I am a huge fan of college football. Saturdays spent watching the gridiron battles are a rare luxury. Today I nestled in for a few hours of work while the television blared excited announcer voices declaring touchdowns, sacks, and interceptions. College football fandom consists of a frenzy of painted bodies, foam fingers, tailgate cookouts, and fun-loving mascots. It’s a chance to escape and cheer for my alma mater, the place responsible for some of my life’s best memories.
Glancing up at the screen during a pivotal play, something caught my attention, causing me to view a kick-off return in a whole new light. As the player nabbed the ball and dashed toward the other end of the field, his teammates encircled him, forming a protective guard to help propel him forward. They were alert to any obstacles in his path, blocking and charging alongside his sprint toward the end zone.
That’s the way it is with Christian friends, I thought. When God gives us an assignment that’s beyond our capabilities or one that requires support and encouragement, we need others who can spur us on, offer protection, make blocks against the enemy, and assist in extra yardage toward our goal.
Ecclesiastes 4 tells us “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
As we maneuver through life, we need a cadre of individuals who will rally around us for celebrations, heartache, and difficult conversations. I’ve had friends who’ve prayed with me to combat the enemy’s arrows, others have been cheerleaders in the stands as I embarked on a new adventure, and a rare few have confronted me about my behavior or choices. It works because of transparency and humility.
I can hear some of your comments: I don’t have time for friends. Where do I find them? How do you foster that type of relationship? I wish I had easy and perfect answers, but I can only offer some tips from personal experience.
1. Devote time to forming a tribe. You have to be willing to take time for more than a casual conversation or a text message. Developing good friendships requires energy and a concerted effort.
2. Plug into a small group. This is a vital step. Many on my team have been added from relationships cultivated in our Bible study class at church. Pray and ask God to lead you to a group or to help you find friends.
3. Reciprocate friendship. Just as you might expect them to be supporters and encouragers, you have to reciprocate. It’s an equal partnership and interchange.
I don’t know about you, but I want to catch that football and score a touchdown; therefore, it’s my responsibility to find individuals who are willing to block and defend my sprint down the field. I challenge you to find a new teammate or two in 2020. Doing so will help you reach the end zone.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” — Proverbs 27:17
About Shelley Pulliam
Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media. https://www.instagram.com/shelleypulliam/