Not Giving Up: The Power of Relationship

The Power of Relationship

I don’t have statistics, but people don’t usually implode or explode and take a dramatic exit stage left in life when they are vitally connected and embraced in loving, affirming, life-giving relationships. But when you try to believe you have great worth against overwhelming life experience to the contrary, you become schizophrenic, in a sense. If people treat you like trash for long enough, you are likely to believe it and the climb out of the rubbish heap into the light of day is not easy.

Yesterday I went to hear Josh McDowell, well-known author and speaker with Campus Crusade, speak to a group of leaders about the need to build relationships with young people if we want them to accept our values and follow our beliefs. From birth, we are wired for relationship. Parent to child, husband to wife, friend to friend, colleague to colleague, we don’t get very far or even survive without relationship and the quality of our relationships should always come before what we want to accomplish in life.

He gave seven principles of building relationships with our children or youth. As I went for a run in the park in Kiev later that day, I began to think about how these principles extend into our adult lives. We have to receive these principles for ourselves and let go of the lack or negatives we have experienced relationally so we can give to the young people who need us so much and model our values as an example for them to follow. (Hint: We can receive it from God and find healthy relationships.) My love language must be motion, because I have some of the most refreshing, insightful moments while I am running or just after.

Here are his seven principles with a few of my comments:

1. Affirmation
Affirming the emotions of another person gives a sense of authenticity to what they are experiencing and builds a bridge. If someone is sad, share their sorrow. If someone is happy, share their joy. (Rom.12:15)

2. Acceptance
Unconditional acceptance gives a sense of security. A performance-based home will not experience the joy intended. The child will think: “If I don’t perform, I will not be accepted.” Don’t acknowledge their success as much as their effort. Don’t acknowledge their effort as much as their being.

3. Appreciation
Catch children doing things right and express appreciation as the overall principle instead of catching them doing something wrong and disciplining them. You lose the right to discipline when it is outside of relationship.

4. Availability
When you stop what you are doing and take time for them, this shows them they are important.

5. Affection
When a young person receives healthy affection they are less likely to seek the wrong kind of relationship.

6. Approach/ Step into your child’s world
Be a part of their world, their music, their interests and take the time to connect with them there.

7. Accountability
This comes with relationship. Rules without relationship leads to rebellion.

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