Here’s a story to consider on how others can affect your life’s trajectory.
Tom and John were two friends. One day they were passing through a dense forest. John said, “Friend, I am afraid there are wild beasts in this forest. What will we do if a wild beast attacks us?” “Don’t be afraid, John,” said Tom, “I shall stand by your side if any danger comes. We shall fight together and save ourselves.” Then they went on their journey.
Suddenly they saw a bear coming towards them. Tom instantly climbed the nearest tree. He did not think about what his friend would do. John didn’t know how to climb a tree. He was helpless.
Not knowing what to do, he fell flat on the ground like a dead man. The bear came up to John. It smelt his nose, ears and eyes. It took him to be dead and went away.
When Tom came down from the tree, he asked John, “What did the bear whisper in your ear?” John replied, “The bear told me not to trust a friend who leaves his friend in danger.” Thank goodness for bears who are discriminating in their taste!
Here is a question to ask yourself early in life. Am I surrounding myself with people who can bring me to the next level of my purpose, God’s purposes, and a productive and fulfilling life? It shouldn’t take long to discover who is helpful and who is harmful in where you want or think you want to go. The choices you make, make you.
Mentor Joseph Mattera writes in a recent newsletter, “I can usually predict a person’s trajectory by checking out the people closest to them. Those who hang out with bitter people will become bitter. Those who hang out with lazy people will become lazy. Those who hang out with high achievers will themselves have a better chance of maximizing their abilities. Surround yourself with the proper mentors and friends who will inspire you to go to the next level in life. Your closest confidants should be those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart and seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”
There’s a heap of wisdom in Mattera’s statement. Birds of a feather flock together. Many times, two people from the same family, pick different types of friends to hang out with. One ascends and the other descends. Why? Most of the time, you become who you hang with…positively or negatively. Groupthink determines the way a group acts. Conformity can be a enabling or disabling depending on groupthink. Bad company corrupts good morals.
Where is the leader you follow taking you? Up, down or sideways? Where are your influencers, those you hang with, taking you? Up, down or sideways? Does the people or group that you hang with have beliefs, values, attitudes or behaviors that are destructive or constructive, helpful or harmful, enabling or disabling to the life that you are seeking? You become what you see, hear, and are joined too. Wise people pick the right group in the beginning. Wise, courageous people have the resolve to change their friends, group or leader when toxic to a productive, peaceful life.
Who are we surrounding ourselves with? Are they VIP’s…Very Important People) or VDP’s (Very Draining People)? Remember, you minister to draining people. But you charge up with ascending companions. Christians, are your friends ‘Can God?’ people or ‘God Can!’ people? Dating couples, are you devaluing your convictions to keep a relationship? My advice is to say, “You are cute, you look fun, but I’m not going down!” The choices you make, make you!
I love the verse in the Bible that says… “Jesus called His ascending companions…” Look for secure people who want to climb, bring themselves and others up, for the right reasons and with the right attitude. Ascending companions are not those who climb a tree and leave you. That’s the wrong kind of ascension. After all, the next bear you meet might not be so accommodating.
Church-Community Connection is published weekly in 10 newspapers all over the world. Most of these newspapers are local paid subscription newspapers. The goal of these 450 word articles is to build a bridge to the community through humor, wisdom and changing mental perceptions that the community has of the church.