The state of our professional and personal relationships is in decline. And that has me worried.
I see two factors contributing to the decline.
The first is technology. We have email, instant messenger, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other technologies that allow us to communicate without actually connecting.
The second cause is an outgrowth of the first, and that is the increasing trend to work remotely, away from the office. The 2010 American Cities Survey completed by the Census bureau states that just under 10 million workers work from home full-time and another 4 million work from home at least part-time. The total of 14 million people working at home is an increase of 35% over the prior decade. Imagine what the number is today, six years later!?
What is missing from relationships built on this technology is the depth that comes from actual contact with our fellow man. We check in with someone via a two-sentence email, an instant message or a Tweet, and then we are on to the next thing. We cannot establish a meaningful connection with anyone this way.
I liken this technologically driven relational contact to what pilots call a “touch and go.” Touch and goes are when you come in for a landing, the wheels touch the runway, then you power up and take off again.
Many of our relationships today are built on touch and goes. Email, instant messenger, Twitter and all the rest allow us to execute touch and goes. We can connect frequently and with ease and still not build a relationship.
Real relationships, the kind that can stand the test of time, are built on solid a foundation. The foundation of strong relationships is on display throughout the Scripture. As Christians, we should set an example for everyone to see. Here are five ways we can build relationships on a solid foundation:
- Love one another. Jesus, teaching the disciples said, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
- Encourage one another. Paul, writing to the Ephesians said, “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
- Respect one another. Peter, writing a series of instructions to believers living among Gentiles said, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
- Invest in one another. Paul writing to the Romans said, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).
- Pray for one another. Paul, this time writing to Timothy said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1).
Let me be clear. I am not against the use of technology. I am, in fact, a closet geek. I use email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. But here’s the thing. As great as these tools are, they are just tools. The communication they support is not a substitute for deep relationships built one-on-one, face-to-face.
So use the tools that are right for you, but remember too that God made us as relational beings. We need to be in relation with one another. We need to love one another, to encourage one another, to respect one another, to invest in one another, and to pray for one another. When we do these five things we will build strong relationships that will be a light to the world.
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As always, questions and comments are welcome. What is your reaction to the premise that the use of technology is weakening our ability to build strong relationships?
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Category: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships