By Marian Amo

“Great Relationships take work”. That’s what I hear from every married couple, ministry leaders, and business executives. It’s what I tell countless people as well when they inquire about the meaningful relationships in my life. But what exactly is “the work” that makes for a great relationship?

In order to know how much effort to put into creating something, it’s important to know what you want the final creation to be. So knowing your destination is the first step on the path there. Therefore, in order to know what kind of work is required for a great relationship (whether it’s in your family, friendships, marriage, or vocation), we have to understand what a great relationship looks like.

Jesus modeled all the elements of a great relationship with his disciples.

Yet his perfection in grace and truth did not make his disciples fully believe in him nor love him more until after his resurrection. It’s not perfection that creates a great and lasting relationship. It’s mutual engagement; two people both willing to learn how to love one another.

Jesus was open, honest and transparent in his communication with the disciples. Jesus often told the disciples things that were to occur. He told the truth about the hardships they would face and was transparent about his need for them to pray at the Garden of Gethsemane. He was open with Peter in several moments of confrontation, unafraid to correct, yet loving and kind through it all.

Jesus was gracious and forgiving, ready to serve the needs of others not seeking out his own self-centered interests. When we look at how Jesus treated his disciples we see that “the work” we must do in establishing great relationships that will grow is simply learning to serve one another out of a place of sincerity and security.

Sincerity in our service means our kindness comes from a place of genuine good will not covering up hidden agendas, ill-will and jealousy. Security in our service means we have a deep, unshakable trust in our identity in Christ as Sons and Daughters, therefore we can pour out generously on others because we know God has our needs covered.

It’s the lack of trust in the goodness of God to be able to carry the weight and consequences of sin and a faulty understanding of one’s adoption in Christ that makes many people live in survival mode, always critical and ready to compete for God’s blessing. When we understand who we are in Christ, we are no longer bound by the fear of man nor of the need to force people to give us what only God can.

The work that great relationships require begins with our own relationship with Christ. Let’s learn to receive His love so we can learn how to love others.