The Rev. Vanable H. Moody II, pastor of The Worship Center Christian Church in Bessemer, Alabama, and author of the new book, The People Factor, says it is time we do relationships right — at home, on the job and at church.
"Clearly, relationships can make the difference between a great life and a miserable existence," Moody writes in The People Factor: How Building Great Relationships and Ending Bad Ones Unlocks Your God-Given Purpose. "They can launch us into heights of excellence and achievement we never dreamed possible, or they can keep us down in the dumps, tethered to mediocrity for all of our days."
According to Moody, often referred to as Pastor Van, Christians cannot afford to take relationships lightly or for granted, as they are God's main mode of operation in the world. "Any and everything that God has ever done and will ever do in the world He does through people," he told The Christian Post.
"That's one of the most important things that we often forget, which heightens the importance of us being able to do relationships well," Moody added. "The inability to do that will also threaten the very thing that God wants to do in your life, whether it's in business, whether it's in your personal life, or even in your professional life in a number of other areas."
In The People Factor, Moody insists that the process of developing strong and meaningful relationships begins first with an individual's desire to be consistently authentic, vulnerable and self-less. At the same time, however, he calls for readers to have wisdom in evaluating the character, motives and values of those in their personal and professional circles. In addition to using present day examples of high-profile relationship disasters to emphasize his points, the Alabama megachurch pastor frequently points readers back to the Bible and to God. He explains in The People Factor that a "real, vibrant relationship with God is the vertical factor that will empower all the horizontal realities in your life."
A transcript of CP's interview with Moody is below, followed by a video discussion.
CP: Why do you call this book The People Factor?
Moody: Because one of the most important factors of anyone's life will be their ability or their inability to relate well with people. Everything in our life revolves around people. Anything that we desire to do, whether it's in the business sphere or the leadership sphere or even the Christian sphere, revolves around relationships. It is the most important factor, second only to God, and I call it "the people factor."
CP: One of the first principles you lay out in the book is the necessity for us to be honest and sincere in our relationships. Why is that a big factor?
Moody: Trust is the greatest foundation of any healthy relationship, and trust is created in atmospheres or environments where transparency and realness is appropriate. When individuals feel like they're in an environment that is not trustworthy, then they will be reticent to be themselves, to be vulnerable, to be open and transparent. Without that, no relationship can really thrive and be ultimately successful.
CP: You are applying this to all relationships, even the casual ones where we say, "Hi, how are you?" and the response is "I'm fine, everything's great," yet we do not really mean it. You say that even in those situations it is necessary to be real?
Moody: Yes, because often we don't realize how easy it is for us to be insincere. That kind of protocol if we're not careful, carries over into our dealings with all people at all times. Sincerity and transparency is not something you can put on and put off. It's something that literally has to be ingrained in who you are and practiced everyday.
CP: How does God use relationships to carry out His plans and purposes for our lives?
Moody: Any and everything that God has ever done and will ever do in the world he does through people. You see this throughout all of the Bible stories. We understand that God is in heaven, we understand that God is very powerful and He works in the world, but His work in the world happens through people. That's one of the most important things that we often forget, which heightens the importance of us being able to do relationships well. The inability to do that will also threaten the very thing that God wants to do in your life, whether it's in business, whether it's in your personal life, or even in your professional life in a number of other areas.
CP: How do we identify poisonous relationships? If we're feeling dragged down every time we're around someone, should we assume then that this is something we need to cut off?
Moody: One of the things that we have to understand first of all is who we are. I start the book by talking about the "Law of Being Real" because you first have to have a good assessment of who you are at your core. That is what you carry into every relationship, and that's also kind of the common denominator with which you evaluate the people that you are in a relationship with. Are we compatible? Do we share the same core values? — That's extremely important in the business sphere. But it's very important even in platonic relationships, and once you have a good handle on that, then you can begin to assess whether it's good compatibility, whether the compatibility has ended or maybe the relationship needs to transition and move on.
CP: What about good relationships, healthy relationships that add value to your life? What do you do to maintain those, and to make sure that you're not just taking, but you're also giving as well?
Moody: Well, every healthy relationship has to involve what I call a "win-win" scenario. It takes giving and taking. When you have those components, where both individuals are mutually benefiting from the relationship then the relationship kind of moves to the next level that I call synergy. That's extremely important whether it's a platonic relationship or even a professional one. Excellent business relationships have that synergistic kind of vibe because we're able to accomplish more together. Synergy is to relationships what mathematics is...you know two plus two is four. But two times two just takes the relationship to another place, and that's what synergy does.
CP: Good relationships are vital in the church from the top down. How do you foster healthy relationships in a church environment where you're supposed to be a family?
Moody: I think first of all you have to be intentional about it. Then, I think you have to understand that there are critical factors that make relationships healthy. And once you have that understanding, I call it a "Relationship IQ." Relationships are not easy. What I've learned is that most people, while we are accomplished in most areas, we lack the acumen that we need to do relationships well. So once you understand those principles, you can then begin to apply them to every aspect of your life and be intentional about doing (it), whether it's a church relationship or any other relationship, with that set of skills. Those are the things that will help that relationship to be healthy.
CP: Looking to Jesus, relationships are all over the Gospels, seen in his ministry from the beginning. Can you share some things we can look at when we're reading the Gospels and seeing how Jesus interacted and moved with people?
Moody: One of the most important ones is sacrifice. A lot of times we do relationships from a very selfish perspective. When you look at the model that Jesus establishes about how to do relationships, one of the most important hallmarks is sacrifice. That the more we are self-less, the more we are willing then to invest in the relationship. Then it's reciprocal. When two individuals are willing to sacrifice in a relationship, then neither individual is depleted. Because as you're willing to sacrifice and as I'm willing to sacrifice, your needs are met and so are mine. And Jesus demonstrates that, particularly when he talks about it's more blessed to give than to receive, when he talks about the most important position is not to be first but to be a servant.
I found, even outside of the church world, I found in the business community that if you adopt those principles, it exponentially will add value to the work that you do. Because you can establish greater relationships and connection with the people that you even seek to do business with. That's one among several factors that I talk about in The People Factor that if people understand and apply, it will not only change their relationships but it will also change their life.
Pastor Moody founded The Worship Center Christian Church in 2006 with his wife, Dr. Ty Moody, with whom he shares two children.The couple has grown the nondenominational church to more than 9,000 members across two campuses in Alabama. Learn more about Moody and The People Factor online: http://vanmoody.com