I recently returned from a remarkable trip to South Korea where I was joined by Dr. Jim and Kitty Wilder for two special training opportunities. The first was a 2-day introductory seminar at Onnuri Church in Seoul then we traveled to the beautiful countryside for 3 focused days training three tracks of ambitious attendees who are diligently learning new relational skills. My friends in South Korea are flourishing as they practice relational skills, and the results are phenomenal!
There were many meaningful testimonies detailing how God’s people are developing the 19 skills in their lives. One pastor shared how relational skills are transforming his church groups in significant ways. After trying a number of programs and curriculum in an attempt to develop Christ-like character in his community, he is astonished how relational skills are reshaping relationships and equipping people to be more like Jesus. Another person, a young mother, shared how her hurting family is beginning to learn relational skills and they are now building joy, loving one another and repairing like never before. Others who have struggled with depression and anxiety are now learning to rest and quiet as well as recover from what used to be debilitating emotions. God is equipping His people in South Korea, and relational skills are spreading like a wildfire!
The Koreans are excellent examples showing how relational skills can change communities when a group of people are enthusiastic to be more like Jesus – not only in word but in practice. I am especially thankful for the opportunity to participate in what God is doing in this precious land. A house is being established in South Korea where God’s people are developing deep roots in Christ and putting relational skills into practice.
One of the reasons relational skills are spreading fast and far in South Korea is because a group of pastors decided to pursue relational skills in their own lives first. These pastors read materials, practiced important concepts and attended three tracks of THRIVE Training so they gained essential experience as they began to spread the skills in the community. This is wisdom.
For many, relational skills are simply a tool to solve a problem, a “method” to fix something. People intuitively understand and rightly observe there is great substance to the training. Seeing this, some want to insert the skills as another useful tool in their toolbox to “fix” people. I commend the desire that is often motivating people – helping others is a good thing. However, helping people without first learning the skills is an upside-down model that does not end well. There is an important ingredient that goes missing in these cases, and that is personal transformation. Without the investment of time and practice, credibility quickly disappears when people who lack important skills try to teach the very skills they are missing. I highlighted this to a friend during our time in South Korea and I complimented the leadership for their determination to first learn important skills before trying to develop the skills in the surrounding community. Here is a house built on rock.
Another important factor I highlighted during my visit was how, in many ways, relational skill exercises are likened to driving a Formula One race car. Without previous experience and ongoing practice, we climb into the driver’s seat of a Formula One car when we really have no idea what we are doing. We start the car, step on the gas and shift gears then quickly crash into a wall (or other drivers) because we lack essential training. It takes only seconds for race cars to accelerate to neck-breaking speeds! The same is true for relational skills. Without some practice, training, and experience, we can cause more harm than good because what makes these interactive bonding exercises effective for healing is what also can cause a glorious crash in our communities. I do not want to instill fear, rather I want to extend an invitation to first practice relational skills in your own life before trying to spread it to other people. Here you will find a satisfying approach.
Dr. Jim Wilder’s new book The Pandora Problem was recently translated into Korean. This is exciting on many levels, but if you haven’t learned what can happen when important relational skills disappear, I highly recommend this book! Speaking of relational skills disappearing, will you join me in praying for God’s ongoing provision for relational skills to spread in South Korea? Also, if you want to learn more about relational skills, we have resources, events, and opportunities for you to jumpstart your skill journey at thrivetoday.org. As a small ministry with big dreams to see relational skills spread far and wide, we are searching for compassionate supporters who believe in seeing God’s people equipped. Please consider a gift to support this work, help us by hosting or volunteering for events and especially, please pray for us! May God’s face shine on you as you seek to spread the good stuff in your network.