Who's In Your Circle?
Why are your friends your friends? Why must you allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that if they’re like you then they will accept you? Could it be that familiarity has stunted your ability to grow? Sorry to burst your bubble, BUT if God desires greater for your life then he will position people in your life who challenge you to be and do better. He will send individuals into your life who won’t allow you to live a life of complacency.
Now, I know it’s hard to receive new people especially when your mind has told you that the friends you have now are the only types of people you need in your life. This is by far one of the greatest misconceptions a person can have. Just like we change with seasons, our friends will do the same. There are many people who stay in some friendships in an effort to genuinely be loyal, but sometimes we can be loyal to a fault. Translation being loyal to someone who no longer reciprocates that same level of loyalty, or being loyal to someone who doesn’t accept that you have matured and moved on and up to better things, growth stunters.
When I think of pure loyalty, I first think of Jesus and his first disciples. As he began to recruit his disciples, they dropped everything and joined him. I’m sure it wasn’t easy leaving their old lifestyles, but they understood that in order to go farther and receive better, they needed to run with someone who knew better. For three years, they gleaned off his wisdom and grew tremendously. They made sure they were prepared to be disciples who walked in the power of Christ. (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-34; Luke 5:1-11).
Another example of a healthy form of loyalty, includes Naomi and Ruth. To give a little back story, Naomi had been widowed and was left with her two sons who took Moabite women as their wives, Ruth and Orpah. After 10 years, Naomi’s sons died leaving their wives widowed as well. Naomi decided to return to her homeland, Bethlehem so she told Orpah and Ruth to return to their mother’s house. Now Orpah, left with a little hesitation, but Ruth committed to staying with Ruth.
But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
The fact that Ruth was willing to leave behind her past and go into an unfamiliar environment to remain loyal to Naomi says a lot. Honestly, we all need that type of loyalty in our lives and I’m sure we have received it. What makes this type of loyalty special is the selflessness exhibited by Ruth being loyal to Naomi. Ruth did not go with her hand out to receive. Instead, she was on a mission to pour out and help Naomi in any way possible.
By this point, you are probably thinking about how your closest friends fit into this equation or even how you fit in the equation in someone else’s life. I say this because sometimes we aren’t the ones whose loyalty is taken advantage of…. Sometimes, we are the ones taking advantage of someone’s loyalty. There comes a time where we have to evaluate the role of someone in our life and our role in someone else’s life. Here’s an evaluation tip, associating ourselves based on purpose will help you align yourself with people God needs in your life, so consider your purpose and the purpose of those you’re connected to. Although Ruth went with Naomi to be a helper, Naomi ended up helping her get remarried to Boaz. They actually demonstrated a reciprocal level of loyalty. One person wasn’t always taking and the other person wasn’t always being dragged down by them. Same thing happened with Jesus and his disciples. Their loyalty was reciprocated leading to the growth that was necessary for both parties to go to the next level.
This also brings awareness to a manipulated sense of security you may have established with someone. Some people may even call it codependency. They’ve been around for years, yet they’re still the same. We would love for people to stay the same, but that’s a very unhealthy place to be considering we should be lifetime learners who apply what we learn and become better. 1 Corinthians 13:11 states, When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. I wonder how many people have become adults still thinking like a child and operating in childish ways because their "loyal friends" allowed them to never grow up...
So, who’s in your circle? Are you hanging on to someone who lingers, but doesn’t contribute? If so, have a conversation and see where their mind is because in this season, we have no room for false loyalty. You may be on the come up, but notice if those around you are moving forward as well. If not, that tie may need to be severed.
Yea, this is a lot, and I myself have gone through this reflection process. It wasn’t easy, nor did it feel good, but I will say consistently examining my friendships proved to be the best decision I’ve ever made. Pastor Jeremy Foster at Hope City Church made this one statement that really breaks the myth pertaining to friendships based on history.
Remember true friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who walks into your life and says I’m here for you and then proves it by sticking around.
-Pastor Jeremy Foster
Having friends from the past is always great, but we should always leave room for new relationships because God taking you to higher levels will often require him to position you around those who are already there or headed the same direction! You don't always have to let go of old relationships, but if they're preventing you from moving forward and growing or maturing, you may have to be like Elsa and let it go!