We’ve heard it said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Relationships are the same way. The strength of a relationship is only as strong as the people in it. Each of us brings to a relationship whatever strength or weakness we have.

JAMES 3:17 – “You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”

Here are three keys to being a strong link and forging unbreakable relationships with other people.

First, be aware of and manage fear. We all wrestle with some kind of internal fear, the voice inside our head that negatively affects our relationships when we act on it.

Some people are afraid of being taken advantage of. When someone invites them to dinner, the internal chatter starts. “What does she want from me? What is he going sell me?” He or she fears being manipulated, and keep people and opportunities away.

Other people are afraid of rejection. “What are they thinking about me? Should I say something or will it sound goofy? I don’t think they like me. They don’t notice me.” Those who are highly social talk a lot, but are afraid of being misunderstood. We need to remember the words of Timothy, that God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7).

Criticism of work or performance is something that people can fear. The internal chatter says they don’t measure up. These people are driven toward being a perfectionist because they are afraid of not performing well, of failing.

Another fear is that people are afraid of losing our financial or emotional security. Imagine a company with layoffs on the horizon. An insecure individual will pester his boss, creating tension-filled, awkward conversations, trying to grab some sort of security. Instead, he creates a needy, nagging persona that will backfire.

Isaiah chapter 41, verses 10 and 13 say: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand ... For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Second, we need to clarify the facts. Fear leads to negative assumptions. If the assumptions are inaccurate, an otherwise healthy relationship is derailed. People start reading between the lines, and come to their own conclusions. Research shows that our assumptions usually are wrong, and sometimes are better ignored even if they are right.

When clarifying the facts, clarify the positive as well as the negative. If we’re going to assume things, why not assume the best? How many will change their assumptions? Could this be a reason that relationships don’t improve?

And third, we need to amplify our faith. Fear and faith don’t mix, like oil and water. In the same way that the voice of fear causes a flow of negative energy that harms relationships, the voice of faith will lead to a flow of positive energy that builds relationships.

Fear locks people down relationally. Faith frees people up to live, love, expect good things, and believe the best about people. You can be a strong link by trusting people, living a committed life, and being confident.


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