If you’ve listened to any of our previous episodes you’ll know by now that this podcast is all about relationships. Relationships are what we are all made for. Fulfilling, life-giving relationships. Some of our relationships are like that. But others sometimes are not. What’s the difference between good relationships that work well and those that don’t’? It comes down to two words. The first is want. The second word I’ll save for the end of the episode, so be sure to hang around until then.
First, let’s consider want. For a relationship to work well and be fulfilling we have to want it to be that way. We have to want it so badly we are willing to work through the problems that inevitably arise in most relationships.
Some of these difficulties in a relationship are caused by circumstances outside the control of the parties in a relationship. Sometimes relational problems are caused by us; other times they’re caused by the other person.
While we have no control over what another person does or doesn’t do in a relationship, the one thing we do have control over is what WE do and think. For a relationship to work well we have to be self-motivated enough to work on our part, on what we have control over, in transforming our relationships into the best they can be. The other person may or not respond as we like, but we still control what we think and do.
In the podcast I shared the story of the missions conference I led several years ago, where I demonstrated a relational problem solving exercise. A woman missionary near retirement age volunteered to share the story of a conflict she was having with a much younger missionary. They both had very strong opinions about how things should be done. But they ultimately were able to settle their differences.
When I asked what brought that about, the woman replied, “We both wanted to settle our differences because we knew our team could not accomplish its goals if our relationship was in turmoil. We both so highly valued our purpose and goals, and our mission, that we just had to work things out between the two of us. And we did.”
I love this story because it illustrates the power of want, where our desire for a healthy relationship moves us to do whatever it takes to heal any rift in the relationship. It also illustrates that it takes all parties in a relationship to want that relationship to be the best it can be.
This example also highlights the difference between valuing something, and wanting it enough to take action. The two women in the story obviously valued having a good relationship because they took action to make their relationship what they wanted for it.
Most of us say we value the idea of good relationships. But often it just stops there. We like the concept or idea of good relationships, but when it comes to taking steps to implement the idea, well, we’re not so sure. Until we back up our desire for a good relationships with action, it’s just a theory. And it’s not even a value, unless we engage in behaviors that works toward making a good relationship happen. Good relationships take work.
Another part of want often overlooked in relationship is the question, “Is there anything more to our relationships that goes beyond getting our needs met? Could there be another purpose? Is there something else we might be missing that could bring out the best in us, that’s even more fulfilling and life-giving than whatever it is we get out of a relationship?”
I would submit that the answer to this is “yes.” It is something many people miss.
That “something else that is missing” is wanting to reflect the image of God well in how we relate to others. It’s actually more fulfilling than what we get out of relationship, and it’s even more life-giving than what we give in our relationships. There is nothing that is more rewarding than wanting to reflect God's character in how we relate to people. Let me explain.
In the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, in verse 26 there’s a conversation within the Trinity, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.’” Notice the plural pronouns in this verse. Let US make mankind in OUR image, in OUR likeness.
From the very beginning God is highlighting relationships. First, the relationship within the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then in his relationship with the human race. In verse 27, we read “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created him.”
To reflect the image of God well, to accurately reflect his likeness, and to fully be what he created us to be, requires that we want to be the kind of person God created us to be. And a big part of what God created us to be is relational – because He is relational.
Since you are listening to this podcast, I’m going to assume this is what you want for yourself. That you want to be the kind of person God created you to be. But you and I both know there are lots of people in the world who have no interest whatsoever in being the person God created them to be. They want to be the person they want to be. They want to do life their way.
In the podcast I shared story of one our twin grandsons when we was about 4 years old. We’ll call him “Little Jimmy” for this example, but it’s not his real name. He and his brother had been staying overnight at our house and was misbehaving. Janet and I had a talk with him and said to Little Jimmy, “we can’t help but notice that lately you are getting into all kinds of trouble with your brother. And it seems to be making you miserable. You know, if your were to ask Jesus into your heart and ask him to help you behave, life would be a whole lot better for you.”
Our grandson's response was chilling, “I don’t want Jesus in my heart because I want to do what I want to do? … and if he was in my heart, what would he be doing in there anyway?”
As a 4-year old he didn’t want anything to do with reflecting the image of God well in his relationships. Fortunately, within a few days, he came over to the over side and has turned into a Godly teenager.
But sadly, a lot of adults live life like my 4-year old grandson did at the time when he declared, “I want to do what I want to do.” They embody that horrible Frank Sinatra tune, I Did it My Way.
I actually heard that sung at a funeral for a distant relative I knew. It kept playing over and over again in the funeral home. How incredibly sad to have that song sung at your funeral. If they ever play I Did it My Way at my funeral, just shoot me.
Well enough of that. For our purposes here, as I mentioned before, I’m going to assume that deep down inside you want to be the person God wants you to be, especially in your relationships. But if you’re not there yet, that’s okay. You’ll still get value out of listening to this podcast. Hopefully, the more you learn how God wants us to relate to each other, the more you will see the benefits of living a life that reflects his likeness well in all your dealings with people.
So that’s the first feature found in every good relationship, the want. If the want is not there, our relationships aren’t going anywhere. They’re not sustainable without the want.
Assuming we want to relate well with people, we also need skill to do so. And that is the second feature of every good relationship mentioned in the beginning of the show. Skill. Every good relationship requires skill.
And this podcast can help. If you hang around through future weekly episodes of You Were Made for This, you’ll learn relational skills you can practice and develop. You’ll learn things you can do, and ways you can think, that will help you relate well, that will reflect the likeness of God. Nothing is more fulfilling than this.
Starting next week with episode 11, I’m going to explain the four levels of relationship skill. It will help you assess where you are currently in your relational development, and where you’d like to be.
Before I close, here’s the he main take-away from today’s episode, our show in a sentence
A good relationship starts with wanting one badly enough to take action to make it happen.
To respond to today’s episode, ask yourself, Do I just like the idea of a good relationships, or does my behavior show that I want to relate well to people as God intended?
In next week’s episode we’ll talk about four levels of relationship skills, focusing on just the first one.
Quote of the Week
We judge others by their behavior, but judge ourselves by our intentions
– author unknown
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