Advancing the Kingdom of God requires healthy relationships; not just completing a checklist of items on a vision statement!
I recommend a short prayer to you…
Lord Jesus, teach me how to have healthy relationships with the people in my family, my community, my church and the place where I work.
The more I study the life and ministry of Jesus, the more the Holy Spirit illuminates the fact that Jesus cultivated healthy relationships; even with His enemies.
More and more I find myself in relationship with people that find it more comfortable to remain in unhealthy relationships rather than do the hard work of cultivating healthy relationships.
Let’s take a look at a few unhealthy relationships in scripture and see if we can’t find some guiding principals for cultivating healthy relationships.
The Doing… Disciples
Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we force out demons and do many miracles by the power and authority of your name?’ Then I will tell them publicly, ‘I’ve never known you. Get away from me, you evil people.’
Matthew 7:21-23 (GW)
- Please notice that “DOING…” is the center piece of these disciples conversation at the judgement seat of Christ. Can you hear the unspoken pride in their hearts as they run down the list of things they believed were so important? They’re so focused on their “DOING…“ they seem to be totally unaware of the fact that essentially what they’re telling Jesus is that we used your name to do what we thought was best.
- Jesus never denied the DOING… of these disciples.
- Please notice that there seems to be a total absence of humility, even in the presence of the Judge of all the earth! The disciples in Jesus’ example seem to arrogantly assume they know exactly what the will of the Father was for their lives on the earth.
- These disciples got so caught up in DOING…”ministry” for the body of Christ that they totally ignored their relationship to the head of the body!
The real tragedy is the fact that these disciples focused so much on DOING… that they themselves failed to please the very Lord that empowered them to get things done. Please also notice the One Thing that’s most important to Jesus, the relationship between Him and His disciples.
Healthy Relationship Principal #1
- When what we do for Jesus becomes more important than our relationship to Jesus, we’re in SERIOUS trouble.
Jesus, Martha and Mary
As they were traveling along, Jesus went into a village. A woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to him talk. But Martha was upset about all the work she had to do. So she asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work all by myself? Tell her to help me.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You worry and fuss about a lot of things. There’s only one thing you need. Mary has made the right choice, and that one thing will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 (GW)
- Excessive doing caused Martha to make some very incorrect assumptions about Jesus and Mary.
- Excessive doing caused Martha to relate to Jesus and Mary in a very unhealthy way.
- Excessive doing prevented Martha from understanding Jesus’ loving correction.
- Excessive doing prevented Martha from perceiving the “ONE THING” the Lord was there to give them both.
- Excessive doing caused Martha to accuse Jesus and Mary of things they weren’t guilty of.
- Excessive doing prevented Martha from perceiving she needed to apologize to both Jesus and Mary for her unjustified accusations.
In the book Discovering Your God-Given Gifts by Rita Bennett, the author shares profound insight on people with the gift of Administration, which Martha clearly has. The author shares pitfalls those with the gift of Administration must be aware of. One of these pitfalls involves putting a priority on “using” people to complete a task rather than “relating” to the people first and partnering with them to get the task completed. By the way, did you notice the fact that scripture never records Martha actually asking Mary to help her?
Healthy Relationship Principal #2
- Learning how to relate to God and others in healthy ways should be more important than what we do for one another.
According to the ground breaking work of Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence is the gauge by which we can all measure our ability to productively participate in healthy relationships. Mr. Goleman developed a process by which we can evaluate our ability to engage in healthy relationships. Mr. Goleman’s work includes five areas that we can use to develop our ability to positively contribute to healthy relationships with people around us. I’ve also found that these pillars profoundly align to biblical principles on relationship revealed in the Word of God. Actually I’m convinced that what Daniel Goleman and industry experts believe to be ground-breaking scientific discoveries in human behavior finds it’s origin in the Word of God.
- Self-Awareness – Understanding our emotional states. What causes us to become angry? What causes us to feel threatened? What causes us to feel that our integrity is being questioned? What causes us to feel we’re being attacked? For example, did Martha understand why she felt that no one cared about all of the work she was doing?
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit. Proverbs 14:8 (KJV)
- Emotion Management – Our ability to stop and understand the cause and effect of our emotional states. For example, was Martha justified in feeling that Jesus didn’t care about what was important to her? Was Martha justified in feeling that Mary was the reason she felt overwhelmed?
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Proverbs 25:28 (KJV)
- Self-Motivation – The ability to understand whether we’re more motivated by what people think about us as opposed to what Jesus thinks about us?
But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:33 (GW)
- Relationship Management – The ability to discern how our emotional states impact those around us and our ability to empathize with those around us. According to scripture, it never occurs to Martha the impact of her accusations on Jesus, Mary or anyone else in the house.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40 (KJV)
- Emotional Coaching – Taking the necessary steps to reverse unhealthy relationships and transform them into healthy ones.
These things I command you, that ye love one another. John 15:17 (KJV)
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18 (KJV)
In our microwave culture, taking the time to cultivate healthy relationships can seem like an impossible task. However, a healthy relationship with Jesus and the people in your life is something that’s non-negotiable. If you know you have a string of broken and unhealthy relationships in your life, and you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I encourage you to pray this simple prayer.
Lord Jesus, your Word says that if I confess my sin, you are faithful and just to forgive me of my sin and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Lord Jesus I know that healthy relationships are important to you. I also want to be in healthy relationships. Lord, please teach me how to be in healthy relationships with you and the people in me life.