Relationships. Everyone has them. Everyone is in one. Whether married or single, young or old we all have to deal with other people. We all have to “manage” the relationships in our lives. How do we manage our relationships? Do our words and actions change with each person we interact with? Do we treat some people differently than we do others?

I believe that the answer to these questions come this quote from “The Shack” by Robert P. Young: “Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself–to serve.” Limiting oneself in relationships is not an easy thing to do. As a father I have to choose to limit myself many times a day in order to serve the relationships with my children. For example, my five year old is learning to read. She loves to read to me, but it is frustrating for me because it takes her a long time to sound out the words (I tend to be an impatient person). I could choose to not limit my knowledge of reading and say the words to her. Instead I choose to limit my knowledge in order that she may learn to read. I also choose to limit my feelings by not showing her my frustration, which helps me to become more patient.

Relationships are NOT about power. They are not about what we can get out of them. They are about service–what can I give to the other person? When we choose to limit ourselves and serve others in our relationships both members of the relationship flourish–my daughter learns to read and I learn patience. This works with every relationship we have–family relationships, work relationships, friends, classmates, teachers, etc.

Published in: on October 14, 2008 at 5:48 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. I wholly agree that relationships are not about power. Fancy French philosophers like Michael Foulcault (whose name I can barely spell much less pronounce) suggest that power need stop being thought of in negative terms. Certainly, we should not confuse power and empowerment, but, really, I disagree and believe that relationships created and maintained through power are ultimately unsustainable in the long run.

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