When I was young my parents devised a system for my brothers and me. If we behaved well we gained points; if we misbehaved we lost points. Our pocket money – paid every Sunday morning – was dependent on how many points we had at the end of each week.
Life’s filled with transactional relationships… If you pay me a fair wage then I will work… learn what I teach you then you will pass your exam… break the law and we shall punish you… if you behave you’ll get your pocket money…
In my working life I saw many good teachers – skills and facts were taught and learnt. They developed good transactional relationships with their students… good essays were written, exams were passed.
Some inspirational teachers influenced children’s whole lives… promoting a passion for reading and a love of books… a dedication to sport that led to disciplined trainng… taking part in a school production that gave self-confidence. These teachers developed transformational relationships.
My friend Tim recently had heart surgery. He expected transactional relationships in the hospital. He needed the operation; they had a job to do. He was sick; they would bring healing…
What Tim received was transformational relationships – his surgeon took a personal interest, nurses were kind and encouraging, physios looked for positive improvement. Through these transformational relationships he discovered peace in his anxiety, reassurance in his uncertainty, hope and determination through previously accepted limitations.
Transactional relationships are vital in our workplaces, schools, shops, hospitals, churches, families…. At their best they’re characterised by truth and justice; they help us to be good people… but they create distance from each other.
Transfomational relationships are even more important… involving us more deeply in relationships of love, trust, reconciliation, mercy, grace… that bring us closer together.
This morning I read Psalm 23… Sheep and shepherds could have a transactional relationship… David talks about a personal relationship with ‘My Shepherd’ that gives him protection, guidance, reassurance, confidence and peace that is truly transformational.