We all want to set our spouses up to be the best they can be, but what does that really look like? Mike Owens in founder and CEO of Ground Breakers, a youth leadership development organization and outreach ministry in the Atlanta area and abroad. Mike is also the senior pastor and founder of Evolve ATL, and a regular contributor to MarriedPeople.

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Interview

Tell us a little about you.

We’ve been married for 16 years and I have four children and three grandchildren! My children are 26, 10, 9, and 5. Then my grandchildren are six, and twin one year olds. I have a grown kid and a bunch of kids at the house.

How does that work–you’re still in parenting mode and grand parenting mode

I tend to spoil my grandchildren. I do spoil my kids, but they get the parenting too. My grandkids get the mushy side—they call me G-Daddy.

You and Shemika work in ministry. Tell us a little about that.

I’ve been doing family ministry for 23 years and been senior pastoring for about two years now. We also launched a ministry in Uganda—called Evolve Uganda. We do all that through technology. I was a youth pastor for 14 years of a large mega church here in Atlanta.

What does the church needs to do different for millennials?

I think we need to listen to them; we do a poor job of hearing their voice. Once we hear their voice, we do a poor job executing the things they think should be implementing. Millennials are not into monuments, they’re into movements. They are really into how we can provoke change and really be the church. It’s about empowering and investing in them.  They don’t like the traditional, organized approach to ministry.

How do you think they see marriage differently than our generation?

I’m learning they don’t want to go through the process. One is because they’re driven by their flesh. But two is that they don’t know why it takes all that.  Some of them are moving quick without all the tools. The other side of it is, some of them are not valuing marriage because they’ve seen the demise in it.

There are so many people divorcing, especially in the church. And these young adults see that. It helps me stay on my toes. If I beat them over the head and try to judge them and beat them apart they don’t receive that. But if I sit and listen to them it helps to reach them.

How does marriages impact students?

Marriage impacts students in a lot of ways. There was a group of kids I knew who had a bad experience based on the observations of what they saw in their parents’ marriage. As a result of trying to avoid what they saw in their parents, they started picking things that were even worse. So sitting and having to counsel them through that what went on with their parents wasn’t their fault.

Then, you saw other kids who had amazing parents and they desire to be married and talked about marriage. I chose to teach on marriage in students lives, because I felt like if they had an understanding at that age then they weren’t afraid of it when they entered adult life.

How do you encourage your spouse?

I came into marriage and honestly I wasn’t prepared. The church can tend to pressure people into getting married, we don’t give people the time to develop with one another. We didn’t have that time to develop and really become friends and have chemistry. You need to be attracted to each other and like each other.

The other side is that it was just modeled to me wrong. The model I saw was that the husband was the king of the house and everyone bowed down and the wife was very submissive. It was my way or the highway and I knew everything. I was thinking I was leading right but I was leading really wrong. My wife’s confidence started to get chipped away at because her voice didn’t have a presence in our home. God started to work on me about my wife.

When I turned to look at her, I realized I hadn’t invested in her what I had invested in so many others. I knew I needed to repent to my wife and have a real conversation with her about my investment with others. I wasn’t valuing what I had at home and I had a hard conversation with her.  I told her that from that point forward I wouldn’t do that ever again. I would be intentional about investing in her. I would adjust my calendar and make sure she was standing beside me and not behind me.  God told me it was none of my business how she treats me, it’s all of my business how I treat her.

What does the Bible say about encouraging our spouse?

Think about the Word—it says husband love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it. I’ve found that the route cause to every problem in a marriage is selfishness. It always seems to come back to this place of selfishness where we’re not willing to die for our own will.

Why are the little things are important when it comes to dying to yourself?

There’s a saying “it’s the small foxes that spoil the vine.” It’s the little things that you don’t pay attention to that end up showing up in your marriage later on. A week or two ago, I cooked dinner for three or four nights in a row on purpose. I wanted to give her a break so she could focus on doing the homework and taking a breather.

If I clean up, that is sexy to my wife. Paying attention to her countenance, her makeup that day. Are you paying attention to the details still? A true king is a servant leader. You want to be a great husband? Serve your wife. Want to be a great wife? Serve your husband.

During marital counseling, we have couples write down three things they love about each other and three things they need from each other. Then read them to each other and give them to each other, and now your responsibility is to focus on their list.  You have to be honest and you cannot get mad.

Your one simple thing for this week

Do the index card exercise – write down 3 things you love about each other and 3 things you need from each other. Then read them to each other and give them to each other.

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