Weekly Thought – April 3, 2018
Fred always thought beyond the box, not just out of it. When given a subject, he plumbed the depths uncovering content no one expected. A 1983 speech delivered to a Fort Worth, Texas audience in 1983 illustrates this ability. He was asked to do “a stewardship talk” in a church. He did talk about money, but it was the last point of a well-developed and delivered talk. He used the word “relations” rather than “relationships.” Staying true to his voice, we keep the Fredism.
More than Money
The Stewardship of Relations- The early church was known for their relations with each other: “How they love one another.” They were not known for how they grew, or even for a balanced budget. I have long felt that any success the church claims which can be stated numerically approaches being unscriptural. The church and other Christian ministries have borrowed from business the language of figures because it is so much easier than to define it by relations.
I can take an inventory of your assets and give you a precise figure. I cannot take an inventory of your relation with your wife and put it into numerical values. Did you ever hear anybody say, “We have a marriage that is about a 76%?” Once I was foolish enough to try and put a quantitative measure on the morale in our plants. We soon saw how totally impractical that was. Words like healthy, productive, improving versus unhealthy, unproductive, and deteriorating made more sense. I think as Christians measuring ourselves scripturally is the proper approach.
I once spoke to a prestigious church group whose theme was “Leadership for Growth.” It made me think about a great statement I once heard: “It isn’t about his height, but his depth that really matters.”
Before I sound self-righteous I have to tell you I am a new convert to this “relation over production” concept. Until five or six years ago I was almost totally production oriented in my personal life. I certainly hoped for good relations, but they were not primary. I think my executive experience trained me to look for production. The organization was designed and measured quantitatively.
I parented like an executive. For example, I never watched TV with the family. After dinner I would go into my study to “get some work done.” I would hear them laughing and a few times during the evening I found it necessary to walk through the house, passing in between the family and the television, making remarks about people who wasted time. Of course, they ignored my barbs and went right on enjoying their program. I didn’t improve the production, but I certainly impeded the relations.
My son Fred helped me change my approach. I will tell you about that another time. It has been exciting at times and at others frustrating to rethink how I live in relation to my family, but it has been the most valuable shift I have ever made. I still don’t sit and watch TV, but I don’t make snide remarks, either. Progress!
This week think carefully about: 1) How am I doing in building and developing relationships? 2) When do I fall into attempting to measure impact and influence only by metrics? 3) Which relationships need tending this week?
Words of Wisdom: “The church and other Christian ministries have borrowed from business the language of figures because it is so much easier than to define it by relations.”
Wisdom from the Word: “They help one another; one says to the other, ‘Be strong!’” (Isaiah 41:6 NET Bible)