Nobody ever does anything great by themselves. Margaret Mead once said, “Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Nothing of significance has ever been achieved by an individual acting alone or in isolation: No products, no movies, no inventions. Not even the creation of the heavens and the earth. Tom Rath wrote in his excellent book, Vital Friendships, “Remove relationships from the equation, and everything disappears.”
Relationships Shape You
Relationships are powerful becasue God uses them to shape the kind of person you become. We largely become the people we are closest to. Jim Rohn has said, “You are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Our thoughts, feelings, and actions are a reflection of our most intimate friendships. People rub off on us whether we realize it or not. This truth works for the positive and the negative. In Proverbs 13:20, it is written, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” The wisdom of the wise rubs off, while foolishness spreads the same way. We influence each other in deep soul-forming ways.
How is this principle affecting you?
Is this truth hurting you or harming you? Are the people around you helping you to become a better person? A better employee? A better spouse? A better parent? Or are they dragging you down, causing you to drift from the person you long to be and know you should be? In order to leverage this principle for the positive you must take two actions:
1. You must be intentional
We must choose our friends carefully. Our tendency is to choose our friends quickly, based on superficial reasons. This is an area, though, where we must be extremely picky. You must set a standard for what kind of people will you allow to be close to you… what I call in your “core”. Think about your best friends right now. Can you honestly say that they are the best influence on you? Do they encourage your faith? Do they take their relationship with God seriously? Do they intend to honor God with their life? King David wrote, “I am a friend to anyone who fears you- anyone who obeys your commandments.” Psalm 119:63 Can you imagine having 2 or 3 best friends that feared and obeyed God?
2. You must prune your relationships
Like every healthy rose bush that produces beautiful roses, your friendships need to be pruned. Henry Cloud uses this illustration in his book, Necessary Endings to explain that if some relationships don’t end your life cannot flourish. He writes, “Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they were meant too be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them”. Sometimes you can be a catalyst to change the focus and direction of a relationship. We can take the lead, and say, “Jesus is going to be the focus of our relationship. We will seek to honor Him in all things.” However, if we do not see a shift, and the relationship continues to draw us away from Christ, we must end it. That’s not to say we must remove them from our lives. But it’s time to push that person out of your “core” – to remove them from our sphere of influence.
You might be thinking, “If I followed this advice I might not have any friends left!” Maybe. But is that so bad? You always have God. He is always with you. He has promised never to leave you. And always remember this, having few friends, or even no friends, is better than the wrong friends. The wrong friends will shape your life in the wrong way and take your life in the wrong direction.
1. Who do you need to spend more time with?
2. What relationships need to be pruned?
Danny Anderson is the senior pastor of Emmanuel Church and a coach for CourageToLead.com. He married his college sweetheart, and together they have three awesome kids.