Cultivating Relationships

By All Means Emphasis

Preschoolers are pros at cultivating relationships. Have you ever watched them on the playground? From about the age of 3 and on up, they love to play with their peers. You can see them learning together as they pick up a leaf and peer at its veining. You can watch their delight as they chase a butterfly or compare snowflakes that have fallen on their gloves. When another child falls, preschoolers will rush to the child to help them up. They don’t discriminate based on age or race or gender or socioeconomic situation. Preschoolers just have a natural love for each other, even when they are meeting for the very first time.

Missionaries become pros at cultivating relationships, too. Wherever they go, that is their missions field. At the coffee shop, they are looking for 1 who looks lost or alone. At the laundry, they look for the single parent who needs a special touch. On campus, they seek out those who may be homesick or lonely. In the park or the athletic field, they connect with families who don’t know the Lord.

To cultivate authentic relationships, missionaries go beyond seeking. After meeting those who need to know Christ, they actively look for ways to engage them in relationships. They might invite the person for a shared meal, or offer to help with childcare, or make a phone call or 2. Their initial engagement may even be through a text message or a post on social media. The point is that in order to cultivate relationships, missionaries deliberately seek ways to move beyond the small talk of a casual relationship.

“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22–23 NIV1).

Paul said that he became all things to all people, for the sake of the gospel. How are you cultivating relationships in your community or in your church for the sake of the gospel? Be aware of your surroundings. No matter where you are, you will encounter those who don’t know the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you toward those who don’t yet know Jesus. Be ready to engage them in conversation. As you talk, be sure that your speech is filled with grace, and that you are ready to share how Jesus has transformed your life.

Be prepared to go beyond the casual. Think of how preschoolers and missionaries do it. Find commonalities and shared interests. Be whimsical in your witness. Be authentically interested in their stories and their dreams. Above all else, be deliberate in way that you can show Christ’s love.

Jesus said to His disciples just before He went to the garden to be betrayed, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 NIV).

How are you showing His love?

Pray: Dear Father, thank You for being a relational God. Thank You that You loved us and sent Your Son, Jesus, to rescue us from our sin. Please give me Your love. Help me to be both bold and whimsical in my witness. Help me discover ways to cultivate relationships in my community. Help me to demonstrate Your love. Amen.

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1Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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