If the blog responses were anything to go by last week, our generation is tired of the insanity and are crying out for something different! Over 3000 people watched the video online, more people than we had at any of our services! Thanks to all of you who tweeted about it or shared the video on your FB wall. Also blogged. Let’s keep spreading the love!
Let me begin with a definition. The dictionary defines a ‘deal breaker’ as any issue or factor that is significant enough to terminate a negotiation. I’ve come to realize that when it comes to romantic relationships today, many don’t just have a picture of what they want but they also have a picture of what they absolutely can’t stand in a relationship. There are those things that are preferences but deal-breakers are the ones that are critical. What would you consider to be a deal-breaker? I asked some friends … please count the ones that are deal-breakers for you …
|For the ladies, it was…Is he emotionally unstable? – does he know how to control his anger?Does he live with his mother?Is he financially unstable? – does he try to borrow money from me?
Does he smell bad or have bad grooming (although being rich might help a little here)
Is he unfaithful? Don’t want a guy who runs after every beautiful thing he sees!
|For the guys, it was…Does she have bad breath? - Absolute no-noDoes she pay attention to her looks/figure/weight/ sense of style – guys want a wife they can floss with; a trophyDoes she have social poise? – don’t want somebody who sips tea noisily, chews loudly, or picks her nose
Can she cook well? – guys never say this one but apparently it really matters
Is she interested in what I do? – Can she listen to me when I need to be listened to! This seems to be a problem especially because generally, ladies talk more.
Who got 0/5? 5/5? Between 1-4?
While no one’s perfect, are there some deal breakers that will almost for sure sabotage your relationship? For our visitors, last week we began a series called ‘Finders Keepers: How To Find and Keep The One’. We’re learning some foundational principles from scripture about how to enter and conduct healthy romantic relationships. This series is for you whether you’re hoping to enter a romantic relationship this year, whether you’re already in a relationship or married and even if you’re not entertaining the idea of entering into a romantic relationship now or in the near future. Last week we learnt a critical principle … in a time when everyone around us is looking for a spouse who will meet their needs, we said ‘stop searching for the one, be the one!’ This is the foundational principle; if you don’t get it right, nothing else we discuss this month will help you thrive in your relationships. Today we want to go to our second principle and the title of this message is Deal Breakers… There’s a tragic story in the book of Judges about a dude who with major relationship issues.
READ Judges 16:4-6, 15-22
Samson was the strongest man on the planet and he loved to show it off! His body was well-shaped with rippling muscles and a perfect six-pack. He was famous for killing a lion with his bare hands and a thousand men with a donkey’s jawbone. Maybe this is what made him popular with members of the opposite gender. Maybe it was his good looks, or his impulsive spontaneity and unpredictability. He was the original ‘bad boy’. The ladies knew they’d never be a dull moment as long as he was around!
Samson reciprocated the love he got from the ladies. He couldn’t get enough of them…especially the exotic, foreign variety! His FB relationship status permanently read ‘complicated’. His first experience was a young Philistine girl who he instantly knew he wanted to marry. Despite his parent’s protests, he insisted on hooking up with this girl because he just knew that she was the one. Unfortunately, things went horribly wrong on their wedding day. She betrayed him to his in-laws and ended up marrying the best man! Later on, we’re told that Samson went to spend the night with an expensive call girl from Gaza and she also betrayed him. Were it not for his miraculous strength, he would have ended up a victim of mob justice! You’d think he’d have learnt his lesson but no – the insanity continued! He fell in love yet again, with a mysterious beauty named Delilah. This time the betrayal was so deadly that it cost him his life.
Where did Samson go wrong? I believe his major problem was that he did not know a deal-breaker when he saw one. He was so focused on external characteristics when it came to mate selection that he ignored what was truly critical. Today, many in our generation are in exactly the same position.We’ve been conditioned to focus on the minor things and ignore the critical ones. As a result, our relationships keep blowing up over and over but we keep hoping the next one will be different! If you want to thrive in your relationships, it’s important that you recognize the critical deal-breakers and that you know when to walk away/know when to run. From Samson’s story, we learn two questions you need to answer honestly about the other person before you commit to a romantic relationship with them. The first question…
1) WHO IS YOUR LEADER?
Samson was an Israelite; Delilah a Philistine. On the surface, this looks rather irrelevant. After all, they were in love! But underneath the surface, underneath the physical attraction was a world of difference. Their different faiths mean that they each answered to a different leader.
Your leader refers to your ultimate authority. Each one of us has something or someone that serves as our ultimate reference point. For some of us it’s money; we live to amass and enjoy it! For others of us, it’s our career; all our decisions are centered around our career or business. For yet others, it’s ourselves; life is about what makes us feel good. For others, it’s God – your first priority is to serve God and to be who He created you to be. At this point, I’m not telling you who or what your ultimate authority needs to be. What I’m saying is that whatever it is, you need to hook up with someone who subscribes to the same authority.
Why is this important? When you share the same authority, it’s far easier to share common values. Common values are what enable you to agree on what is right and what is wrong and why. When you first meet and are in love, such things can seem highly irrelevant! Chemicals like neutrophines and dopamines are released in the brain giving you a permanent high. Scientists have compared falling in love with taking heroin or having obsessive compulsive disorder. You can only think of the other person! You make all kinds of excuses for them.
I hear it all the time… ‘I know he’s not necessarily a Christ follower, but he’s a good guy. He’s kind and generous and he doesn’t smoke or drink, he’s actually a lot nicer than a lot of Christian guys I know!’ And at the time it sounds logical! I feel you; I’d probably think the same way if I was on a dopamine high! But with time, the big issues will come up; life happens. You’re unable to have children; one of you loses a job; there’s an accident or illness in the family; someone has an affair; or there are just huge disagreements that you can’t resolve together.
So what happens when one of you believes we need to pray together and trust God for answers, the other believes prayer is a charming but irrelevant activity? Or one of you wants to pay bribes to grow the business at all costs but the other believes bribes bring down a curse on the family? Or one of you believes God hates divorce and you have no choice but to seek help and make it work, but the other believes that happiness is the highest value, and this thing just ain’t working? And it gets really tiring to be the one who always has to pray with the kids, take them to church and explain why they shouldn’t do what daddy is doing. It doesn’t matter now but it will matter later. So… Who is your leader?
Although having the same leader doesn’t guarantee that you’ll agree on values, it certainly makes it a whole lot more possible. They say ‘love is blind, but marriage is the eye opener!’ ‘She’s so spontaneous & free-spirited’ soon becomes ‘she’s too careless and extravagant’. ‘He’s so disciplined & level-headed’ soon becomes ‘he’s so stingy and controlling’! In every marriage, the real hidden agendas will inevitably begin to clash. And that’s where many couples get stuck; they got married because they fell in love! They simply have no common basis on which to let go of many of the things that have worked for them since they were young and to take on new behavior. That’s what they call today ‘irreconcilable differences’.
But … every marriage has differences and disagreements! If yours doesn’t, either you’ve only been married a short time or you married your twin sister! But what makes all your differences reconcilable, is when you have a common court of appeal. You can appeal to the same leader and submit to the same set of values. I’ve been in many instances when I’ve gone complaining to God about my wife Carol. As I pray, He reminds me I’m not so hot myself and asks me to go and apologize. So I sheepishly come to apologize only to find she’s also been praying. And God’s been talking to her and softening her heart! And we find it’s like we’re competing to apologize. Carol & I have been married 17 years (18 this April). I love her more today than I have at any other point in our history. It’s not because we’re pastors or we’re lucky! It’s because God has drawn our hearts together as we’ve submitted to a higher authority.
You may say that this sounds very traditional; but the story of Samson and Delilah shows you that falling in love is not enough. Without the same leader, it’s extremely difficult if not impossible to build an intimate, trusting marriage/relationship over the long haul. Question #2 is…
2) WHAT DO YOU LOVE?
This question has to do with your purpose. For Samson, his purpose had been told to his parents before he was born. Judges 13:5 says ‘he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines’. Delilah’s purpose seems to have been ‘get rich or die trying’. That’s why she could risk her life to betray the man who loved her. Three times, she convinced him to tell her his secret and each time when she called his bluff, she found out he had lied. But she kept right on, nagging him ‘until he was tired to death’. For Delilah, the ultimate love of her life was cold, hard cash.
What are you passionate about? You need to connect with someone who has similar passion and purpose. Someone who values the things that are the most important to you… Like Samson, all of us are created for a purpose. Eph.2:10 says ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Purpose is not limited to your career or marital status. Your career may change as you move to another job, your marital status may change as you marry or become widowed… but your purpose remains the same. You could be in different professions but you both share a passion e.g. to mentor young people, to help poor communities, to counsel younger couples, to preserve the environment, to advocate for justice, etc. These are just a few examples from couples I know!
I remember when I first started working in church meeting a gifted guy who really was passionate about serving God in church. He wanted to do ministry, to travel to different places and preach. But his wife, also a Christian did not share his purpose. She worked in the corporate world and did not see herself married to a pastor. She wanted him to get a ‘respectable’ job and provide financial security. There was a lot of friction in their marriage because of this issue. Eventually, he sought our senior pastor’s advice. The pastor told him that serving in church against his wife’s desire would only jeopardize the marriage, and as a result, he could not allow him to do so. I still remember the man’s great sadness, frustration and anguish as he realized that he was possibly stuck in this situation for the rest of their lives together. Same leader but different loves: A recipe for frustration and a broken marriage. Amos 3:3 says ‘can two walk together unless they’re agreed?’
What I’m I saying? The key is ‘one leader, one love’. Do not be deceived. If you are single, there will be a multitude of other eligible singles roaming around hoping to either meet “The One” or just to meet “Anyone” who will take them! Desperate to snag a date or spouse they develop chameleon-like super powers, able to instantly transform their values and words to adapt to whoever they are pursuing.There are many who will profess to have the same leader or love as you, only for you to discover later that they only told you what you wanted to hear. So how can you see through the façade? One sure way to know what someone will be like in the future is to have a safe space to observe them when they’re not feeling observed. It’s that place where as you are pursuing your own purpose, you find someone else who is passionate about the same things and doing them not because of you but regardless of you! One leader, one love!
Unknown to me, Carol’s prayer before we met was that she would marry a pastor. She came from a home where they hadn’t gone to church growing up and when she became a Christ-follower as an adult, she was so into serving God that she wanted to ensure that the man she married would have the same passion. We met serving in the worship team of the church we attended and were friends there for a while before there was a romantic attraction. One of my biggest joys today is serving God together with her, and we are constantly involving our kids in doing the same. I’m not saying everyone needs to do it exactly like we did, but it will be a phenomenal help to your marriage when the person you love loves what you love! One leader, one love!
Some of us have a loooong list of deal-breakers. He must be taller than me so that I can get married in high heels! She must have nice long legs, or cook like my mom does. Like Samson, we’re majoring on the minors! We’re focusing on things that are not highly relevant! You need to know the difference between a preference and a deal breaker. When you find that person, notice I have only given you two extremely vital deal breakers… Who is your leader? What do you love? Only when you’re compatible in these areas should you proceed – with caution. And if not? Walk away, Run! In the process, you will spare yourself much heartache.One leader, one love!
So, what if you’re already married and you have different leaders? Or different loves? Is there hope? I believe there is… even if it won’t be easy. Back to what we said last week: Work on being who God wants you to be and trust Him to make things beautiful in their time. Don’t waste time trying to nag the other person but let them see the God in you. 2Peter.3:1-2 speaks to wives but could also be to husbands, ‘Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.’ Be the one!
Lest you begin to become too cautious and fearful of making mistakes, next Sunday, we’re going to look at how to relax and position yourself so that you enjoy this journey of finding and be found. Even if you’re already married or not looking to be, you will find what you learn extremely helpful. But today, I want to end in prayer & I want to pray for 2 groups of people…
§ People who are in relationships where they can clearly see they have different leaders or loves. Courage to let go where it is clearly un-equal.
§ Married people who realize they have different leaders/loves – God give me courage to be the one. And by your grace, turn our marriage round so we have one leader, one love.