Sunday, January 29th
Most of us desire to live with more joy. However, one important barrier that often gets in our way is immaturity in the ways we relate to others. Are there relationships in your life that need mending? Do you have people with whom you long to go deeper? Perhaps the key to improving your relationships is to understand what God says emotionally and spiritually healthy relationships really look like.
Work through the following Scriptures and questions on your own, and get together with your running partner, Life Group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning!
- Can you recall a time when a simple difference of opinion turned into real conflict between you and someone in your life?
- Read James 4:1-10. Can you recall a recent relational conflict you’ve experienced, when the only option you found you had was to cry out to God? How did turning to God help you get back on your feet?
- Martin Buber described the ideal way of relating as “I-Thou,” where people can see that not only are they made in the image of God, but the people to whom they are relating are also made in that image, are valuable, and deserve respect, no matter what differences may exist between them. Can you name a relationship in your life that is truly “I-Thou”? How does that relationship look? How do you exhibit mature and healthy relating with each other?
- On the other end of the spectrum, Buber says that the “I-It” relationship comes when we treat others like objects for our own use, failing to be respectful, and treating them like a means to an end. Have you been guilty of relating to others in an “I-It” manner? What costs have come along with this shortsighted type of relating?
- In this week’s message, we learned three tactics that will help us relate in more spiritually and emotionally healthy ways: a) Check your assumptions, b) Be present and listen, and c) Be upfront about what you want and what you can offer. Which of these tactics do you find most challenging personally? What do you think makes that particular tactic most difficult for you?
- Is there a relationship in your life that you need to make right? What are practical steps you can take this week and in the coming months to mend the relationship and relate in a more mature way that is honoring to God?
DIGGING DEEPER — SPIRITUAL EXERCISE
In this exercise, you will take 15-20 minutes to produce a User Manual, as described in the message. The purpose is for you to be able to use this manual to help others who care about you understand where you are coming from and how best to respond to you. Essentially, the user manual is a “how to do life with me” guide. It outlines what you like, what you don’t like, and how you work best. It’s a “cheat sheet” of sorts, giving people a way to quickly and efficiently learn about you, which in turn allows you to work together more effectively.
1. Prayerfully ask God to guide you in thinking about who you are and how to best explain that to others. Commit to him that you aren’t going to try to present yourself as better than you are and that you want to be honest with people about what you can and can’t offer.
2. Think about what is crucial for the people you do life with to know about how best to relate to you. Consider family members, significant others, friends, work colleagues, and your Life Group. You can either create a general User Manual that could work for anyone, or you can hone in on one particular person or group of people (“what my Life Group needs to know about me” or “what my team at work needs to know” or “what my daughter needs to know”).
3. Do some free-writing, using the following questions as prompts. Don’t feel like you need to write in perfect English. Bullet points can suffice. Write for up to 15-20 minutes.
- What are some honest, unfiltered things about you?
- What are your strengths, particularly in relationships? What do you have to offer?
- What drives you nuts that people do in relationships? What hurts?
- What are your quirks that can be hard to live with? Even, what are some sin patterns of relating to others that you are trying to grow out of?
- What qualities do you particularly value in people you do life with?
- What are some things that people might misunderstand about you that you should clarify?
- What’s the best way to communicate with you?
- What’s the best way to convince you to do something?
- How do you like to give feedback?
- How do you like to get feedback?
4. Now it’s time to edit. Massage your free-writing into an easy-to-digest one-page document that is suitable for sharing with others. Remember your goal. You’re trying to help people know how to best do life with you. Be honest and direct. Also, be conscious of having a humble and accommodating tone. This is not a list of demands. It’s a service to everyone to help them enlist you as a partner in achieving their own goals.
5. Share this user manual with at least one other person, and get their feedback on its tone, accuracy, and usefulness. Make any needed changes. If you wrote this manual with a particular person in mind, make sure you share it with them.
6. Optional Step: Share your manual at your Life Group meeting. Get feedback from the whole group. Ask them to consider doing their own user manual. Assign a due date, and plan a team-building activity around sharing the results.
BOOK RESOURCE — A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokeness by Gene Edwards
SPIRITUAL OUTCOME — Peacemaker