Margaret Marcuson: Here’s what positive relationships at church really look like
Here's what positive relationships at church really look like
What do you see in the relationships in your church? It's easy to get focused on the negative people and interactions and spend a lot of time discussing them (if not complaining). I think focusing on what's working and how to get more of it can be more productive.
Here are five characteristics of positive relationships at church:
Growing : People are growing in their relationships with each other and with God.
Responsible : People can take responsibility for their own part in relationships. They don't blame others.
Positive : They talk in more positive than negative ways to and about one another.
Light : [CA is there a better word?] They have a sense of humor. When things go wrong, they can see the lighter side.
Direct : People work on person to person relationships. They don't triangle in other people with gossip or complaints.
You can assess your own congregation for how much you see this kind of behavior, and encourage it when you see it. And, even more importantly, you can assess yourself and how you relate to others. Remember, you can always relate to others this way, whether or not they approach you positively.
I recently came across this prayer:
With the help of God, my family and friends,
growing confidence and assurance
in myself and others,
developing new possibilities and opportunities,
advancing compassion and encouragement,
and building vision and hope.
I pray that I will complain and lament less.
I pray that I will forget how to scold and whine.
God help me to grow, develop, advance and build.
It comes from Kennon L. Callahan's Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church. Published almost 25 years ago, it's still in print, and I recommend it for your stewardship endeavors. However, the best part of it is this prayer. Callahan suggests you place it someplace you will see it every day, pray it and live it every day: "Help this be the prayer of personal growth of your congregation."
I can safely say that if you do pray this and live it, your congregation will have more positive relationships. If you encourage others to do the same, the congregation will have even more. If you are willing, I invite you to commit to pray this prayer daily.
Questions for reflection:
Am I growing, responsible, positive, light and direct in my relationships at church?
How might I grow in one of these areas a little more before the end of this year?