7 Qualities of Life-Giving People (Part 3)

This is part three of a three-part post that identifies and fleshes out seven characteristics of life-giving people. If you haven’t read part two, go here.

As I tell this story, see if you can sniff out the final two qualities of life-giving people…

What began as a routine meeting turned out to be a holy moment for both of us. By holy, I mean that God met us there. We’d been sipping coffee and small talking for probably 15 minutes when it happened. Jeremy put his mug down and said, “Hey man, I want to tell you about my life.”

“Uh… okay… yeah… go right ahead,” I said awkwardly. Without hesitation, he launched into the unedited story of his life. As he spoke, I kept asking myself, “Why is he doing this?” But multi-tasking is really hard for me. It was impossible to examine his motives and listen to his story at the same time, so I interrupted him and asked him straight up — “Why are you doing this?”

He said that he wanted more out of his friendships. God had showed him that isolation and shallowness were harmful to his soul. So, he rolled the dice and showed me his true self. It was a bold and courageous move. Something had clicked inside him. The pain of having only shallow friendships with other men was greater than the discomfort of being vulnerable.

I was stunned. It was like Jeremy took the words right out of my mouth. I was in a very similar place. The almost constant grind of full-time ministry plus a crazy-busy family schedule with three young kids had left me with little bandwidth for cultivating meaningful friendships. I was starving for genuine Christian fellowship and and didn’t even know it. It had been a long time since I paused to reflect on my life. Years of being hurried and distracted had taken their toll.

God used Jeremy’s authenticity to wake me up that day. His transparency was contagious. He would share something, then I would share something. This back-and-forth went on for 90 minutes. By the end, our masks were completely gone. We talked about our dreams, fears, character defects, and the pain we carried around inside. We confessed our sins and talked openly about the regrets that sometimes keep us up at night.

It was incredibly refreshing. And kind of scary. Before this conversation, we were friends. Now we’re soul brothers. A soul brother (or sister) is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway. These are the friendships that transform people’s lives forever. The Holy Spirit releases remarkable power when believers walk closely together without pretense or posturing. I’ve witnessed it in others and I’ve personally experienced it myself. Wounds are healed. Faith is grown. Struggles are overcome. Sin is defeated. Bondage is broken.

Do you have these people in your life? Who are your soul friends? Here’s an even better question — Are you showing up in someone else’s life as a soul brother or sister? I’m a firm believer that the wisest thing we can do to improve our relationships is to work on ourselves.

As you continue to ponder how you affect others, consider these final two characteristics of life-giving people…

6) Life-giving people are safe.

When you’re around a safe person, you’re free from the pressure to perform. You’re not constantly worried about how they’re perceiving you. I once heard a counselor say that there are three kinds of friends:

  • balcony friends who are in your corner and cheer you on
  • roller coaster friends who are unpredictable and add drama to your life
  • basement friends who pull you down and bring out the worst in you

As tempting as it is to immediately think of other people, remember to focus on yourself. Which kind of friend are you? How safe are you for others? Who knows without a doubt that you’re in their corner no matter what? Can your friends and family be themselves around you? Can they tell you sensitive things and know that you won’t overreact or betray their confidence? Do they feel heard and understood when they’re with you?

7) Life-giving people are transparent.

This one may be the most important of them all. Aside from dishonesty, I can’t think of a more potent relationship inhibitor than fake-ness. Life-giving people don’t play games or project a glittering image of themselves. They are who they are.

Don’t misunderstand me. There is such a thing as over-sharing (or TMI). People will back away if you share too much too fast. Self-disclosure is tricky. What I’m recommending is a posture of humble authenticity. You know it when you see it… am I right?

Transparency means not acting like you have it all together. It’s admitting your faults and talking about the struggles you face. It’s showing other people your pain. In superficial relationships, everybody’s always okay. We’re doing fine, thank you very much. Friendships are deepened when people learn how to be weak together in the presence of God. The alternative is pretending to be strong. In my better moments, I realize that strength is an illusion. God is strong and I am not. I want to be around people who will believe that with me.

Questions for Self-Examination:

  • Are you a safe person for your family and friends?
  • Who are your balcony, roller coaster, and basement friends?
  • What keeps you from being more transparent with others?
  • Who would you like to move toward as a possible soul brother/sister?

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