(Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash)
I LOVE chess. I don't play much any more. But I used to! Especially when I was in high school in Singapore, I had a bunch of friends that would play chinese chess every recess time. I love the strategy around it, and having to adapt and come up with new ways to win. After a while I realised that I had one flaw that I needed to address.
I was a hoarder.
I hated the thought of losing any piece. So I reacted to moves my friends made by protecting my pieces rather than see their overall strategy. This was something they could exploit as they disguised their deeper motive by making it look like they were after my rook or my bishop. I protected my bishop and would end up losing my king instead!
On Sunday I spoke about the need to discover our "throw in the towel" moments. We need to know when to quit, and by inference we also need to know when to carry on. Another way we could talk about this is the need to know your non-negotiables.
Non-negotiables are what you know are fundamentally a part of you. They define the "you" that you want to be, and therefore are unwilling to compromise. Why this is important is because "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer 17:9) Our heart is the seat of our emotions, our will and our intellect. Why the Bible calls the heart deceitful is because in times of heightened emotion your will and intellect can be high-jacked. You can think that you're making a perfectly rational decision in your best interest when you're doing the exact opposite.
In that way non-negotiables should be developed outside of times of heightened emotion. It should be a time when you can properly reflect and consider who you want to be, and decide what kind of decisions you are going to make in alignment with that.
For example a non-negotiable I want to carry as a pastor is that I make decisions primarily for the HEALTH of my church, not its growth. It's a non-negotiable for me because I know I can get caught up in wanting growth, and sometimes get bored with the things that help us continue in health. Growth is sexy and noticeable. Health can be mundane and a grind. But I KNOW that health is far more important than growth, no matter how much harder it is. So it is health over growth for me!
I wish that I had non-negotiables properly developed for my relationships. For my first dating relationship I had a whole bunch of boundaries that I took on, but I took them on not as non-negotiables, but rather as boxes to tick. That really stunted my relationships in mindsight!
Then when I started dating Bec, I threw out the "rulebook" thinking that they were part of the reason that relationship failed. I knew I needed to be a bit more spontaneous and so out went the rulebook. Well, it didn't take long for the emotions to get heightened! And I'll be the first to admit that my heart was deceitful. Being led by only my emotions and not the whole of my being meant that there were decisions made that compromised who I wanted to be. I'm grateful that by God's grace Bec and I got to grow past that stage.
Here is a key non-negotiable for I believe any relationship:
- We should spur each other on to the call of God on each of our lives. How are you going to do that for your partner? And for dating couples, you also get to ask yourself if your partner is going to continuously spur your on in your call. If this is not the case, is it just a matter of miscommunication? Or does your partner just not "get it"? If so, being together might mean that you relationship is going to be a breach of a non-negotiable, and therefore you'll be compromising who you are.
This is so important as it has implications for the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of your relationship. This way your boundaries are not about box ticking, but about spurring each other on to the life that God has given you. You don't refrain from sex before marriage because "it's wrong" (even though it is according to the word of God), but rather because you truly, truly want the best for your partner!
Take this thought, sit on it, think on it, and articulate it in a way that works for you. I just wish that someone helped me understand the importance of non-negotiables in my life, and I hope that this blog post helps you take some steps toward doing so.