Relationships and Covenant By Mark L. Vincent
A Reflection on the Importance of Relationships and Covenant
The family, colleague, and client relationships in which I am immersed reflect a whole kaleidoscope of backgrounds, personalities, convictions, and skills. I live in holy covenant with these people I love, pledged to support, encourage, think, and share in the ups and downs. Sometimes this is so readily lived. Occasionally, remaining committed brings experiences with suffering. I remain and they remain because there is lovingkindness and trust.
Reflecting on how I remain committed to covenant, I’ve found it helpful to consider my DISC assessment results. Apparently, my S is quite high. The experts say this reflects care for relationships, peace within them, and bull-dogged patience to work at them. Perhaps high care for relationships is why I think the covenants I make are so important, why I want to live within them, and why I want to make them work. And yet, we could also argue that my personality wiring makes peace harder.
Because of how I am formed, I notice not only a lack of peace, but the reluctance of people to work at it. And not just reluctance. I also notice others’ inability to see or care until after hurt has been rendered. I tend to be frustrated earlier than others, and over things to which co-workers, friends and family might be oblivious. They are happy where they are and with how it is. I tend not to be, believing and acting on the impulse that our life together could be so much better.
My sensitivity is not going to change in this life. I so want to craft peace between people before the conflict breaks out, to build peace within my family, to offer peace in my interactions with others, and I so want it for myself. The peace I want is often the peace others feel I am violating by my pointing to what could be better. It is also the peace I am among the first to offer when I find out I have become someone else’s problem.
Because of who I am I’m wired to readily see the messages of peaceful and covenantal relationships when encountering wisdom —whether in Scripture, or the counsel of elders, or when thinking with others about how to build strong cultures within work and family.
Here is an example of one of these messages: Abraham and Lot in the book of Genesis in the Bible. These two fellows are uncle and nephew. They are traveling together and looking for a place to live where they might pasture their flocks. They have been successful enough in a family enterprise that they feel the need to spread out. Abraham, kind uncle that he is, gives Lot a choice of which way to go. Lot chooses what he perceives to be optimal for himself, leaving the less verdant land for Uncle Abe. The narrators of the story tell us God continued to take care of Abraham, promising him far more to work with.
People tend to think of this story as something about Abraham’s faith in God and God’s faithfulness to Abraham. Perhaps it is. What leaps out at me, however, is the break in the relationship. Nephew is selfish. Nephew does not show respect to uncle who brought him along on the journey and made room for him in the family enterprise. Uncle now worries for nephew rather than continuing to partner with him. Unity and fealty are not as they once were. Family ties become fragile and perhaps now are on their way to severing. This is not just spreading out and making room. This is the beginning of disintegration. It will take work to have even a shadow of what was.
Or, perhaps there never was much of a relationship in the first place. Perhaps the choice of land brought the real separation into the open. Perhaps a façade is crumbling and all pretending is done. If I were Abraham, given my personality, I would likely keep trying to be faithful to something that was never there, ending up even more wounded than Abraham was. Perhaps I would falsely believe Lot was not selfish and would keep offering to help even as he moved further away.
At the heart of a relationship, especially one rooted in covenant, is this fundamental choice: I must want it. I must believe it is possible. I must give myself to it completely. Over and over. At the same time, I must keep growing in my savvy and my depth perception of what is really happening, in me and in the other person.
Oh, this is so hard! So beautiful! So devastating! So richly dimensional!
It’s no wonder holding to covenant is an ideal, and one with so many waystations where folks give up their journey toward the reward of lifelong union with other humans. They’ve stopped believing it is possible, or they have decided it is not for them. They start to think of covenant as a false ideal. Unattainable. They applaud politely when it’s announced that someone is celebrating a wedding anniversary of many years, or worked forty years at one organization, and think that such folks are evolutionary freaks or people trapped in something loveless.
All relationships become tainted by the belief that living inside a covenant — family or business or ministry— is not possible and not worth striving for. It isn’t just Abraham and Lot who end up spreading out and working for their own ends. Entire civilizations disintegrate under this lack of faith in the goodness of self-giving love.
It is early Sunday morning as I write this. My household is just waking up. There are some hugs and expressions of love to go give. And then again on Monday morning as I greet those I am privileged to serve alongside.
The Alliance is honored to have Mark L Vincent serving as faculty for the Outcomes Conference 2021.
Session: The Three Turns of the Executive Leader
Description: Three overlapping turns mark the career-long growth of the wise executive leader. From the viewpoint of a President/CEO, and using Moses’ life as an illustration, participants in this workshop consider leadership of self, leadership of an organization and others, and leadership toward future value, succession and legacy.
- Evaluate where you are in your journey,
- Explore what might come next, and
- Examine what might be next for members of your executive teams.
There has been so much planned for you!
What is Christian Leadership Alliance?
Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.