24/6 and not 24/7

At the beginning of 2021 I made a decision to create a few different personal boundaries in my life. These new boundaries and operating rules also impacted my ministry and the way I approached the many projects and people that I am involved with. For example, I decided that starting at 5:30p on Friday night I would not answer text messages and emails. And that this release from needing to respond – or, at least, feeling like I was expected to respond – immediately brought with it a definite sense of freedom. Not only did I shut down answering emails and texts on Friday night but continued this shutdown until 9:00a on Monday morning.

This gave me a night with my wife on Friday evening uninterrupted by texts and messages on a variety of apps. And, it gave me all day Saturday to focus on my writing and especially on the teaching I was preparing for Saturday evening when I lead a house church. A whole day from 5:30a to 5:30p without interruption. Of course this improved my attitude and approach to Saturday night’s fellowship time, as well.

And then I took the whole of Sunday as a day away from all expectations. I did not go into my office. I did not answer calls, have appointments, write blogs, answer emails. It was a day for me and a day to refresh my soul and body and to refocus after a busy and often hectic full week. 

This could be regarded as having a Sabbath and I am good with that label. But, my point was to set some boundaries in my life so as to reclaim who I am in the midst of what I do. And, not let the needs and demands of others dictate what I do and who I was becoming. At least for a day or so each week.

We are now well into January of 2022 and I have continued the practice of Friday evening to Monday morning. And I have added an hour a day, Monday to Friday, when I take time out of everything that a busy ministry throws my way and I simply rest, relax, and reflect. Like a mini-sabbath in the midst of a very active and often stressful and long day. 

And, starting this week I have decided to remove all notification sounds – that constant ding and beep that lets me know when a text, email or message has come in on one of the dozen or more ways for people to communicate with me and me with others. Then I am scheduling a time near the end of the work day when I will read all the messages and emails in one time block and respond to the ones that need to hear back from me. And, so I am eliminating the constant small and annoying interruptions that go on all day tempting me to stop what I am doing to see who might be trying to get in touch with me. Those who study these things remind us that can take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to refocus on what we were actively involved in before we respond to an electronic signal that we had received a message, a text, or an email. 

A side benefit is that when speaking face-to-face with someone I no longer hear my phone trying to grab my attention away from the eye-to-eye conversation that I am currently involved in. 

So, I now take a “sabbath” or a full 24 hours away from what I do for a living. And, I am controlling or maybe a better word is managing my time better and allowing fewer constant interruptions by establishing and maintaining boundaries.

I highly recommend that you consider doing the same if you have not already done so. 

QUESTIONS I’M ASKING MYSELF

The other morning I spent some time reading through Isaiah 42 and Isaiah 43…and several questions popped into my mind that I thought might be beneficial if I shared. 

Isaiah 42:1, “Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one who pleases me. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will bring justice to the nations.” 

Question #1 – Am I living a life that fully pleases God? 

I once heard it said, “You can please God and disappoint people, or you can disappoint God and please people…but you can’t do both.” How true that is.

As I look back in life some of my biggest mistakes have been when I’ve… 

Tried to please myself – Seriously, I am probably one of the most selfish people that I know. I can honestly say that 99.9% of the time things have gone wrong it is because of my selfish desires. The Bible says in James 4:1-3 that this attitude is just not a good thing to have– ever. ANYTIME I place what pleases me in front of what pleases God–I screw up. 

Tried to please others – One of the largest temptations a Christian leader faces is the one to try and please everyone. It can’t be done. If you are a leader (or a human being for that matter) SOMEONE is always going to be angry with you…no matter what you do. AND you will also discover that everyone has an opinion as to how you should live your life and handle your ministry. 

(Remember–opinions are like rear ends…everyone has one and MOST of them are incredible large and stink!) 

The verse spoke volumes to me. I literally stopped and prayed when I read it, asking God to show me how to live a life that is FULLY pleasing to Him. 

That’s what I want…more than anything in the world. And in doing so I know I will have to cast some things aside AND be willing to disappoint people. 

How about you–would you be willing to ask God that question? 

#2 – Am I allowing anything to cause me to lose heart? 

We live in a very discouraging world; in fact, I believe that discouragement is one of the number one weapons the enemy will use to try and strike at people–especially Christian leaders. 

And so…if there are things that cause me to lose heart, that take away my joy…then I MUST continually remove them from my life. 

That is why I don’t read certain blogs anymore–they were joy killers. (And for believers out there who says you do it and it doesn’t effect you–you are full of crap, it’s ripping your joy out– STOP IT!) 

I have literally had to decide to not hang out with certain people because, after meeting with them I wanted to set my head on fire and have it put out with a sledgehammer. 

(I know that doesn’t sound very godly…but if everyone would be honest for just a second–we all have people like that in our lives…it’s just that many don’t have the courage to admit it!) 

I can’t allow discouragement to take a hold in my life–Scripture says in Ephesians 4:27 that we should not allow the devil to have a foothold…and one of his STRONGEST footholds on believers and church leaders is discouragement. 

That is why I don’t see hateful and mean spirited emails and letters…all it does is take a shot at my soul. I am open to rebuke…in love, but that never makes it way to me in an unsigned letter or anonymous email. 

What needs to be removed from your life to protect you from discouragement? 

The Bible states: “Sing a new song to the Lord…” Isaiah 42:10 (NLT), 

#3 – What “old song” must I stop singing to make room for something new that God wants to place in my heart? 

Every church leader and planter is going to face this issue one day. 

I have planted a number of churches … and worked closely with many others. And, in each case the traditions that the leaders are now having to attack are the ones that they helped to develop. The ideas that we are now calling “outdated” are the ones that were once a brand new thought in our minds. 

Honestly, there are times when I have been in a meeting and have wanted to halt the conversation because, well, to be honest, I didn’t like what was being discussed. It was tearing away at what I had shed hours of blood, sweat and tears over…but…God has been slowly showing me that I must celebrate the songs that we’ve sang…but I must always be open to the fact that He wants to do new things. 

Is there anything in your church that was once a good idea that isn’t anymore?
We’re hitting this hard…and it’s tough for me…but I know it’s going to be awesome in the end. He REALLY brought this home for me when I read Isaiah 43:16-19… 

“I am the LORD who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smouldering candlewick. But forget all that–it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it…” 

I should CELEBRATE all that God has done…but ANTICIPATE that He is going to do more and be willing to change ANYTHING that He needs to change. 

I’m asking Him to “put new songs” in my heart. Here’s the last one for today…

Isaiah 42:16 (NLT) – “I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way. I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them.” 

#4 – Am I Sincerely Seeking God To Lead Me…Or Am I Trying To Lead Him? 

There have been so many times I’ve taken my thoughts and dreams to God, asking Him to bless them and allow them to come to fruition instead of asking Him what His thoughts and dreams are. 

Here’s a confession–on my best day…I am still nothing more than a blind man who desperately needs the leadership of Jesus in my life if I am going to accomplish anything significant. (John 15:5) 

And the thing I am learning more and more is this–God WANTS to lead me in the right way. He wants me to get things right. He wants me to succeed in life. AND–HE WANTS TO SPEAK TO ME and show me how to get there–but this requires me giving up what I want and asking Him to open my eyes to what He wants. 

This text says that He will lead me along an unfamiliar way. I believe the churches best days are yet to come. I believe God is going to do things we’ve never seen before…but in order for us to get there we have to be willing to walk in unfamiliar ways…and the only way to successfully do that is LISTEN to and FOLLOW the voice of God. 

He’s always speaking…many times though I’ve not been listening. 

He will smooth out the road ahead. He will brighten the darkness…at least that’s what His Word says. So…I’ve got to trust Him with my future. 

This has RADICALLY changed my prayer life. Instead of taking a wish list to Him every day I am simply asking Him to allow me to see as He sees and feel as He feels…THAT IS MESSING ME UP! It’s a process…but I’m giving up my desires and asking Him to put HIS in me. 

I may do a decent job leading my current ministries…but I do a HORRIBLE job when I try to lead God. I’m blind without Him…but with Him I can’t go wrong. 

How about you–are you SERIOUSLY seeking what God wants…or are you trying to get Him to buy into your plans? 

10 REASONS WHY YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO FAIL 

I’ve experienced failures. I’ve watched others fail. I’m guessing you’ve seen plenty as well. This morning I tried to think through some common reasons why failure happens. I’m looking forward to some healthy conversation on this one. With that, here are: 

10 Reasons Why You’re Probably Going to Fail                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

It’s not your passion. If it doesn’t make your heart beat fast or cause your mind to race when you’re trying to sleep, you’re probably doing the wrong thing. 

You don’t have a plan. You need a vision, and you need to identify specific steps to make that vision become reality. That includes a financial plan. (I happen to believe you need direction from God on this.) 

You’re waiting for it to be perfect. Test-drive it. Beta-test that new idea. You’ll fall into the trap of inaction if you think it has to be absolutely right from day one. 

You’re not willing to work hard. Everything worth pursuing in my life has involved discipline and perseverance. 

It’ll outgrow you. Keep learning. Keep growing. But more importantly, build a team of people including leaders that can be who you’re not. 

You’ve had success in the past. I’ve watched organizations hang on to a good idea for too long. Time passes. Momentum fades. It’s risky to let go of the past and jump on the next wave. 

You’re unwilling to stop doing something else. Complexity is easy. Simplicity takes discipline. You can’t build a healthy marriage if you’re unwilling to give up dating other women. Who/what do you need to stop dating? 

You won’t build a team of friends. Anyone can hire from a resume. You need to find people you want to share life with. In the long run, great relationships will get you out of bed in the morning. 

You won’t have the tough conversations. When breakdown happens (and it always does), someone needs to put on their big-boy pants and initiate the difficult conversation that leads to relational healing. 

You’re afraid of failure. When fear consumes you, it will cause you to do stupid things. You’ll let negativity distract you. You’ll embrace the known, and grow comfortable with mediocrity. The more often you fail, though, the more often you’ll find success. 

Here’s the deal. I don’t think this list is just about personal failure. This is about organizational failure (your ministry, your church plant, etc.). This is about business failure (your start up, your turnaround effort, etc.). This is about relational failure (your marriage, your dating relationship, your friendships.). The same principles apply. 

Now it’s your turn. What else should be on the list? What are some other ingredients for failure you’ve experienced or witnessed? What would you add/delete from the list? 

TAG IT 

What’s your tagline? When people ask, “do you know so and so?” and someone says about you, “yeah, he/she is the ______?” What is the fill in the blank? 

I guess the first question is “do you have a tagline?” I have two- “Radical Teacher” and “Prophetic.” That defines what I love to do, and hopefully adds value to those around me. But it is the tag that most people use who know me well, as well as those who are simply acquaintances. 

Let me give a few other examples, strictly based on my opinion: 

John Maxwell- leadership
Don Miller- blue like jazz
Darlene Zschech- worship leader Beth Moore- women’s bible studies Rick Warren- Purpose Driven Mark Batterson- insightful author

You may argue with some of the “tags” I’ve given to these folks, but the point is, whether you like it or not, you are being tagged. 

I believe “branding” and “tagging” are different. Branding is more about identity and emotion, where tagging is more about what I do. Sometimes they overlap, but most of the time they are closely associated but not necessarily the same. 

A tag is the subtitle of your book, if you were writing a biography. A tag is what comes to mind first when people think of you, that split second chance for someone to properly pull your file from their short or long term memory. A tag is no more than 10 words- a quick and concise snapshot of what someone sees you doing. 

So are you creating your own tag, or is someone else creating it for you? 

A Snowy Friday

It has been a good morning as I have been writing blogs and teachings. I enjoy writing as much as I enjoy reading (see “A Snowy Thursday” blog for November 11, 2021). There is not a day goes by that I am not writing something. I am constantly gathering and writing down my thoughts and noting what I am learning as I read. 

It started with daily journaling which I have been doing fairly faithfully for almost four decades. But it is more than that. I take notes from what I am reading. I develop ideas the old fashion way – using a pen and paper. Everything I write starts in my head, goes to paper, and then, most times, is computerized in a formal piece that ends up as a future resource, a blog, an article for the web, a teaching for an upcoming engagement, or simply a personal record of what I have been thinking and working through. 

I like playing with words. I enjoy expressing thoughts and feelings on paper. Every new idea or thought gets jotted down on a note pad, a legal pad, a stickum, or a napkin if I am in a restaurant. And, because I have been doing this for decades there is a non-ending flow of creative thoughts and ideas moving from gut to brain to paper to computer. I collect ideas and quotes from what I am reading. And I always have a book with me (along with a pen, note pad, and highlighters) no matter where I am. You never know when you may have a spare ten or fifteen minute to read and write. 

A number of years ago I had a prophetic word spoken over my life and ministry that commented on the fact that I was to write a book. Several years after that another prophetic word said the same thing except ‘book’ had become’ books.’ I always remember those words – not always fondly but definitely remembered. And I have been jotting down ideas and collecting material over the years as I knew almost immediately upon receiving the words what it was I was to write about. It has been a long season of other ministries and involvements with book writing always taking second or third place – or sitting on the sidelines altogether – but always within view.

On one flight home from Kazakhstan a few years ago I was arguing with the Lord that I really didn’t have time to write a book or books. That I was busy with ministry and my plate was full. I distinctly heard Him say that writing books was also a ministry. I know, not earth-shattering. But for me it was a new thought on an old prophetic word. I would not be taking away from my ministry but simply changing the focus of the ministry slightly to focus more on book writing and a little less on travelling. Maybe you can see where this is going. 

On my last flight before Covid grounded me I felt the Lord telling me that now was the time to write and publish. And, of course, shortly after that along comes Covid and with not being able to travel and minister outside of a small radius around my own city, He was right. Covid-19 has freed up a fair amount of time – time I use to spend in airports, on planes, and ministering in churches. 

Well, I have not been wasting the last almost two years since Covid became a reality. I have been doing a fair amount of daily ministry on line – teaching leadership groups in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Mentoring young men one-on-one in a number of nations. And ministering locally. But that still frees up time to write. And I have been doing just that – more than usual due to extra free time. I have two books currently in the review and edit stages and material gathered and research accomplished for several others books (I like the sound of that word ‘books’ plural after so many years of waiting and watching, collecting and sorting). 

So, I believe I am entering a new season where I will be investing a good portion of each day continuing to write and research as more books bubble up from within. And with Covid-19 appearing to stick around for the coming winter and spring it will be a good time to truly focus on bringing several prophetic words to pass in my life. But, not to stop there but to continue publishing books as they are finished. Time to establish a daily discipline of writing books.

All books – like all material on my web page – will be published as e-books and will be free to download once published. 

A Snowy Thursday

I often joke that I am a bookaholic. I like books. I read books. I collect books. I admit it, I am addicted to books. There are many jokes or cute sayings about people like me.

    • “I’m a bookaholic on the road to recovery. JUST KIDDING. I’m on the road to the bookstore.”
    • “Bookaholic. I have no shelf control.”
    • “Warning — May spontaneously begin talking about books.”
    • “My name is Ralph and I’m a bookaholic.”

Yup! That’s me. I have a daily discipline of reading so that most weeks I can manage to start and finish several normal size books (200 pages). I read early in the morning before most people are up and starting their day. And, I read every late evening before heading to bed. If I have a slower day you will find me at my favourite coffee shop over in the corner reading a book. 

I read widely and not just in my chosen occupation of preacher – teacher. I read history — especially of the nations where I have worked and those I hope to visit. I read theology. I read Bible commentaries. I read biographies and autobiographies of both famous preachers and spiritual heroes as well as politicians, celebrities, Christian martyrs, and those who have or are having an impact and who might be called change agents – like Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Howard Schultz (Starbucks). I read in many areas working to be well-rounded as a person and decently informed in most areas of life. 

I am always on the lookout for a good book. I appreciate it when someone I know and trust recommends a book as I usually follow their recommendation and purchase it. I prefer paper copies to an e-Book but settle for an e-Book if a book I want is no longer in print. Monthly I buy a Starbucks Mocha and spend a few hours browsing through bookshelves at Chapters Indigo here in my city (they are connected to each other – neat eh!). Weekly I browse through new publications on line specifically looking for Canadian authors. And, I keep up with the latest publications in the fields of Bible research, church life, and theology. When it is a holiday season (summer camping, Christmas and New Years) I read novels and have several favourite authors that I actually collect and I always grab one of their most recent novels when opportunity arises.

You can travel the world without leaving the comfort of your own home. Just read books. You can learn so much about human nature. Just read biographies. You can learn from the experiences, mistakes, and failures of others. Just read books. You can be entertained without the mindless watching of endless television shows. Just read books. You can engage your imagination. Just read a book. You can grow, mature, and learn. Read a book. And, you can become an interesting person who always has something to share. Read a book. You want to be a leader – be a reader. If you fail to read regularly, you will fail to lead. 

Some books I just read and enjoy. Other books I mark up, underline, make notes in the margins, highlight. I want to mine all the knowledge and wealth of information and insights that I can. A novel I just read without a pen or highlighter in my hand. If a book will not be read again or is not part of a set or collection then I give it away finding a new home for it. The house is not big enough to store all the books I read. If I start a book and it does not engage me right away I put it down and find another book that will grab my attention. Years later I may pick up that book a second time and it will speak to me. If not, two strikes and its out. I give it away. 

In my study, which is covered in overflowing bookshelves, you will find several piles of books which are currently being read or some that are being stockpiled for future reading projects. In my office there are shelves overflowing with books. In the bedroom floor to ceiling bookshelves full and running over. In the basement meeting room floor to ceiling bookcases along one complete long wall which runs almost the full length of the basement – all full of books that have been read. Did I mention that I am a bookaholic. 

Today we are in the midst of a two day snow event – the first good snowfall of the season – if there is really anything good about cold and snow. So, I have a new book to start this afternoon (after shovelling what snow has already fallen) with a warm blanket over my knees and feet and a small fire in the wood stove in my office. A few hours of doing one of my most favourite things. Reading a good book. 

So, if you will excuse me I hear a book calling my name. 

Sometimes I Forget to Celebrate

Sometimes I Forget to Celebrate

I am a task oriented person and so I am always working towards the next thing that needs to be done, the next crisis to manage, the next person to connect with

As a result I don’t tend to look back at what has been accomplished and how far I might have come on the journey

I don’t tend to celebrate progress because I don’t often pause to notice it

I don’t think of landmark events in life and, if I do, I don’t think to celebrate

I am not a big fan of the fuss made over birthdays and anniversaries

Sometimes I Forget to Celebrate….

The three exception regarding celebrating are: Read more

What If…

The Bible states:

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

TPT “For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control.”

NLT “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

If this is true – and it is – why then do so many of us find ourselves consumed at times with fear? I mean, it’s clear that what God has given us is power, love, and a sound mind. So, something needs to change. It seems we need to do more than acknowledge the verse – we need to apply and live the truth of the verse

Fear shows up under many different names

      • Anxiety
      • Worry
      • Dread
      • Foreboding
      • Apprehension
      • Fright
      • Consternation
      • Panic
      • Trepidation

Fear does not have to be rational or reasonable.  In fact, most often fear in our life is very irrational, even silly 

If you are always worried — always anxious —  always overwhelmed — living paralyzed — then you need to realize this important truth

Fear comes from our enemy

He lobs smoke bombs at us constantly — each time hoping that we’ll mistake it for a live grenade

If your life is polluted by fear, it is time to clear the smoke and take a breath of fresh air

People often say that fear is the opposite of faith

I respectfully disagree

Fear actually relies on faith — it’s simply faith in the wrong things. Fear is placing your faith in “What-ifs” rather than in “God is.” Fear is allowing your imagination to wander down the long dark alley of possibilities and get mugged every couple of steps. Fear is being taken hostage by all of your “what-ifs” instead of allowing “God is” to set you free.

Jesus spoke about worry, angst, and anxiety all of which are simply others words for “fear.” 

Listen to what Jesus said:

In Matthew 6:27 Jesus makes it clear how much good worry and angst does us…

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (NLT)

“So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life?” (TPT)

Obviously, the answer is “no!” And yet we continue to live with worry, anxiety, and the resulting fear.

Thus we need to face the fact that often we know a Bible verse such as the one we are looking at but we don’t really “KNOW” the truth of the verse. We have not applied the verse to our daily lives. We have not thought through the implications of the verse and how the truths of the verse should bring change – needed change – to our personal, every day lives. 

Jesus said that “the truth will set us free” but only if we apply the truth to our lives. There is knowing and then KNOWING. It is time to take seriously the truth of this verse as we are now living in the midst of a continuing pandemic which does not appear to be going anywhere fast. 

And, in the midst of this pandemic many people are living in and with fear.

Fear of the loss of a loved one or a close relationship

Fear of financial loss – job loss

Fear of getting sick

Fear of running out of money

Fear of the unknown

Fear of change 

So, we can help them to deal with this uncertainty and fear but only if we have first applied the truths of this verse to our own lives and are successfully overcoming fear, worry, and anxiety in our own lives.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

 

Thoughts on Psalm 23

I read this the other day and thought it needed sharing…

 

Thoughts on Psalm 23

Psalm 23:4 is familiar to virtually every Christian:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

I’ve remixed Psalm 23:4 to help you reflect on what the Lord is speaking to you during your crisis:

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of virus, I will fear no evil.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of job loss, I will fear no evil.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of separation, I will fear no evil.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of illness, I will fear no evil.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of child rebellion, I will fear no evil.

(Insert a description of your own calamity for the word death in Psalm 23:4).

Why are the above statements true?

Because You, O Lord, are with me.

Notice: We walk through the valley. We don’t escape it, but it’s not our destination.

To get through the valley we have to go through the valley.

We don’t run through it, either. It’s a walk, not a sprint.

It’s a slow, gradual process. But it will pass.

Note too: A shadow can’t hurt you.

So acknowledge the shadow. It’s real. Don’t deny it.

But don’t mistake the size of the shadow for the size of the object. Shadows always make objects appear bigger than they really are.

Also, every time you see a shadow, there’s a light nearby. So turn your back on the shadow and turn towards the light. That’s where we can be fearless.

Another insight: Water is found in the valley, not on the mountaintop. Don’t miss those opportunities for refreshment along the way.

Finally, as you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of death, realize that there is a Lily of the valley (Song of Solomon 2:1)

That is a reference to your Lord and Saviour. 

From: “Hang On, Let Go” by Frank Viola (pages 125-127)

Loving Difficult People – Part Four

Perhaps you have recognized someone you know in each of these caricatures we have been looking at. Or maybe you’re dealing with a person so difficult, he is in a category all by himself. Take heart; there are certain general rules which you can put into practice that will enable you to work more effectively with problem people.

1> Love them unconditionally.

2> Ask God for wisdom in working with them.

3> Stay emotionally healthy yourself.

4> Set and maintain proper personal boundaries with the person.

5> Be honest with God, yourself, and them.

The Process of Relationships

It’s important to understand the process of relationships; specifically the stages of a relational breakdown. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

  • The Honeymoon stage is the one we begin with. We usually have an unrealistic view of the relationship at this point. Obviously, what attracts people to each other, whether it be a business relationship, a friendship, or a romance are their positive qualities. The excitement of finding someone who meets some need in our lives tends to temporarily blind us to their negative traits.
  • Specific irritation is the stage where we begin to open our eyes and see things we don’t like. Here we develop a memory bank of these negative traits. But then we also see the relationship in a more realistic light. If you look back at the early weeks of your marriage or of a new job, you will probably recall the first incident that shook you into reality — the time you realized the honeymoon was over.
  • General discomfort should cause us to deal with the specific irritations that have piled up in our memory banks. We become more open, honest, and transparent about telling someone why they are making us uncomfortable.
  • Try harder stage of development where we raise our energy level to make a success of the relationship. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s very hard to separate the problem from the person.
  • Exhaustion often becomes a serious problem in a relationship because we are too tired to try any longer. We tend to throw up our hands and quit at this crucial point. 
  • Separation is the final stage. By this time the relationship has usually been terminated with little hope of restoration. Usually, by the time this happens we are too numb to even care or hurt.

The series of stages does not have to be completed; the cycle can be broken. Most often, if the process is reversed, it happens during the stage of general discomfort. At that point it is still possible to make the decision to accept what you don’t like about a person and to love that person unconditionally. As you try harder to overlook a person’s faults, it becomes easier to again focus your attention on his or her positive traits.

Problems in Relationships

In most relationship it is inevitable that at some point a confrontation will take place. At this crisis point it’s very important to approach the offending party prepared with the right attitude. If a confrontation is handled correctly, it can actually strengthen the relationship. If not, it can bring an abrupt, unhappy end to the relationship. In order for this not to happen, follow these six guidelines:

1> Bring in principle persons involved in the conflict. Experience has taught me that unless all persons involved come together, the whole story will never be pieced together accurately.

2> Line up the facts. Relying on hearsay evidence or “general impressions” will only invite emotion-laden rebuttals and, possibly, resentful counterattacks.

3> Never reprimand while angry. Make sure you are in control of your emotions. The angrier you are, the less objective you’ll be — and the less effective you will be in dealing with the problem or issue. It’s prudent to delay a confrontation until you’ve coolly asked yourself two questions: Could I have contributed to the problem? Were there mitigating circumstances I’m overlooking

4> Be precise about the offense. Let the person know exactly what the problem is. Don’t try to soften the blow by hemming and hawing or refusing to cough up the details. 

5> Get the other person’s side of the story. Always give the other person the chance to explain what happened and why they behaved as they did. There may be extenuating circumstances. Sometimes, you may even be a part of them. 

6> Don’t harbour a grudge. Once you have handled the issue, don’t carry around hostilities or unforgiveness. Let that person know you consider the problem a closed book and act accordingly.

 Our ultimate goal in dealing with relational problems should be to present the truth in such a way as to build and strengthen the relationship, not destroy it. Unfortunately, this cannot always be accomplished. If a relationship cannot stand an honest face-to-face encounter, then it probably is not a healthy relationship. In some cases, ending the relationship is the only solution, but this should be the last choice.