I had the privilege of going to a Christian school where reading books like Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ was a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
I read this book when I was 16 and it without a doubt laid some of the key fundamental ideas of my Christian faith.
One of the chapters is called ‘Experiencing Life Together’. The chapter expresses how life is meant to be shared.
Warren gives four keys to building healthy relationships with others:
1. Be authentic. Surface level chitchat has its place, but we need to have relationships where genuine, heart-to-heart, gut-level sharing takes place. This happens when people put down their facades and get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. You need to have relationships, and create space for relationships where people can share their hurts, feelings, failures, and acknowledge their weaknesses.
Let’s create an atmosphere of honesty and humility in our lives rather than one of pretending, role-playing, politicking, and superficial conversation. Keeping your guard up is the death of real relationships.
2. Build mutuality. This is the art of giving and receiving. It is depending on one another. You are not responsible for everyone in the body of Christ, but you are responsible to them. The Bible commands mutual accountability, mutual encouragement, mutual serving and mutual honouring.
3. Offer sympathy. Sympathy is not just giving advice, or a quick fix. Sympathy is really stopping and engaging with how someone feels. It is sharing in the pain of others. To be sympathetic is actually a command in the Bible. Sympathy meets two fundamental relational needs – the need to be understood and the need to have your feelings validated. Every time someone understands and validates you, you build a bond with them. Every time you create a space to understand and validate someone else, you bond with them. Often we are too much in a hurry to fix things, that we don’t take the time to UNDERSTAND people.
4. Give mercy and grace – Real, Godly relationships need to be spaces where grace and mercy are outworked. Forgiveness needs to be part of the culture. Mistakes are inevitable. We are all imperfect people. Therefore forgiveness is paramount. Bitterness and resentment will destroy friendship. We will inevitably hurt each other – sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, either way, grace and mercy will be needed.
‘Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ’. Galations 6:2
A daily devotion for a better way of living.