We are hard-wired to be in relationship. Each of us was created in the image of God and the very presence of the Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit shows the relational nature of God. The field of Neuroscience confirms the importance of being connected to others. Our brains literally work better, more efficiently when we experience healthy love in relationships.
An article in *Healthbeat, a journal by Harvard Health Publishing, stated…
“Social connections not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies show that people in satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Conversely, a relative lack of social ties is associated with depression and later-life cognitive decline, as well as with increased mortality. One study, which examined data from more than 309,000 people, found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% — an effect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.”
”Wow! Science can actually prove that the saying, “It’s better to eat Twinkies with friends than broccoli alone” is in fact true. (However, I still recommend the broccoli, just don’t eat it alone.) Every leader (every person) whether single or married not only needs to have, but must nurture and protect their close relationships. No man is an island! The Lord shaped our bodies, which includes our brains to function through healthy, loving companionship. Remaining balanced in a crazy, busy often unhealthy world, requires us to prioritize our time so we don’t neglect our close family and friends. They’re often what keep the best of leaders well grounded. How do we do this?
In his book, God Shaped Brain, Dr. Timothy Jennings takes an integrative approach in looking at brain functioning. 1 John 4:18 says, “… perfect love drives out fear…” Dr. Jennings shares the science that proves this verse. As we meditate on the love of God, the fear circuits of the brain calm down and we grow new neural pathways which allow us to receive His love. Growing in our understanding of God’s perfect love for us, actually enlarges our brain’s capacity to love ourselves and then others. Jesus tells us in Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and with all your mind”. Meditating on the Love of our Father is what it takes to carry out the second part of that verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It all starts by having regular communion with the Lord, and then desiring to grow and nurture relationships with those who mean the most to us; our spouse and kids if married with children, our family and friends.
Over the next three blogs I will go into more depth on how every leader can avoid exhaustion by nurturing three important relationships; marriage, children and healthy friendships.
Jennings, Dr. Tim (2013) God Shaped Brain. IVP Books.