The Turning Point

Like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston’s life, and now death, will be media-ized and scrutinized for a very long time. One of the major networks quickly put together a 3-minute montage of her history as an artist. It began with footage of her as a teenage Gospel singer. It ended with a video she did two years ago, singing a song about God called “I Look to You.” Ironically appearing full circle. There was an interesting pivotal point in the piece, though, that seemed to change the course of her life—“her controversial marriage to music bad boy, Bobby Brown.”

Now, there is no need to lay all blame on Bobby Brown; Ms. Houston made her choice. But watching the media frenzy unfold her life story, I am once again struck by how important relationships are to our spiritual health and how the injection of just one particular human being into another life can literally cause an amazing ascent or a deathly descent.

I am reminded of some classic sayings: “You become whom you hang out with.” “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

We’ve all seen the sweet, girl-next-door with so much going for her get mixed up with the wrong guy and the life is sucked out of her in no time. We’ve also witnessed the wallflower that didn’t believe in herself, but then met a prince of a guy and she blossomed into a beauty. For guys, it can certainly be the wrong girl, but so often it’s meeting another guy with a high cool factor and the need to impress brings a downward spiral. A life can be turned down or turned around by a single moment in time, connecting with the wrong or the right person.

What might have happened if Whitney had met a godly man that took her back to her Gospel roots and then echoed her great worth as a woman of God? I venture to bet that God put a few of those in her path, exactly for that reason.

Regardless of your age, income, career, or station in life, the people you surround yourself with make all the difference in where you are going—or not going. Here’s seven thoughts to help you evaluate your relationships and your current climate for growth.

1—Gainers versus Drainers. Givers or takers.

2—Constructors versus Destructors. Build up or tear down.

3—Inspirers versus Detractors. Stimulate and encourage or diminish and belittle.

4—Challenge-to-Change versus Status Quo. Gotta grow or it’ll do.

5—Friend versus Fan. Walk the shore or ride the wave.

6—Out-For-You versus Out-For-Me. Watch your back or stab your back.

7—Ascenders versus Descenders. Onward & upward or take you down with me.

This is not about determining the winners you should cling to or the losers you should drop. It’s about you taking responsibility for who and what you surround yourself with—the wisdom and discernment you use to keep yourself healthy, growing, and on the right path.

Far too many guys keep their close friends at the lowest possible denominator, just so they don’t have to think, take action, or grow. That’s social and spiritual laziness. Don’t be guilty of that.

So, based on the list, how are you doing? Where are you going? Where are you taking others? Play out the “what-if’s” now, so someone else doesn’t do it for you after the fact, as with Ms. Houston. And here’s a final litmus test for your relationships: Lay them all on the table and ask God what He wants for you. Jesus’ kept his circle tight, relative to the number of people he regularly encountered. Maybe you should too.

Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you. —1 Corinthians 15:33 CEV

Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces. —Proverbs 13:20 CEV

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. —Proverbs 27:17 MSG


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