Each relationship in our lives has an account much like a bank account. Every interaction with another person can be looked at as a transaction.
Where am I going with this? Why am I using such a cut and dry analogy to describe one of the most crucial aspects of the human experience? While I am a pastor, I am also an entrepreneur and sometimes breaking things down into business language helps me make the picture much more clear.
Here’s the point: too often people try to withdraw from accounts without having invested a dime. We want diverse groups of people to come together in our churches, yet we have not invested in a single conversation.
You cannot build cross-culturally if you have not put anything into relationships. Why in the world would anyone believe that you love them or that you are willing to understand where they came from if you have not shown any interest in who they are? Furthermore, why would anyone want to be a part of your church if they do not believe that you love them?
So, how do we fit this in the budget? We count relational investment among our priorities, not as an afterthought. It’s not a one-time see investment, but a steady stream. It is time spent getting to know someone. It is asking God for a true and genuine heart to understand others if you do not naturally care.
Once you have actually invested in a person who is nothing like you, then if there comes a time to withdraw from your account – perhaps you need to correct or advise them – there will actually be funds to pull from. Otherwise, if someone holds a worldview contradictory to scripture and it is your responsibility as a leader to step in, teach and guide, you will be sorely disappointed when the account is overdrawn and the person no longer wishes to be in relationship with you or your church.
Realistically, as a pastor of a growing congregation, I can’t have a deep and meaningful relationship with every single person who is a part of our church family. However, I deposit as much as I can into these accounts through transparency in my sermons and conversations. By making a conscious effort to reveal my flaws, I allow those in attendance to know me, even if we cannot spend individual quality time together during the week. Honesty carries a hefty exchange rate, and this is something that we shouldn’t disregard. I stress this to our church leaders, as well, because transparency builds trust in relationships. It puts currency in accounts.
If you truly desire diversity, you cannot afford to make withdrawals from insufficient funds. People need to know you care.