“Who needs to know you care?” That was the question that I raised with my successor. I didn’t realize just how impactful my challenge would be until I heard my friend, Shan, share it in a recent message to the church. Here’s the surprise, as I listened to my words through the voice box of someone else, they ended up strongly impacting me!
Dallas Willard once said that God’s word to us is sometimes God’s word spoken through us. That is, we sometimes hear a message in our spirit with a deeper, stronger voice than our own, or even that of a friend. That’s what occurred to me as I was prompted to make three calls over the next several hours, each of which was both bonding and profound.
The men I cared enough to call were each just as excited to hear my voice as I was to hear them. Here’s some of what the the three guys shared in common with me:
- We each shared a long and candid history.
- We each enjoyed easy laughter with and at each other!
- We each covered a range of topics from the silly to the serious.
- We each realized that we need to be more intentional about enjoying in-depth connections going forward.
Quality connections don’t happen accidentally; they must be cultivated intentionally. When I asked one of the guys who he thought might speak at his funeral, he surprised me by saying me! Even though we live far apart and have only talked occasionally in recent years, he still put me on the short list of those that could best honor the journey of his life. No, he’s not ailing and ready to calendar his funeral, he’s simply realizing that only a handful of guys really know him well. While he has tons of connections, he has very few friends.
While I have a bent to connect, deep friendships still require deliberate time. It’s not usually hard for me to engage head and heart with other men. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to intentionally schedule it. Yes, many good connections are spontaneous, but quality long term friendships have to be calendared. We all have time and relational limits. We can’t always be available. Frankly, I only call people when it’s convenient for me! That means my calls are not always convenient for others, unless we agree in advance to reserve and protect the time. That’s disciplined community.
The apostle Paul said, “Make the most of the time because the days are evil.” Curiously, each of the men I spoke with made an unprompted reference to the evil of our time. One actually used the word “evil” while the others referred to “Satan” or “sinister.” The devil’s plan is clear. Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).
This I know, the three “care calls” I made were each full of life and life giving. So much so, we agreed to make them a refreshing monthly experience. Might God be prompting you to calendar a few “care calls” of your own?
Guess what? One of my buddies just called to check on me! When I asked him why he was calling, he said, “I’m just calling to check on you because I care about you!” Wow, what a concept.
Who needs to know you care? “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Romans 1:12 NLT