Many people are drawn to faith communities by the promise of the grace of God. A relationship with a loving being who accepts them with abundant care and regard for their well-being. Even when religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity require discipline and faithful works, it is understood that, to some extent, the mercy of the divine is what makes such righteousness possible.
Sometimes it is difficult to extend this grace to others, though. In addition to the general fallibility of humans (and thus the good chance that others will occasionally get on your nerves), there are also habits that can rob you of the ability to see others as God sees them. These habits are easy to fall into, but the good news is that they can also be avoided once you identify them. Removing barriers to grace helps you foster healthy spiritual relationships with other people.
There is nothing wrong with being confident. When your high opinion of yourself becomes the center of your conversations, though, it can have a detrimental effect on your relationships. It's hard to get to know people who only seem concerned about their own image preservation, and it's difficult for conceited individuals to understand others.
While it is normal to want the people in your faith community whom you love and respect to reciprocate those sentiments, you must accept that you cannot control whether or not they do. As Pastor Abby Norman frequently tells those she counsels, what other people think of you is none of your business. Instead, focus on the good you see in other people and encourage them. You'll likely find that this allows them to trust you and thus deepens your interactions.
You may have heard the adage, "Comparison is the thief of joy." While popularly attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, this concept is reflected in many religious texts as well. Furthermore, when your relationship with others is primarily one of competition, it may become more difficult to connect to them in a gracious way.
Seeking validation in being the best robs you of your ability to show love to others. In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote that all the achievements in the world amount to nothing if you do not have love. To overcome this barrier to grace, shift your motivation to practicing the tenets of love instead:
Overall, the church claims to be a place of love and acceptance. However, many people, particularly those of younger generations, report that they have stopped attending services altogether due to feeling judged rather than welcomed. The compulsion of various religious communities to control the behavior of their congregants through shame or by withholding the benefits of fellowship ultimately hurts everyone involved.
It is difficult to extend grace and love to people when all your focus is on whether you should approve of who they are or what they do. While most religions do teach guidelines for living, members should strive to look at their own behaviors and attitudes before they concern themselves with the choices of others. When the only control you are seeking to instigate is self-control, you allow those around you to do the same. This helps to establish trust in your faith community relationships.
Everyone who wants to have a strong faith community must seek to love others the way God does. This means putting the fragile human ego aside and allowing other people to flourish without trying to compete, compare, or manipulate. When you break down these barriers, you are able to extend grace to the people in your faith community and beyond.