Intentionality Matters in Relationships

Santha Yinger - Mental Health & Wellness Ministry Lead | Real Life Ministries - Post Falls, ID

“Let’s get our coffee and grab some comfy couches,” I said to Katy as she joined me.  We got our favorite warm drinks and found a place to talk.  We resumed the latest topic in our on- going conversation.  A few weeks ago, we had toured one of my favorite spots, a park with lots of gardens.  We’d munched on tacos as we walked and talked.  That day our conversation ranged from flowers, friends, past fun vacations, new jobs, balancing schedules, challenges with thought life and new restaurants to try.

This time I listened to Katy as she talked about a new stage in her dating relationship, asking questions to better understand her perspective. I also shared how I was navigating through a significant new change in my life.

This may sound just like two friends chatting together.  But this is a snapshot of an intentional disciple making relationship. What moves this from good friendship (which is important!) to intentional investment and disciple-making?

Disciple-making is a sacred journey of coming alongside a person as they grow in following Jesus in every area of their life. It is walking with a person as they process and change how they believe the world works, as their vision of what life could be and should be transforms because of their commitment to follow Jesus and belong to the kingdom of God.

This investment does not happen just when discussing a biblical passage but in sharing life together.   You can study the bible together without meaningful relationship; you can have relationship with great shared experiences without much spiritual conversation.  Intentional disciple-making is blending both worlds. Jesus models this early in his ministry life when two of John’s disciples approached Jesus asking for information, he responds with an invitation, “Come and see.” (Take a look at John 1:35-39.)  They watched Jesus live a new way of engaging the world and he journeyed with them as they shifted their understanding of what kingdom of God living looked like in their own lives.

Essentially Jesus engaged them in areas of their identity, purpose, and belonging.  Intentionality in helping a person follow Jesus involves helping align these areas with what God says. It is a wrestling with some key questions:  Who do I think God is and what is he like? Who do I think I am and why I am here?  What do I believe life is about? How do I believe the people of Jesus respond to life circumstances and people?

As I visit with Katy, I am listening for how she is answering these life questions.  I am listening for what are the roadblocks and the opportunities, where is God working, and what is my part in guiding her to Jesus in the adventure. Growing in understanding Katy is critical to knowing how to invest in her.   I know part of my part is modeling for her how people of Jesus respond in situations, so I share my own life journey with her.

In addition to those life questions, I’ve picked up a framework to help with intentionality. KARES helps me think through what to talk about and do as I invest.

K Knowledge: what knowledge do they have/need about who God is and who they are? How are they looking for God to be a part of every area of their life?

A – Attitude: what attitudes do they have that can be roadblocks or assets in loving God and loving others? What does God seem to be bringing to light to grow or change?

R – Relationships: what is their experience with healthy relationships or broken relationships? Who is in their network of relationships – fellow believers, family/friends, and people not yet believers? What relationships do they need? Or need to rethink?

E – Experiences: What have been significant life experiences in their journey? How does that fit into what God asks them to be and do? What experiences do they need? i.e. serving, leading, reaching, investing in someone else. What are their current life circumstances and how are they approaching them?

S – Skills and Habits: James K. A. Smith talks about how practices shape our loves. What habits do they have that are shaping their internal life? driving their external life? What habits are roadblocks? Which ones are opportunities?  What skills do they have/need that help them express the kingdom of God in their context?

And how can we have fun on this great adventure of following Jesus and being His people!

Santha Yinger
Mental Health & Wellness Ministry Lead
Real Life Ministries
Post Falls, ID