I love meeting with people and talking about life, relationships, leadership and spiritual stuff. When I meet with people I always have a goal. I either am trying to learn and grow myself, by asking questions and picking up nuggets that can help me become a better person, or I am meeting with someone to help them grow and stretch. I do like to just hang out sometimes, just to be with friends and have fun.
Recently I met with a friend that has really challenged me to read more. He is so passionate about reading and growing as a leader, that it has helped me to get back on track in my own reading plan. He gave me two books to check out. I have started both of them, but the one has been profound for me. I am about half way through this book and it has really spoken to me about relationships and why we do what we do.
Part of my job is to help people in their relationships. Sometimes that is counseling married couples or engaged couples. Sometimes it is listening to friends that are going through tough times. Sometimes it is a divorced person struggling with being single. Other times it is family relationships that are splintered. I deal with and interact with many broken, hurting relationships.
This book hit on a part of relationships that I have observed to be very true. The book is called “The Anatomy of Peace – Resolving the heart of conflict” by the Arbinger Institute. I won’t get into a lot of detail on this book, but I want to share the general concept that I have learned from reading this so far.
The book tells a story about families that have come to an agency for help with their unruly, difficult children. The two leader’s of this agency are very different, yet very much alike. One is Jewish and one is Muslim (that is interesting in itself). The first part of the book deals mostly with the parents and not the teenagers. The parents sit around in a circle and talk. The two leaders dig in and challenge their way of thinking.
What comes out of this time together is a profound truth; the most important factor in helping your relationships go right is the state of your heart. If you have a broken or struggling relationship with a child, parent, spouse, co-worker, neighbor, boss or employee, you need to ask yourself this question; is my heart at peace or at war with this person? That’s right, in the deepest part of your heart, what do you believe about that person and how do you view them? Do you see them as inferior, weak, egotistic, selfish, ugly, rebellious?
From my years of listening to troubled relationships, I must say that most of the time their hearts were at war. When your heart is at war you tend to see the other person as an object or an obstacle to your goal. You don’t see yourself on the same team, but opposite sidelines. When your heart is at peace you tend to see the other person as a person, a soul that matters just as much as you do. A person with feelings, emotions and a heart.
The greatest example I can think of is Jesus. He had a heart of peace toward everyone. He saw every person as a person that mattered. He saw people that were lost and without a shepherd. His heart longed for them and that helped him to minister to people that no one else cared about. He noticed the sick, the outcasts, the slaves and the children. Even the very people that killed him, he was at peace in his heart with them.
You see, your behaviors come from your heart. Your behavior toward a person comes from the beliefs you hold about them. This could be very subtle attitudes that they pick up on. A heart at war will bring out words and actions that hurt and destroy. A heart at peace will bring out words and actions that encourage and lift up.
So ask yourself how your heart is toward that person that has come to your mind as you read this. Is your heart at war? Are you on opposite sides lobbing hand grenades at each other? Or is your heart at peace, and even though you may have been hurt, you still see them as a person? When you see people as objects that are inferior to you, that is an act of war. It leads to battles, not dialog. It leads to wounds not healing.
If you want your marriage to change, then you need to change your heart. If you want your relationship with your children to change then you need to change your heart attitude toward them. If you want to change your workplace, then you need to change your heart toward the people you work with.
How’s your heart these days?