Several months ago, our staff went through the DISC personality assessment. One exercise was telling each staff member something we appreciated about the ways they relate to us. Then, we repeated the process telling each one something we didn’t appreciate about the ways they relate.
It’s humbling to realize that your opinion of yourself may not be the way others view you. But knowing these people care for you and want good relationships takes some of the sting out of their observations. So, now I have several items on a stickynote reminding me of areas I need to work on in relating to my coworkers, my family, and others.
Recently, while meditating on a portion of Paul’s Second letter to the Corinthians, God reinforced several of those areas revealed in that staff evaluation. I saw several qualities to help me and every genuine follower of Jesus to improve relationships with others. Here they are.
First, think carefully. Often, I find my initial responses to a situation aren’t the best way to handle it. A godly person knows the value of a thoughtful response instead of a knee-jerk reaction. He or she looks for the right timing and the right method in dealing with difficult issues.
Do you take time to think carefully about the situation you face? Do you think about how your words will sound when others hear them?
Next, love deeply. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is deeply personal. In it, he describes intense emotions. He wrote with many tears and with many anxious moments about how it would be received. But Paul didn’t want these intense emotions to grieve his readers. He wanted them to see his emotions as proof of his deep and abiding love for them.
Do people know that, in spite of some failures, you love them deeply, that you really do have their best interests in your heart?
And finally, forgive graciously. This can be especially difficult in dealing with discipline in the church. Paul didn’t demand that everything be done exactly as he would’ve done it. He was willing to compromise on the process in order to reach the right outcome. He forgave the offending brother for their sake, and he forgave them for not explicitly following his instructions.
Are you able to forgive graciously? Jesus told us that offenses are inevitable. But how do you respond? Are you able to fully forgive those who offend you? Are you willing to compromise process in order to maintain principle?
May God grant us the desire and power to think carefully, love deeply, and forgive graciously.
-J. Mark Horst