I just finished a book written several years ago called Safe People: How To Find Relationships That Are Good For You And Avoid Those That Aren’t. It is by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. In their many years of counseling they give great insight to behavior and attitudes, even harmful ones that are often repeated. I found the book helpful and instructive.
In the last chapter of the book “Should I Repair or Replace” they give six points that I think are very appropriate to any relationship. The 6 areas are: Start from a loved position; act righteously; use others to help; accept reality, forgive and grieve your expectations; give change a chance; and be long-suffering. Let me comment briefly on these.
Start from a loved position means that we are confident as believers in God’s love. The Trinity is and always has been in a love relationship. That is our model. To act righteously means even when we’re in a difficult relationship, don’t avoid painful and difficult changes that we need to make. If we are going to have safe people around us, we need to become safe people. It is the same idea that if you want to have friends, you need to be a friend. Use others to help is straight out of Matthew 18 and Proverbs 11. Give change a chance and be long-suffering really are God’s attributes of grace, faithfulness and long-suffering to us. He has modeled and demonstrated those attributes over and over again in our lives.
But the one I want to hone in on is accept reality, forgive and grieve your expectations. The chapter goes immediately to the verse in Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. The word that caught my eye was “grieve.” The way they say it is “acceptance is a giving up of the way things should be and accepting things the way they are.”
People don’t do what we think they will. People don’t respond the way we think they should. I don’t fulfill people’s expectations, I don’t even fulfill the expectations that I put on myself. I certainly don’t meet God’s standards, but He accepts me. Should we expect people that we work with to do any better? Many times as a leader, supervisor, or pastor we think if we give them the proper information, clear direction or application of the Scriptures, they will immediately apply it to their lives. This is not the case. Anyone surprised?!
Richard Foster said, “Our tendency is to overestimate what can accomplish in one year, and underestimate what we can accomplish 10 years.” The point of these six areas is that any relationship takes time. God is patient with us; should we not extend mercy, grace, helpfulness, and perseverance to those we love and want to see changed? Obviously the answer is yes. It is a difficult thing to do what is right and persevere in any relationship when change is slow in coming.
This really is the heart of our small groups and of this ministry. We want to create a safe place where men can communicate, be prayed for, be vulnerable, be accountable, and have a band of brothers that will stay in the foxhole with them. We labor and strive together in the battle for men’s souls and God’s kingdom. Change takes time just like it does in my life and yours. Thank you for laboring with us in this endeavor and praying toward that end.
March is going to be a very busy month. We have our banquet March 4 with Donnie Smith, the CEO of Tyson Foods. YBL follow-up will take place right after that to try to see where men are spiritually and plug them in small groups. Our Sporting Clays fundraiser is March 18. We have a dinner planned for those that have just completed our COM study, plus we are still searching for leaders to lead our ministry in Jackson and our women’s ministry here.
Again thank you for your prayers, your support and your encouragement. I am privileged to have safe friends, but I endeavor to continue to grow in becoming a safe friend. May we all do so for God’s glory.