Bible Reading Made Easy

How to Improve Terrible Interpersonal Relationships

The lost lamb:

Hello everyone! I have a question, hoping you can help me. I’m a pushy person with a bad temper. When interacting with others, if they don’t do things according to what I’ve said, I can’t stop myself from getting angry and chiding them. Consequently, they are unhappy with me and even avoid me; my relationship with others, especially with my mother-in-law, is embarrassing and becoming more and more estranged. Faced with this, I feel very upset. Every time I think of the teaching of the Lord Jesus, “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50), I feel distressed, for I can’t live out His words. I do want to improve my relationships with others, but I have no idea what to do. Do you have any suggestions? Please gimme a hand.

Poster: The lost lamb

Girl is working

Response:

Chen Yu: As the saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” When you contact with others, you just speak little and do much. As to dealing with your mother-in-law, you can live separately and then there will be no more conflict.

Hu Qiang: The contemporary society advocates “Nice guys finish last,” so no matter whom we deal with, we have to be pushy; as long as we’re delighted to our satisfaction and not taken advantage of, who cares if our relationships with others are estranged. This is called “Bully others instead of being bullied.”

Zheng Xin: Well, I don’t think so. As Christians, we should obey the Lord’s teachings and put His words into practice; when interacting with others, we should live out a normal humanity and get along with them, which is the manner a Christian should have; only in this way can we be after God’s will. If others keep us at a distance, that means our living out isn’t in accordance with the Lord’s will. We must solve this problem in time. Otherwise, we’ll be loathed by the Lord.

Sisi: I agree with you. The Lord Jesus taught us that we should be the light and the salt of the earth, and live in harmony with others. As Christians, we should conduct ourselves in accordance with the Lord’s requirements. But sometimes I, just like The lost lamb, require others to listen to me, and get angry with them, which causes my family and colleagues to either avoid me or be cautious when interacting with me. I hate my bad temper, feeling sorry about acting that way, and I also want to improve my interpersonal relationships, but I don’t know what to do. Now that The lost lamb has brought up this issue, let’s discuss it together.

Sister Yang: Hello everyone! Glad to meet you here. Your discussion reminds me that I once had the same problem as you do. When interacting with others, I spoke from a position higher than them, and forced my own opinions upon them, requiring them to act according to my will; if they didn’t do as I had told them to, I would lose my temper. Just like you, I also attributed this to my bad temper. Later, on a gospel website, I hit upon a passage of words in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life. Only then did I realize that bad temper is just what we reveal outwardly, not the basic cause. Actually, the basic cause is our arrogant disposition.

The lost lamb: Our arrogant disposition? What does this mean? Can you explain it in more details?

Sisi: Yeah, please tell us!

Zheng Xin: I also want to know how the Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life says.

Sister Yang: Ok, I’m glad to share it with you. The Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life says: “Since the wildly arrogant man is puffed up with conceit and looks down his nose at others, he is not friendly to others and is unable to treat others as equals, and he can never live in harmony with other people. … The man with a wildly arrogant disposition always thinks that he stands head and shoulders above all others and is unwilling to be under the control of others, rather he wants to control other people. The man with a wildly arrogant disposition always regards himself as better than others and no one is his equal. He is unable to see the strengths and good points of others and even if he does see them, he does not accept them at all and only steps up his attacks, and denigrates them. He sees the faults and shortcomings of others with unusual clarity, and he spreads these around at will. He likes, in particular, to talk about his own strengths, he particularly likes to compliment himself, to exalt himself while denigrating others. The man with a wildly arrogant disposition is always extremely conceited, inclined to be self-centered, making others hold him in high esteem and gather around him. Regardless of what he says and does, others must listen to him and pay close attention to him.”

Zheng Xin: Oh, these words are so clear. The reason why we require people to listen to us and act as we’ve said is that we have arrogant disposition. Am I right?

Sister Yang: Mm, you’re right. From the Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life, we can see that our interpersonal relationships are abnormal mainly because we have arrogant disposition. Due to our arrogant and conceited disposition, when interacting with others, we speak and act with a condescending attitude, and often show off ourselves, thinking that we are better than them. We are self-centered, and want others to do things according to our will; once they do something that is not to our liking, we would denigrate them and even lose our temper and chide them, showing that we are more capable than them. For example, when getting along with our colleagues, if our professional skills are better than theirs, we’ll look down upon them and find fault with them; if they don’t meet our requirements, we’ll get angry with them. When getting along with our families, we consider ourselves the head of the house; if anyone, be it our mother-in-law, husband, or child, says or does something that doesn’t conform to our own ideas, we’ll force him or her to do according to our own thoughts. We don’t have any understanding or forgiveness for others. What corrupt dispositions bring to us and others is constraint and harm, and they make our interpersonal relationships worse and worse so that we’re unable to get along with each other normally.

The lost lamb: I used to think it was because of my bad temper that I often got angry with others and my interpersonal relationship got worse. Now I understand that it’s mainly due to my arrogant disposition. When I got along with others, I always thought I was better, cleverer, and more capable than them, so I always made demands of others based on my own standards, and if they couldn’t meet my standards, I would let temper flare out of control, and even disdain and belittle them. My mother-in-law is a slow person who does everything slowly, so I fully ignored her; whatever she did, I always had things to say, demanding her to do according to my way; if she didn’t listen to me, I would get angry with her. This not only caused a lot of pain to me but also to the people around me. Now I see that I’m so unreasonable and inhumane to speak and act by arrogant disposition.

Sisi: Your words do make sense. It seems that the root of this problem is our arrogant and conceited nature. We always think we’re superior to others and go off on them with haughty contempt; we actually have no reason at all and what we’re living out is entirely the likeness of the devil. Then how can we solve this arrogant disposition and obtain a normal interpersonal relationship? Sister Yang, please communicate with us more about this issue.

Sister Yang: Thank God! If we want to improve our interpersonal relationships, we must practice the truth rather than live by arrogant disposition. We should learn to let go of ourselves, consider others more, and see more their merits and strengths.

I once read one passage of fellowship in a book, and here I’d like to share it with you: “We should treat others properly, neither overestimating nor underestimating any of them. No matter they are stupid or smart, of good caliber or bad, poor or rich, we should not have prejudices against them or rely on affections to treat them. We should not impose our preference on others, much less force others to accept what we dislike—this is not making others do things they are unwilling to do. When doing things, we should take account not only of our own interests but also of others’. Besides, we should learn to be more considerate to others, to benefit them…. Do not ask too much of others, and do not expect to gain any benefits from others—this is also a principle of treating others properly.”

After we were corrupted by Satan, our conscience, sense, and humanity become unsound, and we have no love, understanding or tolerance for others; we tend to treat others based on our personal preferences, and hold a high position to control others and make them listen to us, losing the original likeness of just being created. As we humans are all deeply corrupted by Satan, we’re not, in fact, better than anyone else. How can we be qualified to demand or lecture others? So, if we want to have a normal relationship with people around us, we should practice the truth and no longer live by arrogant disposition; we should learn to let go of ourselves and never make demands of others according to our own ideas; we should care for others, be concerned about them, and be considerate of them so that they benefit in everything. Just as when the Lord Jesus did His work, He often sat at the table with sinners and tax collectors and preached sermons to them; He never demanded them to listen to Him or follow Him because He is Christ, nor did He lose His temper or keep His distance from them because they didn’t listen to or follow Him; instead, He preached sermons to enlighten people, allowing them to understand the truth, so that they could admit to their sins and repent. All of this shows God’s humbleness and hiddenness, and His love and mercy for man. We are corrupted by Satan, and cannot stand up to comparison with the Lord Jesus, but we can imitate Him, standing in an equal place with others and benefiting them.

The lost lamb: Sister Yang, after listening to your fellowship, I really feel ashamed. I always demanded my mother-in-law to do as I wanted her to; if she didn’t listen to me, I would lose my temper. I’m so arrogant. Now I understand I should imitate the Lord, let go of myself, and act as a person with conscience and sense.

Sister Yang: Thank God! It is thanks to God’s enlightenment and guidance that you have this kind of understanding. Now I’d like to share my personal experience with you. My mother-in-law is a slow-tempered person and always does things slowly, while I’m a quick-tempered person and do everything quickly. When we did things together, I always urged her to do quickly, but she carried on as if she hadn’t heard me, and then I would lose my temper with her. Gradually, she became estranged from me; sometimes, when she returned home, she didn’t greet me but directly went into her bedroom. Although we lived under the same roof, we were like strangers, which made me feel very uncomfortable.

Then I reflected on myself and realized: I was too arrogant. I always asked my mother-in-law to do things as I required her to, and if she didn’t listen to me, I would be out of temper, which imperceptibly made her feel restrained and created a barrier between us. Even though we lived together, we had nothing to say to each other. Not until that moment did I see that I was too unreasonable, that my arrogant disposition not only put constraints on others but brought a lot of pain to myself, and that if I continued to live that way, it was impossible for me to get along with others. I also understood that I should no longer conduct myself relying on arrogant disposition. Afterward, I saw the words I shared just now: “When doing things, we should take account not only of our own interests but also of others’. Besides, we should learn to be more considerate to others, to benefit them…. Do not ask too much of others, and do not expect to gain any benefits from others—this is also a principle of treating others properly.” After understanding this, I consciously practiced putting myself aside, understanding others and caring for them, no longer treating them by arrogant disposition.

One day, our family went to harvest the corn. I noticed that my mother-in-law was husking the corn layer by layer and then broke off corncobs. At the sight of this, I exploded with anger, thinking: Why does she husk corn in that way? As I was about to urge her, I suddenly realized it was my arrogant disposition coming out, and that I again wanted her to do according to my way. Thinking of how God required us to set ourselves aside, and learn to show consideration to others and care for others, I suddenly remembered that my mother-in law’s hands were hurt not long ago and hadn’t recovered yet. I thought if I were her, I definitely wouldn’t be able to work. But she still tried her best to help do the farm work. At that moment, I felt guilty for distaining her. From then on, I no longer control her or make demands of her according to my ideas, nor do I lose my temper with her. Now we get along in harmony with each other. After this experience, I realize that if we want to have a normal relationship with others, we should practice the truth, understanding others, caring for them, and doing whatever beneficial to them.

Zheng Xin: Your fellowship is so great! I believe that if we practice the truth, we’ll also be able to get along with others.

The lost lamb: Thank God! I have benefited a lot from Sister Yang’s fellowship. It seems that as long as we practice the words of the Lord, learn to let go of ourselves, be considerate of others’ difficulties, and show a little more understandings, tolerance, and love toward them, gradually we’ll find the people, matters, and things around us are not as bad as we imagine, and that what God arranges for us is the best. Thank the Lord! I finally have a path to solve my problem.

Getting Along With Others

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