One of the most important things to remember is that the quality of your life will always be determined by the quality of your relationships. Learn to handle relationships well and they will add no end of blessing to your life. When they’re handled badly, that’s another story altogether! I don’t want to focus so much on how to handle relationships when they go wrong (that’s probably worth another blog some day!). Actually, the point of this blog post is to encourage us not to get the the point where relationships turn sour.

Solid relationships need to be built. Building takes time. It requires patience, grace and a large dose of humility. However, they’re totally worth it.

So how can we build GREAT friendships? Here are 5 thoughts…

1) Take genuine interest in people

You can tell a lot more about a person by the questions they ask than the statements they make. Healthy relationships are formed in the atmosphere of good questions. It’s so important to take genuine interest in other people. What makes them tick? What are they passionate about? What are they believing for in life? How can you encourage them?

Unhealthy relationships are what I call ‘one way street’ friendships. In other words, the conversation is one way traffic which focuses only on one person. It’s all about them, what they’re going through, what they’re struggling with, what they’re believing for in life. Hey whatever you do, don’t be THAT person who only ever talks about yourself and never asks questions. This is just not healthy. Take genuine interest in other people. Make this your business. People are brilliant. This is what helps build healthy relationships.

2) Manage Your Expectations

Has anyone ever let you down? Sure they have. Ok…but have you ever let anyone else down? Sure you have! We all have the ability to both be disappointed and also create disappointment too. In healthy relationships, expectations are managed. We settle in our heart that even the best person will at some point mess up. When we manage this expectation, it actually helps our relationships. Nobody deserves 100% of our expectation apart from God himself. Manage your expectations well and it will keep you sane!

3) Make Time For People

The words ‘I’m too busy’ are always an excuse. Hang on…did I just say that? Yes I did. Let me say it again. The words ‘I’m too busy’ are ALWAYS an excuse. In the Junction Church, we have some business people who have crazy schedules and unbelievably high pressured jobs. Yet I have observed how the busiest people will always make time for what they believe in. They just make it work.

This is like relationships. For them to work, we need to be intentional about making them happen rather than just hoping for the best they’ll be ok. Make time for church. Make time for people. Make time to BUILD relationships. In the end, your relationships determine the quality of your life. They’re REALLY important. So make time to build them!

4) Be Vulnerable

The healthiest relationships are the one’s built on fault lines of weakness. Let’s face it, nobody is THAT good…right? Vulnerability doesn’t mean a friendship that’s built on whining, whinging & pity parties. They’re never helpful. I mean relationships built on transparency and integrity – never shying away from the flaws in our lives. This is not about pointing an accusing finger at all the stuff you don’t like about the person you’re talking to. Nor is it about discussing other people who aren’t even in the conversation (this is actually called GOSSIP!).

Vulnerability is about being open enough to say where YOU’VE messed up, when you’re struggling, when you’ve made mistakes. It’s amazing how a touch of humility and vulnerability can enhance a relationship and turn it from good to great. It takes time and trust. But it’s totally worth it.

5) Laugh…a LOT

Finally, great relationships are built on great laughter. People who laugh together stay together. So create some stories. Do some crazy stuff (ok…not too crazy!!). Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be sure not to take everything personally too. Learn the art of laughter. ‘Laughter is like medicine to the soul’ – it brings healing, life and vitality to every friendship.

This is the stuff that GREAT relationships are built on!

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