Trust is the Greatest Compliment We Give Each Other

Trust is the greatest compliment we can give each other. Trust securely glues every kind of relationship we experience together: parent and child, husband and wife, teacher and student, friend to friend, leader and disciple, employer to employee. We know the security of trust when it is present. Yet, trust is difficult to define. 

Every newborn baby comes explicitly trusting others to care selflessly for its needs. Yet, broken trust requires extra measures of responsibility, grace and time to restore.  

Love, honour, servanthood, and humility are just a few of the non-optional attributes we owe to each other. But not trust! In fact, Jesus didn’t trust everyone!

“Now while he was in Jerusalem
at the Passover Festival,
many people saw the signs
he was performing and believed in his name.
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them,
for he knew all people.”
John 2:23-24

What is this valuable asset, we call trust, in relationships? What allows trust to thrive? How can trust be restored once broken?

Five key elements must exist to create trust: empathy, motivation, ability, character, and history. 

Empathy

The dictionary defines empathy as an “ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. Far too often, our need to be understood exceeds our desire to truly understand others. 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition
or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility
value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests
but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Philippians 2:3-4

Instinctively, we sense when people are more concerned with themselves than with others. Developing positive communication skills, including listening well, has been a process for me. We can learn to hear beyond people’s words to their hearts.

I honestly have to ask myself, “Do I listen well?” So far, the response is “Not good enough!” I am learning, albeit slowly, how to listen with more than my ears. 

Often words mask the real message of the heart. Will I look into people’s eyes and honour their unspoken longing — taking the risk, though messy and uncomfortable? Will I focus on their circumstances, their struggles, and their needs?

“Nobody cares how much you know
until they know how much you care.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

Motivation

Motivation, the reason why someone acts or behaves in a certain way, usually conceals itself in wounded caverns of the soul. We may be ignorant of our own “real” motivation behind our words or actions. 

Dr. Henry Cloud says, “Whenever we meet someone — especially a stranger but also a friend, a boss we see every day, or even a family member — we unconsciously scan the face, read the body language, and assess the tone of voice to determine whether the person is with us or against us. It is just what humans do.” 

“But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:10

By allowing God to search our hearts, we become people others can trust. The only way to effectively invest in the lives of others, championing their causes and helping them to succeed, is through pure motives.

When someone has “dropped the ball”, failing us in some way, will vengeance cloud our vision of them? Do we value them and the relationship enough to seek restoration? Will we stand by them until they walk strong again?

Restoring trust is the greatest compliment we can offer. Trust says, “I want you to succeed.”

Ability

It is amazing to me, how Jesus drew His incompetent disciples into ever increasing levels of ability. They floundered and fought. Yet Jesus trusted them enough (after only three years of training) to launch the Christian Church off their backs. Astounding!

Ability unlocks trust.
Trust empowers ability.

We often chose people for positions of trust based on credentials, certification or even the recommendation of others. Jesus chose The Twelve in a different way.

“One of those days
Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray,
and spent the night praying to God.
When morning came,
he called his disciples to him
and chose twelve of them,
whom he also designated apostles.”
Luke 6:12-13

Would any of us have chosen to trust this team? Would we have considered any of them upper level leadership? As Jesus sought the wisdom of God, He saw in each of them potential. 

Relationships require trusting the ability of others to bring what is needed into the situation. Trust says, “This is no gamble! I know that you can do it. You will do well.”

Trust is the greatest compliment we can offer someone who questions their own ability.

Character

Character resembles the steel structure in a skyscraper. It is the invisible strength that sustains a person through time and adversity. As fire forms steel, suffering molds godly character.

“Not only so but we also
glory in our suffering,
because we know that suffering
produces perseverance;
perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Romans 5:3-4

Character includes far more than the moral aspects required to be trustworthy. Trust grows best among those 

who are optimistic,
know how to persevere through trial,
refuse to act impulsively or defensively,
are unstoppable by fear,
secure and tenacious.

People with these attributes possess character mature enough to trust.

“Character inspires others to trust them.”
– Dr. Henry Cloud

History

Past successes and failures historically map our lives. Paul and Barnabas, after much prayer and fasting, were sent off to preach the gospel. I’m not sure anyone was at fault, but soon we see the team divided over John Mark. 

“They had such a sharp disagreement
that they parted company.
Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,
but Paul chose Silas and left,
commended by the believers
to the grace of the Lord.”
Acts 15:39-41

Paul’s impression of John Mark was clouded by previous experience — “history.” Mark once deserted him “in the work.” Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement, embraced Mark in spite of past failure. Paul refused to trust again.

 

Later, Paul considered him a valuable brother. Obviously something changed, either in Paul’s heart or in Mark’s attitude.

“The best predictor of the future is the past,
unless there is something new.”
– Dr. Henry Cloud

Broken trust necessitates change before it can be restored — often on the part of both parties. Such restoration develops over time, forming a new history. Trust is the greatest compliment we can extend to each other. It is the confidence to say, “I believe in you!”

Only One

Trust varies depending on the relationship. God is the only One we can completely trust all the time.

“Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.”
Psalms 62:8

For people, trust is a work in progress through grace and vulnerability. 

Though we might struggle to move past times of broken trust, it is far more beneficial to focus on how we can become trustworthy ourselves. Let’s allow God to reveal our empathy and inner motivation. May we increase in our ability to facilitate trust with strength of character. Then, over the duration of our lives, we will develop a “history” of trust.

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Recommended Read:
Dr. Henry Cloud – “The Power of the Other” 

 

The Friendship Model – David & Jonathan

Most of my life has been lived in a rural farming community where friendships run deep and long. When my husband and I sensed God was moving us to the city, we had many questions. Now looking back, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the new friendships developed. David & Jonathan form a godly model of mutual friendship.

In the last few weeks, one of my best friends has taken flight and headed south permanently. It is an opportunity I don’t want her to miss. However, my heart is filled with a mixture of joy and sadness, longing and releasing, holding on to friendship while letting go.

Friendship is walking together through life!

Friendships are as varied as the people forming the relationship, each a unique blend of the personal and corporate individuality.

Friendship Loves

Think about your closest friend. Where did you meet? What were the surrounding circumstances? Your friendship probably didn’t begin like Jonathan’s meeting of David.

David had just finished slaying Goliath, the harassing giant. The proof was his head tucked not so neatly under David’s arm. How is that for an image?

King Saul had just called David in for a personal interview. As soon as “Dad” was done, prince Jonathan introduces himself,

“Jonathan became one in spirit with David,
and he loved him as himself.”
I Samuel 18:1

Why such an instant connect between David and Jonathan? Jonathan, too, was a proven mighty warrior. As Jonathan looked at this half boy, not quite man, full of godly audacity, he loved him.

Jonathan loved David’s faith-filled reliance on God. He loved is courage, wit and agility. Jonathan loved David deeply and fully. There was an instant connection!

Friendship takes time to develop!

The strength of the cord within friendship is love – a love beyond self!

“Jonathan made a covenant with David
because he loved him as himself.”
1 Samuel 18:3

Friendship is Generous

There were some aspects of this friendship that may seem logical, but not all. Friendship gives generously!

Jonathan was so committed to David, he willingly surrendered everything.

Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing
and gave it to David, along with his tunic,
and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
1 Samuel 18:4

Every symbol of sonship and royalty, Jonathan gave freely to his friend. In this one act, they became equals. Every instrument of self-advancement, self-protection and self-preservation was yielded.

The unity of genuine friendship embodies preferring another above yourself.

Friendship Defends

Increasing unpredictable and emotionally unstable, Saul planned to kill David. Such reasoning was beyond Jonathan’s ability to comprehend. To protect David, Jonathan stepped into the dangerous gap.

“Why should he be put to death?
What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father.”
1 Samuel 20:32

Friends grow together!

Saul hurled the spear intended to kill David at his own son! Jonathan bore the brunt force of his father’s unleashed anger. His father was beyond reason!

“…They kissed each other and wept together
but David wept the most.
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace,
for we have sworn friendship with each other
in the name of the LORD..”
1 Samuel 20:41-42

What a beautiful illustration demonstrating the sacrifice between friends.

Friendship Strengthens

For fifteen years, David was on the run from Saul’s deadly intent.

“…Day after day Saul searched for him…”
1 Samuel 23:14

How do we help a friend is in distress? You know the kind! The day after day, relentless, nagging, intruding, no-hope-in-sight kind of trial!

I love this part of the story! Saul with his hundreds of expert warriors, trackers, and interrogators could not find David, but  friendship does. How far did Jonathan go to find his friend? How many caves did he search?

Friends stand together!

He ultimately went to the Desert of Ziph where David was hiding. Ziph means “melting”. Jonathan knew that his friend was in need. Perhaps faith was melting! Maybe courage was melting! The heat of the desert melts resolve, purpose and even divine calling.

“…Saul had come out to take his life.”
I Samuel 23:15

The enemy is always out to destroy, but friendship speaks life!

Friendship Encourages

The investments of friendship yields in multiplied measure. Friendship seeks to draw others into the fullness of all God has for them.

“Jonathan went to David at Horesh
and helped him find strength in God…
My father will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel…”
1 Samuel 23:16-17

Kingship should have been Jonathan’s portion, yet he reinforced the God call on David’s life. He reminded him of Samuel’s anointing and prophecy of kingship. Jonathan helped David look beyond the cave back to the palace. Beyond the tangled present to divine future!

Each time these two meet, we read:

“The two of them made a covenant before the LORD.”
1 Samuel 23:18

Friendship endures through the seasons!

Friendship went beyond mutual satisfaction or personal gratification to life-long commitment.

Friendship Endures

You are probably familiar with the rest of the story. Saul and Jonathan died in battle. David did become king. However, David grieved the loss of his friend – a grief that would not be solaced.

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left
of the house of Saul
to whom I can show kindness
for Jonathan’s sake.’ ”
2 Samuel 9:1

“Yes, Mephibosheth!” was the response.

David quickly had Jonathan’s crippled son brought to him. He restored his inheritance of land and provision. David also gave Jonathan’s grown son a place at his own table. In other words, David took Mephibosheth as his own son.

Though Jonathan was no longer alive, David found a way to honour and show love to his friend. Friendship endures even into generations!

Relationship’s Key

It is the context of friendship that sustains all viable relationships. Friendship is the unbroken cord holding fast personal relationships of parent and child, peer to peer, and husband with wife. It is the bridge often spanning generations, ethnicity, status, and gender.

The greatest context of friendship ever is God reaching down to humanity.

I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you
.”
John 15:15

Don’t miss it! Jesus, the Lord of all calls us friend.

This brings me to my knees in humble disbelief and incomprehensible joy!

The covenant example of friendship between David and Jonathan is an image of the enduring friendship we have in Christ. We are as unworthy as the shepherd boy receiving the princes garments. He took the violent swing of death over our lives on the cross.

In our own desert of “melting”, Christ comes with the word of strength and encouragement, “you are My friend.”

With arms stretched wide, Jesus extends to us the profound simplicity and unparalleled favour of friendship! What a blessing to offer it back to Him in return.

 

 

 

Building Community – The Purpose and Power of Connections

How do we genuinely comprehend the magnitude of God’s intention for networks of friendship, bonds of community, and genuine alliances of faith? Whenever I write about community, I am walking on foreign soil! I am like an explorer mapping freshly discovered territory with the intention of others following and traversing similar terrain into healthy community relationships.

Jesus The Example

For my answers I must turn to Jesus Christ. No other human exemplified both the purpose and power of connections as Jesus. Jesus remains the benchmark of excellence! He chose his followers from the most unlike candidates who were

at times highfalutin and oft cantankerous,
more than a little rag-tag mixed with a pinch of upper crust,
self-centered and self-promoting.

Creating unity in community!

How did he solidify in these men unparalleled power-filled connection that would be reproduced through generations in spite of the unending assaults of government, church and society?

“He appointed twelve that they might be with him
and that he might send them out to preach”
Mark 3:14

I realize any group, large or small, must be built on two strong legs in order to not only walk out faith, but have the capacity to run the race Christ has established. The first is love and the second is honour. Without both of these pillars, our journey together will be crippled and distorted.

The entire purpose and power of connections is based on these two ingredients: love and honour. Yet in multiple meetings with recognized leaders, few mention either!

Love

When asked what the greatest of commandments was, Jesus minced no words!

“… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40

A community of love and honour!

Paul would later dissect truth further in his letter to the Corinthians. He clarifies that without love, regardless of supernatural gifts and abilities, “I am nothing…I gain nothing”!

Any endeavour at building community without love is void and impotent.

I’m not talking about the here today and gone tomorrow shadow of  love, the touchy-feely, ooey-gooey imposter of love, or the make me “look good”, “feel good”, self-seeking mutation of love.

In true community love flows from the heart of the Father permeating every activity, conversation, discipleship, and connection. It bears repeating, without it we are nothing; we gain nothing!

Honour

When love is genuine, honour will also be sincere.

Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.”
Romans 13:7

Paul is writing concerning how to treat those in authority. Christ always went beyond the letter of the law manifesting the heart of truth. 

Community extends honour to all!

If the purpose of honour is to give merit, distinction or worth on the basis only of rank or status, it is a faint shadow of God’s intention, contradicting Christ’s example.

We see Jesus not just honouring people with title or position, but the lowly, despised, rejected, outcast members of His society. Honour is based not on social hierarchy, but the divine attribute and worth of being God’s image bearers.

When the heart of community is honour, it infiltrates every aspect of that community elevating each member. It is impossible to truly honour God without recognizing

  His likeness in every individual
and excellence in their personal uniqueness,
seeing purpose in His divine impartation
and gifts to His children,
while acknowledging His brilliance in every life.

By honouring the one, we honour the whole. In the honour of individuals, we honour the community.

Power of Community

The synergy of love and honour united this unlikely group of The Twelve into an undeniable re-presentation of Christ on earth.

If we believe that community is for the purpose of evangelism, we begin to treat people like a number on a list. If the attempt is keeping people from walking out the revolving back door of the church, community becomes a camouflaged prison of co-dependence. It is dangerous and deceptive to tag community’s primary purpose as discipleship. We cannot succumb to creating robotic reproductions full of knowledge and void of purpose.

Community - a fellowship of worth and purpose!

On the other hand, if every community is a fellowship of love and honour, each individual develops a sense of worth and purpose in their divine existence and calling.

People naturally encouraged and drawn into intimate relationship with Jesus
directly flows out of community.
The soil of community facilitates restoration and healing.
The wandering ones find a sense belonging.
Vibrant community environments release and develop gifts and abilities.

The united power of love and honour creates the fertile soil out which The Twelve became a hundred and the hundred became thousands, multiplying into a diverse and dominant worldwide movement unified for the glory of God.

Now that is genuine community!

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power
and is intended for his glory.
All glory to him forever!
Amen.”
Romans 11:36

Building community for the glory of Christ!

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Further Reading:

Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

Lovelessness! Choosing to Love More!

Learning to Love More

To the statement, “I couldn’t care less!”, Mother Teresa responded, “I couldn’t care more!” To love is to serve especially when lovelessness surrounds us.

Several years ago our granddaughter, then around 3 years old, was walking down the street of a small city with her mother. Approaching them was a homeless man. Gently she pulled on her mother’s arm and softly said, “He has no family.”

She intrinsically sensed his deepest need. Without being able to articulate it, her 3 year old heart saw him uncovered, unprotected, unloved and without dignity or place of belonging. Already she knew that family, true family, is a place of love and value.

Family Love

We look but don't see! We see without wanting to look! Click To Tweet

Why did she at only three so clearly see what we as adults miss? “He needs a family! He needs love!”

We look but don’t see!
We see without wanting to look!
(Mother Teresa)

Lovelessness

“But anyone who hates another brother or sister
is still living and walking in darkness.
Such a person does not know the way to go,
having been blinded by the darkness.”
I John 2:11

Hatred to me is a very strong word. However, the literal translation of this word here is actually “to love less“. If I love anyone less, God equates it to hatred.

Why? In loving less, I become willfully “blinded” to the needs of others. I have opportunity daily to love more or to to love less!

Broken Love

Wedges in relationship are evidence of lovelessness:

Divorce says, “I love you less.”
“I am afraid to love” we whisper to the aborted.
Churches split because of lovelessness;
family feuds linger for generations in loving less.
Gossip, slander and complaining announce it!
Pride, prejudice and jealously demonstrate it!

Loving More!

Just the other day, a small group of young adults picked up a pan-handler, bought him a meal, gave him a ride, loved on him and prayed for him. For them, it was a natural act affirming value and worth to someone.

They loved more!

Love Lives Here

Another group of people I know have given themselves to consistently love and care for drug addicts, gang members, prostitutes and children in the inner city. They give more than a warm drink, food and a safe environment. Warm socks and jackets come with the hugs, prayer and genuine concern. Their motto? “Love lives here!”

They love more!

I recently met a young girl who cares deeply for inner city children who don’t have a safe place to go after school. She is spear-heading a ministry giving them food, loving and validating them, while teaching them bible verses and songs. Though she is little more than a child herself, she leads in tangibly loving about a hundred children in her area.

She loves more!

I also know a couple of grandmothers who are putting their hearts and feet in difficult places. They book a spot at porn conventions to “interpret dreams” as a way to love and pray for prostitutes, pimps and johns.

They love more!

Prayer

I haven’t mentioned yet those who:

  • foster children to make sure each child feels loved and wanted
  • risk they lives in volatile nations
  • go on medical missions, build orphanages and schools
  • jump into the lion’s mouth of domestic violence, abuse and brokenness bringing love and restoration

These love more!

You and Me

Though the dis-ease of love-less-ness is obvious all around us, you and I can make a difference. We have an ability to turn the tide, one person at a time!

I was recently told every person will influence approximately 20,000 people through their life, either directly and indirectly. Our choices determine what that influence will look like?

“The King will reply,
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
Matthew 25:40

Jesus considers His own brother or sister the “least of these.”

Many today have set their hearts to love “the one” in front of them. In so doing they have transformed nations! They recognize the face of Jesus in every person, seeing each as a person worthy of love and dignity.

Each one I touch with love will have a greater freedom to love others. With prayer, my little effort is a seed where more love may some day grow.

Colour it Love

Let us pick up the brush of faith and colour our world with love. By choosing today to have our eyes open to love, lovelessness can be broken in our midst!

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The Grace of God – The River of God’s Grace is Wide!

The golden thread of grace flows through scripture like a river wide and deep, sometimes gently moving, often in a torrent. All touched by the river live!

“God saved you by his grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
Ephesians 2:8

A wise man reminded me that people “in the ditch” will argue contentiously. When it comes to grace, there has been much ditch walking and arguing.

One shouts, “It is the Holy Spirit who convicts and deals with sin. Stand back! Let the Him move!”

Responses stream in opposition, “We have an opportunity to show grace, while dealing with sin.”

Grace Along the Road

Neither ditch walker is willing to extend tangible grace to the other. The more we platform on a topic, it is usually an indication we ourselves are struggling in that area! God must be wanting to go deeper in my understanding of grace at this moment.

Sadly and with regret I remember that I have participated in such argumentative behaviour, dividing and wounding relationships.  I have had much to learn about grace over the years; much more remains to master.

Grace defenders often stand on Matthew 7:1-5. The passage actually speaks of judging rather than grace;

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged,
and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in  your brother’s eye
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can  you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” 

The essence of the argument beside the road of grace, isn’t grace. Rather, it is a fear of judgment.

Plank

A plank is nothing to take lightly! A plank in the eye would be clearly visible to others and completely blinding to one possessing it. Rough and unfinished, it quickly inflicts splinters on anyone who would come close enough to touch it.

Plank Wood

The number of “planks” pulled from these eyes of mine is innumerable. Some have been so enormous it has taken a troop of brave comrades to remove them with and for me.

Jesus clearly commands each of us to take full responsibility for our “stuff”, our planks!

 “…first take the plank out of your own eye…”

Whatever I have in my life that is

hindering my vision,
damaging my relationships,
potentially hurting others,
discrediting my witness,
or discolouring my integrity
I must get rid of it!

Jesus doesn’t stop there!

Sawdust

Sawdust

Sawdust is not clearly visible. Yet the damage of sawdust can be severe! Not only will it produce irritation, tearing and inflammation of the mucous membranes, sawdust can also cause infection potentially progressing to the brain.

Unlike my planks that have taken a team of heavy lifters to remove, dealing with sawdust requires close contact.

By using a mirror or even magnifying glass, in good lighting, one must look on every surface and behind the eyelids themselves. Drenching the eye with exorbitant amounts of water may be necessary. For someone to help me, they need to get into my face and look intently for any offensive particle, before removing it with clear vision, a steady hand and great care.

God’s Grace

Grace is necessary in the removal of both plank and dust. I need God’s grace working in me and through others to remove the planks from my life. God’s grace is also necessary to remove tiny but painful things. Large or small, in me or others, both can and will cause irreparable damage unless removed.

Jesus invites us all to the way of grace. United we make an unbeatable team! Because our gifts are different, grace also will flow differently through each of us.

In the Holy Spirit, some demonstrate grace by praying, supporting, blessing, and encouraging the frail along the way. Others, through the Spirit, are vital in getting into comfort zones and shining the light on truth, while gently and with wisdom stepping into lives at a level many would dare never enter.

Grace Team

On God’s team, grace flows freely through each one, creating a safe atmosphere of hope and promise for those around us. It is a rainbow of diversity in action that only God could have initiated. His grace allows us to appreciate every diverse form.

In Progress

John Newton said, “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not what I hope to be. But by the grace of God, I am not what I was.” He wrote the infamous hymn:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.”

God's Grace

“But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.
No, I worked harder than all of them–
yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
I Corinthians 15:10

God’s grace is actively at work, transforming lives and destinies. What joy to watch and be involved in this work of His doing!

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Further Reading: Grace Notes – The Extras that Matter! Supporting the Melody!

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Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

Friendship

As years pass quickly by, I find myself appreciate more and more those who join me in life. Friendship combines the complexity and uniqueness of two into a unifying momentum.

Two people are better off than one,
for they can help each other succeed.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9

Getting “two people” to work in harmony can be challenging. (I speak from experience!) However, when two people are desiring to help each other succeed, a synergy and unity blends and energizes.

A true friend loves and makes sacrifices for the sake of the other.

Quote for the today, “There is no harmony when everyone sings the same note.” I have an appreciation for music, rhythm and harmony, especially when instruments or voices resound in perfect pitch and tempo. Friendship is like that!

Harmony

The distinctiveness of each individual adds colour and variety. Differences in personalities, motivations, gifts, and even weaknesses brings strength and beauty to the combined sum.

Two Heads are Better Than One

Have you heard the proverb, “Two heads are better than one”? A scientific study did verify the point, but only if both participants were confident and competent in being able to communicate their ideas and views.

It is helpful to gain advice from someone who is willing and able to express themselves clearly. Otherwise, the study continues to state, two people can create a deficient!

“…true wisdom has two sides…”
Job 11:6

Friendship is one channel to speak wisdom and insight into my life; it gives opportunity for me to also reciprocate.

A true friend defends and builds godly character.

Finding Truth

“But if you are unsuccessful,
take one or two others with you and go back again,
so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.”
Matthew 18:16

In the bible, two is the smallest number to verify truth. A charge could not be laid against anyone without at least two witnesses. Truth was established on the testimony of two or more.

Diversity Union

It is often helpful to bounce ideas off of or share vision with someone you trust. Friends can help us set realistic goals. Godly friendships help to ground us. They also provide an atmosphere to soar.

I can’t tell you how many times a friend has spoken a word of encouragement that gave me the energy to keep going. Equally, there have been times when a friends perspective has enabled me to see things I was missing, internally and externally.

A true friend delights in truth.

Commitment of Friendship

I am blessed with relationships that have endured decades

through varying levels of maturity
separation of countries or even continents
sharing joys and accomplishments
amid tragedies and pain
always strengthening
never ending…

Joined Together

When God is included in our friendships, there is a supernatural element of connectivity and strength.

“A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
Proverbs 17:17

A true friend is always loyal.

God is Present

Having a friend who will pray with and for you is invaluable.

“For where two or three gather together as my followers,
I am there among them.”
Matthew 18:20

Two people who love and follow Jesus create an atmosphere that invites the Holy One, the I AM, to influence and occupy the relationship. Two plus God defines indescribable unity and potential.

The prayer support of those around me is of great value. My deepest friends are those I share faith with. We rejoice together in victories, weep together in difficulties, contend together in weakness, and stand together in injustice.

True friends share faith perspective.

Equals

Just as the influence of others can be positive, it can also have negative impact.

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.
How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?
How can light live with darkness?”
2 Corinthians 6:14

Differences

I’ve also experienced many friendships where moral standards have been vastly different. However, one’s points of closest connectivity are of the greatest benefit when we share common faith and eternal perspective.

Those in my most intimate group of confidants and supports are those equal in vision and focus.

Can two people walk together without agreeing
on the direction?”
Amos 3:3

A true friend walks with you.

Friendship

An African proverb says,

“If you want to fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”

Jesus illustrated the dynamics well of friendship. Though multitudes followed him, and many were called disciples of Jesus, He hand-picked twelve to spend concentrated time with. Out of those twelve there were three that were especially close to Him — the insider.

Let’s stick together for the long haul!

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More on Relationships:

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships

 

 

 

Top 4 Hindrances to Authentic Relationships

Building Relationships

Building healthy relationships is one of the short suits of my life. I have become stronger over the years, but I am still learning from my mistakes. Here are my top 4 hindrances to authentic relationships. I assure you my personal list could be longer!!!

“I’m Fine”

“How are you?” Pushing ourselves to trust and answer honestly may be scary, but truth is the only soil in which healthy relationships can truly grow. To strengthen friendship and community requires risk, a risk others may be unsure to take but worth giving a try ourselves.

The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
.”

(Proverbs 12:22)

I'm Fine

Being real with one another is worth peaking beyond our shells of self-protection. An authentic response may be the first step down the road of a life-long friendship. If things are going well, this is an opportunity to rejoice together; if you are ‘turtling’ your way through a tough season, genuine support and care may be directly in front on you.

“Calm Down”

Emotionally charged environments give tangible opportunity for honesty. Emotionally transparency is key within genuinely strong communities . We need to be able to listen attentively to the hearts of those around us without trying to filter everything around our own comfort zones, laying aside critical judgments and condescending attitudes.

Communication

Studies show that women, more than men, are “wired to quickly and accurately decode or detect distress.” This alone can cause problems with relating authentically in cross-gender circles. Just as the perception of one may create precipices of risk, the lack of accurate perception may allow for bulldozing attitudes in the other! Neither is intentional! Both must be overcome! Dictating when and how every conversation will flow results in emotional distancing. Tempering without hiding keeps us from damaging and distancing those around us.

We watch Jesus fully engaged emotionally: angry, sad, joyful, or moved with compassion. His complete honesty was an open door to enjoyed just “hanging out” with Him. He was real, but he was tempered.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth.
.”
 (I John 3:18)

“If you would just [fill in the blank] then I would…”

Without question, it’s give-and-take in developing rock solid community. How do we treat others when they are not “carrying their load”?

Putting Others First

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control…”
Galatians 5:22-23

There are several elements within the fruit of the spirit, that only exist in the context of going the extra mile in developing community; elements that require us to be initiators in developing a loving relationship, rather that reactors when the going gets tough.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak
and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good,
to build them up.

Romans 15:1-2

“I’ll do it Myself!”

Bossy

“Miss Bossy” may look cute in a picture but not in real life! Years of being a cattle producer gave daily examples of why these “four-leggeds” are often called bossy…

the first to the trough; the last to leave
maintain position at all cost
take the lead or lose it
challenge me and see what happens
muscle power!

The “I’ll do it myself” thoughts are blatant reminders of those days! Haughty superiority and need for control decapitates future opportunities to develop the team relationships needed in healthy community.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Romans 12:3

 Relationships Within Community

Community comes in many forms: a family, a leadership team, a small group or your workplace, just to name a few!

Ants go Marching

I am reminded of a walk with my children years ago. We came across an ant super-highway. It amazed us the strategy, precision and efficiency of this community of workers. Each stuck to the right side of the pathway as traffic was streaming different directions. Many struggled in the process of carrying loads disproportionately larger than they; other workers came and assisted in their struggle. For some time we crouched low, watching in amazement. Whether the worker was large or small, each shared the same mission.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
Proverbs 6:6

Only yesterday, a comment from one of my sons, reminded me how far I have to go in developing godly, authentic and loving community. Unfortunately, I am very much still a “work-in-progress” in this area!

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Meg Gemelli  was inspiration behind this blog. Thank you!)

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Related Articles:

Beatitudes – Encouragement and Instruction for Every Circumstance!

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

 

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships

My Call to Action

I don’t know about you but I find it challenging to live fully and freely in relationships with others while simultaneously remaining in communion with God. My call to action is living and communing authentically!

The other night, I had a vivid dream about several mountain ranges filled with high peeks. An outdoor deck nestled at the base of each mountain while a house perched solidly on the highest point. Halfway up the mountain was a “docking point” – a small out-shoot of metal.

As I viewed the sheer mountain face, I questioned how one would get from the deck to the house. Instantly, I whizzed above even the highest apex. Each mountain was a solid rock with unique and beautifully intricate marble-like veining.

Mountains

I knew that God was showing me three positions I could choose:

  • The first was on the deck, relaxing and enjoying the company of those around me
  • The second was at the top where a different kind of “dwelling” occurs! It is where I get to know God in reading the Bible, prayer, solitude, and lingering in His Presence.
  • But there is a third choice – neither up nor down! The place of “self” – disconnected from both God and others. This is the most precarious spot.

The longer I meditate on the dream the more truth it reveals of the life choices I have made and am making in relationships. Regrets, like heavy dew, settle on me as I think of how often I choose to sit in the “docking-point” – disconnected from others and trusting in the frailty of myself.

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentically

I feel God’s invitation to enter more transparently into the lives of all those around me while at the same time allowing Him the reins to draw me closer with Him. I can do neither in my strength or power.

To commune means to “share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with…
especially when the exchange is on a spiritual level…
to feel in close spiritual contact with.”

To fully share life together has a spiritual dimension – not just in our relationship with God and but also with others.

Community

Living fully with others may include

praying together.
sharing spiritual truths and insights,
spurring others on in their faith journey
and relationship with Jesus,
trusting Holy Spirit together to lead and direct
our lives and ministry.

The Deck

I greatly enjoy “deck” times! Hanging out… relaxing... getting to know others… often laughing… sometimes crying… reminiscing…sipping lemonade on a hot day or hot chocolate on a cold one. Relationships with family and friends fill life with a rich hue of appreciation and growing respect.

Communing

My ever-expanding circle of  friendships are woven intricately with threads of  Jesus Christ and the fullness He brings. The deck is where I introduce Christ to people!

The Mountain

I long to live continually on the mountain. Here is where my heart rests, my body restored and my mind renewed. Clothed in the full forgiveness of Christ, I approach His throne of grave,

listening and speaking,
waiting and resting,
rising early and lingering late,
fully me wrapped in Holy Him
with childlike freedom
warrior courage
maturing faith
breathing deep
trusting more…

“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another,
Know the Lord.’ because they will all know me.”

Hebrews 8:11

The first “know” in this verse means a growing kind of knowledge, to come to know and to know personally.

The second “know” is a different word meaning to perceive, to know absolutely, to have complete knowledge of.

Mountain

The mountain is where I come to know the Triune God more fully and personally and where I pray for people!

The Dock

In the middle is a desolate place! It is the place of neither hot nor cold. (Revelation 3:16) The place of disconnect with God or others! I  have the option  to go, stop or even stay here. It is the forty years in the desert place. The place where no one really wants to stop, yet where all will at some point.

Alone

Every moment is a choice  –  a choice about where I will live and commune. Will it be the deck, the mountain, or the dock? True authentic living always breathes life of God into people. Always!


Authentic Living

Lord draw me to the place of richer and deeper
fellowship with those around me.
where I am neither ashamed or afraid to
share how much You mean to me.
Lift me up, Lord, to my true resting place
the place where I can see beyond believing,
feel completely and fully,
and be fully known and loved.
Both require a level of vulnerability that
I try to avoid, but must maintain.
I ask for courage and grace to live fully
and authentically!

Want to check out other blogs about living in healthy relationships?

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

Top 4 Hindrances to Authentic Relationships