6 Reasons to Cultivate Close Relationships with Coworkers

As leaders we’re often focused on two primary areas: vision – where we’re going, and strategy – how we’re getting there. That’s fine, if it’s not to the exclusion of relationships – who we’re getting there with. In our quest to advance, we can view coworkers as commodities instead of fellow children of God. But no one wants to just go along for the ride. (But no one wants to just be a workhorse.) Cultivating a community of closely-connected coworkers will yield a highly engaged and effective team.

Not long ago I shared the concept of relational community with a team of ministry professionals. Their organization was Christ-centered, but they hadn’t opened up personally to one another. The look on their faces seemed to say, “We’re good the way we are, thanks.” But they were willing to hear more, so I explained a few relationship-building activities to them and invited them to choose one.

They chose play dough.

Here’s the concept: Each person has a small container of play dough, we ask God to show us an area He’s working on in our lives, and we shape the play dough to portray that area.

I passed around the containers and asked God to help us see our lives from His perspective.  After some initial jokes about how long it was since we’d played with play dough, the room grew quiet. Everyone was busy crafting their object. A few minutes later we went around the circle and explained what we’d made.

The most poignant moment for me was when a gentleman shared a sensitive issue and then said, “I can’t believe I haven’t told you guys about this.” The bonding was palpable as people allowed others to see into a meaningful slice of their lives. A 15-minute activity produced volumes of relational equity.

Benefits of Building Relational Community

1) Play. Somehow we’ve adopted the mentality that true work involves blood, sweat, and tears. Perish the thought of enjoyment or laughter! But adding elements of play to your work environment will alleviate stress and deepen camaraderie. Walls come down and masks come off as coworkers relax and have fun together.

2) Creativity. As people made in our Creator’s image, creativity is in our DNA. Unfortunately, just like with play, we’ve relegated it to architects and marketers. But God designed all of us to be creative. A hands-on, God-honoring project gets our work-focused brains out of their ruts and fosters personal interaction.  

3) Closer Relationships. As I said earlier, we’re children of God not commodities. We’re human beings, not just employees. Yes, there are performance expectations and conversations when they’re not met. But you also want to develop authentic, caring relationships. Doing so will create a safe environment where people can thrive personally and professionally.

4) Christ-likeness. As people share personally with one another, trust increases to the point of giving and receiving helpful feedback. The purpose of being vulnerable isn’t to vent, wallow, or simply commiserate. Yes, we respond with compassion and empathy, but the ultimate goal is to point one another to Christ.

5) Stronger Work Relationships. When people are honored and cared for by supervisors and one another, they’re able to function more freely in the way God designed. Giftings flourish as individuals contribute their input for the betterment of the organization. Conflicts are dealt with in the context of mutual respect.

6) Mission Advancement. God is the leader of our organizations and Father to His children. When we function in this family-of-God relationship, He’s able to lead us into oneness with His heart, with one another, and with His mission. We move forward together in the kingdom work He’s called us to.  

Our Relational God

God has always been relational. He exists in trinity relationship – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Throughout the New Testament we see the Father and Son:

1) Actively with each other. (John 1:1)

2) Loving one another. (John 10:17; John 14:31)

3) Accomplishing God’s will. (John 19:30)

That’s a great overview of biblical community!

Biblical Community

1) Engaged with one other.  

2) Loving each other.

3) Accomplishing God’s will.

As you take the time to invest in authentic, biblical community, you will experience lasting relational and missional dividends.

“Investing in authentic community yields lasting relational and missional dividends.”

- Lisa Hosler

How do you foster relational community within your organization? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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