Winning at Relationships
Winning is better than losing.
Let’s admit it. Whether it’s a contest, a bid, or a fight, we’d all rather be on the winning side when the dust settles. Nobody likes losing.
Our closest relationships deeply impact the quality and direction of our life. If you’ve experienced a marriage going bad, a friendship blowing up, or a rift between child and parents, you know how much is at stake. Relationships matter. Relationships are worth winning.
Our secondary relationships are worth maintaining too. Foul up a relationship with your coworker, and your day can seem longer than it really is. Work gets clunky, and decisions that should sail through smoothly screech to a halt, all because of a failure to maintain a relationship.
Even momentary interactions with others matter. Be rude to your server, and not only might you get slow service, you could ruin someone’s day. Don’t be that guy. Every person is important. Treat them that way. Your seemingly mundane interactions with others have a continuous ripple effect. It’s your daily, momentary decision to bless others that adds up to your life positively impacting this world.
You could get a lot of things wrong in life, and if you get relationships right, you still win. Believe me, I’ve done enough funerals to know that only a few things matter on the day the put me in the ground. I’ve buried rich men who left a trail of pain and suffering in their wake. Brokenness seems to be the only common denominator in the ones they leave behind. I’ve also celebrated the life of penniless people whose presence will be sorely missed because it was cherished and valued for all the right reasons. They leave in their absence an example of how to live life well.
This is how I order my relationships, starting with the most important. I’ve also included a question to get you thinking.
1) My God – Have I accepted His gift of new life in Christ? (John 3:16)
There can only be one number 1 in your life. Make God your top priority (Proverbs 3:5-6), and He will make sure your #2, 3 and 4 thrive as well. He will lead you through every step you need to take in each relationship. He’ll also change you from the inside out in the process. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you give God the number one priority in your life, allowing Him to shape every decision you make, every word you speak, and every action you take. Nothing else has the potential and power to improve the direction and outcome of your life.
You’ll need help. You can get it at a healthy church: “Why I Go to Church – Part 1″
2) My Wife – Have I treated her like the treasure she is? (Proverbs 18:22)
God has given me an incredible trust in blessing me with a spouse. She is not perfect, and God knows neither am I. Our relationship isn’t perfect. But it is beautiful because God made it (Genesis 2:21-24). Now He calls me to a life of radical submission to Him so that I can learn how to love her well (Ephesians 5:21-33). It’s a process we’re both constantly growing in. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Our marriage has the potential to bless us, our kids, and someday generations beyond that. Or not. I’ve seen both scenarios play out.
Starting or Re-Starting a Marriage? Go to Start Marriage Right for some great help.
3) My Kids – Have I invested all the good I could in the next generation? (Psalm 127)
I love my job. But someday I’ll retire from it. I won’t be doing what I’m doing today. Heck, I’ve made more job transitions in the last 10 years than I care to think about. But in 50 years I’ll still be a Daddy to 4 girls who have no one else to take my place. If you’re a parent, your role is irreplaceable. That’s why it’s so important to get your #1 and #2 priorities in order.
I will never forget the day our first precious daughter was born. I marveled and trembled at the reality that I was now responsible for this little life that I held in my arms. I recognized immediately that I would need help to not screw up this amazing privilege of parenting. The good news is that I have found all the help I will ever need in my heavenly Father. He teaches me daily, as He deals with me, what it’s like to be a patient, loving, helpful parent. I couldn’t imagine trying to lead my kids without His leadership.
For a ton of resources on parenting: Focus on the Family
4) Extended Family and Mentors
If your family is in tact, you have parents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins who know you like no one else. Unlike some of the other people you interact with on a daily basis, they’ve known you since you were a snot-nosed kid. They know what makes you tick. They know when you’re full of it. And they know when you’re hurting. You can’t fool them for long, and because of that your relationships with them are precious. Take steps to ensure that, as you grow older, you continue to foster closeness in these relationships. Invite them over more than once a year. Call them when you need wisdom. Just listen. Their input is unique in your life.
I’ll add to this category mentors who have had a remarkably positive impact on your life. If you’re fortunate, you’ve been blessed with 2 or 3 people in your life who, although they are not family, have the uncanny ability to speak directly into your life. Since they’re not related to you, they can offer you a fresh and unvarnished perspective on life. Maybe that’s a wise older saint at church. Maybe that’s a business mentor or a coach. You know who they are. Make sure you maintain contact with them and let them know how much you value your relationship.
5) Friends, Coworkers, and Everybody Else… – Did I love them well, but keep them in the 5th slot?
I have many wonderful people in my life. But none of them are as important to me as the small circle of precious people who I will live the rest of my life loving, serving and (hopefully) blessing. I love my friends and coworkers. They’re phenomenal people, and their lives impact me daily. However, nobody else gets to crowd out my God, my wife and my kids. I’ve made the mistake before of allowing some “creep” in that area, prioritizing others’ opinions, schedules and demands over #1, 2 and 3. I don’t intend to do that again.
Relationships are what make life worth living. Collecting stuff and doing impressive things don’t really matter if you’ve got no one to experience them with. No matter how badly we’ve messed them up in the past, we can start winning at relationships today.
Sometimes there’s no winning with a particular relationship. It’s simply too toxic.
When is that? What do you then? Read More:
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