One of the many joys I had last year was seeing my 20-year-old son teaching relational wisdom to business managers and top high school students.
RW in the Workplace
In November, Jeff and I flew to California, where we had the privilege of presenting a Discovering RW Seminar to twenty-five managers and their spouses at Plant Sciences, Inc., a premier agricultural research company with an international clientele.
Jeff began his part of our presentation by describing how relational wisdom improved his relationship with his mother during his senior year in high school. Since he had been seeking greater independence at the same time that Corlette had been trying to “fine tune” some of his character traits, we had no small amount of conflict in our home … until, as Jeff explained, he and his mother began to seriously practice RW. (More on this in a future blog post.)
Jeff then shifted his presentation to the workplace by describing two associate managers he had served while working for a previous employer. One of the most stressful tasks their team did was to do a “floor set,” which involved a major changeover of all the merchandise in the store.
One of his managers had excellent relational skills. When he was leading the team, the work was fun, the employees interacted with great efficiency, and they usually finished ahead of schedule.
The other manager was relationally clumsy. When he was in charge, floor sets were extremely stressful, the employees were less efficient, and they usually had to work overtime.
Jeff’s point was simple: managers with good relational skills are not only easier to work for (thus lowering employee turnover), but they also improve the productivity and bottom-line profitability of the companies they serve (hundreds of studies support this point).
RW in High School
From California, Jeff and I flew to Washington, D.C. where we spoke at a student leadership conference sponsored by the Association of Christian Schools International. Our audience was comprised of 700 top high school students from forty Christian schools on the east coast.
Speaking from the heart rather than a set of notes, Jeff connected immediately with his audience. He related naturally to the excitement, fears and questions that each of them has as they navigate volatile teenage relationships and launch into the next phase of their lives.
As Jeff described the way that relational wisdom has impacted his personal, family, and work relationships, I saw students move from laughter to tears and back again. After our presentation, the conference host asked us to stay on stage to field questions that the students eagerly fired at us. One question to Jeff was, “What one piece of advice would you give to a high school senior?”
Jeff smiled at me and whispered, “Don’t fall out of your chair, Dad,” and then answered: “Listen to your parents. There is no one in this world who loves you more, knows you better, cares more about your success, or has as much relevant wisdom to offer you as they do.”
Then with a smile, he added, “I would have saved myself a great deal of grief if I had followed that advice more consistently when I was your age.”
I didn’t fall out of my chair … but I almost burst with pride. My son has become a man who is now teaching wisdom principles to others.
Shortly after the conference, we received a lengthy email from a student named Kaitlyn. Among other things, she wrote this:
“What especially hit me was the SERVE acronym and your quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” No matter where I go—school, Wal-Mart, or Dollar Tree—I can bless others with the love of God. And sometimes all it takes is a smile to show the joy I have in my Savior and to open the way for telling others that He is standing before them with His arms stretched wide.”
Whether your children are two, twenty, or much older, I encourage you make every effort to teach them the relational principles presented in Scripture and modeled by Jesus. As your children grow in wisdom and grace, you too can experience the wonderful truth of Proverbs 15:20,
“A wise son makes a glad father.”
– Ken Sande
The Association of Christian Schools International has approved our 101 Discovering RW Seminar for five hours of Continuing Education Credit. This training is available live and online. If you work in an ACSI school, or know someone else who does, you can learn more about this training by downloading this summary.
- Kaitlyn found the SERVE acronym and the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” to be very relevant to her life. Read these two related blog posts with your family—especially your teenagers—and talk about how you can apply these principles in your lives.
- You can start teaching relational wisdom to children as young as two years old. Raising Empathetic Children will give you some practical ideas on how to start this life-long process.
- The best way to teach RW to your children is to model it in your life. Here are some posts that show how you can do this: The Compassionate Boxer, Spanglish, and Penetrating Barriers.
- Our family went through the 102 RW Personal Study Course together. Each of us downloaded the study guide and did the daily assignments, and then we gathered as a family on Sunday afternoons to discuss our answers.
- As Jeff demonstrated when he talked to the managers at Plant Sciences, RW is highly relevant to the workplace. Here are a few posts that describe some practical workplace applications: RW in the Workplace, A Disastrous Employee, Really Nice Pants.
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© 2014 Ken Sande
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