When I look at my calendar for the week and see my list of appointments, tasks, and deadlines that need to be made, I can easily fall into the mindset of “Get-er-done.” I love to get things done just like the next guy. I have a habit of making a to-do list and enjoy crossing off each task as it is completed. The problem with living life preoccupied with your to-do list is that you miss the real part of living…PEOPLE.
Our list of things to do can often trump the relational side of life. We end up not having enough time for people. People who have real needs. People who need friendship. People who need Jesus.
Jesus gave us the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, which is to make disciples of Christ from all nations. We get hung up on what making disciples really means and our lack of understanding leads many to simply neglect it. To help you understand what relational discipleship can look like in your life, here are a few tips:
1. Balance Task and Relationship
At work some people spend too much time with their nose to the ground and never work toward developing relationships. Others spend too much time hanging out and never get anything done. Find a healthy balance that allows you to complete tasks, but is careful to and know and care for the people around you.
2. Schedule Relational Time
We usually schedule things on our calendar that are important to us. So why not schedule relational time as well? Put it in your calendar to walk the halls of your office. Talk to other employees. Find out what’s going on in their life. Make sure you respect other people’s time and the unwritten rules of office politics. If your boss isn’t a relational person then start with him or her. Start sharing the benefits of creating a relational environment and how it can increase morale.
3. Relationships are Messy
Helping someone grow closer to Christ isn’t easy and it’s always messy. People make mistakes, they’re going to sin. But don’t give up on them because of their mistakes. Remember that you used to be a knuckle-head as well, so model grace, not legalism.
4. Transition from Surface Level to Faith Life
Simple questions can transition a conversation about sports or weather to deeper levels of life. “Did you go to church when you grew up?” “Do you go to church now?” Are you making any statements to identify yourself as a believer in Jesus? “My pastor talked about ______last Sunday.” I read a verse in the Bible last week that talked about that issue.” “My spouse and I went to a marriage class at church last week.”
Building relationship is what Jesus modeled to us and calls us to do today. Because it’s through relationship that people see Jesus in us. When people trust us and know that we care about them they will be interested to know why we have hope in Jesus. That’s why 1 Peter 3:15 says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
I heard Andy Stanley speak at a conference in Atlanta. He was talking about developing leaders when he said, “You don’t have to fill their cup, just empty yours.” Refreshing advice for those who have a heart to make disciples. You’re not called to fill everybody’s cup, just empty yours. The pressure is off, so just tell people what you know. It might not be a lot and that’s okay. You aren’t called to fill cups, just empty yours.