Virtual Reality | Day 29
Christian leaders lay themselves down in service of others in accordance with God’s plans to spread the good news (2 Timothy 2:2)
ELEMENT #4: Successful Relationships Are Built on Confronting Wrong
Throughout this letter Paul has encouraged Timothy to confront issues. The impression we get from both of Paul’s letters to Timothy is that the art of confrontation was not one of Timothy’s strongest points. The reality was however, that he may well need to confront in order to deal with current realities.
Verse 14: Alexander did me great harm…
Verse 15: Beware of him yourself.
Many of us can identify with the woman who anointed Jesus' feet, but a less appealing prospect is to identify with Simon the Pharisee: Simon the judgmental, Simon the arrogant, Simon who couldn't even show the common courtesy of a welcoming kiss, but who still believed himself to be several cuts above the repentant woman.
The problem is, if we are like Simon, we are not apt to know it, for Simon was blind to his need for forgiveness. Jesus did not tell the parable of the two debtors for the woman's benefit, but for Simon's. When a person suffers from sin-hiding blindness, it often takes direct confrontation or a particularly apropos example to force insight.
If we don't see any of Simon in our own character, it may be because he doesn't lurk there...but it could be because Simons always have trouble seeing themselves as they are. Jesus confronted Simon with the parable to make him see. And God may use other passages of His Word in the hands of a friend or an enemy to confront us. When we are confronted, we are likely to discover we possess elements of both the woman and Simon, and both need much forgiveness. At the same time, we may need to be a Jesus to a Simon, or a Paul to an Alexander. How easy do we find that?
Are you in a relationship where confrontation of sin and godly repentance and forgiveness are typical expressions? If not, your relationship will not be as meaningful and authentic as it could and should be.
ELEMENT #5: Successful Relationships Are Built on Affirmation
Receiving affirmation is a key component of any fruitful relationship. Tia Walker writes,
“Affirmations are our mental vitamins, providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events and thoughts we experience daily.” 
With those words in mind, consider Paul’s comments about John Mark in this text. How encouraging would it have been for this young man, who was once scolded by Paul for his abandoning of the ministry, to have heard how Paul described him in 2 Timothy 4 verse 11:
Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.
What affirmation for that young man! At the heart of successful relationships lie the ability to affirm a person even after a painful past. As Christians we have to remember that it is not where a person is now, or even the pain they cause us now, that counts. Rather, it is where they will end up. We have to allow God the room to work a change in a person’s heart and we must be able to affirm that person and welcome them when such a change occurs.
Calvin Miller tells the story of a first-grader in a rather counter-cultural community who came a few days late for the beginning of school. His teacher was pleased that his parents had filled out all the appropriate forms, including putting his name on a name tag around his neck. Still, though the teacher was used to names like Sea Foam, Precious Promise, and Peek-a-Boo, she was startled by the name on this small boy's tag, Fruit Stand. She went with the flow, though, and throughout the day it was, Fruit Stand, would you like to color a picture? Fruit Stand, it is time for recess.
When it was time to put the children on the buses that afternoon, she said, “Now, don't you worry, Fruit Stand, the bus driver will know where to drop you off because all of the parents write where their child should get off on the back of the name tag.” Turning over Fruitstand's name tag, she found the word Anthony.
At Christmas we remember that one side of Jesus' name tag reads Prince of Egypt; the other, Emmanuel, God is with us. One side of John Mark’s name tag read “unsure”, much like Demas, but on the other side there was written the word, “useful”.
ELEMENT #6: Successful Relationships Are Built on Letting Go
Look at the people who Paul has released from Himself:
· Crescens is in Galatia (v10)
· Tychicus is in Ephesus (v12)
· Carpus is in Troas (v13)
· Erastus in in Corinth (v20)
· Trophimus is in Miletus (v20)
All successful relationships, whether personal, work, or ministry, function best when there is a commitment to let go and let God. Paul knew that the greatest priority was the kingdom and not his own personal needs. This is the mark of true Biblical leadership. This is the mark of a man who understood the difference between authority and authoritarianism.
Churches can also learn from this. When the Lord calls a pastor or member of staff on to another fellowship we must remember that every minister is a servant of Christ before he is a servant of a local church. Whichever way we view this, successful relationships are all about letting people go where God calls them to be.
Food for Thought:
1. Which of these essential elements is your strongest?
2. Which of these essential elements is your weakest?
Ask the Lord to help you develop these elements so that they reach their fullest expression in your life.
 Peggi Speers, Tia Walker, The Inspired Caregiver: Finding Joy While Caring for Those You Love, CreateSpace Independent Publishing (2013)