The loudest objection to partnership is the fear of dependency, but that’s like saying we should outlaw marriage because some men abuse their wives.
The truth is there are two types of dependency; healthy and unhealthy. The psalmist speaks of being “like a child weaned from his mother.” (Psalm 131:2) There is a time to feed the baby and a time to teach the baby to feed himself.
Dependency is the state of relying on someone or something. Reliance can become more important than independence, because dependency has caused them to believe they cannot live successfully on their own.
When medical patients become habituated to drugs, we call it dependency. When people remain on government welfare for a lifetime, we call it dependency. When a child remains too long with his parents, we call it dependency. But we don’t call it dependency when a missionary receives outside support.
What makes certain types of dependency acceptable? When the dependent is willing to take responsibility and give something back. Unhealthy dependency develops when people refuse to take responsibility.
One of the biblical pictures of the church is a bride. As the bride of Christ, we are made of many members. The dependency in the human body is both reciprocal and complementary. One member cannot deny another member without denying itself. All the parts are knit together in such a way that every part has something to give and something to receive. The parts of the body are mutually dependent.
But though they were made for each other, mutuality among Christians doesn’t automatically happen. It requires conscious effort. Dependency in the body of Christ isn’t passive but very active.
It’s important not only to give, but to receive. In a healthy dependency each partner enters the relationship with a clear picture of what each has to offer and what each gains. Each maintains its independence and capacity to instruct, refuse, and correct the other. Each honors and upholds the unique and divine calling of the other. Each makes a distinctive and complementary contribution to the relationship. Unhealthy dependency occurs when reciprocity and responsibility are ignored, overruled, or undervalued. When the emphasis is on the exchange of money and not on the complementary contributions each partner makes, it becomes unhealthy.
Five Ways to Create an Unhealthy Dependency.
Giving should enhance responsibility, reciprocity, and results.
Five Dependency Mistakes to Avoid
One-size-fits-all is usually bad policy. Learn flexibility!
Reviews for Developing Strategic Relationships: Lesson 2