What is the Key to Effective Relationships?

What is the Key to Effective Relationships?

relationshipsThe Key to Effective Relationships is…

The gospel…in particular, the regular reminder (Heb. 3:13) of who we already are in Jesus Christ because of His finished work on our behalf.

These truths (called the indicative) are powerful weapons against our heart’s daily battle with idolatry (sin).

When we act on these truths by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:17), not only do they defeat sin, they, at the same time, also motivate us to repentance, greater obedience (imperative) and holy living.

For example, consider Romans 6:11, that because of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection, we “are to consider ourselves dead to sin”. By faith, we are to consider ourselves dead to sin’s power and pleasure in our lives. This is a truth of which we need to be reminded.

Scripture is replete with these Identity statements, yet they don’t register in our devotional reading of scripture and we fail to use them effectively in our relationships.

Applying the gospel in our relationships requires intentionality. Faithful application will lead to what we desire most, to be more like Christ!

For a great resource we have created a booklet, “Who are You?”

Elders and heads of household: Consider how you can be more intentional in equipping those under your charge to learn and apply these simple statement to life!

Four Small Changes to Men’s Ministry, Part 2

casualmanLast time, I mentioned the first two (of four) changes that if made to Men’s Ministry can make a huge difference. You can read the full article here.  As a review, they are:

First, change the name of the Men’s Ministry to Head of Household ministry.
“Men’s Ministry” connotes male issues, individuality and segregation, along with isolation. “Head of Household Ministry” keeps the focus on relationships and the head of household’s role in ministering through his relationships at home.

Second, teach heads of household (and then remind them over and over and over and over again) that the gospel makes them adequate to fulfill their role.
The gospel by virtue of what it is: the divinely powerful message of salvation (i.e. justification, sanctification, glorification), is alone sufficient in the hands o

f all men, including ordinary men, and made effectual by the Holy Spirit to do the work of transformation in the lives of people.

Third, stay focused on equipping men to apply the gospel in their own lives and in the lives of others.
Relationships that move wives and children toward Christ are an overflow of the transformation that God is accomplishing in the heart of the head of household (HOH). Paul says that the love of Christ compelled him (2 Cor. 5:14). In other words, his ministry was an overflow of Christ’s love working in him rather than his mustering up the will-power to do it himself.

Are HOHs experiencing transformation that overflows into service? Tragically, men can know their Bible, and even lead their households using biblical principles but still not know Jesus , love Jesus, or know the fundamentals of how to “put on Christ” everyday. Consider that many hearts are lost while the HOH is busy growing in greater knowledge of the Bible but failing in his relationships.

Equipping HOHs to apply the gospel involves teaching them skills such as how to discern the heart (i.e. motives, desires) behind their actions, how to identify and put off idolatrous desires that rule the heart, how to put on Christ, and how to repent of sin on a daily basis. Becoming more proficient in doing these things is maturity.

For example, at my church’s monthly Head of Household Meetings, we do not teach on other subjects such as finances, sex, work, eschatology, etc., etc. (That is not to say that those subjects are unimportant. However, they are usually abstracted from the gospel and easily become the sole focus overshadowing the more important, ongoing, daily heart work which requires constant attention. The secondary issues can be addressed more individually as need arises.) We have one topic: the gospel and it applied to heart and life to the glory of God. Sometimes this comes in the form of our pastor teaching. In other cases, it comes through testimony and mutual building up of brothers.

This ardent focus provides absolute clarity in the minds of us as elders and the HOHs about the nature and priority of our work.

Forth, the leaders of the church need to provide accountability.
The covenantal leaders of the local church (Elders) need to lovingly, graciously, and patiently hold the covenantal leaders of the home (HOHs) accountable to fulfill their calling of applying the gospel in their home. This involves much more than group meetings. It involves relationships between the elders and the HOHs where trust is built and intimate knowledge can be shared.

I am reminded of 1 Peter 5:5 where Peter, after talking about the shepherd role of elders adds, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders…” (NASB) Who were these “younger men”? Given the historical context it would be a stretch not to believe that they were predominately HOHs.

It is easier to teach a class than it is to have a deeper conversation.

Some might conclude that this is just too hard to do, or that it’ll never work for them. Perhaps there is a better, i.e. easier, more efficient way? (There isn’t).

This is a challenge. How do we meet it?

There are a number of practical ideas that I could offer here. However, I don’t think the problem really is knowing what to do. The following question cuts to the heart of the issue. Think of the costs of not doing this. For some, we will not have to think beyond people we know who are in trouble that could have perhaps been avoided if they were in accountability relationships.

This requires personal evaluation. What do our daily choices reveal about what (or who) is most important to us? Are we willing to meet the challenge and trust that God’s Holy Spirit is going to work through us—weak and feeble though our efforts be? We ourselves need the reminder of where the power is (point #2)! We also need the overflow (#3 above) that enables us to make the necessary sacrifices.

Church leaders who pay the price of equipping heads of household enjoy a tremendous return on investment in a healthy crop of men (1 Tim. 3:1-7) who rise to leadership in the church and who are able to help younger heads of household faithfully live their covenantal role in the home. Further, heads of household who rise to the level of maturity in this role are qualified for eldership.