What a refreshing day! I looked outside to see a fresh blanket of snow and Jesus’ reminder that He’s washed away our sins. I spent my day visiting some of my favorite people. I noticed that when you’ve built a foundation of trust, people will share from their hearts, feelings, challenges, and struggles. You may get a window into their soul. You may get to hear what no one else knows except God. You may get a chance to pray with people and encourage them. The older I get, the more important building relationships with people becomes.
God designed us in His image to reflect Him to the world. He made us as relational beings to find meaning and life and love through connected relationships. Life only works when we’re deeply connected with God, ourselves, and people. The more we keep to ourselves, the unhealthier we become. Our thoughts, feelings, time, and experiences are all meant to be shared each day with God and people. We’re only as healthy as our willingness to love God and people with heart, soul, mind, and strength.
If we stay away from people, our social economy erodes to nothing. When we stop connecting and speaking the truth in love, all we are left with is our repetitive thoughts that buffer to the same conclusions. Left to ourselves, we self-destruct. But as iron sharpens iron, we get better by being together. In this season of life, it takes courage to venture out and find people who need to know that they matter to God and to you. People are worth the risk!
I’m blessed to have a dad who taught me the art of connecting and building relational bridges. My dad can talk to anyone. He’ll go up to complete strangers, strike up a conversation, find common ground, and, before you know it, he’s made new friends. My dad makes time, takes an interest in people, and gets people singing. My dad’s life is a song of faith, spoken in love, to people who need to know that Jesus loves them.
My best friend Steve has taught me how to be a true friend. He has spent his life teaching kids at St. Ed’s, volunteering to develop parks, drawing, mentoring young people, and making paths for people to find God. He calls me every week, and he frequently shows up at my house and just yells, “HELLO!” Steve makes time. He gets on your turf. He passes on his faith to his family, his friends, and his community by being himself. He’s Jesus with skin on and is full of encouragement.
My son used to say, “Dad, between you and grandpa and Steve, you know all of Ashland.” Good relationships are built by looking for the good in people and saying the good. When you make time, listen well, find common ground, and love from your heart, you will be a relationship-builder. God will love His people through you. I love people and build relationships through working, playing, visiting, developing tools and groups, and blogging (www.spiritdriven.org). Just be yourself, show up full of God’s love, and build a relational bridge today. It’s the best way to strengthen our community and to pass on your faith.