If you were asked what the key ingredient of a good life, what would you say? By good life, I mean a thriving life of flourishing. You may be surprised to hear what was discovered in the Harvard Study of Adult Development that began in 1938 and continues today. Rather than tracking what made us sick, researchers have been following the descendants of the original 724 participants to uncover what allows us to thrive. Over 80 years later, Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz recently published Harvard’s findings in The Good Life. What did the Harvard Study discover? “Positive relationships are essential to human well-being.” (p 29)

When folks talk about health, we tend to overemphasize physical health: diet and exercise. While of course physical health is important, relational health is essential to a flourishing life. But what are the qualities of healthy relationships? Waldinger and Schulz describe positive relationships as energizing. Healthy relationships enliven us. They provide a sense of belonging. They are safe, secure attachments of deeper connection. “We need others to interact with and to help us, and we flourish when we provide that same connection and support to others. This process of giving and receiving is the foundation of a meaningful life” (p 104).

Pastors and ministry leaders often are quite gifted at providing support to others. We crush the concept of pouring into others, being present with them, sitting in their pain, and giving relationally. But how many of us are gifted at receiving the same relational support? Pastors and ministry leaders are human too. We need to permit ourselves to receive the life-giving presence of healthy human connection. We were designed to connect.

“How do you move further along on your own path toward the good life? First, by recognizing that the good life is not a destination. It is the path itself, and the people who are walking it with you. As you walk, second by second you can decide to whom and to what you give your attention” (p 281).

I invite you to pay attention to whom you have decided to give your attention and who is giving you attention. Do you have balance? Are you doing all the pouring out to others? Who is pouring into you? Intentionally connect with mutual friends, mentors, and family who listen to your burdens, who help you carry your load, who are safe for you to authentically be yourself, and who nudge you to grow.

You have permission to be human. May you allow yourself to connect to receive the nourishment of relational support for your well-being.

Jen Binford, Coach

Categories: Leadership


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow by Email