Written by Bill Terry
It really is nothing new. I have heard many individuals as well as leaders talk about it; however, it is a different story when it comes to actually modeling and building strong relationships. Jesus Christ put it this way, “By this will all know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) This is a relational statement and no one in history ever exemplified the principle more or better than our Lord.
When it comes to the subject of building relationships, it is only natural to surround ourselves with those most like us. Why you may ask? Most people thrive on being affirmed, praised and accepted. Unfortunately, for most of us, we do not do well with challenge, confrontation or disagreement. It has a way of stirring our juices of resentment and rebellion. How soon we can forget the words of Christ in John 13:35
Have you ever paid close attention to the kinds of people Jesus chose to build relationships with? He walked with big-mouths (Peter), hot-heads (James), doubters (Thomas) and losers (Judas). Why? Because relationships are not simply about us but others. It is highly unlikely that the guys named above would be invited to join our circle of relationships. Can you see Peter as a leader in the IPHC? In spite of their shortcomings, Jesus saw potential in these individuals; men who would be schooled by the Master for three years. He would disciple them to become effective leaders and world changers in the first century church.
Jesus Christ employed a very simplistic approach for producing disciples. In Matthew chapter four, Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee and notices two fishermen named Peter and Andrew. He says, “Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Their response was instantaneous. “They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:10) What magnetism! Little did they know what their future held as they entered into the school of the Master Teacher. Over the next three years, these men would develop an intimate relationship with the Lord and learn the principles of “being” and “doing.”
Pay close attention to the relational order of the Master. It was very important for Jesus to know his followers (relationship) before sending (ministry) them out into the fields to harvest. This principle can be clearly seen in Mark 3 with the appointing of the 12 Disciples. Verses 14 and 15 state, “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.” This passage clearly differentiates between the concepts of being versus doing. There would be plenty of time for doing. Jesus’ main concern was that the twelve spend time to learn valuable life and ministry lessons from the Rabbi.
Albert Einstein once said, “Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From one standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men.” Take a moment and survey the relationships in your life. How many in your circle are just like you? Do you have a mentor or life coach? Is there an unbeliever in your circle? By the way, when was the last time that you personally led someone to Christ? Our Savior was all about relationships. He took time to relate with his followers, and yes, “He was a friend of sinners.”
Recess is over. It’s time to get serious about building strong and lasting relationships. I challenge you to be intentional about engaging with the following four individuals:
- Your relationship with Jesus Christ
- Your relationship with good friends
- Your relationship with a mentor or coach
- Your relationship with an unbeliever
Build relationships! Our lives depend on them, and so does the Kingdom.
Bill Terry is the National Director for Men’s Ministries and the Assistant Director for Discipleship Ministries. Bill resides in Oklahoma City with his lovely wife Rita, where they will celebrate 44 years of marriage in 2015. He is the proud head of an extended family that includes two sons Gregory and Rodney, daughters-in-law Holly and Brec, granddaughters Grace, Annie, Emily and Elena and grandson Adam Gregory.