Building relationships is the first and foremost thing we should be about - everything else comes out of relationships.
Building relationships with people from other cultures is so important, as humor; lifestyle; values; and beliefs are so different to ours, and don’t translate well. Living next to, and working with other nationalities, requires relationship.
Jesus taught us that building relationships is the greatest and most important thing we do - no strings attached.
When a scribe approached Jesus and asked him: “’Which commandment is the most important of them all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.’” -Mark 12:29-31 (ESV)
So why do I need to build relationships? What’s in it for me? That’s a great question! Thanks for asking!
Relationships ARE the greatest gift God gives us.
God smooths off my rough edges by being around others. He draws me to my knees in prayer, as I seek His love for people around me. As I pray, I grow spiritually and relationally, and amazingly, I become quite fond of those around me.
Jesus, when calling his disciples to a specific task, never said “go it alone!” He valued the gift of team. He sent them out “two by two”. A lot of the time they were together as 13 men and a group of women. We need each other! Our experience within the MORE Network is a beautiful illustration of that!
I love how “The Chosen” series so beautifully illustrates the difficulty experienced by the disciples as they learned to live together in community. Working and living in team is some of the hardest work we do.
Recently, as I was visiting Pastor Daniel Raju in Machilipatnam, Andhra Pradesh (India), I heard him share the level of importance he placed on relationships. He visits five of his church families a week in their homes - praying for them, encouraging them, and getting to meet their neighbors. All this while leading a ministry of 85 church planting pastors. The outcome? More and more people come to Christ.
You cannot have a relationship with someone until you get to know them.
Over time, trust develops. As trust develops, so does community.
Relationships ARE the greatest gift God gives us.
Relationships are not an end to a means.
I must love people for who they are, NOT for what they can do for me. Jesus said that he "did not come to be served, but to serve" (Matt 20:28).
How do we build deep and meaningful relationships?
We walk in humility. When God places us in a position of influence, we don’t get all proud. He hasn’t placed us there for our reputation, but for us to accomplish His purpose. God uses relationships in our lives to shape us, build and improve us, and strengthen us for service.
We forgive others. We don’t allow hurts, betrayal, and being wronged, to annihilate relationships. That’s just the evil one seeking to kill and destroy. Unfortunately, Satan has been quite successful in this area.
To build a deep, meaningful, and lasting relationship in everything we do, we:
- Rely on the Lord to lead us to the right people, often through an introduction by a mutual friend.
- Make the commitment to build relationships in person where possible! Virtual is helpful, but ultimately it must be in person!
- Have a solid reason for meeting … usually a common goal.
- Readily acknowledge we cannot accomplish the task God gives us by ourselves. We need to do it together.
- Build trust with people. This usually takes years. Building trust is accelerated when we have no selfish hidden agendas.
- Never compete with each other. Seek to join others. Go to where God is already working.
- Approach people with a humble and forgiving spirit.
And remember, relationships are not an end to a means.
How to Build Amazing Relationships
Accept people for who they are, NOT who we think they should be.
Here’s how to build amazing relationships …
“Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.” -1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (MSG)
What does this mean? It means, in my relationships, I don’t find fault with people. If something appears bad, I still think the best of them, I see the good in them.
It means I don’t try to change others to my values, nor do I try to save them. Only God does the changing and the saving.
It means I should be content with who God has called me to be and the place he has called me to be in.
“So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” -1 Peter 5:6-7 (MSG)
Always build relationships. Not for your reputation. Not so that you can get something out of them. It’s never for your reputation. It’s always for God’s reputation.
We are to surrender our wills to God every morning, inviting him to make the decisions for us. Find out what he wants us to do today, and do it. We’ll never regret it.
And when, in those relationships, we’re hurt, betrayed, abused, and disregarded … forgive! Don’t get bitter. Wait on the Lord. He will at just the right moment, deliver us.
“Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.” – Romans 12:16 (MSG)
Treat people the way you want to be treated.
“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” – Galatians 6:1-3 (MSG)
Ministry at the Speed of Relationships
What does “ministry at the speed of relationships” mean? It means enjoying the work God has called us to, while in relationship with the people he has called to work with.
“So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” -Romans 12:1 (MSG)
God always has an assignment for us. The assignment is usually far bigger than we would dare to tackle on our own. Typically, it’s impossible. That’s usually an indicator that God is up to something, and he wants us involved.
God sets us up for good. Our role is to obey him, to delight in him, to anticipate his great work in and through us.
- God has called us into relationship with HIM! It’s all HIS idea.
- God gives us relationship with others, for his glory!
- We are to live as Jesus lived, and love as Jesus loved, with those we have relationship with.
Every one of us are nobodies, until God call us to Himself, and places a clear calling on our lives.
Isn’t that what we’re called to do?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Paul Dyck is the former National Team Leader and now an Ambassador for the MORE Network - a Canada-wide collaborative supporting cross-cultural workers & MKs (Missionary Kids) in transition. Paul fills the role of Ministry Ambassador and Champion across Canada, working with church & mission leaders involved with caring for cross-cultural workers & MKs. Paul is an MK and has experience in Member Care, Pastoring, Banking and Business Leadership. Paul & his wife Carol life in Abbotsford, BC.