rebelling against low expectations

5 Tools For Building Healthy Relationships


In case you missed it, check out Part 1 of Christopher’s post, “One Goal Every Teen Should Set For the Summer” here.

This summer we’re building healthy relationships, because we realize the best investment of our time and energy is in relationships.

Now, for some of us–especially us guys–all this relationship talk sounds kind of mushy. We are builders and protectors–give us something we can get our hands on!

Well, that’s exactly what I have for you today.

If you’re ready for some hands-on material you can take home and start building stuff with, this article is for you.

Here are five tools to build healthy relationships.

Tool #1: Live honestly.

In an age where you could literally create any identity you want for yourself online, it requires even greater diligence to live honestly.

Without honesty you can’t have intimacy. Not with God, not with your spouse, not with your friends.

You can only be loved as deeply as you are known.

This is extremely hard because it takes tremendous vulnerability. We don’t like vulnerability because it is, by definition, risky. But if we want healthy relationships–the stuff of meaningful lives–we have to risk vulnerability.

If you choose to live honestly, you will likely experience some pain, possibly rejection, gossip, or slander. The idea isn’t to carelessly trust your story with any old joe, but to live truly from your heart without deception or facades.

Let me explain.

The first step to living honestly is removing the masks we hide behind to protect ourselves.

For example, at some point when I was a child, I believed the lie people wouldn’t accept the personality God gave me. I was quaint and obnoxious–not friend material.

Therefore, I developed tricks to perform whenever I sensed people weren’t impressed by me. Cool tricks like cracking jokes or engaging in spiritual conversation. These things aren’t bad, but I tend to use them to get people to like me. Rather than offering the true Chris (whether funny or spiritual), I offered a “Chris” I knew people will like.

Being funny or spiritual, then, became a mask to protect myself from rejection. But it’s lonely behind a mask. Nobody knows you, and thus, nobody can actually love you.

You can only be loved as deeply as you are known.

Tool #2: Build with integrity.

Integrity is really an extension of honesty. Integrity means consistency, sound structure, and being “whole,” not divided.

When a building lacks integrity, it lacks soundness and consistency–it’s in danger of collapsing.

If who you are on the inside is different than who you are on the outside, you’ll feel torn and divided, as if you’re about to collapse emotionally.

Again, strive towards honest consistency. Test your structure to see if it lacks soundness. If it does, reinforce it with Truth. Living in the Truth will resolve the feeling of being torn inside.

After all, Jesus did say “The Truth shall set you free.”

Tool #3: Value privacy.

There are two aspects of privacy: the privacy of others and the privacy of your relationships with individuals.

First, the privacy of others.

Have you ever found out that people are gossiping about you? That people are spreading hurtful rumors about you?

Gossip is born when people don’t respect each other’s privacy. Information about other people should be protected and handled with care. If it is necessary to divulge information it should always be done carefully and with honor.

Gossip occurs when private information is passed around like communion bread: Ripped apart, misunderstood, and chewed by everybody.

Where gossip is shared, intimacy is killed. Because you can’t trust a gossip.

If you want to have healthy relationships, you have to honor everyone’s privacy.

Second, the privacy of individual relationships.

In order for intimacy to exist, there needs to be privacy. The world just doesn’t deserve to know about some things. When we share everything we do in private, we destroy intimacy.

Intimacy is built on common experiences shared by individuals. We should enjoy the private experiences we have with our friends. It’s hard to explain, but there is something sacred about relationships and when those relationships are paraded all over social media, it loses its sanctity.

Tool #4: Follow the instructions.

Relationships are organic in nature. In other words, they are alive and dynamic. But just like nature follows laws we can study and uphold, so, too, relationships follow laws we can study and uphold.

We call this God’s moral law. When we break God’s moral laws, our relationships decay and fall apart. When we follow them, relationships are strong and fulfilling.

Unfortunately, our relationships in this life will never be perfect. Just like the rest of the world, they will tend toward decay and chaos unless we intentionally renew them according to God’s instruction.

Tool #5: Walk humbly.

I struggle to be humble. Multiple people have told me that I run over other’s ideas, as if I can never be wrong. It’s probably true, though not because I consciously devalue them–I don’t think of myself as never wrong.

It’s true because I get passionate about things and don’t think about the fact that people might feel trampled.

I share this because it is a blind-spot for me, and might be for you, too. I don’t see it, because I know my heart and deep insecurities: I don’t think of myself as proud.

And yet I am.

Proud people don’t think of themselves as proud.

Last year, my friend Andrew and I went out for coffee and did one of the hardest things we’ve ever done. We pointed out the areas where we saw each other’s pride. It wasn’t something we enjoyed–it certainly isn’t something we do regularly. But it was worth it.

We won’t find our blind-spots on our own. We need others to point them out.

The hardest part? Not defending myself, because there’s always a “legitimate reason” for my pride. The greatest irony? It took humility to point out my friend’s pride.

Work on killing your pride and walking in humility and your relationships will flourish.

What tools have you used to build strong relationships? Are there any I missed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Photo courtesy of Mr. G.C. and Flickr Creative Commons.


About the author

Christopher Witmer

is the 22-year-old Editor-in-Chief for Originally from Northern Minnesota, he lives with his family in Los Angeles where they moved to plant inner-city churches. He loves sports, travel, and music, but his passion is writing for God and lifting high the name of Jesus through his writing.

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →