Relationships: A Mess Worth Making

Paul David Tripp and Timothy S. Lane
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Relationships are messy. In this deeply insightful book by Paul David Tripp and Timothy S. Lane, readers are presented with the power of grace to redeem and restore relationships.

Through straightforward language, the authors walk through the relational disappointments we all suffer by offering deep, Christ-centered thought and broad counseling experience.

Relationships dwells on fresh hope and practical answers, exposing deeper issues that keep relationships less than they are designed to be. Christ showed us nothing matters more to God than how we love one another, yet so many of us settle for too little in our relationships.

This invaluable resource convincingly testifies God's power to restore relationships by working within the following:

  • Resolving conflicts
  • Turning tough conversations to positive conversations
  • Expressing and sharing real love that comes from forgiveness;
  • Maturing casual relationships into deep friendships
  • Applauding strengths instead of dwelling on weaknesses 
  • Making way for honesty without being mean or unkind 

Rather than presenting new or sophisticated techniques to make relationships flourish, the authors instead focus on the basic character qualities that can only be formed in the heart by the gospel.

This book is not a simplistic how-to manual on relationships, offering lists to check off from theoretical procedures based on someone else's idea of a model relationship. Rather, it is about the life-changing work of Christ and the power and wisdom God graciously uses to redeem relationships.

We are called to be people of great character so when we do come in contact with the world, our character shapes and influences those around us. Even though relationships are messy, God uses them to rescue us from ourselves.


Timothy S. Lane, MDiv, DMin, is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) with over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry, counseling, teaching, and executive leadership. He is the author of several minibooks and the coauthor of the books How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making and the curricula Change and Your RelationshipsHow People Change, and Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands. Tim speaks internationally, consults with churches, and writes about the importance of pastoral care.

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"This book is not just another simplistic manual on relationships, offering theoretical methods and procedures for arriving at someone else's ideas of a model relationship. Instead, Tim Lane and Paul Tripp have written about Christ crucified—the power of God and the wisdom of God for redeeming relationships. Destined to radically transform multitudes of families and friendships, their wisdom is based on the Rock, and the Rock is very sound."
Bob Inglis, Member of the US House of Representives, South Carolina's 4th district (SC-4)

"Paul Tripp and Tim Lane bring deep Christ-centered thought and broad counseling experience to their writing, offering fresh hope and practical answers to people in less-than-perfect relationships. Paul and Tim are men who love our Savior, his Word, and the Spirit, so it is with the utmost confidence that I recommend their writing."
Elyse Fitzpatrick, Author and speaker; Director of Women Helping Women

"What a wonderful and helpful book! It will make a major difference in your life and the lives of everybody you love. Read this and you will want to be my friend for recommending it to you."
Steve Brown, Key Life radio broadcaster; author of Three Free Sins and Hidden Agendas

"Lane and Tripp provide us with invaluable help for unraveling the complexities of relating to others. Avoiding trite and complicated techniques so common in other books, these gifted authors remind us that transforming our own hearts is the key to transforming our relationships."
Robert Jeffress, Pastor and author of Second Chance, Second Act

"Apart from loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, nothing matters more to God than how we love one another. So many of us settle for too little—for superficial, safe relationships in our marriages, our families, and our churches. I am so glad that Paul and Tim have written a book to guide us into deeper, richer relationships. I pray we'll have the courage to follow their counsel."
Bob Lepine, Cohost, FamilyLife Today

"Relationships are messy! But Paul and Tim show readers how to clean up their old and neglected relationships to where they sparkle and shine like new. Relationships: A Mess Worth Making is perfect for anyone who's ever had a mother, a father, a husband, a wife, a friend, a neighbor, a dog, a cat . . . ."
Doug Herman, Author of Time for a Pure Revolution and founder of Pure Revolution Conference

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18 Reviews

  • 5
    5.0 out of 5 starsSo this book along with the power of GOD through prayer has done great things in the lives of those who read it

    Posted by Azia Cherry on 09 28 2018

    In all honesty, I didn't finish the book but I gave it a friend whose marriage was in trouble & she read it, then she & her husband read it together & it helped them reconcile their marriage. Then they let their sister borrow it to help her marriage & it worked for her so now another family member is reading it. So this book along with the power of GOD through prayer has done great things in the lives of those who read it!

  • 5
    Excellent insight in relational mess!

    Posted by Dr Jason Kanz on 09 28 2018

    Relationships: A Mess Worth Making (2006), by Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp was a required book for a class I am taking through the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. I had previously read Tripp and Lane's How People Change, which was a very good book, so I was looking forward to this one as well. This one surpassed my expectations. As the title would suggest, this book explores the mess of relationships and why we should pursue them anyway. They rightly demonstrate that relationships are often difficult and, given enough time, all relationships will likely show strain. However, they suggest that "God keeps us in messy relationships for His redemptive purpose" (page 11). In the midst of struggle, it is often difficult to see God's work at hand, but it is. Exploring topics such as sin, forgiveness, and mercy, the authors provide examples of moving in the rhythms of life with one another. In many ways, this book was reminiscent of the things that I have been reading from Dr Larry Crabb. The idea of "relational sin" would not be foreign to these authors and this book would serve as an excellent addition to the libraries of those who believe that relationships are a mess worth making.

  • 5
    Thought-provoking insight

    Posted by Ferro on 09 28 2018

    This book provides a new and fresh perspective on our relationships: I enjoyed it more than I had anticipated. This is not an easy topic. Human relationships are easily the most difficult thing we navigate, but this book treats it gently. I found myself meditating for a long time on various points. Its strength lies in its close reference to scripture.

  • 5
    Not your run-of-the-mill Christian self-help book

    Posted by Todd Benkert on 09 28 2018

    This is more than a book on relationships, it's a book on discipleship and how being a follower of Christ impacts your relationships. If you are looking for a how-to book filled with checklists and action steps, this is not your book. But if you want a book that will stretch you, challenge your thinking, and help you live out your faith in the daily context of your relationships, then this book is for you. I found many of the chapters to be helpful -- particularly the authors' descriptions of forgiveness (c.9), encouragement (p.112-116), and mercy (c.12). The final chapter challenges the reader toward a kingdom ministry that steps into the messiness of the world around us, serving others as worship.

  • 4
    Chapter 9 is of special value

    Posted by Suzqnne W Jackson on 09 28 2018

    Relationships are, indeed, messy; yet they are also worthwhile. This book does a good job of biblically sorting through relationship issues, particularly in helping the reader deal with his or her own contribution to the relationship (versus fixing others). I found the section in chapter nine on forgiveness and reconciliation to be the most valuable part of the book, personally. The authors clarified a sticky issue here.

  • 5
    This Book Makes a lot of sense

    Posted by M Martin on 09 28 2018

    This book makes a lot of sense on understanding everyday situations dealing with all sorts of relationships. One thing I've learned from this book is that nobody is perfect and always expect the unexpected.

  • 5
    Strong encouragement and practical advice

    Posted by Ben Donahower on 09 28 2018

    My counselor suggested that I read this book. I'm glad that I did. I am not an especially social person though I have come to the realization that I need me and deeper relationships for my own health and to accomplish my mission in life. Frankly, my own personal gain from relationships just hasn't been compelling enough to act on. That said, reading this compelling account of what God's desire for our relationships is has been a strong encouragement to me to invest more of my time and resources into other people. The book also outlines the challenges with relationships and a Godly approach to transcending them. Here comes the hard part - putting it into action!

  • 5
    An important read.

    Posted by Janice on 08 21 2018

    Very helpful. Very practical. Timothy Lane always goes to the heart of problems and Jesus is the only one who can transform hearts. This is a book for everyone. It puts a Biblical perspective into every relationship we have. Within the book there is help for conversations, apologies, forgiveness, mercy, how to use your time and money, and much more. Each chapter is gospel-saturated. This book helps define the problem AND offers the only biblical solution--Christ and Him crucified. This would be a great book for small groups to read and the church as a whole.

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