I have said for years that everything we do boils down to relationships. Success in business, success in ministry, success in family and success in life in general all come down to successful relationships.
As many of you know, I was recently laid off from a job I had for 20 years. A job, if I might say, I was quite successful at not because of my great knowledge or abilities, but because of my relationships. In my job I had direct supervision and responsibility for a team that was entrusted with the safety of a university campus. Now many of us have images of people in security, safety, law enforcement, etc. People who are tied to the rules. People who are rigid and unwilling to bend. Trust me, I have known and worked with some of them, but as a person who served in this capacity for so many years I assure you that this will only get you so far. In his blog “Relationships – The Key to Successful Leadership” Doug Dickerson refers to Alan Loy McGinnis’ book “Brining out the Best in People.”
“In the simplest terms, the people who like people and who believe that those they lead have the best intentions will get the best from them. On the other hand, the police-type leader, who is constantly on the watch for everyone’s worst side, will find that people get defensive and self-protective and that the doors to their inner possibilities quickly close.”
Policies and rules have a place, and without them productivity of any sort will fall apart. They may at times serve as the starting point so that people know what is expected. And on those unfortunate occasions when necessary to call people to account they may serve as an ending point. But we do not live and work at the beginning or the end. We work and live in the in-between. It is here that relationships develop and grow.
It is through relationships that people get to know each other personally. It is through relationships that people become vulnerable to each other and learn that they can trust each other. It is through relationships that we develop a vested interest in each other’s welfare. It is through relationships that people become committed to each other.
Taken to its ultimate level I am reminded of the quote, “IF THEY FEAR YOU, THEY WILL ONLY FIGHT FOR YOU, BUT IF THEY LOVE YOU, THEY WILL DIE FOR YOU!” (I am having trouble placing the quote.) Do those who work for us love us? Do those we work with love us? Do those we work for love us? More importantly, do we love them?
We were never meant to live and work alone, isolated from others. God intended from the very beginning that we live in relationships.
“Then the LORD said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable to him.'” Genesis 2:18
Jesus himself did not lead by giving orders and rules, but by living in relationships. Those he chose to minister with him were not servants, but friends.
“. . . I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
We will not always be perfect. We will not always live up to the standards that have been set. It is only when we have a relationship that we will be able to forgive these lapses.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
It all boils down to relationships. This is where we define success. Worldly success can be found apart from relationships, but it is meaningless. But relationships allow us to be successful even if we are a failure in the world’s eyes. I am reminded of the quote found at the end of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” “No Man is a Failure who has friends.”
We need to reach out to others, share with others and love others to truly know success. Success in business, ministry, family and life is found in our relationships.