Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Clued In

Clued In

Legend has it that when Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992 he put a sign on his desk that said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He had been elected for his domestic economic agenda and the sign was a reminder to keep his focus on what he was elected to do.

Last month I was having coffee with a good friend and mentioned to him that I had recently articulated a set of goals for 2012 (when I turn fifty and our youngest child graduates from high school). I was pretty excited about these and he asked to hear them. After I finished he said, with a measure of pity and puzzlement, “There’s not a single inter-personal goal in there!” After I endured his scolding I asked him to help me set a few of those, which he since has done.

I probably ought to have a sign on my desk that says, “It’s about relationships, Bozo.” Think about it. Relationships are what make life most worthwhile. Not possessions. Not accomplishments. Not hobbies. All these are good and satisfying, but they’re side dishes, not the entrée. Nevertheless I, and perhaps some of you, often assume that while it is good to be intentional about work, health, retirement planning, and Tivo, relationships will take care of themselves. I honestly had never set a relationship goal in my life other than to somehow, anyhow get a date to my prom, but my friend’s comment jolted me into thinking seriously about this over my vacation break at Christmas, which just happened to be the same time of year we all watch (or ignore since we’ve seen it so many times) reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” whose ending, and signature lesson, tells us that “No man is a failure who has friends.” Gee, there’s a thought.

This week I am preaching a vision message which articulates four cornerstones of West Houston’s vision. I will tell you in advance that one of them specifically involves being intentional about relationships, about keeping our focus on people, about making sure that programs and plans serve people and relationships instead of vice-versa. A friend of mine used to observe wryly that at his law firm it was easy to develop the feeling that “We could get a lot of work done if it weren’t for our clients” (i.e., calling with questions and demands). The irony of course is that the clients were the reason for the work! So it is with people and relationships and life. There’s a reason that fifty-seven times in the New Testament we read the phrase “one another.” The reason is that the Christian life is all about relationships. God’s plan and purposes are people-focused. Our faith centers on our relationship with God through Jesus Christ in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and our relationship with one another. Period. “Love God and love your neighbor.” Everything else is commentary.

So count me a convert. It’s been too long coming. I should have clued in a lot sooner. The scales fell from my eyes slowly. But I finally see it. I’ll let the president worry about the economy.


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