A friend recently called me out: I overuse the word intentional.
My wife and I like to walk around our neighborhood and critique everyone's front yard. It helps us come up with ideas for our own yard. There's one simple way to pass our yard-test: Your yard looks the way it looks because you actively decided it should look that way. It's on purpose. It's... intentional. Some styles fit our tastes more than others, but with a yard, what really matters is that each thing is where it is, in the state it's in, for a reason.
It is easier to let a yard be what it is. In my years as a homeowner, I have learned that an intentional yard is a lot of work. My yard proves this is far easier said than done. Even the simplest yards require constant upkeep. Without the proper care, it will eventually be overgrown. Junk will gather. A yard has to be maintained, and the best yards are maintained with an over-arching vision for the yard. Intentional.
Like an intentional yard, intentional relationships have an agreed upon, consciously chosen purpose. But the word "intentional" is not terribly helpful because intentions can be good or bad. A man and his mistress have an "intentional relationship." An electrician and her apprentice have an "intentional relationship."
My friend argued that every relationship is intentional. That's where I differ. Some relationships develop over time because your desks are next to one another or you always sit in the same section at church or you go to the same bar at the same time. You may know one another's names and even be friendly acquaintances. It's a relationship, but there's no agreed upon purpose. It may shape your life, but minimally.
So, Christians, let's just say what it is we're after. What is the intention for the relationships we foster through the church? He called us his disciples. Our intention is discipleship - that more people would follow him, and that we would follow him more.
Of course, this grand intention is at far greater risk of disarray than a yard. A yard could be generally maintained with one good day of effort each month. But a relationship like this? My working assumption is that effort in this direction must be made at least once a week, if not many times a week.
My yard can't clean and mow itself. Nor can you disciple yourself. We learn to follow Jesus by submitting to one another.
If you long for this kind of relationship but are having troubling making it happen, Littleton Christian Church is here to help.
Thoughts? Testimony? Advice? Leave a comment below!