One of my ongoing goals is to build new relationships and grow current relationships healthier. The longer I live, the more I realize the quality of our relationships determine the quality of our life. Relationship building is a skill we must continually practice, take risks in and improve upon.
In Romans 12:9-10 of the Bible, we read three powerful relationship tips, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Three key words are sincere, devoted and honor.
Sincerity is required in relationships. When we believe we are being used, a means to an end, a relationship quickly dies. Another enemy of sincerity is complacency; taking each other for granted. You do not accidentally build or grow relationships.
Sincerity includes working to understand each other. It is easier to assume, judge or wish they were more like me. It takes time and effort to ask questions and seek to understand. Understanding means to “make what is important to the other person as important to you as the other person is to you.”
A father, who was not much of a sports fan, started taking his son to as many hockey games as he could after his son developed an interest in playing hockey. It cost him time and money, but proved to be a strong bonding experience. One of his friends asked him, “Do you like hockey that much?” The father said, “No, but I like my son that much!”
Be quick to listen. Listening is a lost art in our media-crazed world, yet it is one of the greatest gifts you can give. One of my favorite philosophers, Yogi Berra, the former baseball player and manager, said, “You can hear an awful lot by just listening.”
Offer encouragement through a smile, words and positive affirmation. A reporter once asked Andrew Carnegie why he hired 43 millionaires to work for him. Carnegie pointed out that those men were not millionaires when he hired them. The reporter then asked, “How did you develop these men to become so valuable you paid them so much money?” Carnegie replied that people are developed the same way gold is mined; several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold, but you don’t go into the mine looking for dirt, you go in looking for gold!!
To build healthy relationships we must keep our commitments and follow through on our promises. Why? Because trust, security and hope are established around promises. And there is no such thing as a healthy relationship apart from trust.
Take joy in honoring each other. When others see the joy we have in honoring them, it boosts their self-worth. Praise in public, correct in private. Brag about people behind their back. Put the needs of others before ours, showing them respect; respect their property, time, and opinion.
God showed us his sincerity, commitment and honor by sending His one and only son, Jesus, as the only way for us to experience forgiveness and unconditional love. In a world where serving is a sign of weakness, commitment and honor are rarely modeled, how do we learn this? By experiencing the birth of Christ in our hearts!