By Clarence Bradbury

The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of right relationships. The Christian enterprise is all about relationships.  That is the Advent message – that God was in Christ, befriending the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).   In Jesus Christ, we see the ultimate in ROI – Return On Investment.  In the business world, ROI focuses specifically on dollars and cents.  It deals with ROR (Rate of Return) attached to a brand, an action or an initiative.  It is true that even the Kingdom of God is a business – the best business there is!  But it is infinitely more than that.  In matters of the Kingdom, God takes enormous risks.  And He’s committed to finance His own initiatives!

When we want to know how well our School for Leadership is doing in attracting our target audience, we employ social media tools.  These tell us how often a given article or feature is opened and how many click-through actions occurred.  We can also determine how many followers we have and how they rate our various offerings.  The readings we receive from these tools are very useful.  They tell us whether our purpose is being served effectively – to empower spiritually motivated leaders to grow in character, compassion and competencies to best achieve God’s mission through The Salvation Army.

Dollars and cents alone cannot be the determining factor in assessing the viability and profitability of a Kingdom initiative.  Faith-based ventures are more often measured in life transformation. Even corporate America recognizes that product quality and customer relations are essential for improving market share.  Because people are our business, we who are partners with God are called to follow His lead into high-value, high-touch and high-risk mission and to trust Him to bless (and fund) the work He inspires.

How can we as Kingdom leaders enhance our RI (Relationship Intelligence) in order to improve the relational ROR among those we serve, and with whom we serve?  Here are four actions for cultivating the rate of return on our relationship investments.

1. Be an Active Listener

Gone are the days (if ever there were such days) when leaders could safely assume they knew better than their followers.  In order to get it right with people, I need to know what they are thinking and feeling.  Relational leaders have elephant ears and goldfish mouths!  They allow others to speak, to express feelings, fears, hurts and points of view.  Armed with impressions and information, leaders are then able to work in partnership with others to find solutions appropriate to their needs.

 2. Remember It’s NOT About You

The fact that I am a leader does not mean I have to take charge of every situation.  The first priority of every leader ought to be what matters most to those I serve and those who serve with me.  When they are empowered to share needs and expectations, I am well on the way to knowing what my agenda should be. This is especially significant if I am a newcomer to a group or situation.

3. Stay Connected

One of the greatest assets a leader can bring is the commitment to staying in touch with the significant people and partners in our lives and ministries.  It’s one thing to start a meaningful conversation with someone. It’s quite another to take time to keep returning to the dialogue after we address the initial business at hand.  People feel used when we contact them only for the purpose of making a request.  They feel honored when we get to know them, quite aside from what they can do for us.  Staying engaged adds great value to all our relationships, especially those aimed at building the Kingdom of God.

4. Remember, It’s All About YOU

That may sound totally contradictory to point two above.  But wait; being a better leader is always about being a better person for the sake of others.  So, whether I am taking time to be a better listener, reminding myself that the opinions of others take priority to my own, or showing that I value others by staying in touch, I am in fact working on being a better me.  Leadership is all about you being the best you that God created you to be – fully invested in others.  When others receive your best, their trust in you grows to new heights.  You prove yourself credible and trustworthy.  It all starts with YOU.

Relationships are the new currency of our day.  Invest in relationships and watch your  RORR (Rate of Relationship Return) grow!

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