1 Corinthians 13 says if we do great things, but treat people poorly, our great things “profit nothing.” The quality of our lives is determined by the depth of love we demonstrate in our relationships. Here are five relationship-busting habits to avoid:
- Regularly Withdrawing Our Heart From Those Who Disappoint Us – “Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Immature people and leaders frequently allow themselves to become distant and detached from people who do not meet their expectations. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25). The marriage relationship is an example of how we can live in all relationships. This does not mean we won’t have boundaries in our relationships, but it does mean we are to lean into heart connections and not away from them.
- Talking More Than Listening and Asking Questions – “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Those skilled in relationship seek first to understand before they seek to be understood. We are given two ears and one mouth for a reason. I suggest we use this phrase to ascertain if we are hearing what is intended to be communicated, “I am hearing you say . . . Is that what you are saying?” This will bring a breakthrough in our relationships.
- Giving Your Family and Key Relationships Our Leftovers – In Malachi 1, God rebukes his people for bringing lame and blind animals to sacrifice. They were giving what had little value (their leftovers). I remember as a young church leader when I would walk through the door into my home, the Lord would say to me, “Now your real ministry begins.” He was saying my home assignment was more important than my church assignment. I realized then, as I still do, that if my family and those closest to me do not respect me as being genuine, authentic, and safe, then I need to make some big adjustments in my life and priorities.
- Inability to Take Responsibility for Hurt We Bring Into Relationships – I talked with a young woman the other day who shared about the verbal hurt she received from her father and leaders. As I heard this, I thought, “I never want anyone to experience this from me.” Yes, we should commit to becoming a safe person, but we will all make mistakes at some point in how we treat others. If this happens, we will bring healing and trust between us if we say from the heart, “I am so sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me. Here is my plan so this behavior does not continue in my life.”
- Living by Feelings Instead of Decisions – Both successful people and non-successful people have times of not wanting to do important things (including important commitments), but successful people find a way to do what they do not want to do (but understand they should) There are times in relationships where we “feel” love, but there are also times when we don’t. One of the most important revelations we can receive is understanding love is not just a feeling, but more importantly, it is a decision. Jesus is truly our example in this. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
As we overcome these negative relational habits and replace them with kindness, forgiveness, sacrifice, listening, vulnerability, laughter, and truthfulness, we will increase the relational health in our lives and in the world. For more on this, please listen to my podcast on this subject here.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.