Lately I’ve been reflecting how important people are in my life. How we relate to others will make or break us. Paul wrote that “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The opposite is also true: Good company corrects bad character.” In many ways, we become who we hang with. Someone said, “Your key relationships either move you forward or pull you backward.”
In a recent article, Pastor Mark Duren writes about three types of connections we all can benefit from: Back to back, shoulder to shoulder, and face to face. Frankly, I think they are essential. You can’t live a healthy life without healthy relationships. Here is my take on these three important friendships.
1. Back-To-Back Relationships
We all need those who have our backs. I remember the support I received early on in ministry. A group of pastors who were planting churches in the Bend area began to meet. We prayed together. We played together. Most of all we understood each other and spoke into each other’s lives. We all need relationships like that! Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
We need people who not only understand us, but will speak the truth to us. I appreciate the people who have been that kind of friend to me.
2. Shoulder-To-Shoulder Relationships
God never intended us to do ministry alone. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the people who have hung in there with me, even with my shortcomings. Thank you!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
Duren talks about this in terms of leadership: “The shoulder-to-shoulder relationship is about having people in your life to run alongside in ministry. It’s about having people who will run beside you going after the vision God has placed in your heart. It is where your vision has become their vision, too. Together you can do more then you ever could alone.”
3. Face-To-Face Relationships
I’m so glad that I can say my best friend is my wife. Ministry is difficult and it can be extremely difficult for our spouses if we don’t take time to serve and love them. I’m embarrassed to tell you that during the first years of our marriage I put ministry above my marriage. Never neglect your wife and family! It’s about being together and living out the love you profess.
Proverbs 18:24 says, “There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”
BEFORE YOU GO…
In the Pacific Conference we talk a lot about healthy churches. I believe healthy churches are made up of healthy relationships. We really do need each other! Which of these three relationships are strong in your life? Which ones do you need to work on?