Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17 ESV

The entire human experience revolves around relationships. Outside of our own physical and emotional health, a meaningful connection to other believers helps us thrive.

Yet, relationships are often one aspect of life that we struggle with the most. Whether due to a fear of being vulnerable, a painful past, a lack of self-confidence, or a perception that we’re just too busy, we often fail to be intentional about the people in our lives.

Here are four directives to improve the overall quality and integrity of your relationships:

We must nurture.

Our close friends and family are the relationships we’ll carry with us for a lifetime. Never take them for granted. That sounds obvious, but we’ve all been guilty of treating those closest to us more poorly than they’ve deserved at times. Look for opportunities to demonstrate your love and affection by genuinely investing your time, attention, and energy into these relationships (Romans 12:9–10). Continually nurture them. Don’t put it off until there’s a problem.

We must restore.

Everyone, at some point, has been hurt by someone close to them. However, the best relationships are those that have allowed restoration. Choosing to forgive, or allowing yourself to be forgiven, isn’t always easy. Yet, when we lean on our faith, the Holy Spirit will give us the strength and words we need. If there’s a broken relationship in your life that you’d like to see restored, do it today. Because the pain of an unresolved hurt is far greater than the discomfort required to resolve it. (Matthew 18:15)

We must eliminate.

Our relationships set us up for success or failure, impact our decisions, and influence how we treat others. With this in mind, it’s wise to take stock of our existing relationships from time to time. Are you surrounded by anyone who negatively influences you? Do you have active relationships that are unhealthy, unwise, or even unholy? In these cases, if these people are not willing to grow with you, then they’re most likely holding you back. You should consider kindly and gracefully eliminating them from your circle (2 Corinthians 6:14).

We must initiate.

Many of us are what society would classify as being shy, or introverted. Others may be holding onto a past hurt that prevents us from stepping out. Whatever the reason, we can find strength in Christ to move beyond our fear (Philippians 4:13). Any doubts you may be holding onto have been put there by Satan himself. He wants you to be lonely and afraid. But God’s plans for you involve being strengthened and uplifted in community with other believers—daily (Jeremiah 29:11).

What are some potential meaningful relationships that you may not be experiencing? Have you found roots in a local church? Do you belong to a small group? Most importantly, do you have a relationship with Christ?


Today’s author: Mark Henderson—Founder of The Inspired Legacy

Mark is a creative professional with more than 20 years experience in the fields of web design and advertising. He also serves as the chief content officer at The Inspired Legacy, an online ministry dedicated to shining a light on God’s gift of parenthood. The organization aims to inspire and equip fathers to boldly lead their families, love their kids unconditionally, and leave a legacy of grown children that carry on these same traditions. Mark resides in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with his wife, Kimberly. Together, they have three children, two girls, and one boy.