(Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash)

I know many leaders who love crowds but hate people. And it would be very easy for my type of personality to be that way. In fact, at the beginning of my ministry it was rather easy for me to focus on the crowds, rather than the people. But God was quick to show me many years ago His love for people and His desire for us to love people the way He does.

God has designed each person with a specific purpose, with a whole new view of the world, new ideas and experiences that no other person can have. And to know that person is to know a whole new side of God and a whole new side of the world.

That doesn't mean living in fellowship with others is always easy. Sometimes it's hard to be in relationship with other people, even under the best circumstances. When you have previously faced persecution, betrayal or hurt in some way, it can be even harder yet.

In spite of these challenges, I have learned that without relationships and without people in our lives, it is impossible to grow spiritually, emotionally, physically or mentally. In order to live the best life God has intended for us to live, we cannot live it alone. Every relationship you have is a chance for you to grow and develop and a chance for you to love the way Christ loved.

Below are a few important keys that make it easier to navigate through the different emotions and challenges that come with being in relationship with people.

1. Keep God first.

We were designed for fellowship with God, and when we don't keep fellowship with Him, it is easy to get off track.

Keeping God first will affect your life drastically. Not only will you be spiritually and emotionally healthy, but it will positively impact your relationships with those around you as well. When we are close to God and understand how He loves us, it is easier to understand how God wants us to love others.

2. Be quick to forgive.

God forgave us, and He wants us to forgive others. Everyone makes mistakes, and there will always be a reason to hold a grudge. But when we choose to live in unforgivness, it wounds us far more than it does anyone else.

3. Be quick to apologize.

As I said before, everyone makes mistakes—including you. Instead of being too hard on yourself, be sure to make your mistake right and move on.

Some people find apologizing uncomfortable because it puts them in a vulnerable position to be rejected or shown to be a failure, but humbling yourself in this way opens the door wide for forgiveness, healing, restoration and incredible self-growth.

4. Always believe the best in people.

Give people the chance to love you and believe the best in them. People are capable of great things, and loving one another the way that God loves is one of the greatest things people can do.

5. Always believe the best in yourself.

For the last few months, I've made it a practice of ending my articles for this blog with the phrase, "You are beautiful. I see Jesus in you!" It isn't a trite comment. I don't repeat it without thinking or without intention. I say it with conviction, because you truly are an amazing human being. I don't have to know you personally to be confident that there is no one else in the world like you, and the world needs someone just like you in it.

You have just as much of a right to have great relationships and love in your life as anyone else. If you ever feel like you aren't worth being loved or that you aren't capable of loving, stop and believe the best in yourself. God created you for a reason, and you are both deserving of love and capable of loving well.

So, I'll say it again, now, at the end of this article: You—you who were created for relationship with God and with others, even when it seems hard and even when you don't feel up to it—are beautiful. I see Jesus in you, and so will others.

I'd love to hear about your story about discovering God's love, and using it to love others! Email me at contactmikelfrenchministries@gmail.com.

You're beautiful. I see Jesus in you!

Mikel French has challenged spiritual awakening all across America, where many celebrations extended into multiple weeks, and has conducted celebrations in France, Sweden, Russia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Germany, South Africa, Malawi, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Haiti, Japan, Singapore, India and Thailand. He conducted an outreach celebration in Manila, Philippines, reaching 200,000 teenagers with the book of hope. Through the generous support of partners, he has presented the message of Jesus Christ to millions of people in the nation of Russia through televised citywide soul-winning celebrations. Mikel considers it an honor to assist in conducting the annual pastor's conference, where thousands of pastors from Russia's 11 time zones come for training, teaching and equipping. Mikel and his wife, Marsha, reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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