Monday, November 14, 2016

Relationships: A Family's Key To Productivity

Do you ever feel like you're on a see-saw of choosing between relationships or being productive? For a long time I did. Until very recently, I always felt caught trying to balance my daily projects and relationships. Then I heard a statement that swung a blow to my “see-saw”. While listening to homeschool pioneer, Ellyn Davis speak about the traits of successful homeschoolers, I heard Mrs. Davis say something I'd never thought to consider. She said, “Relationships are the most productive time management resource we have.”

Boom. Crash. Rolls backwards off the see-saw and listens to that statement again. Relationships are the most productive time management resource I have? Me? Then I started thinking...what would that look like if I really believed it? What if we all truly believed it? How would parents and children, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors interactions be different if we really understood how much we need each other?

Now let's be clear, this isn't a “tip for tap” user relationship where the other person's value lies only in what they can do for us. There is no room for such relationships in the life of a follower of Christ. And let's also be truthful: relationships are messy. People aren't dogs that can be taken on walks when it suits us, petted when we're mindful of them, yet still expect them to bounce and leap for joy in our presence after a long day of separation. Relationships take sacrifice and sometimes our sacrifice has zero return. It's part of the risk of loving as Christ loved.

But let's ponder how closely fruitful, productive days are linked to strong relationships. When there is goodwill and trust, it creates shared vision and unity to flourish in the family. But when the opposite is true, the business falls on the shoulders of a few who resent their “brethren” for not pulling their share. Anytime we expect someone to wholeheartedly spend their time, energy or goodwill into a venture where there is first no relational investment we're setting ourselves up for frustration. There is a glow, an energy that can't be bought or manipulated when you're excited to further the vision of someone who truly cares about you. Be they parents or older siblings, the leaders of a family business can't afford to neglect relationships. 
That said, let's go back to our original question: why is investing in relationships one of the most productive things we can do? Here are a few reasons I jotted down:

Gives Access To The Talents and Knowledge of Others

You and I will never learn all we need to know, but we sure come close if we have bridges to the right people. As Solomon wisely observed millenniums ago, “Two are better than one.” Why? “Because they have a good reward for their labor.” Like a yoke of oxen, there is strength, ability and power to do more with two than one.

Reveals Need Our Business Could Meet

One - no two - of our greatest learning tools in how to build a more helpful business are hoisted on the side of our heads: our ears. Listening – really – listening to the needs and perspective of others (including those in our own families) can reveal needs our family businesses could fill and that we may never have thought of on our own.

Broadens Our Influence Base

We all know the best form of advertisement is word of month. Donald Trump billions in advertising gimmicks will never outperform honest, satisfied feed-back. Likewise, nobody can vouch for you like a friend or family member. If your family business is making your customers successful, they will run to share it with others. 
Reminds Us Of Our Mission

One of Satan's greatest tactics is distraction. If he can get us to forget why God has us here, then he's won the direction throne in our lives. Among keeping the Word of God in our hearts and living in sensitive obedience to it, we also need other believers who can stir up our minds to what is right. There have been so many times when the Lord has used a family member or friend to confront me about keeping the main thing, the main thing. We all need that. We need friends and family who speak the truth and love us enough to wield the rod of rebuke if we're becoming distracted.

Provides Peace of Mind and Heart

Nothing drains productivity like a distraught heart. And nothing causes a distraught heart like broken relationships. We all have witnessed the destruction years discord can add to a person's health and will. In fact, living in peace is so important to God He listed it as one of the things that, without which, no one shall see Him. (Hebrews 12). Relationships may cost a lot, but we can't afford the bankruptcy poor relationships bring.

Multiplies Our Witness For The Lord

One of the beautiful things about relationships is they are one of the few avenues we have for influencing the world after we're gone. Our goal shouldn't just be getting help right now, but molding fellow labors who would put their hand to the plow and accomplish more for Christ's kingdom than we ever could alone. We aren't running this race just for our reward.  Wouldn't be beautiful to someday stand on a heavenly stage were all the people you knew and loved are being rewarded by the Father? And take joy, knowing you played a role in their labor? Relationships are the key that make such vision a reality. And at the end of the eternal day, shouldn't that be the purpose of our both relationships and productivity anyway?

Mothers. Grandmothers. Older sisters, do you have stories or thoughts about how building strong relationships actually made you more productive in the long-run? Hearing them would be edifying to me as I'm still learning how to apply this truth in my life? Please share by commenting on the blog! Oh yeah, and if anybody needs a see-saw, I know of one that's for sale. (winks)

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