"We need Mr. MacDonald's vitals," I overheard someone say as I sat in the doctor's office.

A minute later a nurse entered the room and introduced herself. "So what are these vitals you need?" I asked.

"Oh, just a few things we monitor each time you come. They tell us how you've been doing since the last time you were here."

Those vital signs are standard indicators of physical health: temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiration rate. Those four measurements help the doctor determine my condition. I bring up this standard medical procedure in order to ask: Are there vital signs that indicate the health of human relationships such as marriage, family, friendship, working teams, and congregations?

Most of my years have been involved with one form of leadership or another. Back at the beginning, I discovered that if I could not gauge the quality of my relationships, I was headed for trouble.

A story: My wife, Gail, and I have just ...

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