The Reality of Relationships

A dear friend of mine reminded me recently that there are three words (and actions) that are most likely impacting the implementation and realization of our priorities. Most often we need to think in terms of simplifying, having fun, or being more interested in order to accomplish these goals.

I think all three of these strategies are connected by one other word and that is relationships.

As the relationships go, so goes your influence and impact with those around you. Remember, God created us as relational creatures. Our Heavenly Father says clearly in the second chapter of the first book of the bible “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18) Now if it is God’s express command for us to be relational, why is it so hard?

The simple answer is that relationships are difficult because we live in a fallen and sinful world. (just re-read Genesis 3) where we are introduced to the turmoil and confusion that came into the Garden of Eden through the rebellion of Adam and Eve against the word of God. Ever since that moment the need of reestablishing relationships has been hard work.

I am convinced that God gives us the perfect overview of relationship building in His word where He tells us three summary things:

  1. “And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” –Deuteronomy 6:5 (NLT)
  2. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” –Matthew 22:39 (NLT)
  3. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. — Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

In order for us to begin to understand and accomplish these three, we must operate from the position of Gratitude, Grace, and Generosity. In every relationship these three are paramount. When you are dealing with your team or students do they sense the following when they are talking with you:

  1. Their needs are greater than my wants? (that’s grace)
  2. The individual is greater than the task at hand? (that’s generosity)
  3. At this moment you are the most important person in my life? (gratitude)

The difficulty with relationship building and binding is that it takes time and effort on our part. Often, we and leaders must do a better job in getting to know the people we are in relationship with. This requires us to use every tool at our disposal to educate ourselves in understanding the people we are dealing with. The best and most important tool in your arsenal is slowing down and actually spending time with the person.

There were at least three different types of relationships revealed in the ministry of Jesus throughout the biblical narrative. While all three of these where genuine, they were all different.

His public relationships – those shown to the masses of people were always pure, pointed, and persuasive but were not yet given the chance to be personal. He taught these people the most important lessons of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness, but it was never in the most intimate ways. He was always completely honest with them and he was spreading the seed hoping that some (or many) would follow him for him to invest in more personally.

His primary relationships – I think we see this more fully revealed in the life of his 12 disciples. With these men he spends far more time – at least a few days each week. While he gave out great gobs of truth to the multitudes, it was with his disciples that he gave powerful, and pertinent instructions regarding the teaching he had given the multitudes. He asked these disciples questions, discovered where they were hurting and troubled, and met them in these vulnerable places. That’s what we have to do with our primary relationship too.

His personal relationships – This very small group of people, Primarily Peter, James, and John were the inner three with whom Jesus told nearly everything. His love for them and their love for him was undeniable. He shared his pains, feelings, and frustrations with them. He spent far more intimate time with these than anyone else. Other than your immediate family who are these people in your life?

I hope you will take to heart these truths and begin today to invest more relationally in the people in your circles of influence.