In his book, the Last Arrow, Erwin McManus challenges his readers to be able to answer two questions: (1) Who is with you? (2) Who are you with?
The answer to the question, “who is with you”, literally determines how successful you will be in reaching your desired future. In fact, sociologists claim that the top five people/groups you surround yourself with determine your future. In other words, we need to seek out people who have the ethics, values, and vision for life that we do. People who live the same dreams we live for, not specifically, of course, but generally. If you believe we are on this earth to make the world a better place, you can’t surround yourself with people who believe their sole purpose is to retire big or simply pay the bills. In fact, some of the ancient wisdom literature promotes this same thing, “as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another person.” Translation: Without the right people in your life, your life will be dull and you will never be sharp enough to cut through the junk that surrounds us to get to the future you were made for! While we like to pride ourselves on our natural ability, ancient wisdom literature, modern sociologists, and business gurus will tell you even more than raw talent your future is more connected to the people you surround yourself with and grit. Bottom line: Surrounding yourself with like-minded people not only sharpens your edge but on days or in seasons when you want to let go of the values and principles you live by, it’s these very people that hold you up and keep you on track.
If the answer to the question, “who is with you?” is important, the answer to the question, “who are you with” is even more important. I can’t think of a more life-giving activity than serving those I do life with. When I can serve those I love with my very life and personhood I become a better person. To watch others become better in life because I am with them only spurs and encourages me to keep at it. It’s ironic, while we all seem to be prone to selfishness, there is nothing that warms our heart more and inspires us to create a better world than stories of selflessness. We’ve all heard it said that we learn when we are being taught, but we really learn when we are the ones teaching. When we have the opportunity and grit to be for a people, we are also growing and developing resilience. This is the yin and yang or give and take of relationships. The truth is, our deepest relationships determine our futures. So, how do we tell a better story with our life? Surround yourself with the right type of people. Over the next three weeks, I’m going to write about the three types of people we should surround ourselves with!