Tag Archives: friendships

Our Influencers

Who are you influenced by? We live in a world now where someone’s job is to influence you to buy products from companies. Beyond that, there are people who influence every area of your life. There are people who influence how you speak, where you go, how you act and more. The list goes on. Do you remember your parents telling you that you will become like those you run with? They were right. We’re influenced by the people we’re around for good or bad. They are the ones whom we give the power to influence our thinking, our decision making and our relationship with God. The people we’re around will either draw us closer to God or push us further away.

In 1 Kings 12, Solomon’s son Rehoboam had become king. The leaders of Israel requested a meeting with him. They told him that his father worked them to the bone, and asked if he would lighten their load. In return, they would be loyal subjects. Rehoboam went to his father’s advisors. They agreed that he should ease restrictions and have peace. Then he went to his friends. They gave him the opposite advice. They thought he should add more work and prove he was greater than his father. When he went with their advice, the people revolted and the kingdom split. They way he judged the people around him cost him dearly.

2 Corinthians 5:16 says, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” (NLT) The word “evaluating” here means to judge or to be influenced by. We can’t judge or be influenced by people from a worldly point of view. We must hold the people we allow into our lives to a higher standard. We run the risk of a split kingdom in our lives when we allow the wrong people to have influence on our decision making. Are the people you’re around drawing you closer to God or are they causing you to blur lines you would have never blurred before? As believers, we must have a different set of evaluation tools than the world. We know Christ and the standards in His Word. The people around us should be influencing us to be more like Him.

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Symbiotic Encouragement

There are at least three types of relationships we need to have in our lives. If you don’t have these, you need to make them. The first one is where I’m the encourager. There are certain people in my life that need encouragement when they call or want to meet. Then there are the people who encourage me when I need it. Finally, the most important one is the one where you mutually encourage each other. These relationships are symbiotic and benefit both parties involved. It’s important that you identify who fit into these categories in your life. We all need to both encourage others and to be encouraged.

David and Jonathan had the symbiotic type relationship. They loved each other dearly, looked out for each other and encouraged one another. They learned to put the other’s needs ahead of their own, thereby bringing value to each other. In 1 Samuel 23, Jonathan’s father Saul was chasing David to kill him. Saul wanted Jonathan to succeed him as king, nut Jonathan valued David more than the position. In verse 16 it says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God” (NLT). They then renewed their pact of encouragement to each other and Jonathan went home.

Who is that person in your life? Who is the one who comes running in your time of need? Who is it that when you both walk away from conversations you feel better? Chances are the two of you are intentional about your conversations and meetings. In Romans 1:12, Paul was looking forward to going to Rome to meet with the believers. He wrote, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Encouragement is born from intentionality. It doesn’t just happen. Be praying that you would be an encourager, that there would be someone in your life who encourages you and most importantly that you would find a person to share symbiotic encouragement with.

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Don’t Fall Alone

One night I got a call from a friend’s wife. When I answered, I heard, “See if you can talk some sense into him!” I could hear him crying before he grabbed the phone. He was spiraling downhill and couldn’t stop. For days he had not been able to pull out of this depression and it was reaching the point of no return. I grabbed my keys as I kept him talking while I drove to his house. After about an hour of talking, he pulled up out of it. After a few days, he called back to thanks me, but was upset that I was called. I explained that friends aren’t just there in the good times. They’re there to help us when we’re low and can’t break free too.

The Bible is full of friendships, and when we think of them, Jonathan and David too the list. However, one of the friendships that has always stood out tome is Job’s three friends. I know they didn’t give him good advice, but I love that when they heard what he was going through, they showed up. I also love what Job 2:13 says. “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words” (NLT). Sometimes you just need someone to be present with you instead of words. People like that, who show up in the most desperate times, save lives without having to say a word. Their presence let’s you know you’re not alone. No words needed.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Don’t let pride stand in your way when you need the presence of a friend. Don’t let your pain or embarrassment keep you from reaching out. Every one of us have low moments in life when we need the help of someone to pull us up. Make sure you take time to identify those people in your life who can help you in the low times. Let them know now that they are the person you will call. They don’t have to have a degree in counseling. They don’t have to have all the answers or the right words. They just need to be present so you don’t fall alone.

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Friendships

When life gets hard, you find out who your true friends are. Hard times have a way of weeding out acquaintances and fair weather friends. There are those who will stand by your side through the darkest night and those who will abandon you the moment bad things start coming your way. It’s hard to tell them apart until your faced with adversity. Proverbs 18:24 says, “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers” (GNB).

As you read that, I’m sure names are popping in your head. You can think of those who have abandoned you, but you can also think of those who have stood by your side. It’s easy to get mad at those who have fallen by the wayside, but the truth is, you don’t have to be mad at them. You don’t need those kinds of relationships in your life. Let them go and wish them well. Don’t hold grudges against them because it may mess up your lifelong relationships.

We like to think of the parable of the Prodigal Son as a story about returning to God, but I believe it’s also about friendships. When he had his inheritance and was living recklessly, I’m sure he had a lot of friends. When his money ran out and the famine hit, where were those friends? No one offered him shelter. No one offered him money. No one offered him food. He realized that the friendships he developed were poor ones and he thought of home. He realized he hadn’t been a good friend to them.

He learned that friendships and relationships are a two way street. Relationships that are one way, don’t last. He went back to the relationships that mattered and they accepted him back. While hard times can take away friendships that are one way, they can also drive us back to the ones that matter. If you haven’t been the type of person who was loyal to others, ask for their forgiveness and try to work things out. If you’ve found a friend that is more loyal than a brother, reach out to them today and thank them for being in your life.

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I’m taking my annual sabbatical from writing. I hope you enjoyed this previously written devotion.

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Relationship Goals

When I was a teen, someone told me, “You become like those you run with.” When I was a young adult, someone told me, “You show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.” Then several years later, someone told me, “If you want to soar with eagles, you can’t be scratching around in the dirt with turkeys.” All these reminders have been about the importance of choosing who you choose to hang out with. Either the group you’re with will hold you back or help you get to that next level.

As I’ve lived my life, I can honestly say that these messages are true. Close relationships are the greatest influencers of your success or failure. If you’re constantly failing and are stuck in a bad place, you need to walk away from the relationships that are holding you back. Your life will not change until you change your relationships. If you want your life to improve, associate with people who are ahead of you and are moving in the right direction. This works for spiritual and economic growth as well.

As Paul was grooming Timothy to be a leader, he gave him the same advice. 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help” (GNT) Paul wanted Timothy to understand it’s difficult to grow on your own. You need other like minded people who are headed in the same direction to help you get there. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that as iron sharpens iron, one person sharpens another. You need people around you who will make you sharp.

When coaching or counseling people, I let them know that they need someone ahead of them that they can follow. They need someone beside them that can challenge them. They also need someone behind them that they can help get to the next level. Finding the right relationships is one of the most difficult tasks in life. That’s why it’s preached to you since you were young. It’s never to late to make the changes you need to make. If you’re ready to soar with eagles, spread your wings and leave the turkeys behind.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Your Innermost Circle

When I was a kid, I began to hear my parents tell me, “You become like those you run with. Choose wisely.” Those were wise words to a child, but they’re also wise words to you as an adult. We like to think that people don’t change us, but the truth of the matter is that each of us are being sharpened and shaped by the people closest to us. They’re the ones whom we let down our facade the most with to show who we really are. Because of that vulnerability, they become the people who shape our decisions, our interests and even direction of our life. Your innermost circle of friends even determine the level of success you’ll have in life. You can’t soar with eagles if you’re scratching around with turkeys all the time.

The Bible has a lot to say about friendships. It gives examples of people like David and Jonathon who were willing to sacrifice everything for each other. There’s also Paul and Timothy whose friendship was one where Paul was a mentor as he shaped this young pastor. However, Job had some friends that gave him bad advice and weren’t able to endure the suffering with their friend. They used their influence in his life to try to misrepresent God and affect his relationship with Him. The people we let in our innermost circle of friends shape even our relationship with God, so it’s eternally important to choose wisely.

In Psalm 101:6 David says, “My innermost circle will only be those whom I know are pure and godly. They will be the only ones I allow to minister to me” (TPT). He understood the importance of that group on his relationship with God and wanted to protect it most. Who are you allowing to minister to you and to shape your relationship with God? Are they pushing you closer to Him or are they misrepresenting God to you? If they’re not making you sharper, challenging you to grow more or improving your relationship with God, they’re holding you back. David was selective about who he let into that group, and we should be too. God is calling us to greater maturity, faith and relationship with Him. Are the people closest to you influencing you in that direction?

Thanks to @lyrawhite for making this photo available freely on @unsplash

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Seeking Sharpness

Do you know someone that just rubs you the wrong way? Every time you meet, you clash. It seems like every time you’re around each other, they bring out the worst in you. Then there are others you come into contact with who seem to make you want to be a better person. You have long, deep, conversations about things. They ask questions that keep you thinking for days. You can’t wait to be near them because they bring out the best side of you. I think it’s good to have both types in your life. I know it sounds crazy, but even the people who seem to bring out the worst in you can help you be a better person.

The people who bring out the worst in me reveal my rough edges. They show me the side of me that I work hard at covering up. When that side of me flares up, it’s a reminder that it’s still there and that I still have work to do. We all have rough edges in our lives that need smoothing out. When a piece of wood is rough, we don’t hold back the sandpaper. We apply it because we know that wherever it is applied will even be smooth. When a knife is dull, we don’t throw it away. We apply it to a whetstone or a grinding stone in order to make the edges sharp. Relationships, the good ones and the difficult ones, can have that same affect on you.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “It takes a grinding wheel to sharpen a blade, and so one person sharpens the character of another” (TPT). One of the things I pray often is, “God, put the right relationships in my life who will help me to be who you’ve called me to be, and take out the ones who don’t.” God is able to use relationships to smooth out our edges and to make us sharper people so we can fulfill our purpose. If you’re around people who seem to bring out the worst in you, ask God to use them to make you better or to help you break away from that relationship. We all have room for improvement in becoming more like Christ. Some relationships require you to end them so you can improve, and others will be used to smooth out your rough edges. Seek God’s wisdom for what to do in those relationships in your life and keep seeking to be sharp.

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Faithful Friends

When life gets hard, you find out who your true friends are. Hard times have a way of weeding out acquaintances and fair weather friends. There are those who will stand by your side through the darkest night and those who will abandon you the moment bad things start coming your way. It’s hard to tell them apart until your faced with adversity. Proverbs 18:24 says, “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers” (GNB).

As you read that, I’m sure names are popping in your head. You can think of those who abandoned you, but you can also think of those who have stood by your side. It’s easy to get mad at those who have fallen by the wayside, but the truth is, you don’t have to be mad at them. You don’t need those kinds of relationships in your life. Let them go and wish them well. Don’t hold grudges against them because it may mess up your lifelong relationships.

We like to think of the parable of the Prodigal Son as a story about returning to God, but I believe it’s also about friendships. When he had his inheritance and was living recklessly, I’m sure he had a lot of friends. When his money ran out and the famine hit, where were those friends? No one offered him shelter. No one offered him money. No one offered him food. He realized that the friendships he developed were poor ones and he thought of home. He realized he hadn’t been a good friend to them.

He learned that friendships and relationships are a two way street. Relationships that are one way, don’t last. He went back to the relationships that mattered and they accepted him back. While hard times can take away friendships that are one way, they can also drive us back to the ones that matter. If you haven’t been the type of person who was loyal to others, ask for their forgiveness and try to work things out. If you’ve found a friend that is more loyal than a brother, reach out to them today and thank them for being in your life. 

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