February Reflection – Building Relationships
I believe that we need to have a close loving relationship with God first before we can relate lovingly to others. God’s unconditional love for us naturally motivates us to love ourselves and then this enables us to reach out to others in love. As we receive God’s love and forgiveness for ourselves, we can then intentionally begin to build good relationships with our family, friends and girls by releasing this love and forgiveness we have received from God, to them.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Matt 22:37,39 (NIV)
This is the simple truth: LOVE is the foundation for building good, healthy and loving relationships.
‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.’ 1John 4:4 NIV
As we draw closer to God and abide in Him, we will be able to become intentional in relating to others and begin growing our relationships. As leaders, we need to lead like Jesus. We need to allow His love to flow through our lives, through our thoughts, speech and actions. It has been said that we can preach the gospel through our daily interactions with people. They don’t want to hear a sermon. They want to see an example of Jesus in your life. Let the love of Jesus shine through you as you interact with those you lead.
‘Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.’ Galatians 6:10 NIV
To cultivate healthy relationships, start with an attitude of gratitude. The habit of being grateful for the people in our lives helps us to be happier and more able to enjoy our relationships. We need to affirm each one daily and tell them we care about them. Accept them and value their presence and contribution in our lives. When people feel loved and accepted, they would be more likely to respect and respond positively when we interact, give feedback or correct them.
Paul says in Philippians 1:3, ‘Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God’ (NLT).
We also need authenticity in our relationships. To be authentic, we must try to have genuine and heart-to-heart conversations. To do this, we need to be able to listen well, go deeper to know what’s in their hearts and not just stay at a superficial level of chit-chat. We need to be sincere, have no hidden agendas, not be hypocritical or two-faced, always speaking the truth in love, always mindful of what’s best for others. Being authentic requires both courage and humility. It means facing our fear of exposure, rejection, or being hurt again. Being real and honest in sharing ourselves show that we are willing to trust them and this encourages others to be authentic too. The relationship deepens and people trust us and get honest and real about who they are and what is happening in their lives. They share their hurts, reveal their feelings, confess their failures, disclose their doubts, admit their fears, acknowledge their weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer.
Listening intentionally with our heart, without being judgemental and showing respect for others will help build trust and strengthen relationships. We will be able to make an impact and speak positively into their lives when any situations arise. Authentic relationships lead us to intentionally grow others. If we accept and care very much about someone, we would not want them to continue to do things we know that are wrong. We would want to help them grow into the person God would want them to be. We would do this lovingly, by speaking the truth in love.
We need to help one another improve our relationships and make it stronger as we serve each other.
We must be inclusive and reach out to the people with disabilities as well. We must be willing listeners and empathise with them.
God wants us to accept diversities and differences in each one.
God has designed us to build each other up and care for each other, complement each other. That’s the way God meant for it to be!
‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact [we] are doing’ 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV.
Grow through being examples. Jesus did this in teaching his disciples. John 13:14-15 says, ‘Since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you’ (NLT).
To grow in relationships, you should have meaningful conversations about real issues. Dedicate time to having conversations around the things that really matter in life. However, be careful to always be encouraging and not be hurtfully critical when we speak. So speak positively and kindly.
Comparing won’t help someone grow. Everybody’s unique. Nobody in the world is like you! That’s why comparing is lethal to any relationship. Accept each other, warts and all, then allow God, in His time, to help us become the persons He wants us to be.
The Bible says, ‘Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else ’ Galatians 6:4 NIV.
Relationships can grow through conflict and reconciliation. When we encounter conflict and strife, we must always be committed to resolving issues and restoring harmony. Be willing to say, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you,” over and over again. Develop the ability to forgive and ‘forget.’ While mentally forgetting an offense may be impossible, it is possible to resolve not to bring the issue up again. Remember that love covers all sins. Love each other enough to forgive, be reconciled and grow stronger in the relationship.
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV
The Bible says, “Love one another.” “Forgive one another.” “Care for one another.”
“Pray for one another.” “Encourage one another.” “Help one another.”
“Counsel one another.” “Support one another.”
May God enable us to be aware and intentional as we build meaningful relationships that bring happiness to all and spread the love of Jesus in our spheres of influence.