I once attended an early morning Bible study, held by some business leaders in Minneapolis, at a well-known home furnishings store called Gabbert’s. As I entered the employee break room on my way to the gathering, “the wall” caught my attention.
The wall was covered in photographs of employees who had served Gabbert’s for long periods of time—anywhere from 10-30 years. As I stood looking at the display, the Lord spoke to me about the celebration of relationship represented there. Someone at Gabbert’s had realized their true foundation was not in the wonderful home furnishings they offered or the size of their business, but in their relationships with employees entrusted to their care. And the wall celebrated those relationships.
God celebrates relationship, although He uses a book instead of a wall. The book of Revelation calls it the Lamb’s book of life. Paul, in writing to the Philippians, entreats believers to help his fellow laborers whose names are in the book of life and then encourages them to always rejoice in that relationship in the Lord—to celebrate it!
Jesus also spoke to His disciples about this book in Luke 10. During this time, Jesus had appointed seventy disciples to go two by two into every city He planned to visit. In the cities that welcomed the disciples, they were to bless them with peace and heal the sick, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God had come. Having accomplished this, the disciples returned with joy, telling Jesus that even the devils were subject to them through His name.
While Jesus acknowledges that He’s given them power over the demonic realm and promised protection during these conflicts, He tells them to only rejoice because their names are written in heaven. He wanted them to celebrate relationship with Him more than anything else. It’s an issue of perspective.
God’s focus is on relationships—not just our “vertical” relationship with Him, but also our “horizontal” relationships with one another. That’s also the focus of attacks from the enemy. The devil opposes our efforts to bring people into covenant relationship with God, and he attacks our relationships with each other.
This is a critical point of understanding for leaders. Your life, and therefore your business or ministry or sphere of influence, revolves around relationships! They are not peripheral. This should be your center of focus, whether with God, your “fellow laborers,” your clients, your vendors, your students, your family, etc. Building and protecting walls that celebrate these relationships is what the Bible is all about. The physical monuments we build in our lives will always reflect our level of success in building these relational walls of honor.
In a book about business, I read the results of a study that involved interviews with highly successful business leaders. When asked what they would have changed in their careers if given the chance, nearly all responded that they would have spent more time cultivating valuable relationships.
Why is this? Because, through life experience, they had finally gained an important understanding about a building block of life that had not been laid early on. This foundational understanding is that relationships are the main thing—and the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
So, as leaders, consider your relationships for a minute. First, what have you been doing to celebrate your connection with those you are leading? Have you been asking the Lord for a strategy to nurture and protect them? Do you hold these people in greater esteem than the success or results they bring? Do you realize that not only your joy and peace, but also your financial prosperity and achievements, are simply byproducts of healthy relationships?
Finally, do you know that we’re all busy adding to our wall of relationships every day, person by person? How are your walls looking?