The Surprising Truth about Prioritizing Relationships

Published March 28, 2017


Leading YourselfWellness

Last week, I started a new job.

I am embarking on a new adventure as the lead pastor of The Journey Church in Avon, Indiana, a small suburb of Indianapolis. This is an exciting new season in my life, and I cannot wait to work side by side with the great people in this community.

As I was transitioning out of my last position, I went out to lunch with close friends. They each took a turn giving me advice to help me in my new position. Some of the advice was very pragmatic. Others stayed in the realm of philosophical. It was all helpful.

But the advice from my friend Adam resonated with me differently than the others.

He said, “Tim, make friends. It may seem like getting close to people will make it more difficult if you have to correct them or give them negative feedback down the road, but make friends anyway.”

Wow! Make friends? He was telling me to prioritize relationships.

Making friends, prioritizing relationships, can be tough—especially when you’re new in a leadership role. It means I have to be vulnerable with people I don’t know well. It means I have to go first to initiate the relationship. It means I have to let go of all of the tasks that need to get done and put relationship building higher than them all.

Tasks. But, there’s SO MUCH to get done! And, tasks never disappoint me or let me down. Plus, I don’t have to worry about what tasks think of me or if I’m living up to their expectations.

But, I am choosing to listen to my sage friend’s advice and prioritize relationships. Because relationships are what leadership is all about. Relationships make the tasks easier and much more fun. Relationships are of far more value to God than tasks.

You know what, I even stumbled on a truth, a paradox if you will, around prioritizing relationships. I’ve just discovered this simple yet profound truth and I believe it’s something that can help every leader everywhere.

The more you prioritize relationships, the less you have to work at prioritizing relationships.

  • The more thank you notes you handwrite and send to people, the less you have to work to think of people and reasons to send them.
  • The more lunches you have with people, the less you have to worry about being approachable.
  • The more one-on-one time you spend with those you lead, the less you have to work at making time for others.

We all know that relationships are key to effective leadership, but far too many of us use tasks as an excuse to move them down the priority list.

There is literally a cause-and-effect relationship between prioritizing relationships and the ease of building relationships.

I want to challenge you to prioritize relationships. Even if it means you have to be vulnerable, you have to step out of your comfort zone and go first, or tasks aren’t going to get done as quickly as you want.

And the more we prioritize relationships, the easier it gets to prioritize relationships.

About the Author(s)
Tim Parsons serves as lead pastor at The Journey Church outside Indianapolis, a host site for the GLS. His passion is to help people lead better—at work and at home.

Tim Parsons

Lead Pastor

The Journey Church (Indianapolis, IN)

Tim Parsons serves as lead pastor at The Journey Church outside Indianapolis. With a passion to help people lead better at work and at home, his church has been a longtime partner with us as a Premier Host for The Global Leadership Summit. He is the co-author of the new devotional for men, Equipping the Warrior and author of the soon to be released 40-day devotional on spiritual health, The Journey. You can  connect with Tim at