Friday, June 06, 2008

Triangular relationships

I finished Ed Friedman's "A Failure of Nerve" this week. This book turns upside down the late 20th century thoughts on leadership. I will try to write some blogs in the coming days about leadership.

In a later chapter he talks about triangulated relationships, and how they affect a leader. Relationship triangles form basically between three people (e.g. husband, wife, child; or husband, wife, mistress; or boss, employee, spouse) or they can be between two people and a problem, like husband, wife, cancer. There are an almost infinite number of potentially triangulated relationships.

These triangles impact us even when we're not aware of them. Maybe more when we're not aware of them. A great example would be the situation I'm in right now where I'm commuting to Dallas a few times each week. My wife and I have several triangles in our relationship. Here's a few I can think of:

  • Me, her, the new job
  • Me, her, our unsold house
  • Me, her, where do we live?

In each case above, the relationship between A & B (me and her) is seriously affected by C, even when we are not realizing it. She doesn't have to know what's going on in my job, the stress of learning new things, being in a new environment, etc. for all of those things to seriously affect her just because they seriously affect me.

This is pretty basic, but I was thinking about how important it is to triangulate all our relationships with God. This is how God has an impact on us, how he builds our faith. We invite him into the triangle, and he affects us whether we know it or not. So if I have me, my new job and God in a triangle, that new job stuff will automatically begin to have less of an effect on my relationship with San. And if she invites God into the triangle with her and selling our house, it has an impact on her well-being, her state of mind, even if she doesn't know what or how God is going to do something.


The Burkholders said...

the triangle just has to become three-dimensional then, right? you need a pyramid, not a triangle. instead of three points on a flat plane, you would have three points on a flat plane all connected to a climactic point above...

knowing that doesn't make the practice of it easier, but at least it opens up our perspectives to the possibilities. :)

Arnie Adkison said...

Thanks Kyle, that's an interesting thought. But you're right--regardless of how we picture that relationship happening it's just sometimes tough to get him into the relationship picture frame. But when we do get that connection to the "climactic point above" life is different. Maybe less safe different, but certainly good different.

The Burkholders said...

exactly what i was thinking...thanks for finding time to post things that open up our ideas of where he can be and how to find him in more.

and if everything becomes tied to the "climactic point above" then doesn't all of the difficulty seem worthwhile anyway...i mean we humans need adversity in order to feel purposeful.

Arnie Adkison said...

"we humans need adversity to feel purposeful"

Isn't that pretty much what Agent Smith said when he was explaining to Morpheus why the first matrix didn't work?

There can certainly be deep meaning found in the painful experiences of life. I guess the admission of something greater than ourselves as the triangle/pyramid is the x-factor in finding meaning. Ultimately that is God, but even those who do not yet believe find meaning in difficulty when they embrace some higher purpose or call.

Thanks for reading and for the kudos.