INCREASING THE VALUE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
Jim Bakker tells the story of how his heart was just broken as he realised that it had taken the physical restraints of bars and prison walls to get him to connect with his son. It didn’t mean he hadn’t cared before, because he had always made sure his son had everything any boy could want. He had bought him things, he had given him the most expensive gifts a Father could buy his son, but he had failed to increase the value of this relationship. And now it had taken a jail cell to deliver to him one of the most important encounters in a relationship he said he cherished but had never had time for.
Today I want to talk to you about increasing the value of your relationships. How do we make the most of each relationship we have?
What causes relationships to disintegrate? Relationships that started with so much promise, with such happiness, and yet over the years and months become broken down in our lives.
How do we avoid the emotional disaster of broken and trashed friendships and broken relationships.
How do we build relationships that grow stronger with time, that grow more intimate and more enjoyable, more fun, more exciting, more interesting.1 Thessalonians 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
We all know what a bank account is. We make deposits into it and build up a reserve from which we can make withdrawals when we need to. We also know that if you want to increase the value of your bank account with the bank, you need to make regular deposits.
Tonight I want to explore what I call the emotional Bank account. An emotional bank account is a metaphor that describes the amount of trust and love that’s been built up in a relationship. It’s the feeling of safeness you have with another human being. If I make deposits into an emotional bank account with you through kindness, words of encouragement, courtesy, honesty and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust and appreciation of me grows, the value you place on our relationship grows and the emotional bank balance grows. I can then call on that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t judge me harshly for a wrong word, you won’t misunderstand me easily.
When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant and effective.
But if I have a habit of showing discourtesy, disrespect, cutting you off, overreacting, ignoring you, becoming picky, betraying your trust, threatening you, putting you down, being constantly displeased with what you do, everytime I do I take a little bit out of the bank and eventually my emotional bank account is overdrawn. The trust level gets very low. Then what flexibility do I have. NONE> Now I’m walking on egg shells. I have to be very careful about what I say.
If that trust and that love is not sustained by continually deposits, a relationship will deteriorate.
With social media we might stay connected. However, being in touch will never replace being touched.
Suppose you have kids and your normal conversation goes something like this. Clean your room, turn down the stereo, be quiet, fix this, clean that, go and do your homework, over a period of time the withdrawals far exceed the deposits.
Now suppose this son is in the process of making some important decisions that will affect the rest of his life. But the trust level is so low and the communication process mechanical, unconnecting and unrewarding, that he just won’t open up and ask for help. You might have the wisdom and knowledge to help him, you might have all the answers, but because your account is so overdrawn, he will end up making his own decisions without any input from you and potentially destroy his life. He hasn’t been equipped to make decisions on his own, but he sure isn’t going to ask for your opinion because your relationships are overdrawn.
Imagine however if we started making some deposits into our relationships instead of just withdrawing and we started to speak life into our kids, into our parents, into our husands and wives and our friends, what do you think would happen.
I want to give you half a dozen major deposits that build the emotional bank account, that you can do now, that you can go home tonight and start, that this week you can put into action in your relationships.
Seek to understand others and their preferences
If only we could put ourselves in other peoples shoes, and try to understand what currency we need to use in order to deposit into their lives.
“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
I read a story about a man who really tried to connect with his son. His son loved football, so even though the dad wasn’t at all interested in football, one winter he bought seasons tickets and went to every AFL game for the entire season to watch his son’s favourite team play. Every weekend for 4 months he spent attending the football. It cost him a lot of money and lot of time, but it became a powerful bonding experience in their relationship. One day at the end of a long season, this father was talking to an acquaintence, about the fact he had been to every game and watched it live and he was asked this question. Do you really like football that much? No, he replied, but I like my son that much.
2. Spend time attending to the little things
The little things we do are so important. Small acts of unkindnesses, little forms of disrespect make large withdrawals. In relationships the big things are the little things.
I remember an evening I spent with 2 of my sons some years ago. It was an organised father and son outing, complete with gymnastics, wrestling matches, hotdogs, coke and a movie.In the middle of the movie, Sean who was then 4 years old, fell asleep in his seat. His older brother Stephen, who was 6 stayed awake, and we watched the rest of the movie together. When it was over, I picked Sean up in my arms, carried him out to the car and laid him in the back seat. It was very cold that night, so I took off my coat and gently arranged it over and around him. When we arrived home, I quickly carried Sean in and tucked him into bed. After stephen had put on his pyjamas and brushed his teeth, I lay down next to him to talk about the night out together. How did you like it, Stephen? ‘Fine’ he answered. Did you have fun? ‘Yes’ What did you like most? ‘ I don’t know, The trampoline, I guess’ “That was quite a thing, wasn’t it, doing those somersaults and tricks in the air like that?” There wasn’t much response on his part. I found myself making conversation. I wondered why Stephen wouldn’t open up more. He usually did when exciting things happened. I was a little disappointed. I sensed something was wrong. He had been so quiet on the way home and getting ready for bed. Suddenly Stephen turned over on his side, facing the wall. I wondered why and lifted myself up just enough to see his eyes welling up with tears.What’s wrong, honey? What is it? He turned back, and I could sense he was feeling some embarrassment for the tears and his quivering lips and chin. “Daddy, if I were cold, would you put your coat around me, too?”Of all the events of that special night out together, the most important was a little act of kindness, a momentary, unconcscious show of love to his little brother.
3. Saying something and doing itProverbs 20:25 It is a trap to say something only later to consider one's vows.
Keeping a commitment or a promise is a major deposit. Breaking a promise is a major withdrawal.
If you make a promise, then fulfill it to the letter. This has a great influence on the level of joy and fire in a relationship.
4. Showing personal integrity
Personal integrity generates great trust. Integrity is not just being honest, it isn’t just conforming our words to reality, but conforming reality to our words. Integrity guides relationships.
5. Anchoring our natural relationships in a supernatural one.1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
6. Sincerely apologising when you make a withdrawal.Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.
When we make withdrawals from the emotional bank account, we need to apologise and we need to do it sincerely. Great deposits come when we are sincere with our words.
I was wrong.
Please forgive me, I failed in the way I handled that situation.
I hurt you.
I’ve been very unkind to you.
I haven’t shown you respect.
I embarrassed you in front of your friends and I’m sorry.
It takes a person with a great sense of personal security to willingly admit fault and take the blame.
It’s totally possible to see our relationships grow stronger and more secure. The value of our relationships can continue to grow for ever if we will take notice of the emotional bank account and be good accountants. Be good managers of our bank balances.
Tonight as we come to a close I want you to evaluate you relationships. What state do you find your relationships in tonight. Are they in credit or are they in debit? Are they full or are they empty and overdrawn? Are they solvent and in good standing or are they bankrupt?
HOMEWORK: NAME 5 ACTIONS YOU CAN DO THIS WEEK TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF AN IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP.
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