“If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, take someone else with you.”
Do you remember your New Year’s Resolutions? It’s crazy how fast time flies and we lose sight of our intentions.
Earlier this year, I wrote about resolutions. But much deeper into the year, I think it would be funny for us to consider what actually shapes our lives the most on a daily basis. It’s probably not resolutions!
The Voices Who Mean the Most
I believe our lives are shaped by the people whose voices mean the most. Someone once said that you are the sum total of the five people with whom you spend the most time. I’m not sure that’s true or where the data came for that statement, but I wondered what that would mean for me (and you) if it were true.
If the people who matter most to us mean the most in our lives, then I believe we all need five types of people in our lives.
Now, these types of people are actually roles that a person holds. One person can be all of these five things or one person can be two or three of these things. But I do think it’s important that we have more than one close friend in your life. I think it is important that we allow and seek different voices to speak into our lives.
My friend Hank Fortener once shared with me that he has people in his life who he has given “subway permission.” Not the sandwich shop, but the trains in New York City. All over the subway, there are signs which say, “See something? Say something.” He has given his friends permission to judge his actions, hold him accountable and speak with authority into the direction he’s going and the person he is becoming.
The Five Friends Who Could Change Your Life
I love what Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” If success is found in the voices who influence us, which voices do we need to empower? I think these five voices will help us thrive and flourish in ways that go beyond resolutions.
#1 – The Truth-Teller
We need a person who will tell us the unfiltered truth. When I think of this role, I think of my wife, Danalyn. She is one of the bluntest people I know. She does not have a filter and I always know where she stands…on everything. This is one reason why she makes a great attorney. Even this past weekend, she called me out on something that I didn’t even realize I was doing. Her truth-telling helped me face a piece of reality I was avoiding.
#2 – The 2:00 AM Phone Call
We all need someone who is what Brené Brown calls the “bury the dead bodies” friend. This is the kind of person we call at 2 AM when we’re in the middle of a crisis. We need to have a person who will drop whatever they’re doing and jump into our current predicament alongside us. My friends Janine Fischer and Erin MacFarland are two of these people. Janine and Erin (along with other members of my wife’s small group) jumped into a crisis my family went through when Danalyn went on bed rest for 17 weeks (including multiple hospital stays) with our twins. When we go through a crisis, we discover who we have or don’t have in this role.
#3 – The Consistent Encourager
We need someone who is the voice of consistent encouragement in our lives. In my limited experience, I’ve discovered that no one is short on encouragement these days. We never get over-encouraged. In my life, my buddy Jimmy and I call each other every morning and pray for each other. The time we spend on the phone each day allows us to encourage one another, as we pursue what’s most important in our lives. We celebrate the successes and support one another through the difficulties.
#4 – The Fan From Day One (No Groupies!)
We all need someone who knew us before we were “successful.” The older we get and the more we grow in terms of our influence, our positions, and our careers, the greater likelihood we have to spend time with people who think we’re pretty awesome. It is super important that we have people who knew us before we were “us”. My friend Rob Payne is one of these people. He met me when I delivered really long and boring sermons. While he is not a preacher, his feedback has been one of the most invaluable sources of growth in my life. While he celebrates with me as God has blessed me with larger platforms to stand on and write from, he also keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground of humility.
#5 – The Unwavering Believer
Do you have someone who is trustworthy enough to hear even your craziest thoughts? Someone who pushes you to do something risky and courageous? A friend who believes in you when you don’t believe in yourself? This person can be someone who knows you super well or someone who just relentlessly pushes you to move forward.
I met Rachel Wojnarowski as part of an author coaching network I joined. She’s a mom, a writer, and a social media ninja. When we were hanging out in Nashville as part of that network, she shared about a Bible Study for women she was leading in her church this spring. The study was based on her new book, One More Step.
I asked her if she was going to record it on video. She said no, and I encouraged her to consider it. If she recorded it, she could offer the Bible Study online later and impact many more women with her message. Rachel took my advice and found a videographer who recorded the sessions. She recently opened up registration for the online Bible Study and over 650 women are already signed up – many more than attended in person!
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” -Proverbs 17:17
Which Friends Have Mattered Most?
Whether it was a simple two-minute conversation with Rachel, my morning phone call with Jimmy or a tough moment with my wife, the voices in my life have made me who I am today. I believe the same is true for you. Who are the three to five people who’ve made the biggest impact on your life? Do you see them described in the list of 5 voices above?
If you’re not where you want to be or if you want a different kind of life relationally, consider “hiring” the people you know for these roles. Empower them to speak into your life, so you can become and accomplish all that God has intended for you.
And don’t forget to thank the people whose voices mean the most. We often forget that not communicating gratitude actually communicates ingratitude. Let them know how much they mean to you!