Monday, March 14, 2011

Who Are Your Walking Partners?

Minnesota winters require creativity if you like to keep fit by walking. Locally, we're fortunate to have a dome-covered soccer field with a walking track around it where I regularly meet friends to catch up on life. It's a terrific way to multi-task. I am so thankful for the exercise but even more appreciative of the conversation. These are times of mutual encouragement, reflection, shared insights, and even prayer.

My experience with “walking partners” is both literal and metaphorical. Often these friends help me stay spiritually fit and challenge me to grow. Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate to have friends who were like disciples to me. They persistently helped keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Whether they sent a timely email, prayed with me on the telephone, chatted on a soccer sideline or listened from a chair on a dock at the cabin, these precious women have carried me to Jesus through good times and bad.

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. Having a trusted and encouraging friend to confide in during a time of crisis is particularly valuable. Yet for some people in the midst of challenges, the sense of loneliness and isolation can feel more overwhelming than the crisis itself. Sometimes we just need to talk with someone who “gets it.”

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Larry and I are strongly in favor of seeking professional Christian counseling, particularly in the face of challenges such as grief or loss, disability, chronic/terminal illness, strained marriage, and addiction. We ourselves have benefited tremendously from Christian temperament counseling and 12 Step-style Bible study groups. Yet we also believe that professional counselors would be needed in far fewer circumstances if more Christians lived out their calling to be disciples — in a lifestyle of walking shoulder-to-shoulder with one another listening, encouraging, exhorting and empowering in relationships where Christ is central to the conversation.

What kind of Walking Partner are you?

Do you need to be more intentional about developing these mutually-discipling kinds of relationships in your life?

When we started Walk Right In Ministries, we were acutely aware of this deep and broad need around the world — an even more critical need when people are facing adversity. We wanted to support people in getting connected with others who had “been in their shoes” but would do more than just empathize. Today our goal remains the same: to ensure you are connected with others who will pray with you and encourage you in your walk with God. We call friends like that “Walking Partners.”

A Walking Partner is someone who will cheer you on while helping you maintain a clear plum line against which to measure your relationships, choices, goals and dreams. You can get “social networking” and good mentoring in lots of places but a biblical, disciple-growing kind of friendship like this is soul-reaching and can change your life for eternity. Walking Partners celebrate the Living God and will respectfully and lovingly share Him.

LORD, please teach me how to be this kind of friend. Help me find and connect with others who will be Walking Partners with me for Your glory. Starting this week, help me to be more aware and intentional about making You a central part of my relationships so that anything I have to offer my friendships is not dependent on ME but flows out of YOUR love, truth, hope, and comfort. AMEN

“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. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:16-17

Watch for upcoming posts about Walking Partners! We'll explore these questions and more:

  • What are the qualities of a Walking Partner according to the Bible?
  • Who are our Biblical models for being good Walking Partners?
  • How many Walking Partners should a person have?
  • What are the "Do's" and "Don'ts" of being a good Walking Partner?
  • What does a good Walking Partner look like today?

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