This morning, we continue our devotions on surviving relationship conflict by weeding out the relationship killers in our lives. A great book on this subject is “Relationship Killers” by Stephen Matthew. We will have some of these books available at the church on Sunday if people want to take them and make a donation to the “Building Fund”.
The Weed – Dogmatism
This next weed is very important because it deals with a skill required to nourish every king of relationship. This is an indispensable feed – one without which the relationships you are cultivating will never achieve their full potential.
But first the weed – the weed is dogmatism. It means to be “rigid”. It is the attitude that says, ‘I am right and that is it”. Dogmatic people tend to have strong opinions. Some like to let you know about them too, while others are more quietly determined to get their way. But whether vocal or quiet, they are opinionated, inflexible and unbending – not the best ingredient for a successful relationship especially in marriage and parenting.
Opposites attract so the “uncertain” are attracted to the “certain”, the “weak” are attracted to the “strong” and the “fragile” to the “secure”. So initially that dogmatism can be seen as strength but if that strength is rigid, inflexible and unbending and lacks compassion the weed of Dogmatism grows and destroys.
The Feed – Healthy Compromise
In our relationships we need to be committed to healthy compromise – the skill to negotiate. There is no such thing as a genuine human relationship that does not involve compromise, flexibility or a bit of give and take. It is a very healthy thing and must be applied with love and care into every relationship you have.
This feed works best with the feeds of “Communication” and “Vision” because they set the boundaries of healthy compromise. Our Biblical Christian Values are also essential as boundaries for healthy compromise. The Holy Spirit promises to “guide us into truth” (John 16 v 13). A healthy compromise does not leave ungodly behaviors or lifestyles unchallenged – it tackles them head on as potential relationship killers. Healthy compromise springs from a healthy heart.
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Matthew 12 v 34)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4 v 23)
From a healthy heart that wants the best for the other person, and the relationship as a whole, come great compromises.
If your heart is saying, “I want you to be happy”, you will gladly compromise some of your preferences for the one you love.
If your heart attitude is that you want to understand the person more than you want to be understood, a healthy compromise is likely to occur in that quest.
When you truly respect your partner’s individuality and settle that there are some things about them that simply cannot be changed – it’s the way they are made – you will healthily compromise for their sake and the development of the relationship.
The more you value the other person’s strengths, abilities and the unique contribution to the relationship in your heart, the more likely to be happy with a healthy compromise that ensures those things are never squeezed out by you digging your heels in and becoming dogmatic.
Make a daily commitment to healthy compromise for the sake of your marriage, family, children, business, church and friendships. It is an essential nutrient in the soil of your relationships.
The Weed – Inappropriate Business
Life is busy – everyone is busy because we fill our days with doing things. Whether they are productive things, random things or the right things is another matter. This morning lets assume you are busy.
The problem with being busy is that we are blinded to things that are happening underneath our noses. Relationships become stressed and fragmented and we do not even see it. If we carry on regardless we will get a wake up call. A friend will leave us, our marriage will hit problems or our children will no longer respect us or come to us for wisdom.
Inappropriate business is a weed that sucks the life out of relationships and destroys hope. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13 v 12)
When you wake up to this weed – STOP!
The Feed – Prioritise Quality Time
The feed is two compounds that work together – prioritise and quality time.
Prioritise – All relationships have an appropriate space in your world. The skill is to know which relationships fit where and to be willing to adjust the spaces they occupy as you navigate the seasons of life. That means keeping them under review. If you don’t, busyness can blind you to the importance of developing relationships and you will mishandle it – and potentially lose it altogether.
God – Our relationship with God informs and directs all other relationships so it is number one.
Spouse – This is my first responsibility as a husband and Man of God. No other human relationship can displace it. From our relational strength flows the ability to raise a family and relate to all other people’s in life.
Children and Family – These are my Primary Stewardship Responsibilities from God.
Church – My love for God, my spouse and family (children) feed and inform all I do in church. I believe a healthy church experience and involvement should never be allowed to distort or damage my other primary relationships. That is the flow of healthy relationship life.
Friends – Many of my friends are part of the Church but I also have friends outside of church both Christian and non Christian.
Work – Success at work demands God first, wife and family second, church third and then the rest.
Quality Time – Time spent with people is not equal in value. There is such a thing as quality time.
Quality time is all about what you do and talk about together. When time is short you make it count for maximum relationship enrichment.
Quality time is often spent just enjoying each other’s company. It is space created just to be together, for one another, to deepen your intimacy, heart-joining and shared interests.
Quality time cost you – and that is what makes it special to your partner, children, friend or colleague.
Quality time also includes communicating face-to-face. Remember, text messages and conversations using social media are not quality time and never will be. Quality time lets you listen to the other person’s real heart cry – while looking them in the eye and seeing the tear well up or the smile creep in – something an email will never capture.
When you have dealt with this weed and put the nutrients in of reviewing priorities and quality time step back and smell the roses – beautiful!