Invest your time and money wisely. Study how you regularly spend your time and money and ask yourself if the choices you’re making about those resources reflect what God says is most important. If the values your calendar and checkbook reveal don’t align with God’s values, pray for Him to change your thoughts and give you the desire to do His will. Be generous about using your time and money to help other people God leads you to help. Be proactive, working passionately to find ways to bless others. Seize opportunities that come up in your relationships to help and encourage others as often as possible.

Seek God’s vision for your relationships. Pray for God to help you understand what is going on in your relationships, point you to where you should be going, and tell you how to get there. Ask God to give you His perspective on who you truly are, and to help you trust in the realities of His presence with you and provision for you. View your relationship struggles from the vantage point of God’s relentless love for you. Don’t despair when you encounter challenges in your relationship; turn to God for help, trusting that you can count on Him. Relate to other people on the basis of what God has provided, instead of on the basis of your personal strength, the size of the problem, or your track record.

Influence others. Develop the kind of strong character that inspires other people and represents Christ well in the world. Minister to people God has put in your life – single parents who need childcare, couples who need mentoring, teenagers who need guidance, elderly people who need companionship, etc. Do all you can to bring God’s light into a dark world by letting His love flow through you into other people’s lives. Openly and honestly share your own struggles with others and tell the story of how God is working in your life to help you overcome them. Realize that whenever you reach out to minister to other people, you not only bless them, but you honor God as well. Let your gratitude for Christ’s willingness to enter your messy life motivate you to enter other people’s messy lives with the love He gives you for them.

Adapted from Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, copyright 2006 by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp. Published by New Growth Press, Greensboro, N.C.,   

Tim Lane and Paul Tripp work together at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation in Glenside, Pa., where they counsel and teach. They both have M.Div. and D.Min. degrees and lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside. Together they wrote How People Change and lead church-based counseling training courses using CCEF’s Transformation Series. Both men were pastors before coming to CCEF – Tim in Clemson, S.C. and Paul in Scranton, Pa. Tim and his wife Barbara have two sons and two daughters. Paul and his wife Luella have three sons and a daughter. Paul is also the author of Age of Opportunity, War of Words, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, and Lost in the Middle.