Relationship Failure

I had a discouraging discussion with a friend this evening. He and his wife had been fairly close to my wife and I a couple of years ago. We were involved in their lives pretty deeply at that time. Back when our church had assigned 'discipling' relationships, we 'discipled' them. Since then, however, we have not been very involved in their lives.

This has long been one of the rightful criticisms of our churches, although to be honest it's a failure more of the individual than the church. Too often these discipling relationships weren't the real, loving relationships that they were meant to be. Don't get me wrong, we genuinely cared about them, and still do. It's just that when you are assigned someone to care about it's much more difficult to develop the kind of relationship that transcends the assignment, one that will last, no matter what. Sometimes that happens, but many times once the discipling relationship changes, the relationship cools.

Anyway, my friend shared with me how he and his wife aren't doing so well. She will sometimes disappear for days at a time, taking her son (from a prior marriage) with her. They don't talk much because they can't do so without arguing. We had talked with them about some of the issues he related to me some two years ago, trying to help them work through it. He shared, however, that nothing has changed in those two years. Two years had gone by and things hadn't improved, but what concerned my was I hadn't taken the time to follow up on their marriage in two years. What kind of friend behaves this way? What kind of disciple acts like that? This is not the kind of life that Jesus called us me to live.

This is what Christianity is about. This is what should make us different, that we love each other & we know each other deeply. We aren't afraid to get in there and dig - in love - and find out what's going on, in fact we expect to have these kind of relationships. I had thought about him in those two years, even wondered how things were going. I had remembered those challenging talks with them in our living room, but I did nothing. I believe that the Holy Spirit was prompting me to get in there again, a subtle warning that something was up, but I ignored it. I had too much to do. Perhaps there was nothing to be done, but as if to guarantee that I actually did nothing.

I have a challenge for you. Does this describe you too? Are you too distracted by life to get in there and love those around you? Perhaps everyone around you, like my friend and his wife, seem happy and fine. Maybe they even say that they are, like he did. Are you willing to dig and find the truth? I bet there are several near you who are decidedly not fine, but in fact are drowning. Will you dare to jump in and get dirty and wet trying to save them?

Praise God for repentance! I hope that my friend will be coming over tomorrow night to talk. I expressed to him my apologies for my lack of care. I told him that I was there when he needed me, no matter what. Now I just have to follow up on it.

5 Comments

I feel the same way. On my own I am not always motivated to act. I liked having the discipling relationships b/c it provided a way to get to know people and develop relationships, even if it was out of obligation first...the heart follows. But when the relationship was no longer required, I dont always follow up either. I personally get so caught up and involved in things in my life that when I have a moment, I want it for myself. We all have good intentions, I just need to act on them more often.
I know when I am in a mess, I might always divulge the situation, but if someone does dig deeper I am willing to share. Maybe I dont even realize or know or am in denial until someone brings it to my attention.
Thanks for this provoking insight...I need to work on it too.

I agree also. There are many relationship's that I was a part of, that I no longer maintain. It's sad really. I placed such a high value on so many of these relationships, that at one time were forced, but are no longer. What is it in us that allows us to treat people this way. Or should I say, what is it in ME that allows me to treat people this way. Well, no excuses, that's what. It's sin, and it must change. Just because we had an "assigned" relationship, and since that whole dynamic has changed, should mean very little to me. Look at the will of Christ in John 13. "They will know you are my disciples by your love for each other." Wow have I fallen short. As you know, we moved and were pretty much left with little choice but to join a Mainline group. It has been a postitve experience, but it is just not the same, relationship wise. Those deep soulfull conversations that can only come from sharing ones heart,pretty or ugly. I haven't valued the relationship's that I established in Columbus. I have recently tried to contact several people, and I have a number of unreturned phone calls. I see now what I have sown, and am saddened by it. I can only hope that through repentance, this can all change. Thanks salguod for bring up this topic. I think for me, it's a little raw, but approptiate.

Well, as you can see by the time of my entry, it's in the middle of the night and I can't sleep because I'm obsessing. It's a illness that I have been treating, but it rarely goes away.

I have been such an advocate for the whole "Christianity is all about relationships" thing, and can now see clearly me hypocracy. It's tremendous. THE core of the Christian experience and life, is relationships. When Christ was asked what was most important, he answered "To love God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And the second like it, Love your neighbor as yourself." This is crucial. We learn in 1 John that we express our love for God by loving our Brothers. I know recently that I have come to sharply disagree with some understandings of our obligation to Christ, but this truth can't be denied. Regardless of paradigm differences, or whatever, I am still in obligation to The Master (Jesus) to love. I have fallen short of this. I have become so involved in just maintaining what I am doing from day to day. A five minute phone call? A few lines in an email? This is so hard?

If I am not loving, then what am I doing. It's love that converts the lifetime Christian. It's love that maintains those relationships. It's love that stops Christian movements from becomeing secular in nature. It's love that holds back worldly integration of the Church. It's love that tells the sceptic that God is real, and hasn't given up hope on this crazy world. It's love that seperates the pagens and the saints, as it were. We have but one hope in this world, and it is that GOd loved us so much he sent his one and only son, to be our sin sacrafice.

And one more thing, typing in the dark is hard.

Great post, Doug. Because of this, I just sent an email to the guy I discipled in college. We haven't even so much as chatted in 10 years, but at one point we met daily. Thanks for the challenge!



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  • Great post, Doug. Because of this, I just sent an email to the guy I discipled in college. We haven't even so much as chatted in 10 years, but at one point we met daily. Thanks for the challenge!...

  • And one more thing, typing in the dark is hard....

    Paul Frederick
    Relationship Failure
  • Well, as you can see by the time of my entry, it's in the middle of the night and I can't sleep because I'm obsessing. It's a illness that I have been treating, but it rarely goes away. I have been such an advocate for...

    Paul Frederick
    Relationship Failure
  • I agree also. There are many relationship's that I was a part of, that I no longer maintain. It's sad really. I placed such a high value on so many of these relationships, that at one time were forced, but are no long...

    Paul Frederick
    Relationship Failure
  • I feel the same way. On my own I am not always motivated to act. I liked having the discipling relationships b/c it provided a way to get to know people and develop relationships, even if it was out of obligation first...

    Sherri Edinger
    Relationship Failure
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