Relationships are the Ministry

Today I read Job 18, Mark 1-2, and RPJ chapter 36. The theme for today is relationships. It seems like everything we struggle with in life is linked to or comes from relationships with other people. Job struggled with his relationship with God, wondering why God was punishing him, and his relationship with his friends who seemed to want to convict him to “solve” his problem and get him back on the right track. As Jesus performs various miracles in the book of Mark, he has people who are coming to see him just to get their needs met. He has others, the Pharisees and religious leaders, who are challenging his every move because he is braking all the “rules.” What is it in our approach to relationships that gets us all mixed up and causes the worst in us to come out at times?

Tom in his book talks about all the rules we set up for relationships that we use to get what we want instead of following the “Golden rule” and realizing that I won’t truly get my needs met unless I choose to meet the needs of others. I have come across so many situations lately where people don’t want to have relationships with others. Instead they want to use others to further whatever agenda they have at the time. It is as if people where objects to be manipulated instead of people to be loved. We see it in Job’s friends who couldn’t have their paradigm of how God works rocked so they attacked their friend Job instead of just sitting in silence and being there for him in the midst of his extreme pain and loss. The Pharisees couldn’t have anyone challenge the rules they had set up for how people should “behave” to make sure they were spiritual so the Messiah would come back sooner. Not only that, but their status as religious leaders and the authority that came with it was being challenged every time Jesus broke one of the religious rules they had set up. They were so concerned with protecting those things that they missed the very Messiah they were hoping would come soon. Just yesterday I talked with someone about a wife who is so used to getting what she wants that she is able to manipulate her husband. When he refuses to be manipulated she shouts him down and criticizes him. He gets angry and she starts sharing he could be emotionally abusive not realizing her own selfish desires are causing the problems in the relationship and her putting down her husband in front of her son is having a negative impact on him.

As I think about my own life, I can see many places where I blow it relationally. I can get so wrapped up in what I am working on or the stress of some situations in my life that relationships in my life take a back seat. The furthest thing from my mind in those moments is meeting anyone’s needs. Instead I am concerned with me. Other times I get upset when people don’t do what I think they should especially when it inconveniences my life. In those moments I don’t put myself in their shoes to understand why they are acting that way or maybe even if there are other things going on that I don’t understand. I hate it when I do that because I really want to empathize with people and love being around them. Today is a good reminder to see people as my ministry. That way relationships will never feel like an interruption to the real work, they are the real workHappy.

Lord, please help me to be a man who is able to empathize with the needs of others and to see people through your eyes. Help me to not have hidden agendas or look for ways to manipulate or control others. Please help me to make people more important than things, goals, or rules. Amen.
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