People | Voices
Monday— Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20
Flu season is almost here and doctors urge us to take Vitamin C to stay healthy. Dr. John Townsend, Christian author and psychologist, says there are six other Cs we need to know about to stay emotionally and spiritually healthy. Relationships fall into one of these six categories: Coaches, Comrades, Casuals, Care, Chronics, and Contaminants. Understanding the people in our lives helps us stay healthy. This week we’ll look at those six C’s and how to balance them so we don’t get sick.
Coaches—These are experts who don’t need anything from us. Teachers, pastors, leaders, and counselors fall into this category. We all need one or two coaches who can advise and confront us, even when it may be painful for us to hear. Nathan was a coach to David and confronted his sin when he needed it (2 Sam. 12:1). We may not see or speak to our coaches often, but we know we can call them for advice when needed. They’ve proven themselves to be wise and can point out blind spots for our own good. Coaches make us better people. They tell us the truth. They have only our best interest in mind, so their counsel can be trusted. Paul is another example of a coach. He wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God…” (1 Thes. 2:11-12). Wise coaches help keep us on the right track and everyone needs a couple to stay healthy.
Challenge: Who have you given the right to speak into your life, even when it might not be what you want to hear?
Prayer: Father, thank you for the people who’ve helped coach me. They wanted the best for me, even when I didn’t listen or heed their advice. Help me to honor and imitate the coaches you’ve put in my life for my good. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
“The cancer is back. I need someone to drive me to my appointments. I hate to ask, but…” “Say no more. I’m on it.”
“I’m sorry I haven’t been to lifegroup. My divorce has devastated me.” “We know. We’re praying for you and bringing dinner.”
“I’d love to go with you guys, but I’ve been out of work so long…” “We know. We already bought your ticket. Get dressed!”
Comrades— They’re in the growth process with you. These are your people, the ones you can call at 3:00 am when your house burned down. Comrades earn their place in our lives through many seasons when we learned to trust each other. They’ve been there in good times and bad. They may not know much more than we do, but they’re willing to learn with us. These are lifegroup friends, accountability partners, and childhood buddies you stay in contact with. We may live far apart, but when we get together, we pick up where we left off. They need no explanations or apologies. They GET us and they accept us. The 12 disciples became each other’s comrades during the three years they followed Jesus. They had little in common when they started, but over time, they developed the same goal and passion—spreading the gospel. That common goal bound them together and created unity amidst their diversity. We should be wise in choosing our comrades—they have great influence.
Challenge: Good comrades should share your goal of obeying Jesus. Who are your comrades?
Prayer: Father, I don’t have as many comrades as I need to be healthy. Show me how to get more involved with people who share my goal of following you. I need comrades and someone needs me to be there for them. Help us find each other. Amen.
Wednesday— The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26
“I love being popular,” Jen exclaimed. “I have nearly two thousand friends on Facebook and six hundred followers! Lots of people love my posts and this foreign prince even offered me a million dollars if I give him my bank account number. Isn’t that sweet?” Her mother frowned. “But when you had surgery, nobody offered to help you. And how many of those “friends” know you struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts? Are they really friends? I’m not sure you’re using good filters for who you allow into your life. You let people in before you really know them, and then they disappoint you.”
Casuals— That friendly guy at the coffee bar. The family that always sits behind you at church. Casuals are people you smile at and say, “How are you?” without expecting an answer. You like them, but there’s no deep connection. We have dozens of casuals we see every day, acquaintances we may go to lunch with but that’s it. Trouble comes when we assume they are comrades before they’ve earned the title. Causals may become comrades over time, but when we share too much too soon, and expect too much too soon, we’re disappointed. Sometimes deeply wounded. We find out too late that we treated a casual as a comrade and they weren’t worthy of it. It’s good to cultivate those relationships, but don’t rush them. Knowing people well enough to trust them takes time. Many casuals claimed to be Jesus’ followers, but John 2:24 records how He viewed them: “Jesus didn’t trust himself to them, because he knew all about people.” We should follow His example with our own casuals.
Challenge: Do you assume causals are comrades before they’ve earned that level of confidence?
Prayer: Father, maybe I trust people too soon and that’s why I get hurt. Help me become wiser about letting people earn the right to be in my life as I earn the right to be in theirs. Help me be wiser in my close relationships. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— “‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40
–He clocked out of work, raced to his car, and drove to the county jail where he spent his lunch hour sharing the gospel.
–She scrimped for months so that by Christmas time, she had enough money to buy gifts for all the children at the shelter.
–They said no to the ski trips and spring break orgies so they could spend their week building a medical clinic in Honduras.
None of these people received any personal benefit. In fact, it cost them. But they served “the least of them” for Jesus’ sake.
Care— Care people are those we serve who cannot give back. When we support charities, visit prisoners, and feed orphans, we are doing it for the Lord. Care relationships should be a part of everyone’s life and God has designed us so that when we serve selflessly, our brains produce mirror neurons that make us feel happy. We don’t get the same physical response when we have a selfish agenda or a secret payback. Acts 9:36 records the account of a woman named Tabitha who was beloved for her gifts to the poor and widows. They could never repay her, but she served selflessly as unto the Lord and when she died, the entire city of Joppa was grieved. (Spoiler alert: Later, Peter raised her from the dead!) But, we need to be careful that our Care relationships don’t outnumber our Comrades and Coaches. We can get out of balance and start to resent them.
Challenge: Do you spend enough time, resources, and emotional energy serving “the least of these?” It’s good for you.
Prayer: Father, I tend to get out of balance here. I either wear myself out with Care relationships or I’m too focused on myself. Help me learn to invest the right amount of time and resources in serving those who can’t repay me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2
This verse sums up our current social climate. Everybody has an opinion and wants to voice it, whether it’s based in reality or not. Truth is no longer relevant; feelings are all that matter. That brings us to the last two C’s of relationships. Both are toxic.
Chronics—These people won’t go away. They’re needy and they drain you dry. They won’t follow advice, but keep asking. They take and take, but never get better. They learn and learn, but never grow wiser. You can’t help them and must not enable them by listening to their whining. They might have 3 broken limbs, but they’ll jump off the roof again anyway. Then they whine about it. Proverbs 26:12 says, “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”
Contaminants— Even worse than Chronics, these people are evil. They are controllers, users, manipulators, and harmful to you. People like these are why God flooded the entire earth (Gen. 6: 5). The Bible calls them FOOLS. We might call them narcissists or con artists. They may appear charming and caring at first, but when they don’t get their way, they are punishing and without conscience. Demonically-controlled, they deal in lawyers, guns, and money. They have wicked hearts. Avoid them.
Challenge: Are you tolerating people in your life that threaten to destroy you? Slam the door. You can’t help them.
Prayer: Father, I have trouble setting good boundaries. I keep thinking I can help some people, but they’re no better for it when I’ve sacrificed for them. Thank you for giving me permission to slam the door on fools. Like you did. In Jesus’ name, amen.