Publication: Ont-to-One, Summer 2012
Everything proceeds out of relationship. Before anything else, there was the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in relationship as One. Following the Lord’s own framework, the underpinnings of our advancement are relationships.
The late Dr. Ted Engstrom, president emeritus of World Vision International said in his book The Essential Engstrom: Proven Principles of Leadership: “organizations are outward manifestations of a shared purpose. Any time two or more people agree to work together toward a common goal, an organization exists. All organizations are basically relationships. An organization chart is an attempt to describe these relationships, usually in terms of authority and responsibility. How these relationships are structured and how people view them will determine the character of that organization.”
The scriptures tell us in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Strength in Relationships
In 1903, The New York Times said that in order to build a flying machine, mathematicians and mechanics would have to continuously work together for the next one million to ten million years. But just two months later, two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright flew.
And the list or relationship based achievement goes on: Friends who spurred one another on, sold their possessions, started in garages and something was born out of their relationships and passion for their ideas.
Life from relationships is a self-evident creation principle. You don’t have to be a Christian to see that life comes out of relationships, only mildly observant.
The challenge is ensuring that the relational vitality goes forward. When the relational meaning of an “organization” becomes clouded or replaced with bureaucracy, buildings, politics, and the bottom line, company life is diminished. Fragmentation over time brings about a slow death as relationships are gently snuffed out and the foundation crumbles.
“Life” in the Organization
Attitudes of service, passionate employees and discussion, open doors, vision, laughter and fellowship are good life indicators. Where there’s life, others are drawn. Who wants to hang around a mortuary? Meetings, policies, paychecks, titles, computer software, or other “good things” don’t substitute for real relationship. You need those things, but don’t look for them to hold an organization together in the storms. Knowledge and diligence are increasingly commodity attributes in the workforce. The exceptions are those who are passionate about their work. How can we foster that passion?
“Friends spurred on another on, sold their possessions, started in garages and something was born out of their relationships and passion for their ideas.”
Here are a couple of thoughts on how we can spur on life in our organizations.
• Be intentional about building the relationship. View relationships as the goal, not a means to achieve a goal. Sometimes we have to drop the agenda, in order to move forward with one another. Look for “koinonia” (communion and communication) opportunities. It’s hard to resolve conflict without a relationship.
• Disengage self-preservation mode. Self-preservation is a self-inflicted siege. It is tough to see in ourselves but easily recognized by others. It’s not attractive. Fiefdoms, “look what I did”, holding on and getting all you can; these come from an attitude of self-preservation. If we can free ourselves from it, we are better able to move from a scarcity to an abundant mentality.
Life in the organization is contagious. So is gloom. As believers we have newness of life from the Holy Spirit and the hope of eternal life. We are being transformed. That transformation sustains and fuels the life we share. Commitment is the byproduct of shared life. It can’t be conscripted. God is all about relationships and He is the giver of life. Our success will be an overflow of the relationships we build. God help us to build relationships and share life through the organizations we touch.
For more on this theme relating to the church check out the book Ants, Vines and Churches by Charles Simpson.
Scripture Reference: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
JONATHAN SIMPSON is a frequent contributing writer to CSM’s Marketplace Exchange.