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  • Writer's pictureDavid L. Goetsch

Building Lasting Relationships: Selflessness (Philippians 2:3)

This is the second in a series of blogs on building lasting relationships. Each successive blog covers one specific reason relationships fall apart and how to avoid such an unhappy outcome in your relationships.

One of the most common reasons relationships fall apart is selfishness. Selfishness means being so concerned for yourself that you have little or no regard for others. The unspoken motto of people who approach relationships from the perspective of selfishness is it’s all about me. Examples of selfishness in relationships include when one of the individuals refuses to listen to the other’s opinions, must be in control all the time, insists on having his or her way, has a what’s-mine-is-mine-and-what’s-yours-is-mine attitude, refuses to take responsibility or be accountable, and always puts his or her needs first.

Not surprisingly, selfishness has a powerfully detrimental effect on relationships. It is a constant source of conflict, frustration, and disillusionment in relationships. Several of the other reasons why relationships go wrong including impatience, unkindness, and faithlessness can be attributed at least in part to selfishness. Even when it isn’t the main factor in broken relationships it is often a contributing factor. Healthy, Godly relationships are characterized by selflessness not selfishness.

Selflessness is the opposite of selfishness. It is an indispensable ingredient in lasting relationships. Selfless people heed the admonition in Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” It is the last part of this verse—“count others more significant than yourselves”—that is essential to building lasting relationships. The unspoken moto of a selfless person is it’s all about you. Here are some things you can do to inject selflessness into your relationships:

  • Listen more and talk less. Give the other person in the relationship plenty of opportunities to talk, vent, and express opinions. Listen attentively, don’t interrupt, and keep an open mind. Never take the attitude that your views, opinions, and interests are the only ones that matter in the relationship.

  • Be generous with your time and other assets you bring to the relationship. Think of what you have as ours not mine.

  • Be attentive to the needs of the other person in the relationship. Don’t wait to be asked to help. Look for ways to lighten the other person’s load.

  • Don’t insist on always getting your way. Demonstrate that the other person is more important to you than getting your way.

  • When disagreements occur, be the first to apologize and do what is necessary to patch things up.

These few suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being selfless in a relationship. The bottom line is this: In any situation, before acting or speaking remind yourself to put the other person’s needs first. Doing so will set an example for the other person to emulate when he or she wants to behave selfishly.

Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019:


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