The Ability to Maintain Relationships

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Theology of Success Part 3 – The Ability to Maintain Relationships

Anyone who is a devotee of “Andy of Mayberry” knows the name of Ernest T. Bass.  And they also know of his chief preoccupation – love.  And of his chief delight,  Romina.  On one episode Ernest T. speaks of his manly charms.  “I’m a little mean but I make up for it by being real healthy!”

As strange as it sounds that is the very mindset of modern man.  “I have no real interest in character, but in physical wellbeing, I’m the tops!”

Remember how in elementary school we got checks on our character? Helpfulness, attentiveness, cooperation, works and plays well with others, etc. We always joked about making A’s in lunch, recess and study hall, but the older I became I realized that funny as it sounds those were  the very things that mattered.  As a matter of fact if you made straight A’s in courses but did bad in lunch and recess your life was pretty much headed for disaster.  Why?  An inability to carry on personal relationships.

For forty plus years I have watched this sad fact among the people of God.  Christians who are faithful in church, protective of their homes, frugal in their finances, conservative in their politics, even studious in their bibles and yet their lives are disasters – simply because they cannot get along with human beings.  They are “socially challenged.”  It is not a course you can take in college.  It simply is the will of God directed by the word of God that relates to people.

Samuel and Jesus grew in “wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”

“What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus was asked.  His answer, “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.”  The two are inseparable.

“… for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”   (1 John 4:20)

“… he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 Jn. 4:21)

The whole law is fulfilled in one word in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom. 13:9)

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this,” Jesus said, “ is the Law and the Prophets.”  (Mt. 7:12)

And yet,  who was the fellow who was “such a worthless man that no one can speak to him”? (I Sam. 25:17)  Nabal, whose name meant “fool.”

That is why you do not see one single person, male or female, in the bible who is of any great or honored position who is not seen as a loving and cooperative fellow.  Sometimes in a pragmatic sense it is simply called “a team man”.  Look at the characters of scripture in the Old Testament.  Examine the injunctions of Mosaic Law.  Checkout the incriminations of the Prophets.  Behold the life of Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John.  Read the New Testament epistles and their commands.   All are socially adept.

And this is not a natural trait.  Love is an acquired attribute.  It comes through obeying God at times when there is a behavioral fork in your road.

Social etiquette is in taking the right fork.

But do you really want to learn relational skills?  Read the Book of Proverbs.  Proverbs is the study of the myriad of things that apply “love thy neighbor.”    The little small areas that fall between the cracks of “love thy neighbor.”

  • Being a good listener
  • Being benevolent
  • Submissive to authority
  • Controlling the tongue…
  • Controlling anger
  • Being sympathetic…
  • Being sensitive
  • A servant
  • Forgiving

                and on and on

One can have a successful life by reading nothing but Proverbs.  I learned a long time ago that in hiring staff and appointing elders and training leaders that the inability to get along with people cancels out all spiritual gifts and depreciates all potential and talent.

It’s like serving a well cooked meal on a commode seat.  The setting means everything.  Such is the ability to be able to relate to others as surrounding spiritual and intellectual gifts.

Knowledge and skills you can have but first you look for a winsome, loving personality.  It sets the table for ability.

Without kindness you are not really significant or worthy of being followed no matter how smart you think you are.  You are only odd and eccentric.  Love validates.

Love allows you to play chords.  Lack of love reduces one to playing onlyChopsticks.  How are you with relationships?  Once you get to know people how do these relationships develop?  Do people draw closer or turn and run?  True success is inseparable from living well with others.