We all have friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances around town that we swap stories of life with. We tell them how the Holy Spirit touched us on Sunday morning, and they tell us how drunk they got on Friday night. Okay, maybe we don’t have those kinds of conversations, but we do find out bits and pieces of what is going on in each others lives.
In many of those times we are left without much to say. Either we have no voice in a person’s life, or we know how they feel about what we have to say. In our closer relationships, though, we have to know when to be the voice in that person’s life.
What if you had a friend from church who told you he was going to the strip bar down the street on Friday nights? It wasn’t his idea. He just got pulled along by some of the guys a few weeks ago, and now he keeps getting mixed up in it. He does not know how to say, “No.” How do you help him? What if he does not want to listen to your advice?
A woman who helps with the youth group is going through a tough time at home and starts going with the girls to one of the local clubs. It was just something to do at first, to hang out and relax. But now she has started going out for coffee with one of the bartenders. Do you keep quiet, or try to help her back onto the path?
I have a couple of good Christian friends who love God and really want to get closer to Him. I was one of their pastors for a while, so I have a bit extra investment in their lives. Sitting at the table at one house I turned to see one of the ever-popularTwilight novels. I looked around and there were two more on the shelf. Every chance I get, I say something.
Why? Because I believe that God has put us into each others’ lives for a reason. We are not just there to be happy and supportive, play some games and enjoy Sunday worship together. Part of our role is to be the voice that reminds one another about the truths of God.
But how do we do that? How are supposed to be the voice in a way that is helpful and does not destroy our relationships? Consider these factors the next time you feel you are meant to be the voice in someone’s life.
1. Speak the truth in love. It sounds cliche, but this is the first factor to consider. If you have to be aggressive or rude, don’t speak. If you are speaking out of anger, stay silent. Love is the first ingredient and it takes true relationship. I always say that it is harder to listen in love than to speak in love, but it is up to the speaker to make every effort to communicate love over condemnation, judgment or spiritual superiority.
2. Stay out of the boxing ring. To maintain your privileges a voice in someone’s life, you have to be careful to stay away from a fight. When you speak into a life, know that there will be opposition. You’ve just exposed darkness to light or made obvious a personal weakness. Defenses are going to go up. Your job is play it cool. Make your point quickly and move on.
3. Be observant, but don’t be on the lookout. If you are constantly looking for an opportunity, it will be obvious that you are on a sort of spiritual stakeout. Just like goaltending in basketball, this is a foul in relationships. The purpose of coming together with others is not to straighten them out, but to live in love and joy together.
What are some other things to consider when helping others remember God’s direction for their lives? How has it gone well, or maybe not-so-well, for you?