It’s an obvious fact that not everyone gets along with everyone else. I’m sure you’ve had the experience of not liking a particular person, and you may keep out of their way.
You sense they don’t like you or, if you’re being honest, you don’t especially like them. It’s an old problem that has plagued mankind for centuries. But as a Christian, I believe God made us in such a way that we need and depend on others. Building a lasting relationship with others is important to our own happiness.
Developing People Skills
There is no doubt that we need to learn how to relate with others. That’s what life is all about—and it’s called ‘people skills’. Unless you live on an isolated island somewhere, you will be with or live near others, and there’s not much you can do to avoid that. Back in 1937 (a long time ago) Dale Carnegie wrote a best seller How to win friends and influence people, offering skills for life.
The book is based on the experiences of the students of Dale Carnegie who experimented with ideas to find out what worked and what did not. His theme is basically: treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. By following this rule using praise, appreciation and encouragement you will be rewarded. One of the most basic human desires is to feel important, which is why this method is certain to work.
No-one likes to be ignored or disregarded. I think most of us want to get along with others—we don’t want to be continually arguing or living in conflict. It gets you down after a while—we are social creatures who need others, even if you say you prefer to be on your own. Why are so many people unable to get along with others?
Selfishness Is Part Of Our Human Nature
Psychologists have written books to explain the reasons and you can buy them in any good bookstore, but they often fail to examine the Bible for the answers. The fundamental cause is, of course, human nature. We are all different, but we have a large inbuilt streak called ‘selfishness’. We want our own way, even if it means asking someone to get out of our way.
The Bible says that the first and great commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind; the second great commandment is to love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-39). In Matthew 7:12 Jesus said, “Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the law and the Prophets are all about”. You can be miserable and not have anyone like you!
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This recipe is guaranteed to make you miserable and lonely (Daily Walk , June 29, 1993):
- Think and talk about yourself.
- Use ‘I’ as often as possible. Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others.
- Listen greedily to what people say about you.
- Expect to be appreciated.
- Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious.
- Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive a criticism.
- Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect.
- Demand agreement with your own views on everything.
- Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors shown them.
- Never forget a service you have rendered.
- Shirk your duties if you can. Do as little as possible for others.
But if you want a full and satisfying life, build friendships with others. There is no greater compliment than to have someone consider you a friend. Do you know that Jesus—our Captain and High Priest—wants us to be his friends? In John 15:14 Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do whatever I ask you”.
Determine to work on your people skills. Be outgoing, show kindness and invite others to share in experiences that could help bond you together as friends. In that way you won’t feel a sense of isolation. You can get along with people—although not with everyone—but it takes effort and work. Anyone can walk away from a difficult situation or ignore relationships, but it takes a peacemaker and a leader to develop friends.
It takes effort to develop friendships
Why don’t you challenge yourself to see how well you can get along with others in your world? Proverbs 18:24 says, “Some friends don’t help, but a true friend is closer than your own family”. The Bible says in 1 John 4:7 says, “We must love each other. Love comes from God”. Love is an outgoing relationship, the opposite of selfishness. If you want to be lonely all your life, just focus continually on yourself. So then:
• Think the best, not the worst. Give people a chance by getting to know them as individuals. It’s easy to discount someone of another race or ethnic origin, Don’t judge someone until you get to know him or her. You will be surprised how people can be different from what you imagined.
• Learn to be generous. Giving is a way of life, and little gifts of listening, helping and showing concern go a long, long way in relationships. The Bible says, “What is desired in a man is kindness” (Proverbs 19:22 NKJV) . Give a compliment, a note or a small gift. Sharing with someone can be the door that opens an opportunity to get to know another person at a deeper level.
Prayer: Dear God, we see people who are sad, forlorn, lonely; Lord, make us—make me—a beacon of light to shine your love.