top of page

Developing Relationships

June 5, 2023

strawberries-blue-willow-bowl-toile

An early text from my sister-in-law (and also good friend) greeted me this Monday morning, inviting me to join her and the cousins at a local strawberry patch. My kids and I just got home from a fun day picking strawberries and then playing with the cousins, and now my kids are settled in for quiet time while I finish this blog post.


I am so thankful for my sister-in-law’s friendship and the fact that we can invite one another to last minute, hair-brained adventures and not feel any pressure if it doesn’t work out. Our friendship is a blessing, and I truly believe that our relationship is a mutual benefit to us both as we encourage one another.


Today I would like to share a few simple and hopefully practical thoughts on developing relationships. Relationships can bring us tremendous joy and also great stress, so I hope to share a few thoughts on nurturing the relationships in our lives.

 

Be Genuine


To be genuine means to be real, natural, true, pure, not false (Websters 1828).


My husband and I come from different backgrounds and cultural settings, and some eyebrows were raised when we started dating. But one character trait that I loved about him and that drew me to him was his authenticity; he was genuine! There was no pretense about him, and he was the same person in public and in private.


All of us struggle to some degree with our “public” persona being somewhat different than our “private” persona, and that fact is not entirely bad. Learning to behave in a polite manner in public is an important life skill, one that diligent parents continuously develop in their children. Yet the skill of showing kindness to others needs to come from the heart, and a genuine love for others is what should motivate us to develop friendships with others.


basket-strawberries-blue-toile

Be Humble


Humility is the great key to unlocking healthy friendships. Without humility, we cannot initiate or maintain healthy relationships with others. Humility is a lowliness of mind that considers God the most important and others more important than myself. The classic children’s acronym for JOY sums up humility nicely: Jesus, Others, and You.


In friendships, a humble attitude silently speaks, “You are more important than I am, and I am here to listen to you and help you in any way that I can.” In a nutshell, that is the essence of ministering to others. When we show genuine interest in the lives of others and seek to help them, we are showing humility.


God tells us in His Word, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).


strawberries-blue-willow-bowl-toile

Set Self-Righteousness Aside


Have you ever been around someone who literally made you feel uncomfortable because it was quite apparent that she had a much higher opinion of herself than of you? In my simple “Ashley” definition, self-righteous people are quick to look at the faults of others and point them out but are very slow to observe let alone acknowledge faults in their lives.


In order to build and then maintain healthy, nurturing relationships, we can’t carry around a self-righteous attitude. If we are having the mind of Christ, we will esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) and view ourselves with a humble mindset.


To establish a relationship, one must establish trust, and people will not trust someone that they feel is judging them. A wise lady once told me, “People do not need a judge; they need a friend.”


white-wicker-table-basket-strawberries

Develop Conversation Skills


Conversation is an art.


On hot afternoon car rides home from Christian school, I can remember my mom listening to a series of CDs on the art of conversation. My mom, then a supervisor at a well-known Christian publisher, diligently worked to develop her leadership skills, and she knew that conversation skills were pivotal to leadership skills.


So how do you develop conversation skills? Conversation skills are developed by asking thoughtful, often open-ended questions and then simply listening. What does your friend like to do? Ask her questions about what she enjoys. Once you find out a piece of information about your friend, use that information to ask another question and then learn more about your friend.


There is certainly a balance to asking questions in conversation though, and I hope to demonstrate that balance by two rather humorous scenarios. To have truly meaningful conversations, there needs to be give and take.


Have you ever been around that person who constantly talks about herself? Let’s call this lady Talkative Tammy. Talkative Tammy can’t wait to get together with you, and so you graciously set up a time to meet her. As you settle in with a cup of coffee or tea, Talkative Tammy begins talking at break-neck speed, and her gasps for breath are so short that you cannot even comment or say anything. After drinking the last drop of coffee, she thanks you for your hospitality and “such a good chat” and excuses herself to head home.


strawberries-blue-willow-bowl-toile

Then there’s the Silent Sue on the other end of the spectrum. From the outset, she looks very spiritual and willing to listen to everything you have to say. Very quickly you find that with Silent Sue, you have to carry the entire conversation as she is completely unwilling to share any of her life with you. Secretly, Silent Sue relishes hearing everything you say because now she has ammunition against you as you have shared some of your struggles with her. In a stroke of self-righteousness, Silent Sue congratulates herself that SHE doesn’t have YOUR problems.


Both Talkative Tammy and Silent Sue struggle with some amount of pride and lack a healthy humility in their relationships. Talkative Tammy needs to slow down and recognize that genuine fellowship requires a give and take. The focus needs to be on others and not just expressing her own woes, victories, interests, etc. She needs to allow for quiet moments so that her friend has an opportunity to gather her thoughts and then share them. Developing conversation skills takes time and learning to truly care for other people.


Silent Sue needs to open her heart and life to others. Perhaps perfectionism and/or a self-righteous attitude places stumbling blocks to her conversations. Yet if she realizes that it’s okay not to be seen as perfect in the eyes of others, she can begin opening her heart to friends, and then those friends in turn can help sharpen and encourage her.


strawberries-blue-willow-bowl-toile

Welcome Others Into Your Home


Welcoming others into your home (no matter how imperfect it is) is a way to demonstrate and build genuine friendships. There truly is no place like home, and no where but in a home do people feel the most safe and relaxed.


Personally, I believe that home-centered hospitality is sadly lacking in many Bible-believing churches today, and many Christians hold each other at arms' length . Perhaps a fear of others seeing imperfections or even a self-righteous attitude keeps people from opening their homes. Yet the very act of opening the home to others is the most Christ-like action a person could do and has the greatest potential for winning others to a deeper relationship with Christ.

 

What relationships in your life need a little TLC? What can you do to bolster those relationships? Thank you for joining me for a more devotional-style blog post, and I hope that your heart has been encouraged and your thoughts provoked.


-Ashley


pinterest-pin-building-meaningful-friendships-strawberries

Recent Posts

See All

2 comentários

Avaliado com 0 de 5 estrelas.
Ainda sem avaliações

Adicione uma avaliação

Love this about both you and that sister-in-law of yours, Ashley - your hearts for others are a blessing! Thanks for this good reminder today about the Kingdom value of relationship building.

Curtir
Ashley Qurollo
Ashley Qurollo
06 de jun. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thank you for sharing such kind words, Casey! The Lord Jesus certainly demonstrated the value of building relationships and then using those relationships to draw people to Himself in saving faith. In our fragmented and often isolationist world culture, we need meaningful relationships!

Curtir
bottom of page