When we endeavor to create something — write a book, build a business, cook dinner — we must consider, to varying degrees, our intended audience or the consumer of our creation.
Most moms and dads I know would never try to cook individual meals for each member of their family, so we often have to find a way to appeal to the whole. Fan favorites. But in true creative development, our work is significantly better when we take time to imagine a very specific target audience. The more specifically we define our target, the more we elevate the work and the more successful we will surely be.
If you want to cook a banquet meal for 200, you’ll likely offer something easy to make, moderately flavorful and decently satisfying for a hungry crowd. But if you’re working to create something magnificent for your spouse who loves fine cuisine, you’ll make something more interesting that perfectly appeals to their specific taste.
In a business context many companies want to sell to everyone. It’s a money thing. I work with marketers to narrowly define their target and prove that with some daring specificity, their product and messaging will elevate to a higher level and appeal to more people who’d be willing to pay a premium. The return is actually higher when we narrow the target.
So it begs the question in this marriage workshop experiment: who is the audience for our marriage?
The quick answers are true and based on genuine love. If you have children, they’d pop to the top of the list. Your spouse, of course. Sacrificial love is the core of our commitment. It’s also interesting but probably unhealthy to consider our friends and community as the audience (even though, as we discussed in Part 2, our marriage definitely creates an impact in the world out there).
Sometimes the most important truth is the one we might dismiss as obvious or too ethereal. As the one who created marriage, God is indeed our most important audience for our marriage. But here’s where that understanding gets deeper and more helpful. Imagine God more specifically for this context. Imagine Him as a brilliant, world-renown fine painter who’s created a beautiful work of art, intricate and full of meaning. He’s intentional with every stroke and he’s giving it to us to make us richer and more joyful in incomprehensible ways for the rest of our lives. It’s a piece of art precious and unique just for us. He knows there are nuances that we will each see, but when we appreciate the whole work of art, He knows it will bless us way beyond any individual brush strokes. This Artist God also created the earth and everything in it, and He is mysteriously madly in love with us.
Specific. The Artist God as our devoted audience and fuel for our marriage. With this intricate and genuine target audience, our every action is more beautiful and elevated to greater meaning. Every day we have a chance to do something for our spouse that The Creator Artist would find delightful. “Yes! That’s what’s possible! More! More!”, He might say. It’s fun, as a couple to imagine delighting this Artist.
With this kind of focus, the greatness of our marriage will intentionally become a joyful and powerful [generational] miracle for all those other target audiences we want to bless. It’ll happen naturally.