I had this friend who used to always get mad at other people who would talk about what another one of their friends had told them. He used to say, “I can’t believe these people call themselves friends and then go and blab to others.” He believed that loyalty was one of the most important gifts you could give someone.
Being in ministry can be very lonely, but is does not have to be. You can have friends and they will be some great friends, but you have to move slowly. There are some people you will share things with, not because you are trying to be bad or hurt anyone, but because you trust them and need a sounding board. Sometimes you need to get a grasp on whats going on around you and dialogue about the situations you are facing. This is an important part of the process. But you have to be careful. Just because you need to have a conversation, does not mean that you should be having one. And when you have one, you have to make sure that it honors God above everything else and this is the big challenge.
As a leader, you cannot just have these conversations anywhere and with anyone. I have heard and I am sure been guilty of discussing something that I should not have at a lunch table, where others could overhear. I have also discussed challenges I was facing with people, who I thought I could trust, people who had pledged their loyalty and in the end, discovered that they were pretty much just like everybody else. This is not a slam, just a reality of life that we all must realize and face. Live long enough and you will discover that this is not a one time occurence, it will happen to you again and again, until you decide to not play this silly and dangerous game.
Aristotle said: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Here are some things I am learning in my mind and in my heart about friends and the conversations we have:
1.) There are some things that we only need to talk with God about. You want to talk to a person, you need to hear an opinion, but you better talk to God and wait for His reply. In the long run this works better for everyone.
2.) Friends are there to help each other. Before engaging or allowing yourself to be pulled into a conversation ask yourself this question: “How is this conversation going to benefit me, them and whoever we are talking about?” If there is not benefit for everyone, then think twice and maybe even three times about having the conversation.
3.) Friendships are give and take. They are supposed to make your life better and more enjoyable. Friendships are best when they are shared. Always work to enlarge the circle. Enlarging the circle will help you to keep your conversations right by talking about things that are mutually beneficial to all.
There is a lot that could be added to this list. My goal today was not to give us a complete list, but to hopefully challenge and get us to thinking about getting our friendships right, so they can begin the process of growing deep roots that will help them last forever.
I have been very fortunate in my life to have some very good friends, some men and women, who I trust and love and can’t wait to spend some time with. We talk, work, minister, share and grow together – it’s a beautiful thing. I’ve still got a lot to learn. I am trying to get there and with my “Best Friend’s” help, I know I will.