A few weeks from now, we are going to have our Couples’ Getaway, a retreat for married couples who want a refresher or even a tune up so their relationship can continue to honor God.

One of our ministry staff called me and asked how to communicate with a couple who was still unmarried and wanted to join the marriage retreat. For obvious reasons, it wouldn’t be wise for them to come along. But I assume that they wanted to strengthen their relationship with God and relationship with one another.

I went ahead and called  Jasmine (not her real name). I asked how long she has been coming to church with her boyfriend. In the conversation, I found out that not only did she want her boyfriend to know Christ, but they were going to get married in a few months.

After the conversation, I gave her a few suggestions. I told her that a good start is to attend our pre-marriage seminar entitled “Blueprint For Marriage”. Because they wanted to learn how to get started right in their marriage, the seminar would be a great help.

Since I also found out that she wanted her fiancé to know Christ in a greater way, I told her that I would be willing to meet them for coffee or lunch to help them in their journey.

Coming out of that conversation, I explained a few principles with our staff member to share how we can best serve our people in the church and even those outside.


Before saying “no”, it is important to get what is in their hearts. All Jasmine wanted was to get good teaching for their relationship. She also wanted her fiancé to know Christ which is a noble desire.


Rather than saying “no” immediately, find ways to help them consider other options that would achieve similar results in the best possible manner.


After figuring out what is the best route to take during the conversation, serve by going the extra mile. Leadership is more than just influence. It is about serving.

It is critical that we learn to hear people out before saying no and find ways to serve them in the best possible way. We can say no, but not out of policy but out of a desire to serve. The principle is this: “people over policy.”


This is part 2 on the mini series on “Reflections from the Couples Retreat.”

Part 1 can be found here.

Much of communication is listening.  Unfortunately, when you are the man in the marriage relationship, listening is a tricky skill to try to learn.  Allow me to illustrate.

When my wife asks me, “Paolo, do you want a glass of water?”, I have to think, “Is she asking what she’s asking?”

Why? Because often times, she asks me that question because she wants water for herself.  So now, I’ve learned to answer her question with another question, “Oh, darling, would you like some water?”

I know what you are thinking, “Why don’t they just tell us straight?”  It’s not hard to say, “Paolo, can you get me some water please?”


But I don’t know why.  I guess God wants marriage to be such an adventure that’s why God designed men and women to communicate differently.  We just need to understand HOW we were designed.  THAT is a lifelong undertaking.  That’s why it’s an ADVENTURE.

P.S. Just in case, you may ask David Bonifacio for insight.  He might have some.


Jenn and I came from a couples’ retreat last week. It was great for a couple of reasons. One, we were not teaching. It was great for us to just sit in and listen. Two, we heard from the best of the best in Victory (Joey & Marie Bonifacio, Steve & Deborah Murrell and Juray & Deah Mora).

In the next couple of blogs, I will be sharing what I learned from the retreat.

On the first day, Joey and Marie focused on the area of communication.

Their session was hilarious because they shared a lot about their personal experiences with regards to this topic.  Seventy percent of marriage problems stem from communication or the lack of it.

“In our marriages, we can either build walls that would divide or walls that would surround our marriage and thereby protect it.” – Joey and Marie Bonifacio

Here are the 4 things that can build the W.A.L.L.


Words are powerful.  The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that ‘life and death are in the power of the tongue.’ Our words can either bring life or it can bring death in a marriage.

Words that build – “I’m proud of you, I love you, I appreciate you…” can definitely bring life in a relationship.

On the other hand, words that tear down – “You’re just like your dad/mom, You’ll always be that way, You’re such a bum, You’re irresponsible…” can definitely sentence a marriage to death.


While words are powerful, just as powerful are our actions.  One can say “I love you” and yet what they communicate can be the exact opposite when they fail to prioritize the relationship.  Time is a major indicative of love in action for it speaks of who takes first place in the calendar.


Listening is a major part of communication.  It is possible to talk for 45 minutes and not communicate at all.  In a world where people feel uncomfortable during times of silence, this is such a vital skill to keep honing.


We can talk.  We can spend time.  We can shut our mouths to listen.  But if there’s no life in a marriage relationship, it will fall apart soon enough.

Ecclesiastes 9:9 tells us to “Enjoy life with your spouse.” Have fun.  Enjoy.  Be silly.

At the pinnacle of every marriage relationship, for it to work, the LIFE (Jesus) has to be in the center.  For without Him, we can do nothing.


Day 1 of our couples retreat.  I just want to say it has been very refreshing.  Bernard and Ivy are amazing.  They’re some of our finest in Victory.

Some of the things we learned…

  • There are learned Biblical behaviors that we can acquire.  One of which is to be ‘quick to listen’ as James 1:19 says.
  • “Nothing-you-can-do-to make-me-love-you-less” attitude
  • You can plan your action but never your reaction.  That’s why we need to decide ahead.
  • To truly “L.U.V.” by listening is to “listen”, “Understand” and “Validate.”
  • “First duty of love is to listen” – Paul Tillich
One of the most important skills you need as a leader is the ability to listen. The Chinese characters that make up the verb “to listen” tell us something significant about the skill. A King, in order to be a true leader, must listen with earseyes, and heart … giving undivided attention to the people.

  • On a side note, there was a fun, funny, special presentation in the evening by the ladies.  Here goes …