FamilyLife Today®

Your Marriage, On Mission: David & Meg Robbins

with David and Meg Robbins | January 25, 2024
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What could it look like for your marriage to pour into your community, your neighbors, your kids friends? David and Meg Robbins explore the positive impact marriage brings the world--and the fulfillment a marriage on mission could bring the two of you.

Along with co-creators Brian Goins and Ed Uszynski, the Robbins are contributors to FamilyLife's all-new Art of Marriage group study! To learn more or order your copy, visit

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David and Meg Robbins explore the positive impact marriage brings the world–and the fulfillment a marriage on mission could bring the two of you.

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Your Marriage, On Mission: David & Meg Robbins

With David and Meg Robbins
January 25, 2024
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David: Living in this world, there will be three things that come against us and our marriage: the world itself and forces of culture; our flesh—our own sinful nature, the things that rise up in me—my own story, and ingrained sin patterns that’ll come against us; and the enemy himself—John 10:10. “He comes to steal, kill, and destroy.”

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.

Dave: 1980—

Ann: Oh, 1980.

Dave: Weekend to Remember®

Ann: Yes.

Dave: —Chicago ballroom—

Ann: Yes.

Dave: —two weeks before our wedding—

Ann: Yes.

Dave: —what do you remember about going to the Weekend to Remember?

Ann: I—

Dave: Bring it; bring it.

Ann: —I remember you were so cute.

Dave: I thought that’s what you were going to say.

Ann: And I couldn’t wait to get married. And I thought, “I wish a woman would speak,” [Laughter] at the women’s section, when we divided up between men and women. But Dennis Rainey gave the talk to the women, and he was fabulous.

Dave: That’s what you remember? That’s hilarious. It was Dave Sunde, who is with the Lord now.

Ann: It was Dennis Rainey.

Dave: And Dennis Rainey did the whole weekend.

Here’s what I remember: I remember we’re so excited to get married, and we just thought this would prepare us for marriage. I was not prepared for one of the things they said about marriage, which was, “Marriage is bigger than you being happy.” That was a take-away for me, like, “I thought it was just about us being in love. We’re going to love each other and have kids, and we’re going to impact the world.”

It was like: “No, there’s a bigger, bigger mission that God has for your marriage.” You don’t remember that?

Ann: What I remember about that is the spiritual battle they talked about. I was thinking, “What?! Spiritual battle? We’re just going to be in love and happy. There’s no spiritual battle going on.”

Dave: Well, today we’re going to talk about that. We’ve got the perfect couple in the studio.

Ann: We do!

Dave: David and Meg Robbins are back in the studio of FamilyLife Today. Should I say, “Welcome to FamilyLife Today?” I mean, you own this place. [Laughter] You run this place. You’re the president of FamilyLife®.

David: Two things: we own nothing (we get to steward), and we’re the definition of “not perfect.” [Laughter] So glad of that intro, Bob. [Laughter]

But we are glad to be here with you guys, because we have a blast every time we get to join in. [Laughter] And I love 1980, because that’s the year Meg was born.

Dave: Okay.

Ann: Really?

David: Just thought I’d drive that one in for the day.

Dave: Can we edit out 1980? [Laughter] We’ll just say, “We went to a conference a long time ago.” [Laughter] So, now we know how old Meg is.

Meg: There we go!

David: That’s true. She’s getting there.

Dave: So, welcome to FamilyLife [Today]. We’re going to talk about the mission of marriage; what it’s about. When you guys got married, did you have the same thoughts we did?

David: You know, we had dated a really long time. I was in ministry already; Meg was still a student. We were waiting for her to graduate before—actually, it was the middle of your senior year that we got married.

Meg: Yes, it was.

David: There was a very mission part of what we were doing. You wanted to join in—in ministry and on mission—because of your own calling. I mean, that was part of our journey in dating.

Meg: Yes, David was already all-in, serving in ministry. I wanted to be a part of that, but I also knew I wanted this to be something the Lord has for me, and I wanted to know that. In God’s kindness, He had definitely made that clear. I think we came into marriage with that being a little bit of a perspective of our lives, but I don’t know that we were thinking that our actual marriage could be a place of living on mission.

Ann: It’s interesting, too, because as we considered our marriage—Dave, do you remember our wedding invitations?—we basically had the entire gospel on our invitation. [Laughter] We had Scripture—

Dave: We’re sharing.

Ann: Yes! We did have this heart of: “We want to reach the world for Christ.”

Dave: Yes, it was on our invitation; it was in our mind. But I think, as we sat there at the Weekend to Remember—I think a lot of couples, still, today—we all [four] speak at the Weekend to Remember

Ann: —marriage getaway.

Dave: —and so many of them sit out there, and I think they’re like, “We want to be happy. In fact, I’m sitting beside the person I think will make me happy.” We call them “the one”—the one that what? “Makes [me] happy.”

There is nothing wrong with that—hopefully, we are happy—but I don’t think most, even Christian couples, when they get married, are thinking big picture: “God wants to reveal Himself to the world through our marriage.” I think it’s like, “Okay, I want to do that, but what I really want to do: I want to be happy. I want you to make me happy, and if you don’t, it’s not going to go well.” Am I right?

Ann: Yes.

David: Yes. I think one of the things we have to grow into is realizing that being on mission together—and actually, the give and take of that, not just my version of mission of what I—that was a huge part for us, really a give and take of: “Who are we together?” and “What is our marriage meant to reflect together?” Not just my unique gifts or your unique gifts, but the team “us” that we have. And “How does God want us to steward bringing our lives together?”

Often, Pete Scazzero talks about it this way—he says, “Your marriage could be the loudest gospel message you have.” Because it is meant to reflect Jesus’ pursuit of us. He is the husband, and the body of Christ is the bride. A husband and a wife can uniquely reflect the gospel and pursue it in a way that not many other pictures out there can. It is meant to ripple and reflect.

But often—like you’re saying, Dave—I have a friend who skydived on her 50th birthday. She talks about going down, skydiving. “It was the best experience ever!” She had dreamed of this, and she’s going down, her face is flapping; she has the picture. The tandem partner that she had grabbed her head, pulled it up against the wind to the right; and there was the most gorgeous sunset she had ever seen, off to the right, that she was missing.

She was having a blast, and it was happy, and it was good. And there are ups and downs in marriage—but “Yes, we’re living our life. This is good! We’re making it work,”—and yet, God, while you’re in tandem, making it work, wants to actually lift your eyes to even a bigger purpose that is a loud gospel message that can be a beautiful thing.

Dave: It is all connected to what you’re looking at. I think what we do in marriage is, we look at our spouse. Because we think, like I said earlier, they’re going to make us happy, and we don’t look somewhere else. So, when they don’t—I can’t tell you how many people, when we speak around the country, or even when our book came out, Vertical Marriage—people direct messaged us and said, “I think I married the wrong person.”

We knew what they meant: “I married the person I thought would make me happy. I’m not happy as I thought I’d be in marriage, so I think I married the wrong person.” Our answer was always the same: “You didn’t marry the wrong person. You’re looking in the wrong place.” It’s like our eyes are here [horizontally, looking at spouse] rather than “Go vertical,”—[however] you want to say it—if we get our eyes on God, it changes the whole question of marriage, right?

Meg: Right.

David: Yes.

Meg: I think, too, it’s not a bad thing that we’re so attracted to each other in that process and leading up to marriage. We’re experiencing joy, and happiness, and hope, and excitement. It’s just that that’s not going to be the fulfilling thing. If we keep looking for that joy, hope, fulfillment, a sense of purpose from only our spouse—like you were saying, if our eyes are fixed on them—we’re going to miss out; and we will be disappointed.

David’s human, and I’m human, and I’m going to disappoint him, and I’m not made to meet every need that he has. Yes, we have to keep our eyes lifted to the Lord and what He has for us. He has so much more—

Ann: —so much more.

Meg: —than just: “Oh, this is going to be so awesome. We’re going to have such a happy life.” We all know life is hard.

David: Let’s get real on this: as we seek to be marriages that are on mission—and I think a lot of people listening right now, are like, “That’s my heart. I want that; I want that for my home, and my marriage, and my family.” We talk about it a lot at FamilyLife. We love helping people fight the drift and halt the drift of isolation [because] currents of life are going to draw you apart; help them grow in oneness to God and to one another; but yet, lift their eyes to a horizon line that goes beyond the one that is in their home, because it’s meant to ripple out and to impact their corner of the world and the people God has put around you.

That’s the invitation of The Great Commission in Matthew 28; that’s the invitation of 2 Corinthians 5, of being ambassadors of Christ. Your home can be an embassy for the Lord in a powerful way. Yet, as we’ve sought to live this out intentionally, it often brings some of the biggest strife, because I start getting into performance mode of what I think it should look like. And Meg’s starting to feel pressure in certain ways of: “Okay, we need to live out hospitality, like this…” It can start making you lose your first love.

That’s one of the things that I think is really important to consider—Dave, you said it as you were framing this up—that it is about falling in love with Jesus so much, and going vertical in such an intense way, an extreme way, that you can’t help but express it out to the world around you. Because in your own life, and in your own soul, and you, as a couple, you’re pursuing Jesus with everything you’ve got. And when that happens—it’s meant to flow out of you, and there’s an authentic expression.

For us, sometimes, mission has become duty. I think you have to get really honest when you’re doing it because you’re supposed to or because, “This is what we do.” There’s a faithfulness and steadfastness of continuing to have a focus on others, but those are those moments that I think we get to get around with other people and get honest in lifting your eyes to: “Okay, Lord, I want to keep You as my first love, and from that place, express Your love to other people.”

Ann: Let me ask you guys: if this is one of the purposes of marriage—being on mission together to show the gospel to the world—and then, we talk about this epic spiritual battle taking place, does that create a target on a healthy marriage from the enemy, Satan?

Meg: Yes, I think when we are taking steps of faith and moving toward other people with just love, and generosity, and care for the sake of wanting them to know the Jesus that we know, the enemy hates that. That is the risk. There’s a cost for that, whether that’s things that come up between us, and the stupid fights that we might get into when we’re just trying to get our house cleaned up so that we can have somebody over, you know? And then, we realize, “Okay, we don’t really have to have a perfect house to have people over,” but, you know, you kind of get these things in your head. And the enemy uses, sometimes, the dumbest things; but sometimes, really painful things—

Ann: —yes.

Meg: —to drive a wedge between us and make us feel like, “Who are we to even think our marriage is reflecting Jesus the way [that] it’s going to impact others?”

David: Yes.

Meg: But yet, the truth of the gospel, and the truth of who Jesus is for us, is that we are His. Because of what He has done, He can use us at any point, no matter if we are arguing when our neighbors walk in the door. I mean, it doesn’t matter.

David: Living in this world, there will be three things that come against us and our marriage: the world itself and forces of culture; our flesh—our own sinful nature, the things that rise up in me, my own story, and ingrained sin patterns—that’ll come against us; and the enemy himself—John 10:10, “He comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” That is a reality.

And so, us knowing that, as we’re seeking to be on mission and in the center of God’s will, seeking to live out the invitation to participate with God in growing His kingdom—what an incredible invitation! We get to be a part of extending the front porch of the kingdom of God, bringing His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven to our little corner of the world. Investing in one person here, a neighbor there; being able to see them for who they are/their unique realities, we get to enter into their world. What glimpses of glory of the kingdom of God that is. And then, to be able to invite people, with the gospel, into the kingdom.

Yes, the enemy will come against that! That’s where I would just say, “Doing it in community or, as you’re taking steps of faith, bringing others in.” This is why, at FamilyLife, we have consistently, through decades, brought small group resources or event resources, where you can host an event. That’s why we’re really excited about renewing this resource that FamilyLife has—we’ve been working on it for over two years—it's the new Art of Marriage®.

Ann: It’s so exciting, and it’s good.

David: That first Art of Marriage was really a groundbreaking resource. There was really not much like it—we had multiple teachers—it was over 12 years ago that the first Art of Marriage

Dave: —twelve years?

David: —was released. Isn’t that amazing?

Dave: Wow.

Ann: Oh, yes.

David: Millions have gone through it—over a million for sure, and we don’t even know the people globally, in different languages, exactly. Hundreds of thousands of leaders, whether that is in the event format or in a small-group setting, have guided people through—other couples through—the Art of Marriage. It was time for an update.

And this one has a unique angle that I am so excited for people to get to experience, how it pulls couples toward the Lord and helps you fall in love with the Lord again; and then, pulls you together to have conversations that—you know, just the magic of it—it just prompts conversations that people, otherwise, usually wouldn’t have. It’s a phenomenal resource that’s now available.

Dave: You said “unique angle.” What’s that?

David: You know, I was really grateful that the team that was working on this—one of the burdens they had was: “How do we not just make it the first Art of Marriage? The classic version?”

Ann: Yes.

David: And that version is still available. If you end up liking that version better, it’ll still be available for you. It has been used all around the world.

During their creative process, it was as they got into it, that was birthed this—they are taking six words for love: three Greek, three Hebrew—[that] really unpacks God’s design around love, and love in a marriage, particularly; how that gets expressed. We’re talking about, today, the sixth session around the word, “mission,” and that your marriage does have a greater purpose.

It is unique. It has all the components people love, of multiple teachers and creative elements that are really fun, but the angle is different. I’m grateful for how the team really trusted the process, and God birthed something that was really cool.

Ann: We haven’t seen all of it, but we’ve seen sessions. My litmus test is always, “Will our kids like it and want to go through that?”

Dave: Our kids are a little older than your kids. [Laughter] They’re married; we have grandkids.

Ann: But yes, as I watched it, I thought, “Our kids would think this is great.” That means a lot when your kids like it, your neighbors—non-Christians, I think—will love it! It’s beautiful. To hear: “Wait! There’s a mission for marriage?” I think, as we’re talking about this one session, people want to know what that is.

Meg: Right.

Dave: I think we should play a little teaser. Check it out.

[Excerpt from the reimagined Art of Marriage]

Wife #1: I expected to have a husband who would cook, and clean, and lead us spiritually, and always be patient, be kind, but also be a great leader.

Husband #1: And she got him! [Laughter]

Wife #2: Get ready for the run of your life!

Barbara Rainey: I’m absolutely 100 percent convinced that we would absolutely be divorced were it not for the gospel.

Wife #3: I like having sex. Can I say that? I can’t say that.

Husband #3: I think you can say that. They can always cut it.

Wife #3: You can cut it.

Ann Wilson: I’m going to say, “God wants to use you.”

Husband #2: Your life is a canvas. Jesus is the artist. He wants to create something beautiful.


Dave: I promise you, we will be showing that in our family room with couples sitting all around on couches, literally watching God work. That’s the joy of a tool like that. It’s like God says, “Here, just use it and watch Me do what I do.” And He will! It’s going to be pretty cool.

Meg: I love when you do take tools like that, and use them, and you don’t have to come up with what to say or where to go with this conversation. My favorite part is the conversation that happens around the living room or around the table after you watch a session and talk about it; just to see the things that God does.

David: A resource is just a resource without the people setting the table, inviting the people, showing love and hospitality; following up conversations later, asking people’s story; not just that they received content, but diving into what stirred. Resources set the table in a beautiful way for you to, actually, as a couple, live on mission together in very tangible, easy ways. You have people who do it in so many different ways! It can be:

“I’m going to do this in my church,” and do it in an official room, and trust God for something big, with a lot of decorations.

It can be inviting three people over for a day, and saying, “Let’s do this all day.” [Laughter]

Or to your house or a small group that goes on weekly.

It’s meant to be adapted to all those different types of spaces.

Or even a mentoring relationship that you have with one other couple.

Dave: I’m laughing because you don’t know this, David and Meg, but we—I think it was the Art of Marriage—we had a marriage small group in our house, using a FamilyLifetool—

David: —okay.

Dave: —decades ago! I know because my oldest, who’s 37, was 16.

David: Okay.

Dave: We had people drive in our driveway. This one couple—you could tell they’re so nervous! They’d never been in a small group; they’re at the pastor’s house, you know, we’re going to do this thing on marriage. Remember this?

Ann: I think so.

Dave: They sit down, and I could tell they’re super nervous.

Ann: And their daughter was going to go to a youth group that night with our kids.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: And she’d never been to anything like that.

David: Okay, yes.

Ann: And so—

Dave: Long story short: our 16-year-old—

Ann: —she got in our son’s car.

Dave: Yes, he backs up, and we hear him—back right into their car.

Meg: Ohhhh!

Dave: You hear [crashing sound].

Meg: Ohhhh!

Dave: Right behind me, I hear this crunch. And they look at me. I’m like, “That was our son hitting your car.” [Laughter]

Meg: Was their daughter in the car?!

Ann: Yes.

Dave: That’s how it all started. You know what? They came back the next week.

Meg: Yay! That’s what matters.

David: I was about to say, “Everyone wants to know: ‘Did they come back?’”

Meg: They came back.

Dave: It was pretty cool, but I do remember sitting there, thinking: “God, can You use us?” “Can You use our home?” “Can You use our broken family?” “Can You use…” And the greatest thing about it is we had a tool; it was plug and play. The Art of Marriage is plug and play.

Meg: Well, even though we’re laughing at that story, it really is normalizing and gives me so much hope that we don’t have to make it perfect. Even when a catastrophe happens—[Laughter] —God can still use that, of course. It kind of frees me up a lot that the bar doesn’t have to be so high. It’s just: “Get some people together, put the video on, and talk about it.”

Ann: And also, as you listen to that clip, these marriages are not perfect. People can listen and watch, and say, “They are me. We are experiencing and saying those same things.” And then it tees you up to: “But what does God say about this?” “What does God have for us?” “What does God have for our whole family?” I think sometimes, you wonder, like, “Can I be confident in what I’m going to present to my neighbors?” I think so. And we’re kind of picky, right? [Laughter]

David: I will say the cheese factor is non-existent; or at best, the lowest I have ever seen in the small group. [Laughter] It is so creative and so good. It is so good.

Meg: Yes, so good!

Ann: I don’t think there is cheese in there.

David: I have a really high bar for that; I’m so pleased.

Meg: That’s true; that’s true.

David: Hey, Dave, will you go into just the thought around—you say it often; for someone who listens often, they probably have heard you say it—but I think it captures so well, as we ponder, looking up and going, “God, You would use us?—and our story, as broken and messed up as it is?” We have to embrace that our brokenness, and others’ brokenness, is not a barrier to Jesus. It’s actually a bridge.

As we process our own brokenness with Jesus, and it overflows out, the beauty of believing this gospel that we don’t deserve it, and we get to keep experiencing intimacy with Him, from that place, we do get to have an impact. You have a great way of saying that, that always sticks in my mind.

Dave: I think you’re thinking of “Make a dent where you’re sent”?

David: I didn’t want to steal your thunder. [Laughter]

Dave: I don’t think that’s an original thought with me—maybe, it is; I don’t know.

I do know, when you think about the original Art of Marriage—what we’re calling our Art of Marriage classic—when FamilyLife asked us to be a part of that, the only reason we’re sitting right here in the studio is we said, “Yes, we’ll tell the story.” It was the worst moment of our marriage. When that moment happened—and many people know, [at] our ten-year anniversary, when Ann said, “I’ve lost my feelings for you,”—so we were in trouble.

My thought, in that Honda® Accord that night, was, “No one will ever hear this story. If we make it, this will just be something we keep below the surface.” Because at that time in church, you didn’t share weakness or brokenness; it was sort of plastic perfect. There was that thought. I literally had that thought: “If we make it, this will just be our story.” And now, it’s been heard by probably millions, as you said; and it’s like, “That’s what God does! He loves to take our pain and say, ‘This is actually going to be how I’m going to use you—not the good; it’s going to be the hard and the mess.’”

When you think about “make a dent where you’re sent,” it’s like, wherever God places us, whether it’s on a video through Art of Marriage, or in a studio, or in a neighborhood, or in a cul-de-sac, or in an apartment building, or on a sports field with other parents, whose kids are playing sports with you [as coach], He wants to use your life and your marriage to “make a dent,”—that’s the way I say it. I’m a preacher, so it had to rhyme—“where you’re sent.” [Laughter] The funny thing is, people will always come up to me when I’d say that, because it became something I said regularly over 30 years of preaching; and often, they would say, “Well, we know where you’re sent; you’re sent to be a preacher. You’re a radio host; you’re...I’m not sent.” I’m like, “You’re sent where you are.” Wherever you are,—

Ann: —"in your corner of the world”—

Dave: —wake up tomorrow [thinking], ‘Today’s a day I’m sent.’” Yes, you’re a sent one.

Meg: Yes.

Dave: In your business, or in an Uber car, or wherever it is, it’s like God wants to use you and your marriage, and even your family, to impact others with the gospel. You are the light of Jesus where you are. That’s the mission of your marriage.

Ann: I think this has been a really fun conversation. It’s not one that you have very often: “What is the purpose of marriage?” And the tool that we’re offering, this small group curriculum, however [you] want to use it, I think it can make a difference in your neighborhood, in your church, in your community. We’re really excited about it.

Shelby: I’m Shelby Abbott. You’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with David and Meg Robbins on FamilyLife Today.

Yes, at the beginning of this month, we released an all-new Art of Marriage. You just heard David and Meg talking about how Art of Marriage can be used to make a dent where you’re sent. It features a diverse array of new couples and artists, who, over the course of six sessions, unpack six biblical words that describe God’s love for us and how each can be displayed through our messy, imperfect marriages. Yes, even your  messy, imperfect marriage.

Whether you’re a newly-wed, or you’ve been married for decades, FamilyLife’s Art of Marriage is your path to a stronger, more beautiful masterpiece of God’s handiwork. You can go to the show notes right now, or to learn more and grab your leader kit today. We’re excited to share the all-new Art of Marriage with you and hear your marriage and impact stories. Again, you can go to or look for a link in the show notes.

Tomorrow, we’re going to explore the transformative power of vulnerability in marriage, which can be very scary, but it’s also essential. David and Meg Robbins are back with Dave and Ann Wilson tomorrow to talk about just that. We hope you’ll join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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