I really don’t like the fact that so much of our culture is informed by television. Now our kids learn about relationships from sitcoms, reality shows, and made-for-TV dramas. They used to learn about how to relate to their friends by watching their parents relate to their friends, or by relating to others themselves. Now, we learn how people relate from America’s Next Top Model or House MD.
I have to admit: I have pretty much never regretted blowing up my TV a few decades ago. The fruit has been very pleasing.But I’m not talking about television today; I want to talk about our relationships.
I have a core value that says that relationships – particularly relationships among believers – need to be things that work for our growth, our well-being.
The relational skills we pick up from
The catfights on Top Model (or The Apprentice, or Project Runway, or how many others?) don’t qualify as encouraging relationships.
This may come as a surprise, but the relational skills we learn from the television are not good examples for our lives. They’re designed, crafted, for entertainment, to capture our attention, and to discourage us from flipping the channel to some other over-the-top show.
I’m fascinated by the reverse lesson: those are the world’s ideas of relationships. What would godly relationships look like?
I’m captured by the idea of relationships among us that are focused on building each other up. Since we live in an era in which prophetic gifts are commonplace, I’m captured by the idea of prophetically discerning the calls, anointings, plans for blessing that God has established for others, and relating to each other on the basis of what God says about them, rather than what we see or hear.
In fact, I’ll go this far: we can relate to each other from at least three different perspectives, three different viewpoints that I can work with as I relate to you:
· What’s best for me in this relationship? What do I need in this? How can I relate to you in such a way that I get my own needs met? I see you as a means to my ends, as a repository of resources to meet my needs. Sounds pretty ugly.
· What’s best for you in this relationship? I’m not sure that this perspective has any real value beyond the theoretical. I have neither the capacity to discern what it is that you truly need, nor the means to provide it, but it always sounds good to say I’m working for your best interests.
· How does God see you? I think of this as the prophetic perspective: I can’t know all that God knows of you, of course (my brain would explode), but I can know what He chooses to show me. And if I choose, I can relate to you as if you already were the person that God has described you as.
I wonder what would happen if we stopped trying to persuade each other of how we’re right (and therefore you’re not), and instead focused on “What can I do to help you become this person God sees you as today?”
For example. Let’s assume that you’re an ordinary with ordinary issues, like you get angry when people treat you unfairly, or if you haven’t had enough sleep. Or whatever.
Now let’s imagine that we have a chance to pray together, and in that process, God reveals that a) He loves you a whole lot (no surprise there), and that b) He sees you as a leader among His people. Now if I’m working on the concept of relating to you according to a prophetic perspective, then I’ll treat you as someone loved by an omniscient God, and as a leader and teacher.
I’ll treat you with honor. Yeah, I really don’t want to piss off the guy that’s in love with you, but that’s the short view. More significantly, as a lover of God myself, I probably want to love the people that He loves, and that includes you. It’s true theologically, but if He’s pointed it out personally, then it’s an even more powerful motivator.
I’ll also regard you as a leader, even though right now the characteristic that’s most evident about you is that you get angry a lot. God sees you as a leader, and if I’m going to agree with Him, then I’m going to see you – and therefore treat you – as a leader as well. I’m going to respect your opinion. Heck, I’m going to listen to your opinion!
Note that God has not put you into a position right now of leader. Those are your calling, your destiny. You can grow into those (or not), but they’re part of how God sees you. I don’t defer to your leadership above that of my existing leaders.
In at least three ways, I treat you differently because I now see you according to the revelation of your calling as leader:
A) I treat you with the respect that a leader and teacher would deserve. If the President walked into our room, how would I respond? If a business leader I respected walked in, how would I respond? How much of that response would be appropriate with you? More, how far can I push it: How much of that respect, that honor, could I get away with before it became inappropriate or excessive?
B) I look for signs of a leadership anointing in your life. I expect leadership gifts from you. Subject to a whole lot of other things (like the role of established leaders in both of our lives), I look for the gift to show up.
C) I look for opportunity to equip the gift. If I have the authority, I might give you opportunity to demonstrate the gift in a limited setting. I might see if I can find an environment where you can benefit from training in leadership; I might invite you to hang around with leaders, and talk with leaders.
If we want to do what God is doing, to agree with what God is saying, how can we do that in our relationships?