As an only child, I grew up in a small family. My parents both passed away when I was a young adult and my last close relative passed away when I was 40. I was married for a few years and have a son, daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren – still a pretty small family.
Because my family is small, I’ve always had a few friends and I tend to keep them a long time. I’ve been friends with my three sets of closest friends (two couples, one single) for nearly 30 years. One of the great things about longtime friendships is there is no need to tell backstories – they already know; they lived it with me and I with them.
Early on in my “friend journey”, I used to think you had to have a lot of friends and then someone pointed out to me that Jesus only had twelve friends – His disciples. So a definition might be in order – Webster says that a friend is “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” Following this definition, Jesus had three close friends – Peter, James and John. I may have a lot of acquaintances, but close friends are often hard to find.
My friends are people with whom I share life even though we all live miles from each other (FL, D.C., AL and SC). All my friends know each other, and we share mutual interests, etc. I’m certain that my friends would do whatever was necessary to help me if I needed them. The reverse is also true; I would do anything possible to help them.
You might be wondering what this might have to do with leadership. At Lead Like Jesus we talk about trusted truth tellers. People who are in our life who will tell us the truth about ourselves, our attitudes, our decisions, etc. and will ask us important questions to be sure we are certain of our direction. My three sets of friends are just that.
Hebrews 10:24 reminds us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another one toward love and good needs.” A perfect example of a truth teller.
Both Matthew (16:23) and Mark (8:33) tell the same story about an important conversation Jesus had with His friend, Peter, who had just disagreed with Jesus about coming events. Jesus replied “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God but merely human concerns.” To our ears and thinking, this sounds harsh, but these words come near the end of Jesus’ ministry and Peter wanted to hinder Jesus’ work. A trusted truth teller (Jesus) was able to speak truth to His friend, Peter, even though the words appear sharp and uncaring. Remember, however, that Peter often opened mouth and inserted foot on a regular basis.
Sometimes “speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)” means that a strong emphasis is needed to spur someone on to good deeds. This should be applied in the workplace, with family and with close friends. We may all need, from time to time, a strong reminder to stay focused on the main thing and not get distracted from our purpose. Ecclesiastes 4:12, says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
What about you? Who are the trusted truth tellers in your life? What are you doing to cultivate them? Or are potential truth tellers concerned that you might not receive their information well, so they refrain from speaking?
It could be that your first step in seeking truth tellers is to examine your own heart. King David in Psalm 139 prayed, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (v.23-24). Once our hearts are right, seeking out others to speak truth to us becomes easier.
The great news is that, according to Proverbs 18:24, “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The Lord Jesus is waiting for you to ask. “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”
What are you waiting on??
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