Life places many demands on us: the demands of navigating our careers, marriages, parenting, dating lives, friendships, self care and service, to name a few. The demands aren’t bad things, they are simply the way life works. The reality is that we all have our responsibilities.
Our demands require us to have energy, positivity, and focus to get it all done. We can all relate to having a time in our lives when we were overwhelmed, discouraged and confused, and decisions were difficult. We need external sources, outside of ourselves, to help us persevere and succeed.
The Bible teaches that God is our Source for all the good things we need to meet our demands. He loves us, He is for us, and He provides all we need:
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:19
He is certainly a good God.
However, Scripture also teaches that God provides the energy, positivity and focus that we need, in more than one way. One way is what I term the vertical: Prayer, the Bible, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and surrender to Him. These are the means by which God sources us directly. But another way is the horizontal. By this I mean that God provides for us indirectly through people: their love, support, wisdom and direction.
We often have a limited perspective on the horizontal sourcing God provides, and only engage vertically with God. Yet the Bible has so many passages on how He takes care of us through others. Here are just a few:
It is not good for the man to be alone. — Genesis 2:18
In a perfect world, where Adam experienced the riches of God, in a solely vertical way, God Himself called it not good. By the way, this passage speaks more to the need for relationship than it does to marriage. There are lots of singles who need relationships to flourish.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. — Ecclesiastes 4:10
The “no one” here refers not to God, but to a flesh and blood person.
Then He [Jesus] said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me. — Matthew 26:38
Imagine this very emotional scene: Jesus is anticipating His torture and death, and is communing with the Father. Yet He reaches out to Peter, James and John for support as well.
But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. — 2 Corinthians 7:6
God could have comforted Paul by a passage from the Bible, support from the Holy Spirit, or a miracle, all of which He does, over and over again. Yet, He chose to support Paul by the care of a person, Titus.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. — 1 Peter 4:10
People are actually a “delivery system” of the very grace of God. We are, in effect, the “gas station” for each other, keeping us energized and growing.
You might be saying at this point, “OK, I know I need friends.” That is true, we all do. But most of us are not even coming close to optimizing and utilizing the “fuel” that comes from our relationships. So here is a practical and useful way for us to know how to be sourced by God’s horizontal avenue, and to source others, such as those in our families and those we lead in our organizations, as well.
We all know what bionutrients are. They are the chemical substances, such as vitamins and minerals, which help keep our bodies healthy and strong. They are vital for life. For example, if we don’t take enough calcium, we risk bone problem. If we have an iron deficit, we are in danger of anemia. In the same way, God created a system in which, instead of taking a tablet for our bodies, we deliver what I have termed relational nutrients to each other’s brains, and it is done by conversations. The right nutrients, stated in the right conversation, can make all the difference between discouragement and encouragement, confusion and clarity, or being stuck and having a helpful plan.
In my new book People Fuel (2019, Zondervan Publishing), I describe 22 relational nutrients, simply organized into four categories, or Quadrants. I describe the Quadrants below:
Quadrant 1 — Be Present. Communicate to another authentically, by your warmth, compassion, eye contact, body language, and just a few words, in ways they will understand, that you are simply “with and for” them. For example, Jesus described Mary’s sitting at His feet, being present with Him, in a positive way:
Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. — Luke 10:42
Quadrant 2 — Convey the Good. Let someone know something true and positive about them, that can lift their spirits and give them the resilience to face their challenges. Sometimes all a person needs, is to know that someone else believes in them:
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. — Proverbs 16:24
Quadrant 3 — Provide Reality. Sometimes a person needs truth, data or perspective; some information that will clarity a challenge in relationships or work for them, that has been confusing. You can’t overestimate the emphasis the Bible places on giving healthy reality:
These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts. — Zechariah 8:16
Quadrant 4 — Call to Action. At the end of the day, growth and success involve behavior, or some action plan. An individual may need advice, a few steps or a structured path to follow for themselves:
Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. — James 1:22
The table below describes the 22 relational nutrients, within their Quadrants:
|Quadrant 1: BE PRESENT||Quadrant 2: CONVEY THE GOOD|
|· Acceptance: Connect without judgment
· Attunement: Be aware of what another is experiencing, and respond to it
· Validation: Convey that a person’s experience is significant and not to be dismissed
· Identification: Share your similar story
· Containment: Allow the other to vent while staying warm without reacting
· Comfort: Provide support for someone’s loss
|· Affirmation: Draw attention to the good
· Encouragement: Convey that you believe in someone’s ability to do the difficult
· Respect: Assign value
· Hope: Provide reality-based confidence in the future
· Forgiveness: Cancel a debt
· Celebration: Acknowledge a win, both cognitively and emotionally
|Quadrant 3: PROVIDE REALITY||Quadrant 4: CALL TO ACTION|
|· Clarification: Bring order to confusion
· Perspective: Offer a different viewpoint
· Insight: Convey a deeper understanding
· Feedback: Give a personal response
· Confrontation: Face someone with an appeal to change
|· Advice: Recommend an action step
· Structure: Provide a framework
· Challenge: Strongly recommend a difficult action
· Development: Create a growth environment
· Service: Guide engagement to giving back
The Quadrants help you know exactly what you might need from another today, and what another might need from you as well. For example, when a person needs acceptance (Quadrant 1), they need someone to just be with them, and don’t need advice (Quadrant 4); advice would be the wrong nutrient at the wrong time. When a person needs insight (Quadrant 3), they don’t need someone to affirm them in a positive way (Quadrant 2). Rather, they need a better way to look at a situation.
So, learn the Quadrants and use the Relational Nutrients in your conversations. You’ll find significantly more energy, positivity and focus, and you will also help others in their own life, love and leadership as well.
If you’d like a free digital copy of this table, simply go to relationalnutrients.com and download it to your smartphone, or make a hard copy to print for yourself. God bless your growth!
Written for Devotionals Daily by John Townsend, Ph.D., author of People Fuel.
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Are you feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and confused, and having a difficult time making decisions? Today is a great day to reach out to a trusted friend for help! Do you know someone who needs help? What quadrant of help do they need in order to be cared for by God through you? Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
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