We all have those friends, and I use the term loosely. When you see their name on the caller ID you immediately roll your eyes and think, "What now?" You know before you even pick up the phone that there is going to be nothing-positive coming from the other end. You know that as soon as you hit that little green button that they are going to ask you for a "small favor," to simply complain about how someone did them wrong, or tell you all about how the world is against them. With every Facebook status update or tweet, it seems as if they want the world to feel their pain, wanting everyone to know how bad they've got it. It's enough to make you want to ignore every phone call, to hide them on your news feed, and to unfollow them on Twitter. These are the family members who, on every holiday visit, seem to only add to the stress of everyone else. The family member who everyone secretly hopes will visit with his or her in-laws this year instead of coming home. They are emotionally draining. They seem to take the life out of everyone they are around.
I'm in no way saying that you shouldn't ask for help if you need it. For that matter, we all need a good venting session after we've had one of "those days". After all, isn't that what real friends are for? Aren't they the ones who are there for us when we sincerely need someone? But, are you there for them when they need you to listen to their problems? That's what friendship is all about; a mutual give and take. Not one side doing all the giving while the other side does all the taking.
After reading this paragraph I'm sure we all have a list of "friends" and family members that would easily fit this mold. They never seem to offer much by way of service, love, or encouragement to other people. It's all about what the world can do for them. Sadly, this is the opposite of how we are called to be; yet it is exactly how our society has programmed us to act. We live in a culture that is all about doing what's best for you and not concerning yourself with the needs of others. We live in a culture where our "friends" aren't the people that we can help, and certainly not the people who NEED our help. It's a culture where we are only friends with the people who can do something for us. These relationships are finished as soon as the person can no longer offer us the service that they once did.
I recently read Josh McDowell's "More Than A Carpenter" where he describes his experience with a group of Christians when he was in college. He had been watching how they acted around campus as well as how they interacted with each other. After doing so he speaks of their love for one another as a "genuine love". This genuine love is something I always appreciated about Christians, even before I was one myself. The Christians I knew that really lived it out - NOT the ones who were Christian in title only - always seemed to be looking to help others. They somehow seemed to put the well being of others above their own.
McDowell elaborates on the genuine love of the Christians he saw on campus by saying that the people in this group not only loved each other, but also the people outside of the group. He says, "And I don't mean they just talked about love; they got involved in people's lives, helping them with their needs and problems. It was foreign to me, yet I was strangely addicted to it." What a testimony! These Christians loved those around them so well that it attracted a non-believer to them.
Jesus says in John 13:35, "By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
The question is this: Which group are you a part of? Are you a part of the group that people try their hardest to avoid because of your negativity? Or the group that people want more time with? When people leave your company do they think "I could hang out with that guy all day?" Or do they think, "Thank God that's over?" Are you the type of person that sucks the life out of a room? Or are you truly a life-giving spirit?
Contact Jeffrey at firstname.lastname@example.org