Have you ever heard the sayings, "birds of a feather flock together" or "you are the company you keep?" I'm certainly guilty of associating people with certain characteristics soley based on the people they hang around. I know you should never judge a book by its cover but, sometimes it's hard not to.
The type of people we choose to spend our time with says a lot about us. If we hang with people who are always into mischief and confrontations, sooner or later we will find ourselves entangled in their mess as well. Likewise, if we start associating ourselves with people who are positive thinkers, we will notice ourselves looking for the silver lining in situations. You just simply can't make it to California riding with people headed to New York. We should all strive to keep people in our lives that will help us grow in all aspects: spiritually, physically, mentally. Generally, one person probably won't fill all of these roles, but our inner circle should be made up of people who play a certain part. So, your workout partner may not be the person you go to church with, but he or she is still is a great accountability partner to have in the gym to help you reach your fitness goals. Whether we realize it or not, we can be blessed or cursed by our company. There have been many instances where people have gone to jail and even lost their lives because they were hanging with people who had committed crimes or been involved in conflict with someone else. On the other hand, people like Gayle King have benefited greatly from their association with influential friends such as Oprah Winfrey. In Luke chapter 5, Peter and four other fisherman come back to shore empty handed after fishing all night. Jesus tells Peter to cast his net again and Peter obeys. "Simon answered, Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink" (Luke 5:5-7 NIV). Notice how the fisherman in the other boat benefit from their association with Peter. Their relationship with him not only benefits them, it gives them an overflow! We also have to learn to align ourselves with people with strong faith, work ethic and positivity because iron sharpens iron. So, take the time to evaluate the relationships in your life and see what role each person plays in enhancing your life. Remember, you're Guilty By Association.
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Sometimes in all my writing and encouraging others I forget to encourage myself. I focus on being of help to others while silently allowing doubt and fear to keep me from stretching out and reaching for those things that I aspire to. After reading the fourth chapter of Job I realized that in spite of how great a man he was revered as, he had the same issue. His friend Eliphaz had to remind him to, " Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands.Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence..." (Job 4:3-6 NIV). This passage helped me to remember that these feelings come about because I am human. It even happened to Job! But, staying in these feelings and allowing them to suppress my drive and ambition is unacceptable. I find myself at times thinking of every excuse for why something won't work, that I forget to focus on the benefits that will be gained when it does work, causing me to settle for less than the best. I began searching within myself to figure out when did I start placing limitations on my potential and abilities. This is not who I am. Apparently I'd let the adverse results of previous ventures deter me from embarking on new ones. I saw getting a result other than my desired one as bad, rather than different, causing me too look at less-than-perfect circumstances the same way. I began looking at things through the eyes of the 10 spies rather than living up to my to middle name, Joshua. While the spies saw the giants in the land of Canaan, Joshua and Caleb saw a land of milk and honey! "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, 'We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it" (Numbers 13:30 NIV). Joshua and Caleb only focused on the reward and were eventually the only 2 of their generation to enter into the land. Only a few will have the vision to see greatness in the midst of adversity, and even fewer will have the courage to attain it. Don't let anyone or anything cause you to falter on your journey to success, not even your own mind.
If the most successful people in the world would be completely open about their lives, I'm sure they'd tell you of a time when they felt lost and confused. I can imagine them talking about waking up one day and realizing that they did not recognize anyone around them. They would probably say that they were so busy focusing on the goal until they forgot to enjoy the process. Well, in that case, they are no different than you and me. I've also realized that I get so busy preparing for tomorrow until I forget to enjoy today. There have been plenty of missed opportunities that I could have spent with family and friends. Even chances to enjoy the fruits of my labor have been sacrificed because I was too busy focusing on the next thing. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:24, "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God." As I matured, "... I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11), but I never intended to lose touch with my inner-child along the way. That's what makes me....ME. I am spontaneous and fun-loving; not this super serious person I've become. Who wants to spend each day thinking about bills and doctor's appointments? Life is too short to not enjoy every moment of it. Carpe Diem! Seize the day! I will not let life pass me by while I prepare for old age. I will learn to enjoy each and every day. I will no longer let my goals and ambitions take SOLE possession of my thoughts. I will "live a little." Don't Lose Yourself Trying To Find Yourself.
If only you could see what I can see in you." Have you ever heard or said these words? It's hard to watch someone with so much potential throw their life away simply because they can not see who they were predestined to be. Often times even those around us have no idea of all the great things we have the potential accomplishing. My parents stayed on my case as a child about hanging with the wrong crowd and doing things that would only lead to destruction. I can still hear my mother saying "If you stay on this course you'll only end up in jail or in the grave." Apparently she'd lived long enough to know a little something about life because the majority of those same friends are or have been to jail, are addicted to drugs and alcohol, and a couple have even passed away. Honestly, I always knew God had bigger plans for me. It was just a matter of me accepting and embracing it. As a kid, I dreamt of being an astronaut that would explore the heavens above, but my actions kept my feet nailed to the floor. Just like Jacob wrestling with the angel in an attempt to discover his true identity, I wrestled with my desire to be "cool" by doing things that were not so positive. I consistently ignored my parents' warnings about the company I was keeping until one day I saw the police outside of the house we would typically hang out at with my friends handcuffed. I realized then that the path I was traveling was indeed headed for destruction. School and sports eventually started to occupy the majority of my attention and I began to excel at both. I was selected by Duke University to take the ACT in 7th grade and scored a 17. In 8th grade I played my first varsity football game and was a full timer starter by the 9th. I eventually graduated high school with honors and earned numerous scholarships in football. I'm thankful that along the way I had teachers, counselors, principals, coaches, friends, and family that saw the potential I possessed and challenged me to fulfill it. I have kept my eyes focused on my goals and have accomplished many things along the way. I own my business, as well as hold a corporate position at a well-known company in the food industry at the age of 24. God has truly blessed me with a vision to strive for, all the skills and tools necessary, and a humble spirit that trusts in Him to lead my path. But first, He took the time to SHOW ME WHO I AM BEFORE I MESSED UP WHO I CAN BE.