The Five Scriptural Keys To Better Relationships!


November, 1999

Dear Ministry Friends,

Everyone desires to have some deep, committed, satisfying relationships. But this is the ultimate challenge because those we deal with have a free will! However, God's Word gives us many keys to improving the quality of relationships with those that we feel we should work at developing. And the holiday season is a time when we often interact a lot with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors, so it is a pivotal time in our world of relationships.

The first key from scripture is our quantity and quality of communication. The shallower the commitment toward you from the other person, the shallower the conversation must be in order for the other party to not feel uncomfortable. But the deeper the commitment, the deeper the conversation must be in order to be satisfying to both parties. See the chart below for illustration.

The goal is to use the "right tool" for the job. For example, dumping deep emotional feelings on strangers in an elevator may cause them to get off on the next floor! But being shallow and trite with a close family member that you have known for 10 or 20 years will cause him or her to close their heart toward you and minimize the relationship.

Some people actually try to "minimize" any relationships because they are afraid of being rejected. But like Job admitted in Job 3:25, what they greatly fear will come to pass. Because if they refuse to communicate at a significant level, people will end up "rejecting them" unintentionally as they go off looking for deeper, more fulfilling relationships with people who will really communicate.

All people around us fall into three categories. There are those who build us up (usually a small number), those who are really a neutral influence (most people), and then those who "drain" us (the ones that bother us the most). We need to plan time with those that build us up (both in person with our friends, and through various media for ministers who help us in some way). The "energy" we receive from the first category prepares us to deal with the third category — those that bother us. Generally, these are people who are "shouting" that they need ministry. It is just that they bother us so much we are usually not thinking about finding ways to minister to them (maybe you have been thinking about ways to clobber them!). But that is what Jesus was addressing with His commands to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile, and the Apostle Paul was dealing with this when he wrote "walk in love" (Ephesians 5:2).

Now some people really don't want any relationship with us (or most anybody else), so we should not force ourselves on them. But the quantity and quality of communication can often be carefully managed to produce the best possible situation with people where relationships are necessary or desired.

The second key follows right along after the first issue. The key is to love and accept others unconditionally. This means that we overlook people's performance in the kindness and compassion we demonstrate toward them. This would require more space than we have here to explain and illustrate. But loving others unconditionally does not mean we become a "doormat." We also should not give ourselves as a "martyr" trying to keep negative consequences from occurring in other people's lives. What real unconditional love is means having an absence of bitterness, anger, and resentment (which are the outward symptoms of unforgiveness) when we are dealing with others whose performance related to us has been bad.

The third key to better relationships is to accept and fulfill your particular responsibilities. Whether you are a husband or wife, parent or child, employee or boss; there are particular responsibilities you should fulfill. If you don't fulfill them, you will probably be resented. It is natural for people to feel that way.

The fourth key is to crucify selfishness in relationships. Many people don't realize they have a problem with greed, control, ambition, abuse, or taking advantage of others in some way. Selfishness comes very natural to most people, and it poisons their relationships. Selfishness especially surfaces when there is some type of crisis (financial, vocational, emotional, etc.).

Many people are afraid if they don't "grab" first, someone else will get it or take it. To them, people are really just objects to "get things from." Their fear or greed drives their decision making, and they ruin chances for good relationships by watching for opportunities to "take" from others in subtle ways. We all tend to distance ourselves from people like this. You might be asking, "If we don't aggressively promote our own well-being, who will?" The answer is God! But we have to exercise great faith and patience for God to do His part, and most people are not in the proper spiritual condition to succeed at such a spiritual task. (Obviously, we need to maintain our spiritual condition.)

Last, the fifth key is to make a general commitment to working at building good relationships. This often requires giving. Proverbs 19:6 says, "Every man is a friend to one who gives gifts." If we give gifts of time, love, care, help, attention, understanding, etc., we will discover we can have many good relationships. The key is to truly give — not expecting something back, or planting a favor to collect from later. People can see our motives often much better than we can. They are usually just too polite to inform us when our motives are selfish. Romans 12:10 says, "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love." It is certainly easier to say this than to do it, but we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

We pray that God will help you in your relationships with those around you especially during this holiday season.

Growing in relationships,

Dale Leander

P.S. — We have several teaching tape sets that give much more helpful information than this short letter has room for. Please consider investing in one or more of these information-packed series for yourself or someone you care about.


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