7 Qualities of Life-Giving People (Part 1)

When people see you coming, do they see a fountain or a drain?

When a think of the phrase life-giving people, my mind immediately shows me the faces of several friends who fit that description. These are the people I absolutely love being around. They bring encouragement, joy, and life into my life. Who are the faces that come into your mind?

On the flip side, I can almost instantly recall the faces of people who drain me… who make me feel like a deflated balloon after spending time with them. I have to mentally prepare myself before hanging out with them and then I have to recover after it’s over. We’ll call them the life-squashers. Who are they in your life?

Before we focus too much on other people, let’s turn the camera on ourselves. What kind of person are you — a life-giver or a life-squasher? Be honest with yourself. When was the last time you reflected on the way you affect others?

I started seriously thinking about how my life impacted other people about ten years ago. Through my wife, a few close friends, and a 12-step recovery community, God brought me a painful gift called self-knowledge. I was clueless, oblivious, and asleep-at-the-wheel until then. I had entered that 12-step recovery group to deal with my raging codependency. I was a compulsive people-pleaser and totally obsessed with gaining the approval of others. With God’s help, I was able to excavate my heart and get to the bottom of my core struggles.

The root issue was selfishness. Let me say it more accurately — the root issue is selfishness. I will be at war with my pride, ego, and self-centered disposition until I see Jesus face to face. As the old saying goes, “I’m not where I want to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”

One of the commitments I made to God during those early years was to examine myself with rigorous personal honesty. Among other things, I started assessing how I affected others. I soon learned that I had some work to do. I wanted to become the kind of person that others wanted to be around, but I wasn’t sure where to start. A wise mentor encouraged me to closely observe the people who bring me life and learn from them. In my experience, all life-giving people, regardless of their personality, share these seven qualities.

1) Life-giving people are humble.

They know the world doesn’t revolve around them. They don’t enter relationships in order to enhance their status. They serve and bring value to others. They laugh at themselves easily. They don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable in their own skin. And they’re really hard to offend because they live as if they have nothing to prove.

People don’t become humble by pursuing humility. Humility is the fruit of living in the presence of God. God is the ultimate pride-destroyer. When I remember that he is with me and that I am never not in his presence, humility is always the first reaction.

Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. Psalm 139:1-3 (NLT)

2) Life-giving people are joyful.

Spending time with an authentically joyful person can alter the course of your entire day. These folks haven’t settled for surface-level happiness that is based entirely on circumstances. They have discovered that joy is a God-given undercurrent that flows deep within the soul no matter how good or hard life may be. Their smile lights up a room. They belly-laugh at the drop of a hat.

Don’t get me wrong —  they don’t naively whistle through life as if everything is perfect. In fact, some of the most joyful people I’ve ever known are also the ones who have struggled the most. If you ask them where their joy comes from, they will tell you that it isn’t found in a comfortable or pain-free life. The secret to their joy is one simple thing. They are profoundly aware of God’s grace. They are stunned when they think of how much God loves them. So they spend considerable time and effort loving others well. They know how undeserving they are of God’s mercy, so they extend mercy. They don’t hold grudges or harbor resentment. God rewards these decisions by pouring joy into their hearts.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

3) Life-giving people are present.

When they’re with you, they’re really with you. They aren’t distracted by their phones. In fact, you may never see their phones when you’re with them. This one hits me right between the eyes. Have you ever thought about how rude it is to check your phone during a conversation?

Hello, my name is Josh, and I’m guilty-as-charged.

My phone has hundreds of contacts, so whenever I put my phone on display during a meeting or even a one-on-one conversation, it’s like I’m saying, “These people on my phone are just as important as you are… even though they aren’t here!” Smartphones have changed everything. They’ve changed us. I recently read an eye-opening book about how deeply we’re affected by technology and specifically by smartphones. It’s called 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. Get it as soon as you can and digest it slowly.

Life-giving people are fully present. They look you in the eyes. They ask questions out of curiosity… out of a genuine desire to hear, understand, and connect with you. Their internal operating system is slower and more attentive than the hurried pace we’re all-too-familiar with.

Be still, and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10)

Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

In Part 2 I will unveil qualities 4-7. Until then, here are some questions to consider as you examine the way you influence others…

  • Who are the people that bring you life?
  • Who drains you when you spend time with them?
  • Would those closest to you say that you’re a fountain or a drain?
  • Which of the 3 qualities do you most need to grow in?
  • What is your plan to become a life-giving person?

Suggested Reading

The Disciple Maker’s Handbook

by Dr. Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick

Many people believe that discipleship is important, but they need help. In fact, the vast majority of Christians report that they have never been personally discipled by a more mature follower of Jesus. Is it any wonder that they have a difficult time knowing how to disciple others?

If making disciples of Jesus is the greatest cause on earth, how should we equip people to do it? This handbook is a practical guide for how to embrace the discipleship lifestyle – being a disciple of Jesus and how to make other disciples of Jesus. With contributions from pastors and teachers like Francis Chan, Jeff Vanderstelt, Bill Hull, Jim Putman, KP Yohannan, and Robert Coleman, the authors present seven elements that are necessary for disciple making to occur:

  • Jesus—the original disciple maker and centerpiece of discipleship.
  • Holy Spirit—fuels the disciple-making process.
  • Intentionality—making disciples utilizing a strategy and a roadmap.
  • Relationships—creating a loving, genuine connection with others who trust and follow Jesus.
  • Bible—using the Word of God as the manual for making disciples.
  • Journey—forging a traceable growth story from a new birth to spiritual parenthood.
  • Multiply—reproducing the discipleship process so that the disciple becomes a disciple maker.

Whether you are a parent who wants to disciple your children, a small group leader who wants to disciple those in your group, or a church leader who wants to disciple future leaders, the seven key elements in this handbook form a framework for understanding discipleship that can be applied in countless situations. In addition, there are questions provided in each section to help you think through how to apply the material to your disciple making efforts. BUY NOWother books