Building Passport

I have dozens of passports, and I need to renew them constantly. No, I’m not James Bond or Jason Bourne. I don’t fly from country to country using alternative identities to evade the NSA, CIA, or MI6.

I just love people. I enjoy meeting, understanding, encouraging, and working with them. And for that I need a lot of passports.

One for my wife, two for my children, over thirty for my relatives and close friends, and dozens more for coworkers, clients, and the other people I engage every week.

A passport is an authorization to go someplace you have no inherent right to be. In relational terms, it is the permission that people give to others to enter into their lives, to learn their secrets, to know their struggles, to offer advice and correction.

If you want others to allow you into their lives—including your employees and customers—you must earn a relational passport from each person you engage. The best way to do so is to relate to others in such a way that they would answer “yes” to three key questions, each of which encompasses a variety of sub-questions that roll around in people’s minds when they are thinking of opening up to you:

  • Can I trust you? Will you keep your word and follow through on your commitments? Will you guard confidential information? Will you continue to respect and value me if I allow you to see my mistakes? Can I trust you with the “fine china” of my life?
  • Do you really care about me? Will you look out for my interests as well as your own? Will you take time to listen to me? Do you sincerely want to serve me? Why? Do you care enough to push past my outer defenses and patiently help me sort out things I myself don’t yet understand?
  • Can you actually help me? Are you able to deal with my concerns and needs? How are you doing with your own challenges and struggles? What kind of experience do you have? Do you have a track record of successfully solving relational and business problems? If this problem is beyond the two of us, do you have the humility and wisdom to help me find another person who has the experience I need?

Let these questions echo in the back of your mind as you relate to others. Ask God to enable you to answer them by engaging others with his humility, patience, compassion, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, honesty, and wisdom (Col. 3:12; James 3:17). If you do so, you’ll be well on your way to having more passports than you ever dreamed.

Ken Sande is the founder of Peacemaker Ministries and Relational Wisdom 360 and the author of numerous books on biblical conflict resolution, including The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.

We Are All F.H.B.s

I recently had an experience in which I made a major mistake. I sent an email with sensitive information to the wrong distribution list. Someone alerted me to my mistake and I was mortified. As this situation unfolded, I was captivated at the thoughts and behaviors that were triggered. I share this because it was insightful for me and it might be for others.  


  1. Gratitude to the person who alerted me to the situation. How fortunate I was for someone having my back.
  2. Frantically, I spent time on figuring out how do I recall this message and hopefully wipe out this mistake all together! Looking back, I was fascinated that my first reaction was deception – and then I realized this is how the evil one works. Any crack, chink in our armor is an opportunity for the deceiver to attack / work. Evil is ever-present.
  3. After going down this path for a while I realized it was futile. It was likely too late. The only person I was deceiving was myself.
  4. My gut hurt and my mind was filled with lies. “I blew it.” “I will lose this relationship.” “I have irrevocably embarrassed myself.” More deception attempting to take root.
  5. I fully confessed and owned my mistake – alerting those who were impacted that I messed up. No excuses. No rationale. I made a mistake. I am accountable. I shined light on my error and the darkness went away.
  6. I apologized and asked for forgiveness.
  7. I was understood and forgiven! I was encouraged that “stuff happens.” My relationship was restored and became even healthier.

So what did I learn from this experience and take away?

  • Mistakes happen. I am an F.H.B. – i.e., a Fallible Human Being!
  • Be on guard for deception and lies – they will attack my vulnerability when I am human and make mistakes.
  • Own the situation and my part in it. No masks, no excuses, no justification. Light will defeat darkness.
  • Receive the gift of forgiveness … and move on with meekness and humility.
  • Surround myself with healthy relationships that will give me grace when I will inevitably goof up. Build those relationships daily.
  • Forgive freely when someone makes a mistake that impacts me. Remember, they are an F.H.B. too!