The WHAT Test – A Simple Strategy to Think Through Level of Commitment

Asian business people team drawing on white wall whiteboard with sticky notes creative real office

The WHAT Test.

Over the years, I have found numerous uses for this simple strategy of thought. The WHAT Test is an acronym of steps to force you to think through how committed everyone involved actually is to a project, relationship or goal. It doesn’t ensure success, but it can help you avoid the disappointment of not having thoroughly thought about the agreed upon direction and level of commitment before you begin.

Here’s The WHAT Test:Where

Where do you want to go? It sounds simple, but it’ serially not. Many times when one person is ready to celebrate success another thinks you’re just getting started. Talk through the end goal. What do you want to accomplish? Collectively define a win. Make sure it is very clear up front where you want to go and how you will know when you’ve “arrived” at your intended destination.

How?

How will you get there? What’s the plan? What are the steps to get us to our goal? Who is going to do what? Who’s responsible? Who’s in charge of what? What are the necessary steps involved? This is where you ensure there is a strategy in place.

Agreement

Are all parties in complete agreement with the previous two? This is critical. Don’t neglect this important step. Don’t move forward without knowing everyone is on board. Many times we agree to a vision on the front end and have reservations once the actual strategy is in place. It’s good to renew agreement before proceeding.

Tenacity

This may be the most important one. I always ask: Are you willing to pay the price to see it through? This is almost a covenant agreement type step – and may even involve an actual covenant. Most great ideas fail – not because they weren’t great ideas – but because no one had the commitment to see them through. This can be especially true when relationships are involved. Decide on the front end all parties have a “whatever it takes” attitude. This will save you many headaches and heartaches down the road.

Obviously, each of these have multiple layers to them, but this exercise always seems to shake out some of the initial reservations which may not have been spoken and avoids some of the personal obstacles which may otherwise occur.

Let me give you a few examples of when I’ve used this:

  • Working with a couple trying to rebuild their relationship – could be after an affair or serious breach in trust has occurred.
  • Prior to attempting a difficult project or assignment.
  • Before a business partnership is formed.

At the beginning of any important venture – Take the WHAT Test

WHAT you are trying to accomplish will seem more attainable when you can easily pass the The WHAT Test.

There are dozens of applications for this simple formula, but the point is strategically thinking through these steps will help protect, build or rebuild relationships – plus help all parties avoid disappointment.

10 Principles to Consider for Parents on Healthy Discipline of Children

A young girl enjoys the afternoon with her family.

As a pastor, I’m consistently asked about disciplining children. I am not an expert – and every family is unique, with different parents and different children – but, I have learned some things personally and from watching others. Plus, I know some things I would do differently if I had the early years of parenting to do again.

There is always special interest in the subject of spanking – whether it was appropriate or not and whether I believe in it or not. While I believe discipline is a personal topic for parents to decide where they land, I do believe there are some helpful principles for all parents to follow. I am probably less inclined in this area to talk about what I did and more inclined to talk about the principles I believe are even more helpful.

I have written my basic overall plan for parenting in an earlier post. You can read it HERE. Since I believe the most important thing is you have a plan for your parenting and where you are trying to steer children as they mature, I decided to share some principles I believe can help the discipline part of your plan.

10 principles for parents on healthy discipline:

Goal set first. 

Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” You should understand the reason behind discipline. You are taking your children somewhere they need to go. There is great value then in discipline. Just as you have to discipline yourself to do anything of value – or just as they have to be disciplined to master an activity in which they are involved – your parenting needs to include healthy discipline.

Never discipline in anger.

When you act in anger you will say things you do not mean and do things you should not do. Discipline done in anger is rarely productive and usually harmful long-term.

Discipline yourself first.

At the time of need for discipline, remember this 3-step process: Stop/Think/Proceed. This takes practice on your part, but keep in mind, you’re supposed to be the maturer one. This also means you’ll do less yelling in the moment and take more decisive actions when you administer discipline. Obviously, when they are younger you have to make quick decisions. If your 2 year old is about to stick their finger in a socket – react fast. Decisions regarding discipline get more difficult as the child gets older, however, so you may need to take longer with each of these steps.

Be consistent in your discipline plan.

It will mean nothing to the child otherwise. You must help them learn how you will respond. The discipline may not be the same, but your attitude towards them and your follow through should be. As they get older, they will test this one.

Pre-think principles, rather than pre-planning specifics.

You should have some value-centered, character-based goals you want discipline to promote in your child. But, be careful declaring what you will do when your child does something specific. Avoid saying things like, for example, “My son will never wear his hair long – and if he tries I will…” You may regret those words someday. It should go without saying, but I believe Biblical principles are always best – and should come first. 

Differentiate discipline for each child.

To spank or not to spank should not be as big a deal as what works best for the child. Every child is unique and what works for one won’t necessarily work for the other. The more you individualize your approach the more successful your plan will be.

Do not make threats with which you are unwilling to follow through

Your children will catch on quickly when you do. It’s probably best not to make threats at all. Again, be goal-driven, value-centered. Threats usually cause more harm than good. Either they push you in a corner to respond – or, depending on the will of the child – encourage them to test your threat.

Use age appropriate and action appropriate discipline

As a child matures the discipline should mature with them. Be careful not to overkill a minor incident or ignore a major occurrence. Remember a 3 year old is 3. They are learning – and sometimes they can be so cute doing things the first time. But, if it’s a character issue – such as lying – treat it seriously. (Usually you don’t have to do a whole lot to convince a 3 year old it’s serious, either.) It becomes a lot more serious when a 13 year old is still lying to parents – especially if they were never disciplined about it at 3.

Always discipline the child for results, not your comfort level.

Discipline in its concept is not necessarily pleasant, but it reaps a reward if done right. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Many parents refuse to discipline in the name of love. All parents love their children. And, punishing people we love – even when needed – is difficult. Don’t discipline in a way which is comfortable for you – discipline in a way, which is productive in producing maturity in your child.

Discipline should never teach a child he or she is unloved.

Actually, if done right, discipline should reinforce the love a parent has for the child. (Hebrews 12:7-10) This is especially true as they get older. They should be able to look back and see – while you may not have done everything right – you always disciplined in love; you always cared for their best interest – even ahead of your own.

The discipline part of parenting is the hardest – and we all make mistakes. Keep this thought in mind: we parent our children to eventually be adults. Begin with the end in mind. What characteristics, values and morals do we want them to have when they are grown. This thought helped me many times when deciding which discipline to use – and certainly the severity of which I should view a matter needing discipline.

He Who Loves You, Watches Over You

sleeping child

One of the greatest feelings as a parent has to be watching your children sleep. I don’t get to do it much anymore, but remember those days as if they were last night.

When our boys started driving we didn’t have strong curfews. Our boys were responsible and knew our expectations, and they never came home very late – but it was often past our bedtime. Still, I didn’t fully rest until I could slip out of bed and see their cars in the driveway and knew they were in their bed – hopefully falling fast asleep.

Knowing they are safe – resting, under your care – has to be one of the greatest joys of being a parent. It was a comforting time of day.

I wonder if God feels this way.

I wonder if God gets a charge out of watching over His children as they sleep.

I wonder if He smiles when He sees a child – His child, you and me, drift into dream land.

I’m reminded of these verses:

“He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

When you are sound asleep, God is on watch – like a proud dad! Like a protective Father He is caring for His children.

And, not only this, He has the whole world in His hands. In other words, you’re safe! There is nothing to fear. Daddy has things under control.

As you go to bed tonight, capture the moment, imagine the emotion God has as He watches the child He made, whom He loves with an everlasting love, fall asleep. It’s a comforting feeling.

One of My Most Repeated Principles of Leadership – and Life – Which Can Make Your Life Better

I don't know

How’s this for a title? One principal for a better life? Really?

Yea! Really.

And, it is a very simple principle – one every leader knows, but one we often forget. But, understanding this principle can dramatically improve every relationship in your life – and, if you’re a leader, it will improve your leadership – every time. Guaranteed!

Wow! Another emphatic statement! But, it’s true.

Learn this principle and place it into practice and see what I mean. Our staff hears this consistently because it’s so true.  

Here’s the principle:

Are you ready?

Write this down:

People only know what they know.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s big.

It’s not just big – it’s

HUGE

Of course, it takes practice to learn and let a principle this important work in your life, but the reward is worth it.

Let me give some examples:

If an employee isn’t meeting your expectations – tell them. Do it with love. Do it gracefully. Share it in a way which attempts to build them up rather than tear them down, but they may think you’re completely pleased if you’ve not said anything.

People only know what they know.

If your spouse is continually hurting your feelings – be kind, be loving, be graceful, forgiving, and helpful, but let it be known. Communicate your feelings. Chances are they are not doing whatever “it” is on purpose, but out of ignorance. They don’t know.

People only know what they know.

If a child says the wrong thing at the wrong time – Be affirming. Make sure they know you love them first. Assure them you’re in their corner and “for them” either way, but teach them from the experience you have had in life. Likely, someone had to teach you.

People only know what they know.

If a boss seems completely out of touch with reality – guess what? He or she may be. They probably need others to speak into their life. Be respectful. Be kind. Be genuine. Don’t share with others until you’ve shared with them, but share what’s on your heart with love.

People only know what they know.

If a new believer doesn’t quite measure up to the standard you’ve set for a believer. Don’t bash them or judge them or make them feel more guilty than they possibly do. Love them. Disciple them. Help them understand the way Christ would act. It may be they don’t hold or even know the standard Christ set.

People only know what they know.

Insert your own scenario, but before you get upset with someone – before you lose your patience – before you hold it against them – before you give up on a relationship – remember:

People only know what they know.

When people don’t know – and we assume they do – it leads to frustration, anger and disappointment. Communication is key to healthy relationships. 

How could implementing this principle change some relationships in your life?

12 Things We’d Probably Do If We Had a Perfect Marriage

Portrait Of Loving African American Couple In Countryside

I don’t have a perfect marriage. I have a good marriage. We work at it. We are intentional. I would even say we have a really good marriage – but, it’s not perfect.

It isn’t perfect, because our marriage – probably like yours – is a work in progress. And, the real reason we don’t have a perfect marriage is because there are two imperfect people in this marriage – just like in your marriage.

But through years of counseling and working with hundreds of marriages in distress, I have a few thoughts on what it would take to have the perfect marriage. I’m not saying we will ever get there. You won’t either. But, having a standard to push for, and then actually pushing for it, always seems to make me better than I am today.

Of course, it takes two people working for the same goal. Doesn’t it? Many of you know this all too well. It’s always sad to me when one person gives up on the challenge.

But, all I know to advise people to do is your part. I’m trying to do mine – some days are better than others. Cheryl is trying to do her part. (She does hers better than I do mine.) But, some days for her are better than others. Again, it’s a work in progress. Hopefully, two hearts will be joined together more and more into one heart if each of us strive to do our part.

But, what if I had a perfect marriage? What is the goal worth striving to achieve?

Here are 12 things we would probably do if we had a perfect marriage:

Neither of us would ever go to bed angry. – I’ve learned over the years if a couple goes to be angry, they wake up angrier. And, tension builds. Clearing the slate each day – being “okay” with each other as we go to sleep – helps us start each today together rather than apart. We may not agree on everything, but our hearts are heading in the same direction.

We would always consider each other’s interests ahead of our own. – The Bible says to do this, right? And, imagine the power for the marriage when both parties obey the command?

We would invest our best time, apart from our time with Christ, in each other. – The world demands a lot from us. Outside demands can pull us apart if we aren’t careful. If the marriage were perfect, we would never let anything come between us or steal our most precious time.

We would love Christ deeply and model His love for each other. – I’m a better person when I’m full of Christ’s presence. Cheryl is too. Jesus on the inside – working on my outside – changes who I am to the world – and Cheryl.

We would protect each other’s heart – above all things. This Proverb is so true. So profound. So life-giving – and if not adhered to – can be so damaging. When the heart is injured it impacts everything else in our life.

We would value one another more for who we are than what we do. – It’s easy to get caught up in what we do for each other does or doesn’t do. And, while this is important, and each spouse should pull their own weight, when this is the primary focus we often forget the value the other person has to us apart from those things.

We would always honor each other with our words. – In a perfect marriage, we would always strive to build each other up and encourage one another. We would remove negativity about each other from our conversations. The goal would be to use words to bless the other person, never to destroy.

We would listen to each other – genuinely. – So many problems in a marriage are simply communication problems – where one person isn’t really listening. We don’t ask questions to make sure we understand. We misread intent. We illustrate value to another person when we truly care what they have to say.

Our prayers would be more for each other than for ourself. – We all get caught up in what we want or need God to do for us. When we focus our prayers on our spouse, it’s amazing to see how God honors them. He seems to love humility.

We’d encourage each others dreams. – A perfect marriage would be made up of two cheerleaders – each cheering for the other person to succeed.

We would never take what we have together for granted. – It’s so easy to do, isn’t it? We fall into routines – even bad habits – and we forget the love we have for one another, the way the other spouse blesses our life, what we would be missing without them. We can get so distracted by life we fail to realize the value our spouse adds to our life.

We would remind each other often all the reasons we married. – Because, it’s good to hear again, isn’t it? We all like to know the person we married cares, they love us unconditionally, and – if they had to do it all over again – they would without reservation.

There’s my list. I’m sure there are many others – if we had a perfect marriage.

Which of these do you most need to incorporate into your marriage? Maybe if we – I – just worked on one of these at a time we’ have – I’d have – an even better marriage than we have today.

What would you add to my list?

7 of the Biggest Misunderstandings Millennials have about My Baby Boomer Generation

Two People Having A Conversation

So much has been written about the Millennial generation. They may possibly be the most studied and documented generation – and, I thought this honor would go to my Baby-Boomer generation. Millennials have unique challenges. The world has been quite different during their lifetime. Fast change. New technologies. Increasing global tensions. 

I get to spend a lot of time with Millennials in my work as a pastor. I have two sons who are Millennials. Frankly, I love the generation. 

What is interesting to me when I talk to Millennials is some of the misunderstandings they have about my generation – specifically how my generation views their generation. 

Recently a young Millennial asked for some of my time to talk through where he felt God was leading him. He was so apologetic for “taking my time”. What he didn’t understand was how much his conversation fueled me for everything else I had to do that day. I loved it. I’ve had similar experiences many times.

The encounter caused me to reflect on other misunderstandings I’ve observed from Millennials about my generation. Feel free to add your own in the comments. 

7 of the biggest misunderstandings millennials have of my Baby-Boomer generation:

 

We really do enjoy helping you. Your inquisitive nature is not a burden to us. We don’t consider your questions to be dumb. We know we all have to learn somewhere. There is no higher compliment than to be asked for wisdom – or seen as knowing something worthy of your attention towards us. 

We wish we had asked more questions when we were your age. Yours is an inquisitive generation. You want to know. You’ve been used to having information – in fact, you can Google most your answers. We admire this about you and wish we had learned to ask questions earlier. Instead, we learned too many things the hard way – by experience – but we would have avoided some of those experiences if we could have. You inspire us to ask more questions. There are lots of things we can learn from you. (Thank you for this.)

We don’t think we know it all. At least most of us don’t. And, we are okay with it. Frankly, the older we get the more we realize we don’t know. And, it doesn’t seem to bother or frustrate us as it did when we were younger. 

We don’t always understand your impatience. Seriously, sometimes we don’t. We look at your life and you seem to be doing okay. So, when you are frustrated you don’t have everything yet – or aren’t where you want to be in your career – we don’t always “get it”. But, we know we were much like this when we were your age – and probably more impatient in our younger years. There was more of a sense of “work your way up” in our generation, but we often saw unfairness in who got to move up and how. 

We often understand what you’re feeling more than you think we do. You think because we are older, and aren’t experiencing some of the issues you’re experiencing, we don’t understand the frustrations you face. It is a new day – and the world is much different – but the things you experience today are some of the same issues we experienced – just without the texting or social media sharing possibilities for them. We struggled (and mostly still do) in relationships, careers, with our parents, trying to find our place, fears about our future – all of those things. 

We have a different perspective, but we aren’t as different as you think. We see life from a different viewpoint. We are further along in life. We have more experiences – more laughs, more heartaches, more disappointments, more failures – and, all of this makes us see the world a little differently. But, we aren’t as different as you might think. We have the same desires you have – for mutual respect, trusted relationships, workplace fairness and opportunity. We may disagree on how to get there – but we want the world to be a better place – as you do. The basic human wants and needs are often filled differently – but they remain much the same. 

We aren’t as crazy about all the tech advances either – when it comes to real relationships. Sure, we love the new gadgets – and appreciate you for helping us learn them (thankfully, I finally figured out the DVR) – but, we prefer real conversations with people we love than a text or phone call any day. Sure, we’ve taken advantage of the ease of social media to keep up with loved ones. We are guilty of emailing instead of walking down to your office. We fall into the trap of overworking and under-relating to people in our life. But, just like you, we value genuine relationships. We even like “hanging out”. And, hanging out with your generation – are some of our favorite times. 

Those are a few I’ve observed. Got any to add? 

5 Ways for a Christian to Rebuke or Correct a Friend

girl talk

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Wounds from a friend can be trusted… Proverbs 27:6

rebuke |riˈbyoōk|verb express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.

Years ago in high school, I had a friend tell me I was hanging out with the wrong people. It was hard to hear, but I listened to the advice and switched my sphere of influence. Looking back, it’s one of the best decisions I ever made, considering the different path my life took and the life of my former friends.

That’s only one example. Thankfully there have been many other times a friend loved me enough to help me see the mistakes I was making. Usually I knew, but the rebuke challenged me to alter my ways. I’ve had to “return the favor” many times.

There are times when you have to rebuke a friend in order to be a true friend. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is tell another what he or she is doing wrong. You may be the only one who cares enough to point out what everyone else sees, but refuses to address.

If you choose to accept the assignment of rebuking or correcting a friend, you should be sure you are accurate in your assessment – as much as you can be without a conversation, you should pray through the proper timing of your approach, and you should address the person and not others to keep from spreading gossip. And, this should go without saying, but you should make sure they are actually a friend. If the relationship isn’t a close one – you may not be the right person to approach them. 

I’ve titled this post ways for a “Christian” to rebuke a friend. I believe these could apply to believers or non-believers. But, I did so because part of being in the family of God comes with certain expectations, such as love and forgiveness – which we are to extend to all our friends – whether or not they share our faith. 

When the time comes, here are 5 ways to rebuke or correct a friend:

Be purposeful.

A rebuke should not be vindictive in nature or driven by jealousy or selfish interests. The betterment of your friend should be your sole objective. If this is not the case, you may only be acting from your emotions – and things will not go well. You will likely not be received well by your friend. Check your motive first. This is where prayer beforehand comes in handy. 

Be loving.

As we should do with everything, correction of any kind should come in the context of a loving relationship. In fact, one standard might be to not rebuke people you don’t love. If done correctly a rebuke is a part of love. (If you don’t know how, THIS POST was written for a different purpose, but may offer some suggestions.) Part of maturing as a person is learning how to say hard things and still be kind doing so. 

Be truthful.

Don’t dance around or use subtleties when addressing the issue. State the problem as you see it. Keep in mind you may be wrong on some of your assumptions, so be prepared to listen as much as talk, but don’t leave them guessing what you mean either. 

Be helpful.

In addition to pointing out the problems you see, a loving response comes with some offers for resolution and a willingness to walk through any necessary recovery with the friend. Help them process where they are in life. Recommit your friendship to them. Follow up with them afterwards to make sure they know you care. 

Be redemptive.

Be willing to extend grace and forgive the friend for any wrong they have done – towards you, others, or themselves. Make sure he or she knows you are still in their corner. Don’t offer a rebuke or correct someone if you aren’t also willing to forgive or if you don’t ultimately want the best for them – regardless of how they respond.

Do you have a friend you can count on to rebuke or correct you if needed?

7 Ways to Help the Introverts on Your Team Better Engage in Meetings

power meeting from above

I am asked frequently how to engage introverts on a team in meetings. I guess because I am an introvert, and have written extensively about the subject, people assume I know how. I try to remind them other people are different from me, even other introverts.

Although it is a common perception that all introverts are reserved, constantly quiet, and unsocial, introverts are a diverse group, with varying degrees of introversion. For example, if you give me authority, I’ll lead the meeting. No problem. That would never be comfortable for some introverts.

So, my best advice for leaders about engaging people into meetings would not be to consider the introverts, but to consider everyone different. When it comes to meeting dynamics, everyone has something to add and does so in their own way. It takes me time to understand the team. Part of my job, if I’m leading a meeting, is to analyze the people in the room, as much as I can, before the meeting begins. If it’s “your” team this is done over time – getting to know the team. If the meeting involves people you don’t know or know well, it’s more difficult, but good leaders learn to study people – things such as the way they respond before the meeting, when they are introducing themselves, or their posture during the meeting.

But, I do understand the introvert question. Many introverts don’t engage in meetings. They keep to themselves, especially in large group settings. They aren’t as easy to get to know. And, yes, I can even be that way, especially if I’m not in a leadership position where I have to force myself out of my introversion – or it’s a meeting full of extreme extroverts.

So, here’s my attempt to answer some of the questions about engaging introverts in meetings. Again, we aren’t all alike, even though we share the introvert characteristic, but try a few of these and see if they improve your meeting dynamics.

And, by the way, some of these can help extroverts make better in meeting decisions too.

Here are 7 suggestions to help introverts engage more:

Give them time to respond

This is huge. Introverts typically reflect inward, so they respond only after they have thought through their answer. This is a great characteristic if used well, because it usually means their answer has already been tested in their own mind. They are likely to share some of the most valid options on the table if you give the process time to work.

Ask specific questions – ahead of time

Give them a problem and time to solve it and most introverts, if left alone, will enjoy the challenge. If you want them to brainstorm effectively, tell them exactly what you are going to brainstorm about prior to beginning.

Let them respond in writing

When I know there are numerous introverts in a group, I will usually find a way to let them put something in writing. I have even allowed them to text or email me during the meeting. It’s amazing some of the suggestions I’ve received when an introvert doesn’t have to say it aloud.

Don’t put them on the spot

If you call on them for an immediate response you might get an answer if you do, but it won’t be their best answer and it will often keep them from ever sharing again. Introverts are often not huge fans of being singled out to answer a question. They may be better prepared if you ask a question, let people respond who have instant answers (usually the extroverts), then call on the introverts later in the process.

Separate them from the most extroverted

If there are too many extroverts in the group, introverts and even more likely to shut down communication. Try putting a group of introverts together, give them plenty of time and thought provokers to stimulate conversation, then allow the process to work on their time. Then, prepare to be amazed.

Give them an assignment they can control

Many introverts (this one included) can perform to task if we are put in the seat of responsibility. It could be speaking to a group or working the crowd at a banquet, but when it’s purposeful and I have an assigned responsibility, and can control how I do it, I’m more likely to perform like an extrovert. Before you have the meeting, if they are willing, give introverts an assignment where they are responsible for sharing.

Express genuine and specific interest in their ideas

Introverts, like all of us, love to be respected for our thoughts and ideas. If you want an introvert to share more, remind him or her how valuable they are to the team and how much their thoughts are needed. This is best done before the meeting starts.

Some of these suggestions might help with your church Sunday school or small group meetings also.

As already stated, this isn’t an exact science. We are all different. Knowing introversion, however, as I do, it’s a little easier for me to land on these points. Don’t overlook the introverts on your team as if they have nothing to add to the discussions. They do. They will simply share that information differently. They may not talk as much as some or seem to have as many opinions, but when they do, it will often be golden.

Are you introverted? What tips could you share?

6 Tips for Happier, Healthier Relationships when the Relationship has been Injured

family prayer

Do you have any injured relationships in your life?

Broken hearts, hurt feelings, or grudges from the past are common among relationships. At some point we all have relationships, which have gone from bad to worst.

In fact, sometimes the people we have to be around, by default – blood relatives, in-laws, or co-workers – are people we wouldn’t choose to be around unless we had to be.

It’s true, isn’t it? And, the truth hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?

(Raise your hand if that’s your story.)

What should you do? How should you respond to the one who has hurt you the most – or who always seems to say the wrong thing – or who is, honestly, even mean at times? How do you respond to the most difficult relationships in your life?

You can’t control other people’s response – only yours, but how should you act in those injured relationships?

I want to encourage the Biblical approach.

Here are 6 tips for healthier, happier relationships:

Bite your tongue

When you are tempted to snap back – don’t. Sure, it will be difficult, even seemingly unfair at times, but see it as spiritual discipline training. (James 1:26) Memorize and learn to pray Psalm 141:3. (Look it up. It’s the first step towards learning it.)

Extend grace

Forgive. Let go of a grudge. Even though it may not be received well and nothing may change in the relationship, it will change you. (1 Peter 4:10, Colossians 3:13)

Put on another’s shoes

Anyone who hurts you has a story. Usually they were hurt too – by someone. Remember, hurt people hurt people. Think about where the other person is coming from before (or as) you encounter them. (Philippians 2:3-4)

Practice patience

Be honest, some relationships require more patience than you thought you had, don’t they? But, isn’t this what we are called to do as believers? It is a “fruit of the spirit”. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Exercise humility

When we humble ourselves, we may get taken advantage of at times, but God always rewards humility. Who knows? It may be the break through in the relationship. (James 4:10, 1 Peter 5:6)

Pray for them

The last one is sometimes the most difficult, but oh how Biblical! Prayer releases the burden to the burden bearer the One whose yoke is easy the One who paid for your sins. Prayer can even change the dynamics of a relationship. Pray for the awkward, difficult, shattered and broken relationships in your life and the people who caused them. In the most tense moments this holiday season, slip away and pray. (Matthew 5:44)

Apply liberally, as needed.

You’ll have healthier, happier relationships. Trust me.

Do you have a difficult relationship facing you? What tips do you have?