How close are you willing to get with people?
This question was posed as I was lifting too much weight for my small arms. I needed help! My gym partner, Micah, saw the struggle and quickly jumped in for assistance. As he did, our breath, spit and sweat collided face to face with gut-wrenching screams that helped me get the bar up to my chin.
Perhaps it wasn’t comfortable, maybe it was more effort than anticipated, but one fact remains; I wouldn’t have achieved the reps by myself, and my partner could not have helped from any further of a distance. He had to get close. Way too close.
Getting close and personal with people can be challenging and risky. When you get close to someone, you get vulnerable.
After broken relationships, some people have a tendency to distance themselves from others as a defense mechanism to keep from getting hurt again. As a result, emotions are hidden and unexpressed. Distrust is formed as the damage continues to fester instead of release.
Leaders that may have specific insecurities may distance themselves from those that they are leading to maintain a certain respect or reputation.
A person in leadership knows that the closer the followers get to them, the more likely the followers will pick up on the flaws of the leader. As a result, the leader becomes isolated and held less accountable, and the follower continues to see a slanted character that seems to have unachievable traits. All the while, the follower misses out on the enriched guidance of watching the leader make challenging decisions and create solutions to real and perplexing problems. More than all else, the followers miss out on watching the leader get better. Likewise, the leader might miss out on getting better.
Followers that have an issue that they do not want to deal with may distance themselves from the leader to pro-long the confrontation of the issue. As a result, the issue gets greater, that person may try to handle it alone and fail, thus becoming discouraged and isolated, and deeper ruts are formed in the lives affected by the issue.
Needless to say, distancing ourselves from people as a whole can have negative effects on our lives, and the lives of others.
This is not to say that we remain close with everyone, but we do need to get close with people who lead us faithfully, and to get close with people who we lead, and to lead them faithfully.
Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” In this proverb we see the benefit of having others to count on. Other people can see where we need help before we can. God has put together a team of believers throughout the generations to come together being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind. And he tells us to let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness in mind let each esteem others better than himself. (Philippians 2:2-4)
In John 15:13-15, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Jesus is making a clear statement about the friendship we have with each other. We have to be close to one another. Jesus remained a leader and a friend. More than that, Jesus became our ultimate friend when He laid down His life for us. What a friend we have in Jesus!
As Jesus shows us what true friendship is all about, let us not be afraid to show others what good friendship is. The people we know in our lives that do not know Jesus Christ as their Friend and Savior, they might not have any other good examples of friendship in their life but us!
Jesus tells us to be the light of the world. Our light begins when it hits the dark places.
Leading someone in a Christ-like life doesn’t happen strictly from the pulpit, or from a single prayer, it happens every day, side-by-side, exposing the nitty-gritty details of life, while God builds our character moment by moment. It is time we stop being afraid to get up close and personal. Let’s lift the bar for those in need, let’s aim to be the friend Jesus wants us to be, and point the way to the Friend that Jesus is.
Stay Encouraged, and God Bless
Isaac Redman is a 22-year-old youth pastor at Pleasant Grove Church. He is a servant of Christ and loves music and the outdoors.