Relationships are at the heart of every effective ministry. Whether they are with your spouse, your family, your staff, your church, or your community, you can’t lead well without having good relationships.
But one thing that can damage your relationships is fear.
Here are three fears that can have a destructive impact on our relationships:
Fear of admitting our faults.
We often get defensive when it comes to our faults. No one likes to admit their weaknesses. Instead, we deny them and even defend them at times. Think about Adam and Eve’s responses in Genesis 3:12-13: “God asked, ‘Did you eat what I told you not to eat.’ Adam answered, ‘The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit and I ate it.’ She replied, ‘The snake tricked me into eating it.’”
In those verses, we see two common reactions to dealing with failure. We accuse someone else, and then we excuse ourselves.
Ask yourself this question: What fault do I get defensive about when it gets mentioned?
Instead of getting defensive and making excuses for your faults, confess them.
Fear of expressing our feelings.
Sometimes we use distance as a tool for dealing with our feelings. When things get emotional, we find it easier to just withdraw. Instead, we need to learn to express our feelings in order to become the authentic human beings God wants us to be.
Two kinds of emotions that can be particularly damaging are hurt and anger.
- Hurt feelings. We hate to admit when somebody hurts us. It makes us feel vulnerable. But when we hold onto hurt, it turns into resentment. The Bible tells us that this bitterness will destroy our relationships.
- Angry feelings. Many people don’t know how to deal with their anger. We tend to repress our anger, but that’s not the answer. Sometimes we need to get angry. Jesus did.
Fear of losing control.
When we feel like we’re losing control, we often demand we get our own way and have the last word in our relationships. This kind of insecurity is nothing new. You see it in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve destroyed their perfect relationship with God through mistrust.
I can sum up many relationship problems in two words: power struggle. Two insecure people are competing to control the relationship. If you make your personal rights the focus of your life, you’ll be angry—and miserable.
So what’s the antidote to our fears?
- Be honest with yourself. Proverbs 20:27 says, “The Lord gave us mind and conscience; we cannot hide from ourselves.” You need to face up to your fears and stop stuffing them down. Take a hard look at your fears, and admit them to yourself.
- Be honest with God. John writes, “We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us” (1 John 4:18 TLB). We don’t need to be afraid of going to God with our failures. We can boldly come to the Lord and say, “God, here are my faults, my failures, the flops, and the fiascos of my life.”
He already knows them. They won’t surprise him. He just wants you to ask for help.
- Be honest in your relationship. Revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing. The Bible reminds us in James 5:16: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you.”
If you’re in a struggling relationship, I encourage you to connect with that person this week. Before you meet, prepare a list of your own faults. Come with a spirit of reconciliation and love, saying, “Let’s make this better.”
The best years of your relationships can be ahead of you. It’s your choice. It all depends on how truthful you’re willing to be with yourself, God, and others. Intimacy is always found through the tunnel of truth. It can be scary—but it’s worth it.