Do You Have a Relational Strategy?
Relationships Need Priority and Strategy
In 1973, Harry Chapin wrote “Cat’s in the Cradle,” a song about a busy working man who passes up years of opportunities to spend time with his son. In the end, the tune takes a turn when the son grows up and is too busy to spend time with his father. Unfortunately, this man lives with the regret of not loving his son well.
“Cat’s in the Cradle” is a sobering reminder that minutes quickly turn into days and days into months that turn into years. Because time passes so fast, and because the tyranny of the urgent can override what is truly important, it’s critical that our relationships are a priority and that we have a relational strategy. Otherwise we’ll end up like the man in this song and wish that we had made our most important relationships, most important.
Relationships are a Priority to God
In Scripture, God’s two greatest commands are to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-40). This clearly shows that He values relationships. He values that we have relationship with Him, and he values that we have relationships with each other. In God’s book, these are His two, top priorities.
You might be wondering which relationships should be the most important. After all, life is very busy and there are only 24 hours in a day.
A peek into the Creation Story gives us a glance into God’s plan for relational priority.
- First God created Adam to have relationship with Him (God/Man Relationship)
- Next, he created Eve to have a relationship with Adam (Husband/Wife Relationship)
- Then, Adam and Eve became parents (Parent/Child Relationship)
- Next, Adam and Eve’s children became parents (Parent Relationship)
- Finally, friendships developed (Peer Relationships)
As you can see, the order in which the creation of mankind occurred is the order in which we are to prioritize our relationships: 1) Time with God 2) Time with our mate 3) Time with our children 4) Time with our parents, and finally 5) Time with peers.
Some people get their relational strategy out of order. Instead of making their relationship with God their No. 1 priority, they let their relationships with their peers take first place. Or, instead of giving their spouse the No. 2 spot in their life, their children come first. Getting your relational priorities out of order spells relational disaster—and just like the man in “Cat’s in the Cradle,” you’ll regret it.
So how do you keep your relationships prioritized correctly? You have to have a strategy.
Get a Relational Strategy
I have a relational strategy for my parents. Although they live nearby, it would be easy to go for a few weeks without ever seeing them because they don’t get out much. Therefore, I have a relational strategy to go to their home at least once—sometimes two—times a week. This strategy includes staying for a few hours to talk and catch up.
Think about it. How much time will your kids spend with you in your twilight years? Chances are, they are watching you spend time (or not) with your parents and they will likely follow in your footsteps.
If you are married, you need to develop a relational strategy to meet your mate’s needs. Do you spend regular, quality time together? Do you listen to one another and do you have a relational strategy that you have developed together on how you will nurture the relationships with your children?
I have heard that if you want to know where someone’s affections lie, take a look at their checkbook and their calendar. You will spend your money and time on what you value most. When it comes to creating a relational strategy to love God and love others, you have to spend time. It has been said that love is spelled T-I-M-E. There is no other way.
I hope that you are encouraged to evaluate the priority you place on your relationship with God and your relationship with others. Also, I invite you to make an intentional plan on how you will spend time with those you love.
You’ll never regret it.