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October 22, 2014, 12:00 AM

Avoiding The "Yes Men"


 

 

Well, a moment draws near. My trial began a while ago, but as surgery nears, I have laid the groundwork as best I can. How about you? If you want to enter a period of growth, or deal with a persistent problem, have you reflected on it honestly? Have you made it a priority? Have you examined how bad you really want to do it?

For me, part of me really wonders if I have it in me; I may depend on God, but the human part of me still wonders. I have been through complete physical rehab three times and it is very mentally and physically demanding. I know, through experience, I will have doubts and sad days and frustrated days, especially if there are complications. It is just like any other trial. The emotions are similar to what everyone feels. We all feel that when we reach out and really try to change our lives. But for me, if you haven’t yet figured it out, this is much more than just a surgery, it is about cleaning up my spiritual house and using this event as a catapult to Glorify God. I don’t want to just recover or survive. I have plans, big plans. To fulfill those plans, I will need help. Primarily from God but also the people around me will help me to do what God wants me to do. That is why who we surround ourselves is so important.

We all like yes men and women. You do; I do, it’s our human nature. I want to express my frustrations and have people tell me how good I am or how right I am and how wrong someone else is or what a raw deal I have received or whatever it is that gives us self-esteem in the moment. But I need something different if I want to grow. One thing I notice of people who have failed repeatedly over a long period of time, for whatever reason, good or bad, justifiable or not, they surround themselves with “yes men.” Those people don’t judge but they also don’t hold accountable, at least in any meaningful way. They agree with anything the afflicted person says; they console them, but, when it comes time to change; real change, they are nowhere to be found. Many times they are in the same boat and become prime enablers instead accountability partners. I have absolutely no use for that. I am talking about real friends.

Let’s be totally honest for a moment. We constantly have people coming in and out of our life; some for a season, some forever. Circumstances allow for different levels of friendship with different people at different times. We can’t be best friends with everyone we know and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean they are not our brothers and sisters or even friends.  

Over the years, I have surrounded myself with certain people. I have an inner circle, of sorts. It’s not that they know some secret information that no one else does. But there is one requirement. They cannot be a “yes man.”  These people are not afraid to tell me I am wrong. They aren’t mean about it. They don’t do it very often and they don’t want to do it. When I am struggling, they are there. They listen. We pray together. They would give me anything they have if it will help me. But, if I am wrong, they tell me in no uncertain terms. If I have a conflict they listen, and if I need to apologize or shut my mouth or whatever, I hear it. Usually, they have a fresh look that I need to see. I may not always like it or want to hear it. But I can trust them.

They know, like I do, that I always want to be someone of character or working towards that. They wouldn’t be my friend if we didn’t share that value. Sometimes, that involves saying to each other that we are wrong, we aren’t giving 100% or even we aren’t exhibiting Godly character traits. That is a hard thing to do. They point it out, then walk with me to fix the problem.

Finding people to feel sorry for me is easy if that’s what I wanted. Finding someone to say it’s okay that I failed and give me a quick “praying for you!” as they go on their way are everywhere. Finding people to tell me I’m wrong is even easier, sometimes. But finding that right combination of person you can open up to and take honest advice from is hard. It takes work. But it’s one of the things you need if you truly want to grow. You pray for those people….you seek those people.

Proverbs 27 is my “go to” Scripture for this. It is full of wonderful advice; some parts we know well, such as,

Proverbs 27:17
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

And

Proverbs 27:1
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

But I really like the other things that  it also says,

Proverbs 27:2-6  
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.
Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Also

Proverbs 27:9-10
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.

We are going to have acquaintances. We are going to have “Face Book friends.” There is nothing wrong with that. But you cannot make these people your inner circle and then expect them to help you grow or change when things go wrong. You have to seek Godly friends and then invest in them. That takes time. And it does change over time. My inner circle is not completely the same as it was 10 years ago. Lives change. My go to, closest friend hasn’t though. We are in different states. But we put in the effort it takes to maintain a close friendship. I listen to him. If I am mad at someone and I know I am right; he listens and if he says I am wrong, even if I don’t agree I listen to him because we are that close in friendship and values. In those situations he is the calm and rational me. When I want to quit and he says no, I don’t quit. He will close his business at a moment’s notice and drive to Oklahoma if I need him to. I also do that for him.

You can better believe he is going to be checking up on me. We will pray together, a lot. That kind of relationship takes a lot of work, a lot of give and take as well as sacrifice. But you need that when you reach your breaking point. God uses those people to speak to me and me them.

When you pursue those kinds of relationships you will soon discover a larger group of friends who reflect true Biblical values that are a great help when you need it. I can safely say, even branching out to my larger group of friends there are several of those types of relationships and it makes times like this so much easier. Many are my church family. They care more than just a “friend”  and part of that caring is they demand my best. When I fail to achieve that, they are willing to help me get there. But they expect me get there.

That lifts a great burden from me. My family will be watched and prayed over. I can trust them. If things go wrong I am not alone. God will use them. I have given much to them towards the same end. Praise God for them, and you!

Blessings!


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