Dealing with Relationships

Every person in life must deal with numerous relationship issues.  The pastor and other church leaders are not exempt from this as Christians are just as prone to relationship problems as others.  Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with relationships.

Killing a relationship

Gunnysack. Stores each problem and injury, and then, when sack is filled, it is dumped on floor and relationship is over. Accumulated anger and aggression will kill a relationship.

Scapegoat (who’s-to-blame). Someone is designated to carry the blame. When blame fixing continues over time it destroys relationship.

Denial of differences – bad way to avoid conflict.

Negative communication – most destructive force. Communication that is bitter, critical, and majors on something being wrong.

Relationships typically are not destroyed in one instant, but go through a series of steps before being destroyed.

Disregard – Inattention to others in relationship
Disinterest – Indifference and apathy toward partner
Divergence – Partners move in opposite directions
Detachment – Process of disconnection is completed

Restoring a relationship

1. Admit the current situation (Matthew 5:23–24)
2. Admit your selfishness caused it, and selfishness is sin. Ask God and others to forgive you, and you forgive others (Matthew 6:14–15; Colossians 3:12–13)
3. Put the needs of the other person first (Philippians 2:3–4)
4. Show love (1 Corinthians 13:4–8); be patient and kind
5. Thank God for the other person and their contribution to the relationship (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
6. Determine your commitment to the relationship; How important is it to you?
7. Communicate

Suggestions to improve human relations and morale

1. Create a sense of security. The need for security is a basic one for all people. A worker afraid of losing his job will not be the most satisfied or productive person.

2. Keep workers informed. Communication problems probably are the biggest hindrance to good morale. When there is not an official word, the rumor mill will provide information.

3. Involve the workers in the decision-making process. This is more significant today than at any other time in human history. Workers will not be satisfied and motivated unless they have a part in decision-making.

4. Be fair, impartial, and consistent when giving rewards and punishment. Showing partiality and being inconsistent from person to person and time to time will destroy morale. People want to know what to expect. Use care in criticism. Allow the person to suggest ways to improve. Praise in public, but always correct in private. Do show appreciation for good work. Try to give two pats on the back for one kick in the pants. Jesus’ messages to the churches in Revelation 2–3 are a good model. He mixed praise and criticism. Criticism is hard to take for anyone. Learn to confront correctly.

5. Make sure the worker understands the job from the beginning. The adding of responsibilities later can sharply decrease morale.

6. Give enough authority and freedom to get the job done. Tell a person what you want done, but not how to do it.

7. Stay optimistic and enthusiastic yourself. A good example by the leader is contagious. A work force that is optimistic and enthusiastic will have good high morale.

A short course in human relations

The six most important words are: I admit I made a mistake
The five most important words are: You did a good job
The four most important words are: What is your opinion?
The three most important words are: If you please
The two most important words are: Thank you
The most important word is: We
The least important word is: I

The Bible on Human Relationships

Christian leaders seem to have forgotten some of the most basic teachings of the scripture. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) that we are to love our enemies and pray for them.

He also said in Luke 6:35–38, “Love your enemies . . . do good . . . lend, expecting nothing in return . . . be merciful . . . don’t pass judgment . . . don’t condemn . . . pardon . . . give to others––good measure, pressed down and running over.” Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:31–32, “Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice . . . be kind . . . be tenderhearted . . . forgiving.” Workers seem to have forgotten one of the earliest Bible verses they learned, “Be kind one to another” (Ephesians 4:32). They also forget the strong New Testament emphasis on love. Christians are not only to love God, but also all other Christians, their neighbors, and even their enemies.

There are a number of things the leader can do to improve human relations in an organization:

1. Love. It is the greatest thing in the world. It will solve our problems of anger, jealously, and bitterness. When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?,” He said to love God, and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34–40). Christians are told to love their brothers, (1 John 2:10–11; 3:11–18; 4:7–11, 21–22) and to even love their enemies (Matthew 5:43–44 and Luke 6:27). Paul said that when one compares faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13). In that passage he gives one of the most descriptive statements of what real love is. He says real love is patient, kind, does not envy, is not proud, is not self seeking, is not easily angered, does not delight in evil, rejoices in the truth, and never fails.  When one has the kind of love for other people talked about in the Bible, there is more concern for the welfare of individuals than for the organization.

2. Get rid of bitterness, anger, and revenge. Bitterness is an inward resentful disposition against others. When you get hurt, angry, or jealous, you can get over it or else you will become bitter. Bitterness hurts the person with it, and not the person it is directed toward. Joseph’s actions towards his brothers in Egypt show an excellent example of forgiveness without bitterness and a desire for revenge. Anger comes and goes, but not bitterness. Bitter feelings remain for years. Bitterness causes one to plan revenge––to get even. Deal with anger quickly to avoid bitterness developing.

The Bible has a lot to say about bitterness and anger.

Matthew 5:22 Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment
Matthew 5:25 Agree with adversary quickly
Matthew 5:39–41 Turn other check and go second mile
Matthew 5:44 Do good to them that hate you
Romans 12:17 Don’t repay evil for evil
Ephesians 4:26 Do not let the sun go down on anger
Ephesians 4:31–32 Put away bitterness, wrath, clamor; be kind and forgiving
1 Thessalonians 5:15 Don’t pay back wrong for wrong
1 Peter 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing

Why do people become bitter? A number of reasons can be given:
Hurt – Some are hurt and become bitter. Hannah is an example of this in 1 Samuel 1:10 where she was in bitterness of soul, because she had no child.
Anger – left alone it will produce bitterness.
Jealousy – A person that is jealous, like Saul was of David in 1 Samuel 18:7 can develop bitterness.
Lack of love – A person that feels he is not loved unconditionally may develop bitterness.
Personal loss – Like Job expressed in Job 10:1, personal loss can cause bitterness of soul.

Bitterness can be directed toward persons (Saul toward David, child toward parent, employee toward boss); toward institutions like government or company; toward God; or even toward self.

3. Forgive. Forgiveness is to bear away, wipe off, to dismiss. When God forgives, He regards the sin debt as paid. Forgiveness is reckoned to our account, and it no longer has a balance. The blood of Jesus Christ washes our lives clean as He forgives us.

Since God has forgiven us, we are to forgive others.
Matthew 18:35 So likewise will God do if you forgive not men their trespasses.
Matthew 6:12 Model prayer – as we forgive those who trespass against us
Ephesians 4:32 Forgive one another as Christ forgave you.
Mark 11:25–26 When you pray, if you have anything against anyone, forgive, and God will forgive you.
We are to forgive as often as we are asked. In Matthew 18:21, Peter asked, “How often must we forgive?” Jesus said not 7 times, but 7 times 70.

We are to initiate forgiveness.
Luke 17:3 If a brother trespass against you, rebuke him, if he repents, forgive him. 7 times in a day
Matthew 5:23–24 If brother have anything against you, leave offering and go be reconciled
Leviticus 6:2–7 We are to make restitution sometimes when we ask forgiveness

Our job is to be willing to forgive when asked, and to do it immediately and fully. Imposing a condition means not fully forgiving.