Who really knows you? Who knows the things about you that you hope others never find out? Who has permission to ask you anything and you give them an honest answer? Who has the freedom to challenge your life? Who knows what truly makes you come alive? Who knows your dreams and is willing to help you achieve them?
Anyone? I hope so.
Does anyone need to know all of that? I believe so.
Growing as a disciple of Jesus is a relational process. There is no way around that. Jesus was relational. He took the time to know his disciples and help them grow. Sometimes it was with words of encouragement, hard questions, or challenging conversations. But it was always from a heart of deep love and friendship.
We need deep spiritual friendships.
I remember walking into Community Bakery in Little Rock, Ar. years ago to meet a mentor-friend of mine. He was sitting there waiting on me with a white notebook on the table. After I got my cup of coffee and sat with him, we began to talk. He got right to the point of our time together. He opened up the notebook, looked at the page and said, “I have 8 questions about your life that I want to ask you and then 3 things I want to tell you.” I think I sort of laughed. Then I got very serious. My first thought was, “what could he possibly have to say about me?” Then I was overwhelmed. For him to have 8 questions and 3 things to say specific to my life meant that he took the time to pray and think about me.
Who does that?
With this particular friend, I knew that what he had to say wasn’t going to be lightweight. He was going to push me towards Jesus from a heart of love and belief in what God was doing in my life. So I had a choice. Would I deeply receive what he had to say or would I only let his words scratch the surface?
Since I knew that he was coming from a heart of love, I listened. His concern was what God was doing. And his words were spoken to help me move forward as a follower of Christ. He challenged me that day and I needed it.
All of us need someone like that in our lives. The disciples needed Jesus in their lives. Not just to get them to fulfill a task, but to be loved and believed in. They needed the long, patient, loving, truthful friendship that he gave them.
To open yourself up to someone in that way is what Mike Mason describes as “receivership” in the book Practicing the Presence of People. Receivership is the act of choosing humility, admitting that you need the voice and guidance of another person in the deep places of your life. It is the act of letting go of control. Mason goes on to say this:
“Many call themselves believers who are not receivers. They like good things but they also like to be in control of how those good things come to them. That is not receiving but getting. They will take anything but the risk of vulnerability…“
In the book Leap Over a Wall, Eugene Peterson says:
“Each of us has contact with hundreds of people who never look beyond the surface of our appearance. And then someone enters our life who…is leisure enough to find out what’s really going on in us…recognizes our inner life and understands the difficulty of living out our inner convictions, confirms what is deepest within us. A friend.“
If we are going to grow as disciples, we need to learn to be receivers. We need people who can see things that we may not be able to see. We need to be open to a trusted friend who has permission to speak and ask.
How do you take the step of practicing receivership? Here are a few thoughts:
- Who in your life do you truly trust as a friend and Christ follower?
- What would you want that person to ask you? (Ie. I will tell my friend things I am thinking about and ask, “What do you hear me saying? Do you see any red flags or things I should think about?”)
- Set up a time to meet them when you have plenty of time to talk.
- Take a step of faith and share something you wouldn’t normally share, and ask for their thoughts. Then listen.