A great sermon about making commitments that matter was present at our church last year (1/15/12 “The Neglected Field” at Ada Bible Church). One of the points the pastor (Jeff Manion) made was relationships do not stay healthy on their own, in fact it takes no effort at all for the garden of relationships to soon be taken over by ‘weeds’. Its not a matter of if but a matter of when an untended garden will be taken over by the weeds that come to the surface. It takes great preparation, effort, and continued commitment to keep a garden weed free. In our relationships (family, clients, business, children, spouse) ‘weeds’ are going to come. Issues that get in the way of an effective relationship can be prevented if preparation, effort, and continued commitment are applied.
Here are some ways that I have found to help prevent weeds from invading and taking over my relationship gardens:
-Consistently work to improve communication skills. Text, emails, and voicemails often fail at communicating my point effectively and in the tone I intend. Meet with people face to face. It’s amazing how much is lost in translation when you are not face to face.
-Focus on the seed that is being planted by my own words and reactions. Stephen Covey says ‘seek first to understand, then be understood’. Proverbs 29:20 says “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” and James 1:19 says “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”. Sow seeds of patience, and it’s amazing how quickly potential situations fizzle into very manageable situations.
-Seeking wisdom when weeds are disguised as flowers. My 6 year old daughter loves dandelions. She thinks they are the most beautiful flower in the world, and loves the fact that our lawn has a ton of them in the spring! She has no idea how hard I work to prevent those weeds! Sometimes in business and other relationships we are faced with a decision that has a clear right and wrong. The more challenging time is when there is not a clear right and wrong, or even sometimes it’s between two choices that are ‘good’ and ‘better’. Seeking wise council helps those weeds that come as a surprise be handled efficiently and with hopefully as little damage as possible.
There are many ways weeds of life come creeping into the garden of my relationships. Trials, temptations, lack of time management, busy-ness vs business, and neglect can all bring about their own consequences. But, working on my communication skills, words and reactions, and humbling myself to ask for help have made a great impact on keeping my relationships healthy and vibrant.
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