Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. 2 The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. – Acts 16:1-5
They say it’s not what you know but who you know that opens doors and provides opportunities in life. Sometimes that’s a real challenge – especially when you’re looking in from the outside. And it’s quite welcome when you are the beneficiary of relationships and connections that provide you with the inside track.
There is yet another way to assay the realities of relational capital that has little to do with one’s own personal benefit, or advantage over another. That has to do with the way we may leverage the relationships we have for the cause of God’s kingdom.
Relational capital is even more important than financial capital in the cause of the rule and reign of God. For God has all the silver and all the gold. He can provide those resources when and where he wills. But relational capital is lived out between people, and we have the sad capacity to undercut the blessings of God’s grace that is meant not only to be received, but also to be shared. What’s more, it is through relational capital that both our spiritual capital and financial capital are leveraged.
Consider the people mentioned in these verses. Timothy, his mother, and father provide entrance into new places and open the kingdom to new believers. Even though Paul and Silas are on a journey to re-visit the places they had previously shared the Gospel, their presence and the prior relationships they have enjoyed will bring the message of the Gospel into more people’s lives. The church will be strengthened, encouraged, and grow in the number of people who call Jesus Lord.
Certainly it is only God who causes the church to grow. But God works through people and people who leverage their relationships for the cause of his kingdom are part of something very special. They are stewards of a treasure (relational capital) for which there is no substitute.