Relationships are not disposable. Remember that.
Yesterday Senator Ted Cruz of Texas announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States for 2016 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Without aid of technology Mr. Cruz delivered a sweeping presentation that lasted 50+ minutes and was well carried from beginning, middle and end. The audience was deeply thrilled.
Before his lovely bride and children could reach him on stage to share in the joy of the moment, network pundits and global bloggers began throwing Mr. Cruz’s candidacy into the waste bin of their daily news cycle like a used banana peel.
As someone who is different, does not share the same ideals with theirs, is not like them (as a whole) many in the news cycle began tearing him apart with statements as bold as “Ten reasons Ted Cruz WILL NOT be president” or “Here’s where Ted Cruz does NOT follow the Constitution” and dare say all of it, to demonstrate that Mr. Cruz is as disposable as they want to make him.
Watching Mr. Cruz yesterday I was reminded as a Disciple Maker and Leader, that for me, I would do well to remember in my own walk that Relationships are not disposable.
How are we as disciple makers and leaders any different than those in the news media, or society at large, when we are so
quick to jettison personal, interpersonal and professional relationships at the drop of a hat?
Many of us are involved in small groups, gatherings of like-minded people to a degree and more where we spend time breaking bread together, having genuine fellowship and getting along. Relationships are being built and true fellowship is beginning to form, yet, an offense occurs, an opinion is shared or some other small insignificant slide is made or taken and as a disciple making leader you decide to withdraw.
It may be a result of your own baggage, your own held deeply close opinions of how the world should run, etc. yet as quickly you entered this close and personal group you dismissively back out saying things along the way, such as, “It just didn’t work out” or ‘It’s for the better”.
And as a Disciple Maker and Leader you throw away a relationship, like a banana peel, into the wastebin of unhealthy Christian living.
Jesus’ closest disciple Peter after just hearing his master give an account on how to forgive had the ineptitude to ask Jesus the following question, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Matthew 18:21
Our Lord’s response is poignant.
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:22
He then goes on to share a parable so that Peter and those following Him could have a deeper understanding of what he means. He shares the story of a King wishing to settle his accounts with his servants. One of the kings servant has piled up a debt of ten thousand talents. A debt so great the servant has no way to repay it upon his return.
The servant pleads for leniency of his debt, for time to pay what he owes. Out of pity the King gives the servant grace and time to repay avoiding imprisoning him.
The servant walks away tremendously relieved – however – as he is exiting his masters presence he finds a fellow servant who owes him a scant amount of money (compared to what he owes) and grabs him, begins choking him and demands, “Pay what you owe!”
BIG HINT – This first servant just disposed of his relationship with his King and Master.
Like before, this second servant falls to his knees and begs forgiveness, however, the lead servant refuses to listen and has the guy locked up.
You know the rest of the story. Word get’s back to the king. The king is outraged and asks declaring, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?”
My fellow disciple makers and leaders this is where we need to come in close and huddle up.
Fact is – Relationships are messy.
Whether a relationship is built on a personal, interpersonal or professional level we as disciple makers and leaders should know the game going in. We should remember daily that relationships are hard, they take tremendous work and by and large they’re gonna take loads of forgiveness, not just seven times, but seventy times seven.
We can no longer walk away from relationships due to our own baggage, opinions or worldview and simply title it “free will” anymore. When we realistically know deep down, at the core of our thinking we are walking away from something tough because we don’t want to try, we value convenience or we simply don’t care we’re at the point of disposal.
Instead, we need to run and flee that quitting spirit, do an abrupt turn-around and go right back into the game giving our best Gospel effort to, as my daughter Emily says, “Fight the Disobey”. Fight the disobedient spirit in all of us to lead a comfy Christian lifestyle.
Simple. Those we disciple, those we lead, will follow in our footsteps and as Pastor Wayne Codero says, “You teach what you know – yet – reproduce what you are.”
Should we dispose of relationships so quickly, we’re no different than the servant whom demands immediate repayment for such a tiny debt – when we as lead servants owe such a tremendous debt to our Lord and King – and are ignorant to what we owe Him.
Those we disciple and lead will do worse than us. (And we wonder why society spits people out so fast these days.)
Let’s not dispose of relationships that are messy and need a little work with the Gospel that it might be said of us, “And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:34-35
Think about it.
For more information on living an emotionally spiritually healthy life try Peter Sazzero’s: