Many people are looking for lasting relationships with others—and I certainly don’t mean just the romantic type. People usually look for companionship, loyalty, love and intimacy with those they value the most. However, there are also many people who can’t seem to make a certain relationship or relationships last very long, and they wonder why. Chances are they are missing one or more of these “ingredients” to having a lasting relationship. The following characteristics are personal qualities that both parties must possess or strive to have for the other in order to make the relationship work:
- Perseverance—I believe one of most important qualities to have that will make any type of relationship last is perseverance. Perseverance means being willing to “tough-it-out” in the difficult times of the relationship and to not give up on the other person. I have seen too many times that when one person offends another, there is such disgust for the other that one or both parties are not willing to continue with the relationship. They then either avoid each other, or the offending party tries to retaliate by slandering or physically attacking the person that hurt them. I have made similar mistakes with people, from the people I have worked with to my classmates when I was still in school. However, several years ago, I had so many difficulties with a few people at work that I essentially had asked God to remove them from my life. While I may not have used those exact words, what I meant was essentially that. However, God wanted to teach me the principle of perseverance in order so I could learn from these people, so God refused to remove them from my presence. So, at least weekly, if not daily, I had some type of interaction with them—both good and bad. However, when I was forced to interact with these people, eventually I was forced to deal with the issues that were creating a hedge between the other people and me. So, after some time, we did, and the relationship was even stronger than it was before we started having problems! I tell this story, not to rehash old wounds, but to teach others to deal with their relational issues and not give up so easily on other people.
- Love—Another essential quality to have that will make any type of relationship have is love. In order to truly have this kind of quality in a relationship, we must first be willing to be intentionally kind to the other person. One way to do this is to see what the other person’s needs are, and find ways we can help them. We must put aside our selfish desires, and do what is best for the other person. For instance, if someone at work is overwhelmed by the amount of returns in their department that they are assigned to, and I am done early with my area, in order to really love them, I must be willing to help them out when they need it. Finally, we must be willing to be faithful and loyal to the other person. This means we will refuse to gossip about the other person, or betray him or her in any other way. They don’t have to be number one in our lives, but they do have to feel loved and valued by you.
- Sacrifice—Another quality that is essential to make a relationship last is sacrifice. When one or both parties are not willing to sometimes give up what they want for the other, the relationship will never last. This involves putting the other person’s needs ahead of their own. A good example of someone laying down their life in order to save the other person’s. Sacrifice is basically the willingness to lose something for the betterment of another. For instance, many mothers are willing to sacrifice time for refreshment and relaxation so that their children can spend time with them or so that she can drive them to extracurricular activities, which they can enjoy with their friends. Sometimes when my managers are feeling overwhelmed, I am willing to sacrifice my time so that they have less on their plate, so to speak.
- Humility—I believe selfishness and its cousin, pride, are the top reasons why some relationships don’t last very long. However, when we are willing to, for example, admit and confess our faults to others, I believe our relationships will last longer because then they will know that we are not trying to pretend we are any better than they are and that we are willing to fix what is wrong or broken within us. I read somewhere that Mark Hall (source: unknown) from Casting Crowns once said, “It does not bother the world that we sin, but it bothers them when we act like we don’t.” Everyone sins. Everyone makes mistakes. The first step to remedy it is to admit that we were wrong. Some people may think that admitting wrongdoing is “weak.” Nothing could be further from the truth. It often takes great strength and acting against every grain of prideful being to admit where we were wrong. Another part of humility is valuing another person above ourselves. This often includes sacrifice, but it also comprises of love, persevering, and caring about the other person and their needs.
When we never give up on someone, they will see that we are there for them through the long haul. When we love someone with all of our being, the people who were are in relationships with will feel valued. When we are willing to die to self in order to see another’s needs met, we tell these people that we really care about and for them. When we are humble and willing to admit our faults, they will see that it is safe to open up about their faults without feeling judged and condemned by you because they will know that you don’t think lowly of them. I strongly believe that if we follow these characteristics, we will have more lasting relationships and change the world around us for the better.