WATCH word on the company you keep

10460175_10152569282184936_294467736982132813_nI ran into a quote saying, “your character determines the company you keep,” and that is true. But then I got to thinking about Paul’s admonition…

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.'”
(1 Cor 15:33)

At the 7mGen youth program last week a young person asked me how to categorize relationships. A great question! Who should I have as friends?

The parable of “The Good Samaritan” came to mind. Right away I realized Jesus had addressed this question when a man shot it to Him from the crowd… “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus turned it back by telling a story about a man who fell among thieves and was dying on the side of the road till the Samaritan passed by. Adding a slight dig to the religious hypocrisy of the day, Jesus had a pious Levite and Priest pass by the poor fellow and cross over to the other side of the street to avoid him. The Samaritan brought the man to a hotel and covered his expenses till he recovered. Then Jesus, ever the master teacher asked – “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” Who was friend to the man who fell among thieves?

The one who showed mercy.

The question may not be “who should be my friend?” but rather, “how does a friend act?”

Here are three levels of RELATIONSHIP to consider:

Level #1 FRIENDSHIP. A believer’s disposition should be friendly toward all. Looking for the one who needs a humane touch, a deposit of mercy. The Samaritan demonstrated he was a “friend” by how he handled someone in need.

Not all people are the same, however and you need to discern their spirits if possible. Dr. Henry Cloud suggests three categories of people in the Bible: the wise, the foolish and the evil.

Level #2. FELLOWSHIP. This is a level higher than friendship where you open up your heart and life. There is a sacred exchange that takes place at this level between hearts and souls. It is at this level that we are refreshed and sharpened, based on the company we keep.

There are many friends, fewer in fellowship and fewest in the third highest level….

Level #3 COVENANT. These are the people who rise out of fellowship to a place where you have a common bond, perhaps an assignment of some sort that ties you together. Jesus shared this level of intensity with a small group. In the crush of all three groups needing something, these people are moved to the top of your list of concerns.

If the company you keep is not moving you forward, they are most likely holding you back. Hard as it may be for some, make the decision to walk only with those who cause you to show up as your best self. These are those who accept you totally and unconditionally on one hand, and on the other, require you to live up to your star potential and confront you when you are playing small.

In any two-party relationship one person is influencing the other. Make sure you know who is influencing whom.

And I deeply appreciate that many of you allow me to enter the sacred space of a writer you read. I steward this trust carefully.

–Pruning is painful sometimes. Remove the branches (relationships) that suck away your strength.

Lance

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17 thoughts on “WATCH word on the company you keep

  1. Excellent blog Lance. You’re right about Level 3 – Covenant. As I think about the Covenant relationships that I have formed through the years, two attributes are magnified in my mind…Trust & Loyalty. Both of these stem from motives that are pure in the pursuit of the common goal. In this relationship, no one is jockeying for position or accolades. The assignment takes priority over personal ego. This type of relationship also extends to future generations of the ones who have made Covenant.

    Blessings,

    Ricky

  2. This was a right now word for me. I needed this because I needed clarity on my friendships so I know how to manage them.

  3. For me a very timely word and confirmation.

    When Jesus was here on earth his disciples were in three groups. The 70, considered the outer group. The 12, Judas (who betrayed Jesus) was in the 12. And there were the CORE group: Peter, James and John. There was His most intimate relationship, His relationship with the Father.

  4. Amen, Dr. Lance. I have, and am still learning discernment and boundaries. Holy Spirit does not need our help or interference. As I grow older and ask in prayer, Wisdom and Understanding have made a greater and greater covenant with me. They have Blessed me and caused many more Blessings as well as Peace (Shalom) enter my life. With Holy Spirit, Wisdom, Understanding, Revelation and Word of Knowledge, effective intercessory prayer WILL intervene on behalf of those that are the objects. Answered prayer and miracles are accelerating and answered more quickly at present times than in times past. I praise our Lord Who has sozo-ed them out of their troubles and captivity! Shalom…from Wasilla, Alaska

  5. Dr. Lance
    Good word as always and oh so true. They say it is lonely at the top. Keep pressing on for the top of the mountain my friend. We keep you and the family in our prayers. Please greet Lance Jr. for me I hope he is doing well. Is he still training? God Bless You!!
    PC
    cell 970-227-7712

  6. Very interesting Dr. Lance. You have qualified that those whom you keep company with, may at times confront you, but how does one tell the difference between necessary growth through some adversity and feeling that your energy is being sucked away? I’m in a position where I felt certain that the Lord led me and promoted me into, after 2 years I’m feeling absolutely exhausted and beaten. I’m seeing behaviors in leaders that I’m not comfortable with and am questioning why I’m here, is it to make an impact? to grow spiritually and learn to rely on Him? or did I misinterpret the initial leading? Something resonated within me while reading your message. Just not sure what exactly……

    • Dear Elena

      The Bible states that the devil will seek to wear out the saints of the Most High by good works. Rather enter into the Finished Work of Jesus – the fullness of the redemptive achievements of Jesus Christ, which He accomplished by HIs death on the cross, burial, resurrection, ascension. It is when you come to Him in fellowship, and learn from Him the unforced rhythms of His Grace, that you find true rest.

      As great as it is to pursue what you felt called to, it is as critical to pursue it in a manner that is God-honouring and God-pleasing. This means operating by Faith in HIs Word, by applying New Covenant teaching of the New Testament Apostles – particularly Paul, Peter, and James – as these are the principles of how Jesus is building His Church.

      Finally, heed Jesus’ warning to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees – being mixed covenantal teaching – old wineskins which are incapable of holding new wine.

  7. I agree with all three levels, and thank you for your wisdom in sharing this article Lance! Though, the only thing I have trouble with sometimes is that once you remove all the people that either are bringing you down, negative relationships etc. (pretty much clean up your contacts 🙂 then your left with…very few people! To be honest, I can count on one hand the people that fall under category 2 and 3. Anyone else have that problem? Or is that not a problem, but a good thing because the less the better? Thanks!

    • Thanks so much Lance! What I have found out is as you continuously prune the negative relationships, you end up with more energy and time to grow. It is true your contact list may at first decrease, but then it will begin to increase again with more of what you need to grow to higher levels.

  8. I marvel at The Holy Spirit. I believe this is truly timely and a confirmation, having recently severed a friendship of some 30 years and awakening to the reality that I am now free from a negative, manipulating, bitter, unforgiving, self-centred, attention seeking and selfish spirit behind the individual. Talk about scales falling off one’s eyes and energy restored! A lesson learned and now having the grace to forgive and move on. Thank you Lance & blessings to one and all at home.

  9. Lance,
    I appreciate the information you give out. We the Lord places these people in my life, I will know how to place each person; whether they are meant to stay or not. Greatly appreciated♡

  10. Great article Dr. Lance. I agree with all three levels wholeheartedly.

    To Michael – Your question about counting on one hand the people you can be in fellowship and covenant with. It’s a good thing to have fewer people in those relationships. I am friendly to a lot of people, and have cared for a lot of people in my 51 years, but those who I trust, confide in, and who call me out when I’m being petty and build me up when I’ve been torn down are 2-3 people. They have travelled with me for decades, and I know that they love me unconditionally and give me wise counsel. They lean on me as well, and I am a better person for having them in my life. Quality always trumps quantity.

  11. Great post, Lance. I have personally experienced the ‘pruning’ process over the last 2 years. It is not easy, but it is so necessary. Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the 5 people your spend the most time with.” I recognized that I had to change the variables so that I could go higher, be more effective, and come into the full measure of what God had for me. Thanks for keeping this in front of us.

  12. THANKS Lance; As always a good word & very timely. Unfortunately I have never had any good friends none that were really spiritual. Over 40years of being Born-again & filled with Holy Spirit, the only people that I have been SENT to were drainers, but I faithfully sowed in their lives( a lady pastor once said to me many years ago that I was God’s secret agent, having some idea of my high calling I did not like to hear this but I knew then as I know now that I AM NOT MY OWN, I AM HIS TO DO AS HE WILLS. Much, much persecution but I am a better person for it. My soon moving to Texas and aligning with Glory of Zion is my payoff. I understand now that the uniqueness of my call is why I had to be mostly rejected by the church because I needed the strength it has produced to stand for TRUTH. I have revival in me for America & this is one of the main reasons for moving there. Of course, ABSOLUTELY I STILL HAVE MUCH TO LEARN. Sincerely, Mary Frances

  13. I am glad to have found this great series and am a follower of Jesus.
    Lance, thank you for the strategies and for the vision.
    My mountain is Education. Strongholds are very evident in my day to day work.
    There are Christians who are quietly influences the lives of young people and we breaking down the concepts of Pride, Humanism, Rationalization, and Atheism.
    Our Creator is the source of all truth and power.
    I am humbled and amazed daily.
    Lord, help me to continue to develop right friendships and associates that further your Kingdom