I was talking to some friends a couple of weeks ago, guys who lead at high levels, are strong believers, and who want to be good husbands. We were talking about the intersection of our work worlds and our home worlds when we stumbled on a shared struggle. All three of us, when we face a problem at work, start working the problem. We want to solve it. We think through outcomes. We develop a plan, make a check list, a schedule, and we check off the boxes as we go. It works at work. It doesn’t work so well at home.
All three of us have had similar results when we try our work method at home. Our spouses tells us there is a problem. We listen (we want to be good husbands, remember?). Internally, we are thinking: how do we fix this? Do I need to do more? Do I need to suggest an alternate point of view? If I don’t quite get the problem, do I dare ask her “How do I fix this?” In fact we are making a list in our heads to solve the problem.
When we start running down our lists, our spouses have the same response: “I don’t need you to fix this. I need you to understand me.” That is why lists and relationships don’t mix well.
Relationships are not based on doing, but on being. The people we love most need us to understand them. Sure, sometimes we will need to change. But understanding comes first. To be understood is to be known. To be known is to be loved.
Our relationship with God is not a list. Jesus spoke to a culture that made relating to God a list of rules, of do’s and don’ts. That attitude still exists among some church folk. All kinds of things wind up on the list: go to church, be baptized, read your Bible, pray, give some money, vote Republican, be against abortion, be good, and even blow yourself up in the name of God. Religion always can come up with lists. People think if you check off the list, you are right with God.
Having a relationship with God is not about checking off items on a list. It is about understanding Him, loving Him, and knowing Him. Spend time with Him. Let Him show who He is by reading His word. Let Him reveal himself in the storm and in the gentle rain. Fall in love with Him and let your relationship go to another level.
At the end of time, we will not bring God our lists. We will bring Him ourselves and the relationship we have with Him. That’s why knowing Him is the most important thing you can do in life.
Keep the lists for work. Relationships require your heart.