OK, have you got your “Relationship List” in hand and are you ready to proceed with our little exercise? After we’ve thanked God for the blessing of family and friends we are ready to evaluate our relationships in light of Scripture. First of all, let’s consider the following two questions:
- Is there anyone not on this list who should be?
For example, if we’re not cultivating evangelistic relationships (Col. 4:5-6), or seeking to encourage younger women (Titus 2:3), or reaching out to new people (Heb. 13:2), then God would have us make such relationships a priority.
- Is there anyone on this list who should not be?
If, for instance, someone is an ungodly influence, we need to graciously sever that friendship (1 Cor. 15:33). Or if there are an excessive number of friends on our list (Prov. 18:24), then maybe we need to consider focusing our attention on fewer godly relationships.
Priority relationships shouldn’t primarily be based on whom we “click with” or enjoy hanging out with the most, or even those who “need” us the most. Rather, our relationships should spring primarily from a desire to grow in godliness, encourage godliness in others, and share the gospel with the lost. So, after we have the priority people on our list, let’s evaluate these relationships a little more closely by considering two more questions:
- Does our involvement and investment with each person reflect the priority this relationship should be at present?
For wives and mothers: does our investment of time reflect that our husband and children are our greatest priority? (Prov 31:10-31, Titus 2:3-5)
Does our relational network indicate that we place the highest value on friendships in the church? (Gal 6:10)
Do our relational priorities reveal a lifestyle of evangelism? (Col. 4:5-6)
- What specific, practical changes do we need to make in our relationships so that we are involved with and investing in the right people for the right amount of time?
Finally, let me encourage you to show this list to your husband (where applicable) or another godly woman. Let’s not assume we can figure this out on our own! And if you are a mother of a teenage girl, carve out some time to take her through this exercise. Evaluating my relationships on a regular basis, in accordance with God’s Word, has never failed to yield insight. I usually become aware of specific changes that reap God-glorifying results as I put them in place. I pray God will bless you as you seek to bring honor to Him—not only in the way that you walk, but also with whom you walk!
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
This verse could well be the theme verse for our series: “7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman.” It’s not a verse, however, that we might initially connect with Habit #3: “She focuses on right relational priorities for every season.” Relationships. A highly important topic to us as women, is it not? We are, by nature, relational creatures. We thrive on interaction with others and wither apart from it. Our world is often centered on our family and friends. The people in our lives usually consume a majority of our time and thoughts. Yet, we are often more passive and receptive than we are intentional and purposeful in our relationships. We may allow people to drift in and out of our lives. We don’t usually pause to consider our motives for developing a certain friendship or neglecting another. Emotions and feelings sometimes play far too significant a role in why and how we go about relationships. Scripture would call us to “look carefully then how you walk” and whom we walk with! We must prayerfully consider our relational priorities in the light of God’s priorities. Do our relationships—the people we choose to interact with, the time we spend, the content of our interactions—bring glory to God? Over the years, I have used a simple exercise to help me evaluate my own relationships. Approximately twice a year I set aside time for planning and evaluation (we’ll talk more about this when we hit habit #4). Among many other topics, I consider my relationships. It’s pretty straightforward really. I make a list of all the people in my life at present. Beginning with my husband, I list all the members of my family. After family, I write out the names of the people in my small group at church, followed by other friendships, both local and out of town. Finally, I consider and list those people who I am seeking to reach out to for the purpose of evangelism. When I’ve finished my relational catalog, I begin by thanking God for the many people who are such a blessing in my life. I don’t deserve family and friends like this! But thanking God for the blessing of relationships is only the first step. Check back tomorrow, because this little exercise has only just begun!
The autumn season is a great excuse to have a party. Whether married or single, consider a progressive dinner as a unique way to experience the personalized hospitality of friends. Select a limited number of participants, and assign each person a course of an autumn menu (Appetizer, Main, Dessert, etc.). Each host/hostess will be responsible for preparing, decorating, and hosting that portion of the evening’s festivities. Oh, and make sure to map out the shortest route—gas prices being what they are these days!
As a way to encourage laughter and fellowship, have an assigned question for each stop. Here are a few kitchen-tested questions that have received some surprising answers:
Describe your high school experience. Public or private school? Popular or nerd? Embarrassing moments?
Share any “hide under a rock” moments. Family vacation disasters? Bad trip to the hair salon? “Clean up on aisle 3?”
How did you meet your husband? How long was your engagement? Funny or embarrassing courtship tidbits?
Honeymoon details. Where did you go? How long did you stay? Funny moments?
Any parenting adventures? Moments when tempted not to identify yourself as child’s parent? Days when going back to sleep seemed like the best course of action?
This Saturday, I’ve invited Mom to meet with a group of ladies who support their husbands in small-group leadership in our church, and who often lead ladies’ meetings on a consistent basis.
Mom, Nicole, Janelle and I have led various small groups of women through the years. As a result, we are always on the lookout for great questions to promote fellowship. The following are some questions we compiled recently. I’ll be handing these out on Saturday, but we thought that those of you who lead small groups might benefit as well. Hopefully these “starter questions” will serve to promote fellowship among the women that you lead.
- Share your conversion testimony.
- Describe your current practice of the spiritual disciplines.
- What is a passage of Scripture you have been meditating on recently?
- What fruit of the spirit are you cultivating?
- What sin are you seeking to weaken?
- How are you seeking to grow in expressing biblical femininity?
- Here is an evidence of grace that I observe in your life.
My very dear friend of thirty years sent me the following email before my husband and I left for Arkansas this past weekend to speak at The Bible Church of Little Rock:
Please know my friend that I will be lifting you up to the “throne of grace” all weekend! May these thoughts from Mr. Spurgeon encourage you as you go to serve the church in Arkansas!:
“Some of you are called to some extraordinary duty and do not feel strong enough. Follow that call, for surely the Lord is in that place. He will help you.”
“...and is it not true that our weakness holds God’s strength, and leads Him to bow His omnipotence to our rescue?” May you be aware of His divine assistance, presence, and pleasure.
Love you! Betsy
After this email a card arrived in our mailbox signed by all the pastors of our church which read: “We were interceding for you, today.” How kind of God to send us into a weekend, bolstered by the prayers, encouragement and support of such friends! And what a weekend it was! CJ and I were asked to speak ten messages—he six times and I four. This gives you an idea of this church’s love for God’s Word (not to mention their stamina!). We were overwhelmed by their attentiveness, responsiveness and encouragement. As an aside—I want to highly recommend that those who live in the Little Rock area visit this God-glorifying church. But most meaningful of all for CJ and me was the new friendships that were formed—starting with the Pastor, Lance Quinn and his wife, Beth. Though we were only with them for three short days, we felt as if we had always known them. This enjoyable and fruitful time, no doubt, was the result of the prayers of our friends back home. So the next time someone says to us, “I’m praying for you,” let’s make sure that we thank them for this unselfish act from which we derive immeasurable benefit. And let’s be inspired to faithfully pray for others. What a meaningful expression of friendship! Thank you, Betsy. Thank you, Pastors of Covenant Life Church.