So up the elevator she goes to the second floor, where the sign reads, “These men have jobs and love kids.” The woman likes this because she wants to have a family. But she also figures that if it’s this good already, it can only get better. Sure enough, the third-floor sign says, “These men have jobs, love kids, and are extremely good-looking.” Now the woman is really getting excited, but she figures it will only keep getting better.

So she heads on up to the fourth floor, where the sign says, “These men have jobs, love kids, are extremely good-looking, and help with the housework.”

“Incredible!” the woman exclaims. “This is very tempting, but there must be something even better on the fifth floor,” and she keeps moving up. To her delight, the fifth floor is better: “These men have jobs, love kids, are extremely good-looking, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak.”

Well, by now this woman is so ecstatic that she thinks to herself, Just imagine what must be waiting for me on the last floor! So up to the sixth floor she goes and steps out of the elevator with great excitement, only to be greeted with this sign: “You are visitor number 3,456,789,012. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at Husband-Mart.”

The Husband-Mart, or the Wife- or Child-Mart for that matter, would be a good joke if it weren’t so true. Developing healthy relationships in your family is much like developing a healthy body through exercise. You have to start where you are, set realistic goals for progress, and then work faithfully with what you’ve got to get from where you are to where you want to be. Start expecting the best from the people you love, and watch your relationships develop.

I use the term marketplace to describe our relationships in business and public life because it has a wider connotation than business alone. You don’t have to have a job or own a business to relate to people in the marketplace. The apostle Paul was also conscious of the importance of these relationships as he instructed believers how to be fit for life. He wrote to the Philippians, “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27).

Many people tend to think of good relationships in this arena as secondary to success in business or some other area of public life. But not so. Zig Ziglar included an interesting quote in his book Top Performance. The former CEO of Coca-Cola, who was responsible for taking the company from a regional business to an international powerhouse, is quoted as saying:

Success or failure on the job is essentially a matter of relationships, and the deadly sin in our relationship with people is that we take them for granted. We do not make an active or continuous effort to do and say things that will make them like us and believe us, and that will create in them the desire to work with us in the attainment of our desires and purposes.

In business, good relationships make all the difference. Whether you work in a company, operate a business of your own, or simply relate to people each day in carrying out your personal or family business, it matters to God how you conduct yourself and the witness you leave. We call these people skills because relating well to others is a skill we should learn if we really want to get fit for life.

How to Grow in Your Relationships

When we get to the end of our lives, it’s not our diplomas, trophies, or stock portfolio that will comfort us. We will want our family and friends—people to be with us—because what matters most in life and death are the people we love and who love us. Here are several ways you can cultivate and nurture your relationships so that your life will be full and fulfilling.

Grow in Christ
The place to begin nurturing your relationships is with Jesus. You can live with confidence, knowing that your relationship with Christ is secure forever.