[originally posted on August 2nd 2013]
By Jacob Toman
This is the final part of our miniseries is on the final part of the paradigm, C, which stands for Cultivating Relationship.
There are three different distinct groups that you must cultivate relationship with when seeking to impact culture for Christ: Horizontal relationships, self relationship, and vertical relationship.
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
Cultivating Relationship Horizontally
I don't like people. How's that for transparency? I don't like being around large groups of people, I feel awkward when in a small group of people, and I don't like meeting with people that require me to talk, and be honest. I don't like people. Yet even in the midst of my great dislike for the process of meeting people and making friends, I love the community that God has put around me. In the business world they call it a "network", in the church we call it a "family" and in gaming culture we call it a "clan". Regardless of what we call it, the reality that there are other people around us who are talented, have stories, and are also included in God's plan is a massive part of working within God's big story. King David had friends who were loyal to him and helped him fight off the Philistines, Daniel had friends who helped pray for him and support him, and Jesus had his disciples who were incredibly important to his earthly ministry. In whatever area of culture you are called to live, work, and play, God has also called you into a social circle to establish, grow, and maintain relationship. The reality is that none of us are superheroes, and we need large coalitions and networks to actually effectively work and participate in God's work of change in the work. That can't happen if we isolate ourselves or dis-unify ourselves from relationships with those around us. Serving the King in the workplace, play space, and family means cultivating relationship with those around us.
"You're never as good as people think you are when you're winning and never as bad as people think you are when you're losing."
Cultivating Self Relationship
You have a relationship with yourself. Believe it or not that relationship is very similar to your own relationship with other people. What does self relationship look like? Well, there are times when you are disappointed with yourself, periods when you might enjoy alone time, moments of your life where you hate yourself, or make yourself laugh. The way how you think about who you are is what I call self relationship. This is actually incredibly important to impacting culture for God's glory and living out our faith daily. If a person sees themselves as less important than God sees them, they are actually denying their identity and special uniqueness given by God. If on the other hand, a person sees themselves as more important than God sees them, they are actually projecting themselves in the place of God. Self perception is incredibly important. Please don't hear what I'm not saying, there is such a thing as self obsession, it's called narcissism and we naturally do it very well here in the United States. That being said, one does not correct narcissism by denying self worth or relationship at all. Christ came for his people, and as a child of God that includes you, so yes you are incredibly important to the King and his plans while at the same time, you are not the King. Keeping both of those things in the forefront of our minds and hearts is incredibly important. Serving the King in the workplace, play space, and family means cultivating relationship with self.
Cultivating Vertical Relationship
The most important relationship to maintain and cultivate as a servant of the Most High, is the personal and intimate relationship between God and yourself. You can have the best networking skills, a good understanding of who God made you to be, and yet lack the fundamental relationship which you were created to have. At the beginning of human history, we were made as relational beings, with perfect relationship with our creator. As we seek to live our faith out in our families, workplaces, and play spaces, it is essential to keep relationship with the Lord at the center of it. I recently was in a discussion where I was asked "how does someone take head knowledge of their faith, and begin the process of owning that faith in daily life?" It's a fantastic question, and the answer can be found no where else but in relationship with God himself. Relationships are hard, they require mercy, forgiveness, and apologies, mistakes are made and old habits don't quickly go away. We are no longer in the state of perfect relationship with our Creator Lord, but for those in Christ, we are in deep, intimate, saving relationship, in which we need to daily run to him with our troubles, hopes, dreams, desires, and fears. Serving the King in the workplace, play space, and family means cultivating relationship with self.
Prayers for Cultivating Relationship
Almighty King, Who can I collaborate with for God’s glory?
Almighty King, How will you grow my passion for your glory through relationship with others, myself, and you?
This has been the fourth and final concluding discussion on the concept paradigm used for changing culture in the service of Christ the King: EPIC.