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1: If you are married, you are one flesh with your spouse. Your highest priority is your marriage, not your relatives (Ephesians 5:25-33). You left your respective families to establish an autonomous domestic empire. No friend, foe, or relative should have a higher priority in your life.
2: Live your life above reproach (Philippians 2:15). You might not win your relative and have a long-term enjoyable relationship with them, but you can choose how you want to carry yourself regardless of how they respond.
3: Love your family well, especially your relatives. They may not love you, but they can’t stop you from loving them (Romans 5:8, 12:14). Your love for them could mean confronting or rebuking them. Love has a broader definition than what most folks attribute to it.
4: Don’t try to change them; it’s not your job (1 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Timothy 2:24-25). You may stretch your effort beyond watering and planting if you don’t recognize your limitations. If you try to make the growth happen, it will frustrate you and widen the distance between you and your relative.
5: Don’t retaliate, especially in subtle ways (Romans 12:19). Sometimes, we can be “sneaky mean,” even disguising our anger in humility as we say or do something sinful to a rejecting relative.
6: One of the ways we can be “sneaky mean” is by gossiping or slandering them to other relatives (or anyone else). Some folks would go so far as to grumble on the internet (Ephesians 4:29).
7: Bring in someone from your church to talk to about this problem (Proverbs 24:6). You want to borrow brains because it’s easy to lose objectivity when you’re hurting, fearful, or angry with someone rejecting you.
8: Guard your heart, especially around Christmas and other significant days like your children’s birthdays. The rejecting or manipulating relative will probably slight you, while other family members receive preferential treatment (Psalm 27:10).
9: It would be best if you subjected your thoughts to the “despised and rejected by men” category so a stronghold does not form, complicating what needs to happen. You can honor Jesus by putting Him on display in your family (Isaiah 53:3; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
10: Make sure you are mortifying “what you want” v. “what you are going to get” from your family (Romans 8:13). If you struggle with the fear of man, their disapproval of you will be your kryptonite. Craving acceptance but receiving a rejection will twist your psyche.
11: Honor your relatives, even when they are not honorable (Romans 12:10). God did make them in His image, and you want to ensure that you’re not blessing God in one breath while cursing men with the other (James 3:9).
12: Let God take care of this. You live for Jesus no matter what. If you do this, you’ll benefit from God’s favor (James 4:6), a by-product of your humility. God’s favor is more important than your relative’s (1 Peter 2:18-25).
13: Pray, asking the Father to turn the hearts of your relative (Proverbs 21:1). It could be that God will do amazing things through your weakness, so you want to spend consistent time talking to Him about yourself and your relative.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).