I had the blessing of hanging out with some dear friends yesterday at Eastview Christian Church in Normal, IL. My good friends and guides J.K. Jones and Neal Windham were gracious conversation partners along with a group of us who were simply there to listen and learn. I was taking sporadic notes in my Action Journal (great for those who aren’t “planner people” but need help organizing) and I found myself writing words describing the atmosphere and attitude that filled the room as we talked about formation in Christ and our roles in various churches and institutions.
What I find myself thinking today is that there is a deep and holy power in surrounding yourself with people who can encourage you in your faith and life. It can be a matter of spiritual life and death, especially in times where we're spent and hopeless.
But who do we look for to surround ourselves with? Here are the words I wrote down, perhaps they’ll help you find your own group of influences:
- Articulate – I find that I need people who speak, think, and act in clear-to-understand ways. They are able to speak less because they make the best of what they say to you. I think this is INDISPENSIBLE in the world I live in where the Twitterverse and Blogosphere put so much talk on the table. I need people who are “stewards of their words” and live lives that are pushing me to be more clear in everything I do.
- Patient- This goes hand in hand with the articulate piece above, but we all need people who are taking time and know how to wait for the goodness of a conversation, decision or action. The reason this is helpful is because a person who is patient will challenge you with their patience and as a result you’ll pursue more patient. Both of the men I mentioned above bring a great sense of peace to any discussion because they are incredibly patient. It’s not that they don’t struggle to be patient from time to time, but they are so rooted in patience and trust in Jesus that it comes out very clearly.
- Invested- The men around the table yesterday were invested in this discussion. Not just in he topic, but in Jesus who drives our lives and the Scriptures that guide and root us in real life. I also felt that we were invested in each other – in our success, growth, correction and encouragement. We need to surround ourselves with people who are “fans” of ours and also people whom we can return “fanhood” to – your surrounding people have to be in it for you and you have to be in it for them, as brothers and sisters in Jesus. There's agape, unconditional love here, not of emotion but of will where we're loving each other into better men/women-pastors-readers-husbands/wives-disciples.
Who are you surrounded by? Are they fans of you and are you fans of them? Are they articulate and patient or are they moving through you to the next step, appointment, or experience?
I find that I’m looking at today differently by simply being with the guys yesterday. It was a wonderful experience and I’m looking forward to being “surrounded” again.