Who’s Your Buddy?

Friends

At a recent Pasadena Tabernacle Band rehearsal, Jim Sparks shared a challenging devotional on the value of friendships. He read the Scripture, Mark 2:1-12. This is a story about a paralytic man whose friends believed that Jesus could heal him. At last they found a way to get their friend to Jesus by opening the roof and letting him down by ropes attached to his bed. The four men risked much to get their friend to Jesus. Jim asked the questions, “Do you have four close friends you can call when you need help? Do you have four friends you count on to be there when life’s challenges seem insurmountable?”

All humans crave intimate friendships. We all need a friend who loves us when we are unlovable. We all desire to have a friend who can be there for us during our darkest moments. Friends play a critical role in our lives. Friends determine our destiny. We become like those with whom we spend time. We copy and imitate our friends – peer pressure! The friends we chose determine the trajectory of our lives. Choose wisely. We all need a loyal, trustworthy friend. How many of us have friends who inspire us to seek God more? How many of us have, at least, four spiritual friends who can take us to Jesus when life gets tough? Better still, are you a trustworthy, loving, loyal friend?

Friendship

Here are ways you can develop deep, meaningful friendships. Here is how you can be a loyal, trustworthy friend:

  • Pray. Ask God to direct you to the right person. Pray. Ask God to help you be a good friend.
  • Smile. To have friends, be friendly. Grumpy people are often lonely people. To develop friendships, be pleasant.
  • Take the risk. Get to know someone. Step out of your shell.
  • Listen. A good friend listens. Learn to listen to people.  Listen not just hear. Do not just talk about yourself.  Ask questions. Listen “between the lines.”
  • Show up. A good friend is there for others. Celebrate with your friend.  Remember and do something special on your friend’s birthday or anniversary.
  • Family. A good friend becomes family. Good friends befriend the entire family. One of family members once thought my friend Robbie was part of our family.  Robbie was always around for important family events.
  • Understand. A good friend is sensitive. A good friend looks out for you. When no one else can understand you, your friend will.  Your fiend is one person who will walk up and say, “You are not you today. What’s going on?”
  • Communicate. Good friends stay in touch.  These days, we can utilize various channels of communication that are available.  You can keep in touch in person, by phone, handwritten letter, Facebook, Facetime, text, Skype, and so forth.
  • Give gifts. When thinking of ministering to your friend – be creative and thoughtful. It does not always have to cost money.
  • Rekindle your old friendships. I dare you to reach out to those uncultivated, dying friendships.
  • Accountability. Keep each other accountable. Develop your relationship so much that you can speak life into each other’s life.  Learn to receive encouragement and honest feedback from your friend.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Your friend is one person you can trust to watch your back, to point out your blind spots, and stand with you at all times.

 

Here again, are Jim Sparks’ questions: “Do you have four close friends you can call when you need help? Do you have four friends you count on to be there when life’s challenges seem insurmountable?”

To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend.  What are you doing to cultivate good friendships?

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Self-care: Finding Rest in a Busy World

self-care

Psalm 46:10, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

I thought I was going to pass out. I felt faint. My body was weak. My knees struggled to support my frame. Sweat droplets glistened on my forehead. My heart rate beat as fast as is if I had been running a marathon. I stumbled a little. Then I leaned over a table to support myself. I sat down at that table, while taking gulps of cold water. What was going on?

Noticing something wrong, Rutendo came over to check on me. I told her I was OK. I just needed time to sit down and rest a little. I had not slept much in the past eight weeks. I had been working over 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. I had been busy fundraising, preaching, teaching, and carrying out all other good ministry duties. The life of a Salvation Army Corps Officer. To me, sleep and rest were overrated. Who had time for that? Sleeping slowed me down. There was so much to do. There were so many toys to collect. Many Christmas bell ringers needed to be hired, and driven to their work sites. So much to do, so little time. However, the fatigue was catching up to me. I was running on fumes. I had run my body into the ground. For the past week, woke up in the middle of the night, sweating; my heart racing. I had ignored this feeling, thinking it would also soon go away.

Rutendo called a local pastor, whom I respected. The pastor came to where I was, shaking his head. He challenged me to go to the hospital. I told him I would go after my speech that was scheduled for that evening. He walked away. Within a few moments, I saw an ambulance pull up to the front of the building. The EMT’s came towards me. My pastor friend smiled and confessed. “I called 9-1-1. You need to go see the doctor,” I glanced over, and saw Rutendo crying. What was going on?

Soon, I found myself in the Emergency Room, hooked up to the EKG. The doctor came in to announce the diagnosis. He told me I was suffering from exhaustion – an extreme case of fatigue. My body was trying to tell me to slow down. He asked me what my profession is. After telling him my story, I kind of chuckled. The doctor reminded me I cannot save the world by myself. He challenged me to observe the Sabbath. He insisted I take a day off work each week. The doctor chided me to take a vacation each year. His prescription was I should take care of me so I can be effective in taking care of others. The prescription was simple, yet revolutionary.

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Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint, he said. As ministers, we leak. We give out physical, emotional and spiritual support. We need to refill ourselves, lest we run on fumes. Ministry duties demand much of our attention. As ministers, we are on duty 24-7. If we do not take care of ourselves, we run ourselves into the ground. Many hard-working, gifted ministers quit the ministry due to fatigue and burn out. Many churches lose competent, dynamic ministers who left the ministry due to exhaustion and burn out. Do not let this be you. Develop a plan of self-care today.

Are you a victim of the tyranny of the urgent?

Are you enslaved to busyness, hurry, rush and adrenaline?

In what ways have you neglected caring for your health, your body, your relationships?

How might Jesus be inviting you more deeply into some area of self-care?

Are you experiencing exhaustion and burnout?

How have deadlines, timelines and bottom lines affected the pace of your life?

What sort of power have you given to these imaginary lines?

What options do you have?

What do you need to cut or change so you can take a handle of your life?

How can you replenish yourself?

What steps do you need to take to refresh your soul?

self-care