When my son, Tim and his fiancé, Nicci asked me to officiate their wedding, I immediately knew what I was going to say. A few years later, when my son, Scott and his betrothed Sue asked me to perform their ceremony, I already had my talk in mind. Recently when my son, Jake and his wife-to-be, Gionna asked me to preside at their wedding, I definitely wanted to do it, but I didn’t have a clue which direction to go with the message. Months went by, and I still had no plan. Even two days before the wedding, I had nothing.
So I asked Gionna’s dad, Tony Galati if he had any suggestions. He leaned over, “That’s easy. Tell Jake to take care of my daughter…because if you don’t…there’s some people in my family…you don’t want to meet.” I asked the best man, Scott - a financial planner - what he would say and he said, “Simple: get a good financial planner!” I approached the best woman, the maid-of-honor Ally. She thought about it and concluded, “Tell Jake, ‘Fresh flowers and clean bathrooms. He’ll know what that means. And tell Gionna,’Be nice to people, especially before 10a.m.’”
Okay, I could use all that for my introduction. But what was I going to say? Jake reminded me that their theme verse was an unusual one:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
—Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
That word “consider” jumped out at me, so I put together a few words on how consideration is often a big key to marriage. When we stop and think things through, reflect, and contemplate how to help the other person, we go a long way toward solid relationships.
The talk went fine. But then I decided to take my own advice. I actually stopped to consider what I learned going through this wedding, and I came up a few key lessons. This is what I learned from my son's wedding:
1. A Support Network Is Invaluable
I’m one of seven siblings, but none of my four sisters and only one of my brothers actually made it to Palm Springs for the ceremony. Only one out of six showed up. At first I was bummed, but then I stopped to consider, to reflect, and I noticed my family may not have been there, but the four families we started our church with years ago were there. The people we do life with stopped everything to be there for us. They didn’t just show up, they showed up to work! They served and encouraged.
I stepped back and saw that Gionna’s church family showed up to set up, decorate and put together nearly 300 lasagna dinners. This event was an amazing reminder of the incredible need we all have for a support network.
Excel Leadership Network exists to set apart and support high level leaders - we know how significant, how necessary a support network can be.
2. Serving Makes Us Feel More Connected To the Family
After the ceremony our daughter-in-law Sue made a startling admission. “I’ve always felt part of this family,” she admitted, “but serving at this one, being in charge of the rehearsal dinner and doing all this work makes me feel even more like I belong.”
It was a surprise that my brother, Mike from Hawaii actually came. He hadn’t been at a family gathering for maybe fifteen years. I suspect it might have been a bit awkward for Mike and his wife, Yok, to re-enter family stuff. The first thing they said was, “How can we help?” My wife, Lori immediately asked if they could be in charge of setting things up for the hospitality room at the hotel. They didn’t have time to feel uneasy... they were serving.
Have you ever and considered how involvement makes a huge difference?
Our network is not top down, where the experts impart secret wisdom. It’s about the leaders serving and helping each other.
3. We Never Know How Much Of an Impact We Are Making
In Scott’s toast to the bride and groom, he recalled that when his older siblings Tricia and Tim moved out, things were a lot different with just him and Jake at home. Scott made a remarkable decision at that time—he committed to being the best big brother to Jake he could be.
Scott said he recently considered how upon graduating from high school, he moved south to UCLA, joined Cru, met best friends in his Bible study, and he met and married the woman of his dreams. And then he saw Jake graduate from high school, move south to UCLA, join Cru, make his best friends in his Bible study, and meet and now marry the woman of his dreams.
Scott remarked, “You never know how much of an impact you are making.”
But then in a twist, Scott recounted that it wasn’t just him making an impact on Jake. He revealed that Jake had been an incredible influence on him. Scott told of how he was amazed at how Jake prayed through his decisions, cared so much for the men he was discipling, and sacrificed a great deal to be on staff at Cru.
Scott concluded, “You never know how much of an impact you are making.”
I was stunned at how many people came up to me and Lori and thanked us for raising Jake because he had been so influential in their lives. We had no idea of the impact.
In the Excel Leadership Network you will make a big impact, much greater than you ever know, not only on those who come behind you, but on those who ahead of you.
4. Celebrate the Wins
Jake’s wedding brought many mixed emotions for Lori and me. One nagging feeling was although our three sons are now married, our daughter, Tricia, isn’t and she would like to be.
Lori asked Tricia how she was feeling about her youngest brother getting married before her. Tricia immediately responded, “It’s great, we’re here to celebrate Jake!”
Too often I get caught up in what could be better and what is next, instead of actually taking the time to celebrate. I’m not a wedding guy. I don’t care very much about flowers and venues and centerpieces and dresses and dancing. But as I watched people hopping and bopping and laughing out on the dance floor, I couldn’t help consider that there’s a time for everything—and this was a time to stop and celebrate.
Our network is about being there to support each other, but also celebrating with each other. Before we take that next mountain, let’s pause to thank God for getting us to where we are now.
5. Always Be Reaching Out
Jake and Gionna had told me a number of times that they wanted their wedding ceremony to be about Jesus more than them. They asked me to please be clear about Jesus’ offer of forgiveness for us all—they wanted me to preach the Gospel.
So as Jake and I and all the groomsmen were standing at the front of the gathering, watching the bridesmaids and flower girls and ring bearers go through their processional, I whispered to Jake, “Are you sure you want me to give them the Gospel?” Instantly Jake shot back, “Heck yeah I want you to give them the Gospel!”
So during the ceremony, I explained that we’d be hearing three sets of vows that day. First, the public, “I do,” vows that the couple makes to everyone who was gathered there that day. Then there are the personal vows that Jake and Gionna wrote for each other. But there’s a third set of vows in a marriage ceremony. That occurs when the couple pledges their commitment of their lives and their marriage to God.
When Jake and Gionna made their vows to God through communion, I asked the people present that day to do their business with God. They could actually commit their lives to God through a simple ABC Prayer: A, admit I need a Savior; B, believe Jesus died and rose for me to offer me forgiveness and life; and C, choose to commit to following Jesus from now on.
About an hour after the ceremony when I got a chance to say “Hi” to the bride and groom, the first words out of their mouths had to do with the conversations they each had been having at the reception with their friends who needed Jesus.
Wow, they just got married and yet instead of thinking about themselves they were thinking about spreading the message of Jesus.
And that’s the point of our lives and of our network. We are here to spread the message of Jesus, at all times, in season and out of season as well.