“I sincerely believe that the word ‘relationships’ is the key to the prospect of a decent world. It seems abundantly clear that every problem you will have — in your family, in your business, in your nation, or in this world — is essentially a matter of relationships” (Clarence Francis).
OUR LIVES ARE EITHER BLESSED OR CURSED BY THE QUALITY OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. As long as we live in the world, our lives are going to be changed, for better or worse, by the way we interact with those around us. That’s just the way the world is put together, and it doesn’t do much good to wish it were otherwise. To be human is to engage in “relationships.”
But really, we shouldn’t wish it were otherwise, even when our relationships are frustrating. The fact is, we need to be connected to beings like ourselves. “Heaven’s eternal wisdom has decreed that man should ever stand in need of man” (Theocritus). We are communal beings who would find it very, very difficult to live totally alone.
Sometimes we take a rather superficial approach to improving our relationships. We read books, listen to recordings, and attend workshops — all in the hope of finding better relationship “techniques.” But our way of relating to others is a function of our character, and so we improve our relationships by improving our character.
None of us does a perfect job of being a partner in any relationship. The most productive step we can take, therefore, is to accept responsibility for our own actions, and upgrade the quality of our participation in each relationship. We can control only our own behavior.
Ultimately, the manner in which we relate to other people is a product of our worldview and our understanding of the nature of reality. If we say, for example, that we believe we’ve been created by a personal God, that should make a significant difference in the quality of our relationships. But if we mistreat those around us, then it is to be wondered whether we really believe what we say we believe. The kind of relationships we maintain is an indication of our true, practical convictions — not our theoretical ones. So if we want to improve our relationships, we should start by asking ourselves what we really believe about where human beings came from in the first place.
“Our sociology reflects our theology” (Rebecca Manley Pippert).