Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Relationships or Goals

Relationships are fundamental to godliness in my understanding of true piety. The New Testament has a lot to say about relationships in families, the work place and the church. Relationships are important to my understanding of practical theology. In order to pass down ministry skills, I believe the New Testament teaches doing it through relationships. While these ideas are very important to me, I find myself a relationship klutz. (I'm really not sure I'm worse than the next guy or gal, but in relationship to the ideal expressed in the Bible, I'm a KLUTZ.) So when I notice something about people, it may be common sense for others but a revelation for myself.

Recently I have been noticing people making decisions based on their relationships and others who make decisions based on goals. I'm not sure that the two categories are really universal, but seeing this has helped me to understand people who are not goal oriented. I would put myself as much more goal oriented. I have had a difficult time figuring out those who make decisions based on relationships. One of my children seems to make a lot of her decisions based on how it would affect others in her life. (i.e. I'll not do this or that because it might hurt someone's feelings.) Another one of my children is much more goal oriented. She makes decisions based on the end state, but I still see her give a lot of consideration to relationships. I was confused at certain decisions being made and so I started asking about their motivations. It seems my children taught me that not everyone is wired the same way that I am. I had always considered that there were two criteria that people used for decisions: objective, rational criteria and the other was subjective self interest. I had not considered that there was the more subjective criteria of how others would perceive or be affected by a decision. I put this in the subjective side because sometimes I've seen the decision based on what the person would anticipate the other person would feel, not actually what they would feel.

I started examining how people, adults and children, were making their decisions. I found a lot of adults who are relationship oriented in their decisions. So if the relationships around them do not address the decision, then the decision does not get made. I have often found myself in the role of helping people decide what they want in regard to career, ministry and other things. When they were indecisive I always considered it a issue of the thought life. Now I find out that it might be an issue of the relationships in their life.
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