Posts Tagged ‘Relationships’


BE COMMITTED TO THE RELATIONSHIP.

Good relationships don’t happen overnight and they don’t happen by accident.  If you want to get beyond shallow, superficial relationships you’ve got to be committed to it. 

You or someone you know is in a relationship right now and are hanging on by less than a thread.  Do not give up.  We have a miracle working God.  The same God that raises the dead can raise a dead relationship if you’re willing to be changed.

But it takes a commitment.  The Bible says this in Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.”  The word, “all” means even when it’s inconvenient, when you don’t feel like it, even when they don’t deserve it, even at personal cost.  That’s what real friendship is all about.  When you’re blowing it and you’re making a mistake, a friend doesn’t quit on you. A friend is in your corner when you’re cornered.  And they see you through when everybody else thinks you’re through.  They are there when you least deserve it. 

Here’s the bottom line: You need people in your life to do the three thing I’ve written about in this series of blogs. But the only way you’re going to get these kinds of people in your life is you have to be that kind of person.  You can’t expect other people to treat you this way if you don’t treat them that way. 

Probably the best known Christian psychologist in America, Larry Crabb, wrote in his book Connecting, which I read in seminary and highly recommend, “When two people really connect something is poured out of one and into the other that has the power to heal the soul of its deepest wounds and restores it to health.  The one who receives experiences the joy of being healed.  And the one who gives knows even greater joy of being used to heal.  Something good is in the heart of each of God’s children that is far more powerful than everything bad in the world.  It’s there waiting to be released and work its magic.  But you have to be connected.”

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WATCH YOUR MOUTH!

Use your words to build people up.  Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When I was in college the janitorial company I worked for was hired to tear down a wall in an apartment and then clean it up.  I had never done anything like that before.  I didn’t know how to start so I asked supervisor for instructions.  He said, take this sledge hammer and hit this wall until there is nothing left to hit.  I had more fun that day that is lawful in the state of Mississippi!  It’s fun to tear things down. 

Sometimes with our words it’s like a sledgehammer, no planning, no thinking.  We swing away and all of a sudden we look around and all we’ve got is a pile of rubble, relational rubble.  When you just swing away with your words and tear people down inevitably your relationships are going to suffer.  Words are the single most important tool given to man by God.  Without a doubt! 

One of the reasons we’re not constructive with our words is we don’t realize how powerful this tool is, our mouth.  We say things without thinking.  People remember them.  The things people have said to you in a thoughtless way it may have been as far back as grade school or college or when you first started working.  You still remember some of those things.  That’s how powerful words are.  So when it comes to your mouth, think of it as a power tool and be very careful with it.

Here are directions for the use of a power tool I bought several years ago. I was struck by how it related to the use of another power tool that God has given us – our mouth. 

  • Know your power tool.
  • Keep guards in place.
  • Be careful around children.
  • Store idle tools when not in use.
  • Don’t over reach
  • Never use in an explosive atmosphere.

It fits how we are to use this mouth which is an incredible tool to build people up.

How can I start using it more carefully so instead of destroying with it, I’m building and constructing relationships with it? 

1.  Stop excusing.  Stop saying, “I didn’t really mean to say that.”  or “It’s just that blood sugar dip before lunch.  That’s all it was.”  Stop excusing and realize that what you say is impacting everybody around you.         

2.  Talk less.  If it’s a power tool – you don’t have to use it as much.  Talk less.  One of the reasons we get in trouble is we just talk too much sometimes.  We talk before we think.  We need to talk less and…

 3.  Listen more.  If I listen more I can understand people’s needs.  One of the small lessons of life that makes an incredible impact on the way you and I use our words. 

 4.  Start building.  Think first of all, “what do they need?”  How can I use a word of encouragement to build them up?  How can I use a word of challenge to make a difference in their life?  How can I use my words to build the people that I love the most?


It doesn’t matter what age or stage of life you are in.  If you are a parent and you want to know how to better connect with your children.  If you are engaged or married and you want to know how to better relate to that other person, you can use these principles.  If you are a teacher or an employer or employee, no matter who you are, if you need to get close to anybody in life, you need these principles.

I want to give you three tips that you can use to build better relationships.

1.        LIVE BY THE GOLDEN RULE.

In other words, if you want to connect with people, you’ve got to start with their needs not your own.  The Bible says in Philippians 2:4 “Look out for one another’s interests not just your own.”  Your default mode is to think about your needs, your desires, your goals, your ambitions, what you want in life.  As a result we have many, many millions of people disconnected because everybody is self-centered and not being considerate other people’s needs. 

Let me share with you two very basic truths about life.  First, you are not the center of the universe.  I know that’s shocking, but the world does not revolve around you.  You’re very special in God’s eyes.  You were created for a purpose… but the world does not revolve around you.  Don’t be expecting the whole world to come saying, “How can we meet your needs?”  

The second basic truth of life is God has promised that when you focus on meeting the needs of other people, He guarantees He will meet yours.  This is one of the most basic principles in the Bible.  Why?  Because He wants me to learn to be unselfish and generous like Him.  Colossians 3:13 says this, “You must make allowances for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.  Remember God forgave you so you must forgive others.” 

A woman wrote to Dear Abby, “I’m 44 years old.  I’d like to find a man my age with no bad habits.”  Abby wrote back, “So would I.”  My wife got the only man like that (Just kidding, of course!). There are no people with no bad habits, no faults.  We have to make allowance for each other’s faults.

When you are trying to make a connection with a person, you’re trying to be considerate of their needs; I’m not saying that you don’t see their faults.  You just choose to overlook them. 

Tip #1: Treat your friends the way you would like to be treated.


Little Tim is experiencing feelings he has never experienced in his life.  He has fallen in love for the first time.  The air has a sweet aroma and the colors all have a deeper hue. Then one day his world collapses.  She asks one of her girlfriends to tell Tim that she wants to break up with him.  In that moment the sun is covered by a blue moon and he has the classic song calls a total eclipse of the heart.  Mom, trying to console him says, “Don’t worry, Tim, there are plenty of fish in the sea.  Get back out there and find another girlfriend.”  And so it begins.

The second way conventional wisdom says deal with your grief is to “replace your loss” while the Bible encourages us to first accept the reality of our situation.

When we try to replace our loss, what we’re really doing is trying to erase the memory of whatever was lost. A prime example of this is when someone goes through divorce and then turns around and too quickly remarries. The problem is that they’ve never really dealt with the pain and so they are hobbling into another relationship.

Coming to terms with the reality of loss is huge in recovering from pain. How can you be healed unless you know where it hurts?

King David was a great king, but at one point committed adultery with Bathsheba. She became pregnant, but because of David’s sin the baby died (A side note here: There is always death associated with sin. Romans 6:23) And so for seven days, David expressed his pain in loud wailings and moaning.

Then on the seventh day the baby died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He was so broken up about the baby being sick,” they said. “What will he do to himself when we tell him the child is dead?” But when David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the baby dead?” he asked.”Yes,” they replied. Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. Then he went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and ate. His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the baby was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the baby is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.” David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again?” 2 Samuel 12:18-23 [NLT]

David expressed his pain, but, then he accepted the reality.

Question – If you’ve suffered a major loss, have you tried to get a grip on the reality of it, to stare it right in the face and say, “this is the deal?” Or are you trying to just “get over it” or “get on with life?” It’s not that simple. It doesn’t work that way.


If I’m being honest, this is not my favorite topic to deal with. However, we can’t escape the fact that we’re all going to experience loss and we are going to grieve; but there are some real choices to be made in times of grief. Those choices will determine whether our experience turns out to be bad grief or good grief. We’d better manage our grief well, because our future depends on it.

Last year I moved to a new location to start a totally new career.  Since this is the first time I’ve made a shift this drastic I was unaware that I was also strapping myself into what has amounted to a twisting, turning, climbing, and dropping emotional roller coaster ride.  The uncertainty driven fear has, at times, caused me to look back and grieve over the loss of my comfortable yet challenging ministry as a pastor.

So, what do you do when you find yourself knocked to your knees relationally, emotionally, professionally, or even physically – and it hurts? What does good grief look like? I think God has some things to say to us on this and, not surprisingly, they contradict the conventional wisdom at every point.

1. Conventional wisdom tells us to bury our feelings, but the example of the Bible is clear: EXPRESS YOUR PAIN.

Do you know what the shortest verse in the Bible is? You may know that it’s in John 11:35. Jesus wept.

Do you know what caused Jesus to weep? A very close friend died. When Jesus got word of Lazarus’ death, he traveled to their town, and met with his two sisters and as the three of them stood beside the tomb of one of His closest friends, he cried his eyes out.

Jesus wept. Those two words speak volumes about good grief management. Tears have been called the language of the soul, a cleansing river of emotional release. And God’s approach says, let the river flow.

In fact, there is an entire book of the Bible that’s called Lamentations or “The Lament” and it’s literally a book of weeping.  It recounts the exile of God’s chosen people into Babylon.

“For all these things I weep; tears flow down my cheeks. No one is here to comfort me; any who might encourage me are far away. My children have no future, for the enemy has conquered us.” Lamentations 1:16 [NLT]

By the way, expressing pain isn’t limited just to weeping and tears. Sometimes expressing pain means confronting another person with their wrongs. Sometimes it’s doing something symbolic that represents the pain you feel. I’ve heard of divorced people who burn their wedding pictures as a way of saying, “this hurts so badly.”

In the past I have expressed my pain through my songwriting.  In addition to songwriting I now write blogs and manuscripts for books I intend to write… but not always.  Sometimes I crawl up into the weak area of my Melancholy temperament and grovel around in self-pity. 

Let me ask you a question. Have you experienced a major loss in your life but you’ve gone around trying to ignore or avoid the pain of it? May I suggest that you find a positive way to express it instead?  If you need help with this, don’t let your pride keep you from getting it.  Share your struggle with a friend, your pastor, or a counselor.  Express your pain.


Getting Real

How do we end this relationship damaging game?

1. Decide that being “real” with others is more productive than being “nice.”

It sounds simple, but it’s not. I’m talking about making a change in a basic value that many of us have held our entire lives. Many of us believe that “niceness” is what people really want from us.

Now, it is true that almost everyone enjoys being around people who are pleasant. But, as Proverbs 28:23 puts it:

In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery. Proverbs 28:23 [NLT]

In other words, people would prefer the truth. In other words, “it might be hard, I might even get mad, but please for the sake of our relationship, tell me how I’m doing with you. That’s the only way I can ever improve.”

2. Attempt to handle conflict in a biblical manner.

What is the biblical mandate for dealing with conflict? Jesus said “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24 [NIV]

In other words, don’t wait for the other person to take the initiative in resolving things. And get this – resolving things is even more important that worshiping God. If you come to church and there is someone here that you are out of whack with … deal with them first, then deal with God. Pretty radical, but that’s what Jesus is saying here.

Jesus also said there is a sequence for dealing with conflict:

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along [that’s when you get to ask them to pray – AFTER you go on your own first, not before], so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17 [NIV]

3. Get comfortable saying these three phrases:

“I’m angry.”

But don’t stop there, because one of the traps of the Hide and Seek game is assuming that you can read the minds of other people. So, you need to get comfortable saying …

“Can you help me understand?”

I’m angry, but I want to hear your side of the deal, too. Maybe there is something I am missing.

“I forgive you.”

I’m talking about real and true forgiveness, not merely saying “it’s OK” when it’s not.

Real and true forgiveness is always painful. Real forgiveness requires confronting another person with the fact that they did you wrong, that it hurt you and that you didn’t like it … but that you have accepted the pain and are choosing to let it go. It costs you something – pain – but it gains you something – peace of mind and the opportunity for a renewed relationship.

4. Be a God pleaser before being a man pleaser.

No matter how nice you are you will never please everyone all of the time. With God, you don’t even have to try to be nice to win his approval. In fact, he offers forgiveness to us before we attempt to be nice. While we were still sinners, Paul writes, Christ died for us.

I’ve covered a lot of stuff over the past three days. Let me end with a couple of cautions.  If you are a hider, don’t get down about it. Everybody struggles with game playing in relationships. Just own it and pick one or two things off of this list and start to work on them.

Second, if this is not you, don’t beat somebody else over the head with this information. They already know it’s them and they are very vulnerable right now. What you need to do is to remind them that with God’s help they will be able to grow and change, and to encourage whatever progress that you see in them.

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Strategy

There are several strategic moves when playing relational “Hide and Seek” that will help covertly hide your negative feelings. As you read through this list, you might want to check off the ones that are characteristic of the way you do relationships.

1. Deny your feelings of anger and frustration.

With this move, you just don’t let on when you are hurt. You say something like, “It’s ok” when it isn’t … or “it doesn’t matter” when it does … or “it’s not that big of a deal” when it really is. You turn the anger and frustration inward instead of expressing it at the person who deserves it.

2. Tell yourself, “In time things will work out on their own.”

Don’t take any action to resolve the conflict on your own because, who knows, it might only make things worse.

3. Have a lot of imaginary conversations.

Instead of going to the person and having it out for real, just do it in your head. You say what you really want to say, and then you mentally have them respond how you think they should. But whenever you see them for real, just keep smiling like everything is fine.

4. Expect others to read your mind.

Drop little hints and clues that might suggest that you are not happy and hope that others will somehow figure it out. Don’t sit down with them and come right out and say what is on your mind. That could be too risky.

5. Gossip instead of confronting.

All of that pent up anger and emotion has to go somewhere and since we’re too afraid or too lazy to take it to the person directly, other people are the natural outlet. And if we’re “religious” it’s really easy to do this by saying, “I have a prayer request about a problem I’m having with so-and-so. Let me tell you the situation so you’ll be able to pray more intelligently …”

By the way, there is a time when it is appropriate to say something like that but only under certain circumstances.

Those are some of the strategic moves in relational Hide and Seek. But how do you “win”?

– you meet your need for approval through deception.

You act like everything is OK, you don’t rock the boat, and you avoid the hard issues because you want everyone to be happy with you.

Well, that’s the game and it can get ugly.  But there is hope for those of us who struggle with this relational pattern. There is hope for those of us who lie in bed at night and realize that most of our relational stress comes because we pretend in order to meet our need for approval.

There is hope for those of us who want to end the game, but first, we must admit the truth about ourselves, that we are masters of it and then turn from it. We must ask God to give us courage to say what needs to be said and we must lessen the value we place on what people think of us. Only when we do that, are there some things we can start to do differently in our interactions with those around us.

Tomorrow I will wrap this up with a few strategy moves to end this pattern that is in reality, no game at all.  We are talking about real people with real lives.  Many time these are some of the closest relationships in our lives.

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