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40. Effective Interpersonal Relationships

Purpose: The purpose of this session is to help the disciple in his interpersonal relationships.


1. The disciple will learn the bases for good interpersonal relationships.

2. The disciple will learn how a good relationship with God enhances our interpersonal relationships.

3. The disciple will learn the importance of good interpersonal relationships to enhance his work with others.

4. The disciple will learn the value of openness.

5. The disciple will learn the relationship between self-concept and good interpersonal relationships.

Scripture Memory

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:16


1. Mutual accountability and prayer.

2. Discuss the questions.

3. Review Scripture memory.

4. Discuss any new terms.

One of the keys to effective discipleship is to be able to relate effectively with others. We all need to develop and upgrade our skills in interpersonal relationships if we are to effectively win, disciple, and train laborers for Christ.


The Bases of Good Interpersonal Relations


Certain things must be true if quality interpersonal relationships are to be experienced. Romans 15:5-6 says God has granted you to be of____ ______ _______ _____ _____ ______________. John 13:34-35 speaks of having _______ ______ ______ ________. Being of one mind, and loving one another will make for more effective interpersonal relationships. These things will bring about reconciliation of present difficulties and past difficulties. Write in your own words the meaning of reconciliation. See Romans 5:11 and 2 Corinthians 5:19-20.

It goes without saying that if God has been able to reconcile you and me to Himself, there is no “problem Christian” against whom I am holding things that makes reconciliation impossible. Reconciliation is one of the bases of good interpersonal relationships.

Dependence, Independence and Interdependence

The above variables are important to consider when we think of close interpersonal relationships. Two of the above are more unhealthy (dependence and independence), while only interdependence is healthy.

1. Dependence is excessive leaning on another person. It implies demanding and taking. When needs aren’t met, we can become very angry if we are dependent. We may create more dependence in another person if we do more than listen to them. Giving lots of advice to a person with problems is really not helping. Rather, I make him dependent upon me.

2. Independence, on the other hand, implies distance, little effort to truly relate, and even aloofness. It says, “My problems are my own business.” “You deal with yours, I’ll deal with mine.” This is not consistent with good interpersonal relationships.

3. Interdependence is something quite different. It is recognition that someone in difficulty must surely _______ ____ _____ ______, Galatians 6:5. It also is a willingness to stand beside another person and help him in his burden-bearing, Galatians 6:2. I can do this most effectively when I simply listen. Often, however, there are problems in sharing with another.

What Hinders Open Communication With Another Christian?

Write in your own words what you feel are the greatest hindrances to open communication with another Christian.




How can the process of being open with others be facilitated?



Be sure to give confidentiality and never tell another what your disciple shares in private.

Relationship With God and My Interpersonal Relationships

Read the following verses and summarize what they teach about interpersonal relationships.

1. Galatians 5:22-23

2. Romans 12:5

3. 1 John 3:14

4. Genesis 4:3-8. What was Cain’s basic problem?

My Unique Way of Seeing Myself and Interpersonal Relations

My self-concept will affect how I relate to others. Self-concept is the organization of all the ways I see myself. Some of these are good and some are not so good.

Some of the effects of a negative self-concept are:

1. I will become easily threatened.

2. I will be less open.

3. I will tend to compare myself with others. What does 2 Corinthians 10:12 say about comparing myself with others?

4. Self-condemnation. Yet I am not condemned as a Christian. Write Romans 8:1.

What is biblical in relation to how I see myself? What should this be like? Romans 12:3.

(This implies neither an under evaluation nor an over valuation. It calls, rather, for a proper evaluation. This is true self-acceptance.)

What Does The Father Think of Me?

1. I am __________________________________________, John 1:12.

2. I have been __________________________________, Romans 5:1.

Write in your own words what these mean to you.

3. He has made me a ________ ______________, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

4. He considers me to be uniquely ______________, Romans 12:3-8.

Openness and Vulnerability

1. Explain what it means to you to be vulnerable and authentic.

2. What qualities are necessary in another person to facilitate your openness? What must be true of them before you will risk yourself with them?

3. What is the primary meaning of the word “encourage” in Hebrews 3:12-13? (Check the worksheet on spirituality)

4. What are we taught about a teachable spirit in Ecclesiastes 4:13?

5. What reasons might we be hesitant to be open with a brother?




6. Yet healing comes from? James 5:16a.

7. Acceptance in the secular world is the same as “grace” in the Christian world. What does acceptance mean to you?

Questions for Review and Discussion

1. When we meet with our disciple, a relationship should develop into something fine and trusting. During such a relationship, Joe who is being discipled by Bill, senses caring by Bill. Joe has a longstanding problem that he is very sensitive about. He has not broken the law, but he hurts continuously and needs to talk with someone. He finally shares the problem with Bill. Bill, sensing the severity of the difficulty of the problem, goes to a group of people and asks that they pray for Joe. What problems does this cause?

2. What does the Word of God have to say to a Christian who has a generally negative self-concept?

3. John is always sharing his problems with other people. He ultimately gets around to you and unloads on you. What would be your response?

4. How does holding a grudge affect interpersonal relationships?

5. List some things that make interpersonal relationships difficult for you.

6. What kind of interpersonal situations are most difficult for you to handle?

7. Describe your own uniqueness in the Body of Christ.

8. React to this statement in as honest a way as you are able. “Once I became a Christian, I have never had a poor self-concept.”

How can one deal with his feelings of vulnerability in an effective way?

10. Why is simply becoming a Christian inadequate as far as changing one’s self-concept is concerned.

11. How can we assist a brother in carrying his burden?

Summary and Key Concepts

In order to be a disciple who is effective in the world, in witnessing, discipling another and in whatever he does, it is important to be effective in interpersonal relationships. This study is one that has emphasized this reality. We are ambassadors for Christ and should represent Him well in this “foreign land” in which we live.

Important variables are dependence, independence and interdependence. We are to work toward being interdependent, which carries with it the idea of autonomy. Dependence and independence are both poor variables for effective interpersonal relationships.

Central in interpersonal relationships is the quality of my self-concept. Self-concept is the organization of all the ways I see myself. It is characterized by stability, as well as fluidity. It is important because I will interpret what goes on around me in my world based on how I see myself. Simply becoming a Christian does not change my self-concept or move it to being more positive. Our Father wants us to see ourselves realistically. He also wants us to move to positive ways of seeing ourselves.

It is important to practice acceptance of others. This is the same as exercising grace toward them. Acceptance is “grace” in action. This acceptance should enable one to become more vulnerable and enter relationships more authentically.

Related Topics: Discipleship

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