In your life, you have various levels of relationships. Not all the people in your life can nor should they be at the same level. Not everyone can be a close friend nor can you be everyone else’s close friend. Even Jesus had His inner circle of three: Peter, James, and John. Therefore, I want you to consider the various levels of relationships in your life through a ministry filter. As you consider the people in your life that are at the following stages ask yourself how you can bless them, love them, encourage them, and witness to them at that level.
Level 1: Surface Relationships
Every relationship begins here and many stay here: these are the most common relationships. This is an introductory level relationship. You are learning each other’s name and engaging in light, casual conversation. It is tentative and there is no real commitment from you or the other person. This is a very passive relationship. Some examples of a surface relationship may be the waitress at the restaurant, the mail man you speak to from time to time, or the person you see occasionally at the gym.
The surface relationships are real and authentic relationships. They are just as genuine as the following levels. Don’t overlook these people in your life to pray for, bless, or give an encouraging look or word too. Sometimes these surface relationships are openings to opportunities for incredible ministry.
Level 2: Structured Relationships
When a surface relationships is ready to move to the next level, it is usually because it has been structured to do so. A structured relationship are those that take place at a regular or specific time each week. These relationships center around an event or place that is a part of the person’s routine.
For example, a relationship may be built around the people you work with each week, attend church with each week, go to class with each week, or an exercise group you meet with on Monday. It could also include the people you see once a week at your children’s soccer game. At the beginning, the relationships were tentative and passive. However, as you encountered the same people week after week in a casual atmosphere, they moved to another level. Structured relationships can occur in any number of ways, but usually happen around a common interest or activity in which you are involved.
Level 3: Secure Relationships
When a structured relationship becomes healthy and enjoyable, the relationship then moves to a new level which can be called a secure relationship. In a secure relationship the people begin spending more time together outside of the structured activities where they were introduced. At this level mutual sharing begins to place. They may begin sharing meals, movies, thoughts, and other activities and events. A key factor at this level is trust begins to develop and grow. You begin learning how much you can trust them. The people are becoming friends. You enjoy being with the other person. You are comfortable with them in just about any situation. Because of the growing trust the security in the relationship grows.
Level 4: Solid Relationships
This is the apex of all relationships. At this level, a long-term relationship is going to develop between you and the other person. In this relationship complete trust and confidentiality exist. Genuine love is expressed in the relationship without expecting anything in return. Even if time does not allow togetherness in the relationship, the friendship still remains solid and deep. Often times, solid relationships remain solid even if the parties in involved move to different states. Usually, distance and time rarely effects these relationships.
Questions to consider:
- Can you think of relationships in the Bible for each level?
- How can a church help their members utilize these different levels in ministry?
- What would a prayer list look like if it was structured around these four levels?
- How many people can a normal person have involved at each level? Why?
- What is the importance of having all four levels of relationships in your life?
- Can you think of individuals at each level in your life?
- If you are a parent, which level are you at with your children?
- Can a relationship move from backwards, from a level 3 back to a level 2? What would cause this to happen?
- Can conflict between two people help the relationship grow deeper? If so, how?