Just Wait

I’ve often been sought for advice by people on the brink of some type of relationship.  Whether it’s a friendship, romance, or even an employment decision, people often wonder how I determine if a person is worth pursuing.  My answer is usually the same – just wait.  One thing is certain: time will tell the truth about people.

In Luke 6:43-44, Jesus shares why it’s important to wait before entering relationships.  A tree (or person) is known by its fruit (or behavior).  Without fruit on the limbs, confusing different types of trees is easy.  If you wait, however, the differences will be obvious.  Whatever type of fruit the tree produces consistently is a good indicator of the type of tree it is.

How does this relate to entering relationships?  Always wait until you see a consistent pattern of behaviors.  Good and bad people look the same initially, but time will tell the truth.

Thought to Consider:
What kind of fruit are the people you’re closest to producing?

Just Remember

Have you ever had a rough patch?  Have you ever had a series of days, weeks, or months where you felt isolated, unappreciated, misunderstood, or even discouraged because of your relationships with others?  Stretches like these can quench your desire to connect deeply with others.

Apparently, Asaph, the author of Psalm 77 had his share of rough patches.  His were so rough that he lost sleep, couldn’t pray, and even thought God had turned against him.  But instead of soaking in his sorrows, Asaph shifted his focus to the good times.  He remembered that life isn’t always rough, and there is light at the end of our seemingly endless tunnels.

When you find yourself in a rough patch in your relationships, do like Asaph – remember the good times.  Some of the best advice I ever received conveys the same message: don’t let your highs get too high or your lows get too low.  Keep everything in perspective – life won’t always be rough.

Thought to Consider:
How do you handle your rough experiences?

Just Listen

Frank Tyger once said, “Be a good listener.  Your ears will never get you in trouble.”  Jesus said, “So pay attention to how you hear.  To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given …” (Luke 8:18, NLT).  Both of these quotes highlight the importance of listening.

In the few years I’ve been in leadership, I’ve learned that listening is an invaluable tool for building great relationships with others.  People gravitate to listeners, for in their presence, they truly feel prioritized.  Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned while developing my ability to listen:

  • Listeners develop relationships with ease.
  • People communicate open and honestly with listeners.
  • Listening will reveal the root of problematic behaviors.
  • People often resolve their issues without your input, if you just listen.

Listening has endless benefits, both naturally and spiritually.  If you haven’t developed your listening skills, I encourage you to try.  God was intentional when He gave us two ears and one mouth.  Take advantage!

Thought to Consider:
Are you a good listener?

The Clean Slate

Have you ever drawn a conclusion about someone you had only heard about?  Ananias did.  When God told him to do something for Saul, he refused because of what he had heard about him.  If God hadn’t overruled his objection, Ananias probably would not have met Saul, who eventually became Paul, one of the greatest Apostles.

Sometimes we judge people inaccurately because of their reputation.  We hold them hostage to their past and even believe they cannot change.  Consequently, we miss opportunities to develop meaningful relationships with people who may be awesome or have insight that can help us.

When I’m tempted to judge someone too quickly, I try to give him or her a clean slate.  That’s how God treats me.  Daily, He gives me a fresh opportunity that’s detached from my past!  I encourage you to do the same thing.  Give people a clean slate.  You never know – the person you’re hesitant to connect with may be on the path to greatness.

Thought to Consider:
Do you give people a clean slate?

Let Them Be Human

Have you ever noticed that people tend to be hard on others?  I’ve been a confidant on many occasions, and I’m always amazed at the opinions people have of others.  I’ve noticed that some people have higher expectations for others than they do for themselves.

One of the God-inspired people skills I use to combat this tendency is the subject of this email: let them be human.  I’d argue that we’re all guilty of having unrealistic expectations of others.  We want them to “dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’,” especially when they interact with us.  Paul, however, gives us a reality check about ourselves and others: For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23, NLT).  We all have areas for improvement, and remembering this can spare you of some unnecessary stress.

The next time someone says something that rubs you the wrong way, drives recklessly in front of you, or doesn’t meet your expressed expectations, remember this: they’re just being human.  No one is perfect, so we shouldn’t expect it.  I encourage you to let others be human.  After all, God gives you the same courtesy.

Thought to Consider:
Are your expectations of others too high?