Welcome to episode 78, where today we explore an important element of a fulfilling relationship.
If you’re a new listener to this podcast, you will soon realize that we’re all about relationships here. We’re all about finding the joy God intends for us in our relationships because that is what He made us for. Our relationship with people, with the world around us, with ourselves, and most importantly, with God himself.
Each episode is designed to share some nugget of truth we can act on to make our relationships fulfilling and joyful. Fulfilling relationships don't just don't happen on their own, they require effort on our part.
Today, for example, we’ll be looking at one key principle of a healthy and fulfilling relationship each of us can work on to make our relationships the best they can be.
We find this important relationship principle at work in the realm of leadership.
Donald Miller Business Made Simple daily video recently talked about
- There are leaders who have no vision are successful if they have this one quality
- Some leaders who lack creativity can be successful if they have this one quality
- Other leaders who are intelligent can be successful if they have this one quality
- And even Leaders who lack people skills can be successful if they have this one quality
They have a bias toward action. They get things done.
A link to the 3:05 video will be in the show notes.
Miller talks about this principle as it relates to business, but my experience is that it applies to relationships as well.
And who can define what a “successful” relationship means? I prefer “fulfilling” to successful,
To illustrate this principle, ’ll share several recent listener responses to episode #74 – Relationships During Elections, and episode #75 Getting a Letter Helps People Who Feel Isolated. They show that fulfilling relationships just don’t happen – they require action.
Take Action in Your Relationships During Elections
I’m recording this right before the US presidential election, and hopefully by the time this episode airs we’ll know the winner. But in episode 74 what we talked about how fulfilling relationships don't just don't happen when we're in an election season. The actions I suggested in this episode resonated with a listener from South Carolina who wrote to say they were “dead on the money.”
In this episode I said:
“If your guy wins, don’t gloat. Don’t rejoice. It’s not going to be nearly as good as you think. Be kind. Extend grace. Be gentle. Your relationship with the person who backed the loser is more important than any election.
“If your guy loses, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t sulk, whine or otherwise complain. The sun will come up tomorrow. Acknowledge your sadness and fear. But it’s not going to be as bad as you think. Your relationship with the person who backed the winner is more important than any election.
“We’ve had really bad leaders in the past and we’ll survive this one, too should the other guy have won.
“Our Relationship Quote of the Week Also offered up another action we can take to put our relationship to the election in proper perspective.
“From the Bible, Philippians 4:8
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Election season never falls into any of these categories.
Keep politics out of the church
Another listener named Judy from Florida responded to my email reminder about the relationships during election season. She described an action she took when she visited a church. Judy said, “…during his sermon the pastor said that Barack Obama was the anti-Christ. I never went back.”
I replied, “Good Choice, Judy.” Sometimes the best action we can take in a relationship is to walk away from it.
Then we have Kim from Wisconsin who responded to the election episode with:
“THANKS JOHN , THIS WAS GREAT. I AGREE WITH YOU. ONE THING THAT WAS IMPORTANT FOR US WHEN WE LOOKED FOR A NEW CHURCH WAS THAT POLITICS WERE MOT PREACHED FROM THE PULPIT. I DO NOT HAVE FACEBOOK AND THE WHOLE POLITICAL TOPIC IS ONE OF THE REASONS I DON’T HAVE AN ACCOUNT. I BELIEVE ULTIMATELY GOD IS IN CONTROL. AND AS I AM CURRENTLY STUDYING EZRA, I AM AGAIN REMINDED THAT GOD CAN USE ANY LEADER FOR HIS GOOD AND HIS GLORY!”
Kim and her husband took a wise action in their relationship with the church. They declared for themselves what was unacceptable, based on their values and understanding of God. And they chose a church home accordingly.
And the final response to episode 74 on our relationships during elections really stings for me personally, because it comes from a guy at our church. I’ll call him Willie to protect his confidentiality. Willie writes:
“As an Independent, I have not usually had an issue with politics until this year. There have been several people at our church that can call Democrats all sorts of names (socialist, queer lovers…) Yes worse…
“When I have responded in a joking manner about Republicans, wow it is like I have insulted God, YHWH.
“I have learned my lesson, but I find it deeply disturbing for the Church (followers of Jesus) I cannot imagine what non-Christians think???”
Ouch! The action Willie took was to use a little humor to difuse the situation. But it was not received well. But at least he tried. Not all wise action leads to positive results, but we should still try anyway. Do the right thing, regardless of the results.
These relationship stories involving churches confirm my suspicion that sometimes we Christians just get bored with Jesus so we fill our lives with junk food for the mind and soul.
For Someone to Receive a Letter Means We Have to Write One
Then we come to episode #75, Getting a Letter Helps People Who Feel Isolated. Here we touched upon the research that shows the therapeutic benefit of receiving a letter when we are disconnected from relationships and feeling lonely.
I then read a letter I wrote to my Aunt Lucille who recently turned 100 years old. This was an action I took to maintain my relationship with my aunt because I know fulfilling relationships don't just don't happen on their own.
This episode generated a number of responses from listeners about the value of taking action to write a note or letter to someone.
Randy from Pittsburgh forwarded an article he saw from Inc. Magazine
Flight attendants on a Delta flight who wrote handwritten notes to each passenger thanking them for flying Delta. This was about taking action to enhance business relationships.
Karla from Wisconsin sent an article from the New York Times
It's about a man in NY sitting next to a US mailbox on the street with a manual typewriter offering to write a letter for anyone who came by and then mails it for them. It was an action he took to help other people act to bless someone else.
Finally, Marylin from Minnesota wrote the following email to me
I DID IT! I LISTENED TO YOUR PODCAST FIRST THING THIS MORNING AND THOUGHT OF A FRIEND WHO TURNED 98 YEARS OLD LAST SATURDAY. HANDWRITTEN LETTER IS DONE! THANKS FOR THIS GREAT IDEA!
I HAVE A FRIEND WHO DECIDED TO WRITE 70 LETTERS TO 70 DIFFERENT FRIENDS DURING HER 70TH BIRTH YEAR. THEY WERE ALL HANDWRITTEN. I HAVE TREASURED THAT LETTER.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode.
Fulfilling relationships don’t just happen. To get the most out of them we have to take action, wise action, to make them the best they can be.
Here’s what we can all do in response to today’s program.
Ask God to show us what action we need to take to make our relationships fulfilling and satisfying. Is there something we need to do that requires something of us, like writing a handwritten letter or note to someone?
Could there be a there a relationship God wants us to avoid or end, like our relationship with a church that talks more about politics than it does about Jesus?
Is there an action we can take to bless someone, like the guy with the typewriter at the mailbox in New York City, that in turn will cause that someone to bless someone else?
As always, another thing you could do is let me and your fellow listeners know what resonated with you about today’s episode. Just like the listeners did in today’s show. You can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes. Or you can send them to me in an email to email@example.com.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to take wise action in your relationships. For when you do so, you will find the joy God intends for you in your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Our Relationship Quote of the Week
Successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t do, when they don’t want to do it. ~ source unknown
That’s all for today. See you next week. Goodbye for now.
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Resources mentioned in today’s show
Episode 74 Relationships During Elections
Episode 75 Getting a Letter Helps People Who Feel Isolated