Building Passport

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 helping 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 the new people I meet and counsel every year.

Passport OriginalA 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—to have real relationship with them—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 guard my secrets, especially the embarrassing ones? Will you lose respect for me or judge me if I allow you to see how badly I’ve blown it? Will you be gentle and patient even when I’m exasperating? Will you reject me if I don’t do everything right? Will you assume the best about me or will you jump to conclusions and blame me for all my problems? Can I trust you with the “fine china” of my life?
  • Do you really care about me? Are you just politely tolerating me or simply fulfilling an obligation? Or do you really want to help me? Why? How could anyone love a person with such problems? Will you take time to listen to me? Do you care enough to push past my outer defenses and patiently help me sort out the tangled mess in my heart? Will you love me like Jesus does, even when I’m not very loveable?
  • Can you actually help me? Are you able to deal with my issues? 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 these kinds of 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

Reflection Questions:

  • How does Jesus model the qualities that build passport? (Rom. 5:8; John 15:11; Matt. 11:28; Mark 10:21)
  • Who has the strongest passport into your life? How did he or she earn it?
  • How you can you imitate these qualities and actions?

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like. If you wish to adapt the questions to better suit your group, please include a parenthetical note (Questions adapted with permission of RW360) and send a copy to

© 2013 Ken Sande

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10 Responses to "Building Passport"
  1. Wow! A prolific wealth of insight and, although I made passports last year for a French Club, I am jazzed about making Relational Passports for my entire homeroom class this year and encouraging them to list daily a Fruit of the Spirit that they’re working on to exemplify to other Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Lastly, how beneficial to have them write in a daily journal about how they communicated “the fine china” in their life or showed empathy and compassion to others. What a wonderful reminder to love like Jesus even when someone is not acting loving toward us.

  2. With so much happening in the world around us today, it is so important to have an individual that one can trust and look to for honest responses and support. Sometime we need to have someone in our life that will ask the hard questions and willing to stand beside you doing the hard answers.

  3. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to educate myself so that I can help myself and thereby be equipped to help others.

    • Olga, thank you for taking the time to read and respond! I hope this is the start of a changed path for many and that you encouragement in the process.

  4. I am truly excited about learning throughout this course…I want to learn how to better demonstrate Jesus’ love to others in how I respond, how I speak, and how I behave toward others.

  5. So thankful for this opportunity to learn and be equipped to be able to help myself and others in the future to handle the difficulties in our lives,esp in this difficult season. Every one is affected and has to go through a dramatic change in our lives. I do hope I can help people to live a harmonious life with God and with the people around us, and with ourselves as well.

  6. I was so blessed by your book, that decided to take some of your courses because i can use that knowledge to help other. Indeed, i have had people in my life that i opened up to and was blessed. I would like to do the same for others.

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