When you hear the word AGENDA …what comes to your mind? Merriam-Webster defines agenda; “… an underlying often ideological plan or program”.
Do you have an agenda for your life?
Early in my counseling training I was told that “a person is always moving in a direction. Therefore, it is important for a counselor to develop good listening skills as they try to discern the direction their client is moving, and then respond accordingly”.
A few thoughts:
1- First off, everyone is moving in a direction—they have agendas.
2- Having an agenda is not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on what a person’s agenda is.
3- Agendas often become attached to labels. And labels often become a person’s identity.
4- Often a group of people will make their primary agenda to resist other people’s agendas.
5- One concern is when a person’s agenda is moving in a direction that always concludes with; “my way is the right way—the only way”.
6- And often more religiously-inclined people can tend to become absolutely certain that “their agenda” is also “God’s agenda”.
What about the church?
As a follower of Christ, after being in the church world for over sixty years, it seems many churches consistently move in a direction—and appear to have an agenda? For example:
Catholics often seem to be moving in a direction that says; “bottom line, we are the one true holy-Roman-Catholic-apostolic-church …”
Evangelicals often seem to be moving in a direction that says; “you need to repent, say the sinner’s prayer, be born-again, and read your bible …”
Charismatics and Pentecostals often seem to be moving in a direction that says; “you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues …”
Ecumenical-style churches often seem to be moving in a direction that says; “you need to focus on church history and church traditions—especially certain songs, prayers, and the table (communion) …”
Emergent-style churches often seem to be moving in a direction that says; “you need to be more relational, relevant, and focus on becoming more transparent …”
Incarnational-style communities of faith often seem to be moving in a direction that says; “you need to be more strategic and proactive in being with people and meeting them right where they are at …”
More socially-orientated communities of faith often seem to be moving in a direction that says; “you need to be focused on specific causes and concerns—like affordable health and housing, jobs, food distribution …”
More liberal-leaning communities of faith seem to be moving in a direction that says; “you need to be more accepting and not so quick to judge others …”
What about marriage?
As a husband or wife, are you moving in a direction—do you have a marriage agenda? If so, how would you describe it? For example, a husband may be moving in a direction where his agenda is to get his wife to engage in more sexual intimacy. A wife may be moving in a direction where her agenda is to get her husband to respect and value her in mutuality and equality. A couple may be moving in a direction where their agenda is to do whatever it takes to enable them to “have more”.
My experience is that husbands-wives-and couples are always moving in a direction. That said, I’d like to offer a few questions for couples to ponder:
1- Does your agenda, the direction you are moving in your marriage, lead you to better reflect and reveal the love and goodness of God to your spouse and others? In what ways (be specific)?
2- Is the direction you are moving and your agenda for marriage spoken or unspoken? Do you have the same agreed upon agenda? If so, what is it (be specific)?
3- Agendas often become attached to labels, does your marriage style have a label? If so, what is it?
4- Individually, and as a couple, are you moving in a direction that is bearing spiritual fruit? Are you moving in a direction that is helping you to live a life and marriage that is filled with: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”? (Galatians 6:22)
REAL LIFE applications:
I.O.T.L (inquire of the Lord) and invite the Holy Spirit to help you identify and understand the direction you are moving in your life and marriage, as well as any agenda’s you may have.
Is your agenda more focused on “being” more like Christ (identity); or “doing” more things for God (behavior)?
As you review your agenda and the direction you are moving … are there any changes you would like to make—if so, how would you describe those changes?
When your spouse (or others) push-back against your agenda and the direction you are moving, how do you react? Are there ways you could respond more lovingly—if so, how?
Lastly, how is the direction you are moving in your life and marriage positively impacting the kingdom of God?
Closing Challenge: plan a date (maybe an overnight getaway) and share your responses to the questions in this post with your spouse.