Have a Broken Relationship? Want to Reconcile? These 6 Guidelines Might Help.

“[Reconciliation] is a risky undertaking, but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation
with reality can bring real healing.” — Desmond Tutu

Last week a lady tearfully told me that her husband was now mending a long-term broken relationship in his life. She was clearly so proud of him! She said he was using the 6 reconciliation guidelines in my book STUCK. Those guidelines seem to be resonating with many people. That is incredibly humbling.

Today, I want to share the guidelines with you. If you know someone with a broken relationship, consider sharing these guidelines with them.


The great paradox of human relationships is that we are created to heal each other from the hurts we inflict on one other. But before we jump into the reconciliation guidelines, let me offer one caution.


Reconciliation is not entirely up to you. In fact, it may not be possible or even recommended. Reconciliation is not an option if:

  • Your offender is abusive and reconciling would cause further injury
  • Your offender has died
  • Your offender does not want to reconcile
  • Your offender is unrepentant

It only takes one person to forgive, but it takes two people to reconcile. In Romans 12:18, the Apostle Paul reminds us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (emphasis added).

You are only responsible for your behavior. When it comes to living at peace with others, do your part. But your offender also has a part. If you are the only one making the effort toward reconciliation, then it’s unlikely to happen. If they are unwilling to do their part, reconciliation is not required.

If reconciliation is appropriate, here are the six guidelines I recommend:

Guideline #1: Depend on God

Do you remember the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel? Do you know why they were battling? Because, after a twenty-year separation, Jacob was about to try and reconcile with Esau. So, Jacob wrestled with an angel demanding God’s blessing for what he was about to do. As Genesis 32:26 tells the story, “Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me’” (emphasis added). Despite his wisdom and wealth, Jacob was dependent upon God.

Constant prayer helps you maintain a dependent heart throughout the reconciliation process.

Question: When was the last time I prayed for this person and about our broken relationship? It might be wise to stop right now, and ask God for His wisdom and grace.

Guideline #2: Aim for Peace

Peace is much more attainable than trying to fully restore a broken relationship back to where it was. In Romans 12:18, the Apostle Paul reminds us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (emphasis added). The goal of reconciliation is peace.

Maybe you want to reconcile with a parent, child, former spouse, former boss, or former friend. A deeper relationship may eventually develop, but begin by aiming for peace instead of bowing under the pressure of trying to restore a friendship.

Question: Am I hoping things will be like “the good ol’ days”? Or, am I aiming for peace?

Guideline #3: Seek to Understand

Seek to understand the other person’s perspective instead of presenting your side. Prov. 18:13 “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.” Resist the urge to present your case or defend yourself.

Instead, quietly listen, then restate the other person’s perspective. Ask them if you’re understanding their perspective accurately. Real progress can be made when they agree that you understand their perspective.

St. Francis of Assisi, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Question: Am I ready to hear their perspective without defending myself?

Guideline #4: Don’t Accuse

If it’s appropriate, share your perspective, but avoid finger-pointing or accusations. One rule-of-thumb is to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You betrayed me,” you could say, “I felt betrayed.” “I” statements allow the other person to respond without feeling defensive. Use “I” statements to help you share honestly but without accusations.

Having an objective person present to help you “stay on track” may be helpful.

Question: Who will help me stay on track sharing my perspective vs. defending myself?

Guideline #5: Apologize Early

Early on in the process, find something for which you can offer regret or an apology. An early apology will go a long way toward rebuilding trust and it reveals your humility and commitment to reconciliation.

James 5:16 reads, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Question: What am I specifically and genuinely ready to apologize for?

Guideline #6: One Issue at a Time

Deal with one issue at a time. There may be one major issue of disagreement. However, most broken relationships include many smaller issues of disagreement. In order to accomplish Guideline #3, Seek to Understand, you’ll need to address each issue individually. Make sure the other person feels completely heard and understood on each issue before moving on to the next one.

Question: Am I willing to patiently hear their perspective on each issue?

If you’re thinking about initiating a reconciliation process, I know you feel fear. I sure did. Maybe it will encourage you to read someone else’s reconciliation story. Here’s mine.

Do you have what it takes to be a good Group Leader?

Do you want to be a group leader someday? Who wouldn’t? After all, it’s a great way to disciple and encourage others. Plus, you get first dibs on leftover snacks.

But how can you tell if you have what it takes to be an effective group leader?

group leader

Though personalities and strengths differ, here are four common traits of an effective group leader:

1) Personally pursuing a relationship with God

This doesn’t mean long-time Christian, perfect person, or biblical scholar. Are you currently pursuing a relationship God?

2) Consistent in attendance and preparation

If you aren’t reliable or prepared, the group will suffer. Consistency trumps knowledge and charisma. Do you prioritize your group in your schedule?

3) Positive and encouraging attitude

There is a shortage of encouragement in our world. Effective leaders fuel others with encouragement. Do you regularly look for ways to encourage others?

Paul said, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Rom. 1:11-12

4) Humble and transparent

“At every stage of our Christian development and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is the greatest enemy and humility our greatest friend.” –John Stott

Are you transparent enough to allow others to see your weaknesses and humble enough to allow others to be the subject of conversation?

Here’s the GREAT news: Each of these traits can be developed. So, you CAN be an effective group leader.

The one thing you should do when you’re frozen

I recently had breakfast with a Senior Pastor who said, “Mark, more than half of the people I counsel are still hurting from something in their past. They remain frozen and can’t move forward.”

Are you frozen because of past pain? (This assessment will help you know.)

ice cube

The one thing you should do when you’re frozen is . . . anything.

We often think we need a detailed plan before we can start. The truth is we need to act now. Do something. Take a little step. It may even be the wrong step. But don’t remain frozen.

So, what can you do? Here are 10 small steps you can take when you’re frozen from past pain:

This time next year, you’ll remain frozen unless you do something. So take a step . . . any step . . . TODAY.

Dream or Mirage?

What’s your dream? I know you’ve got one. After all, you were created to dream.

So, c’mon! What’s your dream? A new house? Kid’s success? Better Career? Finish a triathlon? Finish off a box of chocolates?

What are you dreaming about? One of the easiest ways to discover your dreams is to notice what you find yourself daydreaming about.

I LOVE to dream (and daydream). My favorite conversations are when people share their dreams with me. Part of our national identify is the American DREAM. It’s a beautiful thing . . . mostly.

However, I’m learning with every dream comes this unexpected danger: When God gives me a dream I am tempted to love the dream more than the Dream Giver.

After all, every human heart is tempted to worship “created things rather than the Creator” (Rom 1:25). In the same way, I’m tempted to worship my dream more than my Dream Giver.

Anything that captures my heart and imagination more than God is a mirage. A mirage is when I ask my dream to give me what only God can give me.


You know you’re chasing a mirage when you say things like, I can’t be happy unless . . .

. . . I am dating him/her

. . . I get into that university

. . . my kids turn out a certain way

. . . my business succeeds

. . . I experience this level of financial success

I was just given the opportunity to share a 3-part message series at my church. I shared my own struggles with dreams and what Scripture says about our dreams.

So, I thought I’d share a quick overview with you today.

#1 – The Mirage of Love (listen to message: website or iTunes)

Have you ever longed to be loved? Of course!

When we longed to be love we often ask one person to give us everything we need. That’s a mirage. Sometimes we put pressure on someone only God can bear (spouse, child, etc.). This pressure can cause a marriage and/or a family to collapse.

#2 – The Mirage of Success (listen to message: website or iTunes)

Here’s a belief within me: “If I achieve more, I matter more.”

If I believe that then I will feel justified condemning people who fail (including myself).

However, Scripture tells us that all success is on loan from God for the benefit of others. Success isn’t from me or for me.

No matter how hard you’ve worked, you’re not self-made. Neither am I.

If you had been born in a yurt in Outer Mongolia, instead of where you were, it wouldn’t have mattered how hard you worked or used your talents— you would have ended up poor and powerless. -Timothy Keller

You have some success (relational, financial, experiential, etc.). However, the only success that will outlive you is what you give away.

#3 – Replace the Mirage (listen to message: website or iTunes)

My dream can remain in my life as long as I keep God promoted above it.

No matter how great my dream is, my deepest desire is to have intimacy with the Father. However, if I pursue a dream more than the Dream Giver, my deepest desire goes unmet and I am left unsatisfied.

I know this but I’m gullible enough to get pumped about a new dream and before long, I’m making it the ultimate thing! Mirage.

I often forget that there are two parts to me: 1) an OUTER LIFE (work, hobbies, image, etc.) and 2) an INNER LIFE (though no one can see it – God meets me here).

My deepest desire is to connect with God in my INNER LIFE where I experience my deepest pain and greatest joy.

But it’s tempting to trust in my OUTER LIFE because it’s more visible.

However, “If our hope is not anchored in God, we will lower God to match our circumstances.” –Pastor Daniel Hahn

How do stop chasing the mirage? We must have a fresh encounter with the living God. That begins with desperate transparency.

  • When Abraham became desperate, he argued with God.
  • When Jacob became desperate, he refused to let go of God until He blessed Him.
  • When David became desperate, he questioned God’s justice.

Intimacy with God often begins with an Rated R prayer. Instead of telling God what you think He wants to hear, tell Him what you truly feel.

We are most satisfied when He fully reigns in us. Replace the mirage and discover what’s real.

You can listen to the entire series from our website or on iTunes.

Crazy guys with a crazy goal . . .

Wanna know what I’m excited about right now?

A bunch of college buddies (including my pastor’s son) are riding their bicycles across the country from Seattle to New York City. Why are they doing this? Because they’re a little wild-eyed? Maybe! But also because they heard about a need.

Did you know that every 19 seconds a mother loses a child to water-related illness?

These guys are crazy enough to think they can actually make a difference. How? They’re trying to raise $50K. A little aggresive? Maybe! Here’s the crazy part: they’re already over halfway there!

Kyle Ride for Water 2

Let’s support these crazy guys! What do you say?

We can help them raise $50K and make a dent in the global water crisis! That’s the kind of crazy I want to be part of.

Ignore your “rational” I don’t know if we can really make a difference thoughts.

Let’s fuel these crazy guys with a crazy goal.

Donate and read more by clicking HERE.

Share the journey of these crazy college buddies with your friends!

5 Things Your Husband Wants to Hear You Say

After I preach, no matter how many people offer encouraging feedback, the one person whose feedback I’m most interested in is Ginger’s. After all, my wife knows me best and she’ll be honest with me. Her words are most important to me.

Whether your husband admits it or not, your words impact him more than anyone.

Last week I spoke to a gathering of 75 men and asked them, “What’s the one thing you want to hear your wife say to you?” Below are their responses.


5 Things Your Husband Wants to Hear You Say

#1 “I respect you and trust your leadership.”

#2 “I love you no matter what.”

#3 “I appreciate you. Thanks for all you do.”

#4 “Take the day off & go surfing” (or whatever his hobby is).

 #5 “Let’s have sex tonight.”

(Last week I also spoke to a gathering of 75 ladies last week and asked them to tell me the one thing they wished their husbands would say to them. I shared their responses yesterday, which you can read HERE.)

Everyone’s love language may not be words of encouragement but everyone benefits from positive reinforcement.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Prov. 18:21

Let’s speak words of life today!

5 Things Your Wife Wants to Hear You Say

I noticed Ginger walking down the stairs with a basket full of dirty clothes after having worked all day and having fed our family dinner. I said, “Ginger, you’re a good wife and mom. Thanks for all that you do for our family.”

Ginger responded, “And whyyy do you say that?” She was suspicious of my motives because I don’t talk like that often.

You see that morning I’d spoken to a gathering of 75 ladies and had asked them to tell me the one thing they wished their husbands would say to them. The far majority of these ladies (61%) said they wanted their husbands to simply say, “thank you.” Below are their responses.


5 Things Your Wife Wants to Hear You Say

#1 “Thank you for all you do for me and our family.” -61%

#2 “I think you are beautiful.”

#3 “I’ll always be faithful to you.”

#4 “Take the night off while I do the dishes.”

#5 “How can I help you this weekend?”

Everyone’s love language may not be words of encouragement but everyone benefits from positive reinforcement. Most of us feel gratitude but fail to express it. You can change that this weekend.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Prov. 18:21

The following night I spoke to a gathering of 75 men and asked them, “What’s the one thing you want to hear your wife say to you?” Click Here to see what they shared.

Coach Jim Harbaugh teaching Jameis Winston a Biblical principle

Jameis Winston will probably be the #1 pick in next week’s NFL Draft. The biggest knock on him is his off-the-field behavior.

For example, Winston was issued a citation for shoplifting crab legs and crawfish about a year ago. What’s fascinating to me is how hesitant Jameis is to own any guilt. The truth is I’m just as hesitant. We all are.

In an episode of ESPN’s Draft Academy released this week, Winston met with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. As Jameis explains the shoplifting incident, Coach Harbaugh tells Jameis to just own it by admitting that he messed up. However, Jameis immediately responds, “But how am I supposed to handle it if someone gave them to me for free?” Jameis doesn’t want to own any part of the guilt. After all, there’s someone else to blame. Watch the 2-minute video below.

Heads-up: The language is censored but typical of “locker-room talk”. 


The most captivating part of the interview is when Coach Harbaugh looks at him with a wrinkled brow and repeats to Jameis that he just needs to own it and admit that what he did was wrong. It seemed to frustrate Jim Harbaugh that Jameis didn’t get how obvious the solution is.

Own it

But it’s more complicated in Jameis’ mind. You see, someone at the store apparently offered to give him free food even though they may not have been authorized to do so. Therefore, Jameis fails to see his part in the incident because in his mind someone else is mostly responsible.

You will never confess your sins if you blame everything on someone else.

This isn’t unique to famous athletes. I know exactly how Jameis’ feels. It’s hard for me to own my part of my problems.

I instinctively argue, “It wasn’t my fault. It was their fault. They are to blame. They were wrong. All my friends agree with me.”

It’s easy to overlook the wrong we’ve done since our part feels minor compared to what they did. We’ll never confess our sins as long as we’re blaming everything on someone else.

“To make peace with your past, you need to own your piece of the past.” –Andy Stanley

Child abuse or unprovoked crimes are exceptions when the victim has no responsibility. But in most cases there is something we should own.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. -1 John 1:8-10

Here are a few examples:

  • He clearly mistreated you, but as you pause and look back, maybe people had advised you to beware of him.
  • She consistently demeaned and hurt you, looking back, maybe you kept answering her texts and letting her back into your life.
  • She seduced you, but as you pause and look back, maybe you stayed too long.
  • He stole from you, but in retrospect, maybe you rushed past all of the warning signs.

Your offender is wrong for what he or she did. Owning your part doesn’t make your offender any less guilty, but it will free your future.

Owning your part will take humility and courage. Ask a trusted friend if they see any part of your past that you have yet to own. Resist being defensive. Then humbly thank them for loving you enough to share hard truths.

It’s time to OWN IT. You may not be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft but you can experience something even better: a peaceful heart.

Pick up your copy of STUCK When You Want to Forgive but Don’t Know How by clicking below:


Church Change by Andy Stanley

Change requires 3 things

1. Craft a laser-focused vision statement

andy stanleyThe worst place to begin a conversation about change is talking about what you want to change.

The best place to begin a conversation about change is talking about where you want to go.

2. Cast it over and over and over

Memorable is portable.

3. Organize to your vision statement

Organizations work toward status quo. Organize your hiring, budgeting, and systematizing toward the vision.

Most little boys finally start wearing deodorant because they like a girl.

They don’t want to give something up. They want something better.

When people see something better they don’t feel like they’re giving something up.

3 things we should change in the local church:

1. The church must be the safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.

2. The church must stop expecting outsiders to act like insiders while insiders act like outsiders.

As Christians we do a horrible job policing ourselves but we’re quick to police everyone else.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

How to change our nation in one year:

For the next 12 months every Christian should stop looking at porn, smoking weed, having premarital sex, committing adultery, pay our taxes, and help one family in every church foster one child and our country would be immediately different.

3. The church must capture and keep the hearts and minds of students.

Stop this endless cycle of students graduating from high school and the church at the same time.

If your church is designed by 50-year olds for 50-year olds at the neglect of 15-year olds, shame on you.

This should bother you all the way to your budget.

What is this generation of students worth?

Let’s not lead anymore people to Jesus at age 6 and then convince them at age 16 the church has nothing for them.

What if we were the church that decided 16-year-olds would love their church even more than when they were 6?

We must decide we aren’t creating churches for 50-year-olds anymore. It’s 15 or bust!

Creating a Culture of Innovation by Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel – Catalyst West


The Church should lead the culture in innovation.


Limited resources + willingness to fail + increasing passion = exponential innovation (Mark 2)

Limited resources

We often think “We can’t because we don’t.”

We should think, “We can because we don’t.

God guides by what He provides; however, sometimes He guides by what He withholds.

Willingness to fail

Too many church leaders think failure is missing God but failure is often the first step toward success.

We think, “Failure is not an option”. The fear of failure drives us to stop taking risks and to live without faith.

Failure is an event not a person. God uses failure to shape you. If you are not failing now and then, you are playing it way too safe.

I would rather please God by thinking too big than insult him by thinking too small.

Increasing passion

We think, “We want to reach people for Christ.”

We should think, “We have to reach people for Christ.”

You’re not going to lead people to Jesus unless you sometimes smell like smoke.