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One way to keep your work and play relationships in perspective is to be aware of the other relationships in your life.  Very few people exist without family.  You are someone’s mother, daughter, sister, brother, son, and father.  Family relationships, especially marriage relationships, have precedence over all others.  In God’s hierarchy of human relationships, marriage holds center stage, followed by parent-child relationships, extended family relationships, deep friendships, and working relationships. 

All relationships matter to God.  He is even concerned with how we treat strangers and travelers.  But some relationships matter far more than others.  If we ignore this truth, we always get hurt.

If you are married, you have an obligation to both God and your spouse to keep all your outside relationships from becoming sexualized.  If you are single, you have an obligation to your heavenly Father to obey his word regarding any relationship you enter into. 

Of course, the primary relationship in the lives of Christians is our relationship with God.  After all, Jesus says the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).  Every relationship we enter into must be governed by our overriding relationship to him. 

Work relationships can be taken out of their proper context.  They can become intense and close, but they must never supersede the other more important relationships in our lives.  In our culture today this message has become muddled.  We live in a society where other relationships often are subordinated to work relationships and to work itself.  People tend to be defined by what they do as opposed to who they are.  The worth of an individual is often determined by how much they make at their jobs. 

Families are uprooted by work-related moves.  many spouses spend evenings alone while their mates work late.  Because of work pressures, children are expected to hit home runs, dance in recitals, toot trumpets, and receive awards without the presence of a proud parent.  Should we be surprised that a host of deluded souls believe that work and work relationships are more important than family? 

In our self-centered society, play relationships often are promoted above family.  Spouses and children are expected to give up time at home while softball practices and multiple games go on night after night.  Being able to stop after work to shoot a round of two of pool or to have a drink with the girls is considered a right by many.  Missing breakfast or dinner with family is acceptable in many homes if the absentee is running or biking or working out at the gym.  In today’s culture our needs have to be met.  Our desires take precedence.  Our self-esteem dictates that we indulge in whatever activities make us feel good, even if those activities cut us off from the rest of our families. 

God never intended our lives to be like this.  Our responsibility to nurture our families emotionally and spiritually as well as physically is clearly taught in God’s word.  The apostles taught that we are worse than pagans if we don’t supply the needs of our own families (1 Timothy 5:8).  When we are scheduling work or leisure-sports relationships, we need to make sure that our family relationships come first. 

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.