe the best way to collegians’ hearts is through a dose of humor, followed by a zinger of truth. Gets ‘em every time. So, here is what I say to a large group of college students:
“I know half of you came tonight to check out the opposite sex … and the other half of you are lying. [Pause for nervous laughter]. And, as I mentioned the 3 M's, I know you’re all interested in the third M – who will be my Mate? In other words, “Who Should I Marry?” I’ve discovered solid advice for you on this question – from 10-year-olds:
To the question, “How do you decide who to marry?” Alan, age 10, responded:
“You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like ... if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.”
Whoa, Alan! Whoa!! No dates for Alan. To the same question, Kristen, age 10, replied:
“No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way beforehand, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.”
Haha! (It looks like Kristen got stuck with Alan!). Finally, to the question, “How do you make a marriage work?” Ricky, age 10, declared:
“Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.”
Ooooh, zing, Ricky! You're going to be in big trouble.
The Best Advice
But seriously, here is the best advice I’ve ever heard re: “Who Should I Marry?”
“Before you marry, you must look them in the eye and say, ‘you are #2’ (because Jesus is #1). If that is not sweet joy to them, then don’t marry them.” – John Piper
Yes! This is excellent advice! If Jesus is not #1, it won't be long before you are not even #2 in their eyes. Consider yourself warned. I've seen too many divorces among those who have claimed that Jesus is their #1. Forewarned is forearmed.
When a young man (Adam) sat down with me to ask for my daughter Lauren's hand in marriage, I told him I had a question for him. It went like this:
Adam, can Lauren look you in the eye and say, "Adam, you're #2 because Jesus is #1." And will that be sweet joy to your ears?
He affirmed, "yes."
... And Adam, can you look Lauren in the eye and say, "Lauren, you are #2, because Jesus is #1." And will that be sweet joy to her ears?
Adam's eyes welled with tears, and he paused several seconds. Then he looked me in the eye and said, "Yes." That was all I needed to hear. He had my blessing.
PS I realize that sometimes it takes time (painful mistakes) to grasp that Jesus needs to be #1. That's why I counsel collegians to settle Master and Mission, before Mate. Nevertheless, God's grace remains big enough to redeem our past mistakes and hurts. Lean into Jesus, your Leader-for-Life. Remember, God Can, and God cares.