Relationships are like bridges in that they have to be built intentionally. They carry a lot of weight. A relationship can break down from neglect, conflict, or misunderstanding.
Is there a way to repair the breech, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship?
The Bible tells us that the secret to great relationships is humility. First Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward on another” (NIV).
You’re not dressed for successful relationships until you’ve learned the quality of humility.
The cross shows that you are infinitely valuable but you are also deeply flawed. Humility is keeping those two things in balance. Humility is having a realistic evaluation of yourself. It is does not mean denying your strengths, but rather it’s being honest about your weaknesses.
Humility, essentially, is loving God and loving other people, thinking about God and thinking about other people more than yourself.
One of the reasons why so many relationships fall apart is because, frankly, many people are unwilling to do the serious difficult work that humility requires. There are five steps that you can take in humbly restoring a broken relationship.
1. Ask for God’s help.
James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (ESV). If God opposes the proud, I don’t want to be on the opposite side of God.
What is grace? Grace is the power to change. Grace is the power to heal a relationship. Grace is the power to get forgiveness and to offer forgiveness. Grace is the power to restore what you thought was dead.
2. Affirm their value.
You must go to the person with whom you are trying to restore your relationship and express to them the reasons why you believe the relationship is worth saving. You affirm their value.
Romans 12:10 says, “Have a profound respect for each other” (NASB). The starting point in restoring a relationship after you’ve asked God for help is to go and show some respect to the person by simply saying, “I value you. You matter to me. You are important. I want to work on this relationship although it will be painful.”
How do you give more honor to others than you give to yourself? Let me suggest two ways:
- Listen to them. When you listen to a person, you are showing them honor.
- Validate their feelings. I’m not saying you agree with their feelings. But when people come to you to express their feelings, they don’t need you to immediately “fix it”.
Once you’ve taken those two steps – and those are pretty much the easy ones – we now start turning up the heat a little bit.
3. Acknowledge your responsibility and sin.
Galatians 6:5 says, “Each person must be responsible for himself” (NCV). You cannot build a strong, healthy relationship without accepting responsibility for your part of it. A relationship takes two people. As long as you are fixing the blame, you cannot fix the relationship. If you want God’s blessing on your relationship, you have to stop the blame game.
This is the step that breaks the gridlock, that gets the relationship moving again. If you can’t get past this step, saying those three important words “I was wrong”, “I am sorry”, “Please forgive me”… If your throat chokes on those words, you will never have mature relationships.
4. Allow them to be human.
We don’t want to let other people be human. We want to hold them to a standard that we, even ourselves, can’t meet. We expect more of them than we would even of ourselves. Humility recognizes that no one is perfect. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT).
Notice the motivation: You have been forgiven, you have been shown grace, so you can be gracious to other people.
5. Adjust to their needs.
This takes humility to a level deeper than most of us go. It takes a massive amount of humility to adjust to the needs of other people. Most of the time I don’t want to adjust to your needs, I want you to adjust to my needs. The Bible says in Philippians 2:4, “Look out for one another’s interest, not just your own” (GNT).
Here’s your project for this week. Take notice of the needs of others and take the opportunity to act on them. Ask God to give you the grace and humility to put their needs before your own.