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What It Really Takes to Thrive

Practical Faith

Which is more valuable: IQ (Intelligence Quotient) or EQ (Emotional Quotient)? IQ is the intellectual ability to sort ideas, manage knowledge, and direct thoughts. EQ is the ability to manage relationships with other people. So which of the two is more important in getting hired and succeeding in your job? It is EQ that is a better indicator of success in the workplace and is used to identify leaders, good team members, and even people who work best by themselves. IQ gets you through the classroom. EQ gets you through life.

Daniel Goleman said it this way: “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

Some time ago, I did a slight adaptation of EQ by putting the entire focus on the relationship building and maintenance elements. I have come to believe those with good RQ (Relational Quotient—a specific application of EQ) have a better chance to thrive in life and work.

In thinking through any topic I usually look back through the Scripture to see what God has said about that item, if indeed He has. It allows me to bundle best practices with truth, which for me, can be a very powerful combination.

So it’s not surprising to find that God has much to say about relationships and the way I consider and handle them.

1.) Simple relationship implementation is more important than complex relationship theory.
When it comes to relationships, the Bible tends to give less “broad theology” and more specific guidelines; it focuses less on theory and more on specific practical application.  For example, I recently read back through Proverbs with an eye on relationships. I tagged almost 50 specific guidelines. For example:

  • Be a good listener—Proverbs 18:13
  • Keep a confidence—Proverbs 11:13
  • Be empathetic—Proverbs 25:20
  • Overlook the small things—Proverbs 18:19
  • Don’t run with idiots—Proverbs 13:20
  • Keep healthy boundaries—Proverbs 25:16-17

Successful relationships come down to personal specifics—the way I treat you, speak to you, listen to you, encourage you, defend you, and support you. It doesn’t come down to some theory of what could be.

The business community gets this, too.  Whitney Johnson wrote an article titled, “For a Career that Lasts, Build Real Relationships.” It’s not that difficult of a concept—relationships matter and doing them trumps talking about them.

2.) God’s guidelines of relationships apply equally to everyone.
Some things apply to all of us without exception. Truth about relationships is an example. I don’t opt out because of my gender, age, personality, or economic success or failure. It was just as wrong for King David to lust after Bathsheba, commit adultery with her, and then murder her husband, as it would have been for any anonymous Israelite to do such things.

There isn’t one set of rules for someone just starting a career and another set for someone who just received a 20-year service pin. Nor is there one batch of guidelines for employers and another for employees. In Matthew 22:39, where Jesus told us to serve and love our neighbors as ourselves, He included everyone from the corporate attorney to the factory line worker.

Of course, this doesn’t negate the fact that the more power people have, the more accountable they are for how they treat others, but the same rules apply to everyone.

3.) Relationship renewal is a sign that we understand God’s redemption.
Much of the Bible focuses on renewing relationships. We shouldn’t be surprised because we need all the help we can get when it comes to building and maintaining relationships.

Jesus tells one story in particular that highlights this—the parable of the unmerciful servant.  It’s the story of a master who responds to the pleas of his servant and cancels a massive debt, letting him off free. Then, the servant walks out the door, sees a co-worker who owes him money and immediately throws him into debtor prison.

Say what?

That’s exactly the response Jesus wanted from His listeners. The parable reveals that if we aren’t willing to forgive others—that is, if we refuse to renew a breached relationship—then we don’t understand redemption. And if we don’t understand redemption, then we don’t understand the Gospel.

Few things reveal our grasp of the Gospel better than our approach and behavior in relationships.

Conclusion
People in all walks of life have long known that relational skills are key. I work in the business world and it’s certainly key there. Mark McCormack wrote a book in the 1980s called What They Don’t Teach You in Harvard Business School and said, “Whether it is a matter of closing a deal or asking for a raise, of motivating a sales force of 5,000 or negotiating one to one, of buying a new company or turning around an old one, business situations almost always come down to people situations.”

There’s nothing wrong with success that results from good relational skills. But for the follower of Christ, treating others right is not a key aspect of work simply because it helps us succeed. It is a key aspect of work—and of life as a whole—because relationships are more important to God than anything.


STEVE GRAVES

Steve is an organizational strategist, social innovator, pragmatic theologian, executive coach, and mentor. Over the past 25 years Steve has helped hundreds of organizations launch and scale, while authoring over 15 books aimed at showing business people how to flourish in their life and work.