Choose your friends and peer group wisely. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of choosing. Sometimes in work situations we have to work with people that we find it difficult to get on with or who are like energy leaches. I like to call people like that sand paper people, they rub us up the wrong way. How we deal with them is how we learn and grow. We can also put a stop to the draining effect they have on us. I remember when I was a pastor, I had weekly meetings with the Church Secretary. In the beginning I enjoyed those meetings discussing church issues and looking at strategy.
The Church was pretty active and I would drop into all kinds of groups to see what was going on, to encourage and support the members. One of the groups I loved to visit was the craft group, not because I am artistic, I have mentioned before my inability to draw a straight line with a ruler. The group was all women and I was well looked after and I was amazed by their skill and creativity, so much positive things came from them. One of those was beautiful banners that they made that adorned the church. As I was planning for the following years activities I came up with an idea. We were having a summer mission with the theme of pirates and I asked if the group could do a couple of banners on that theme. They agreed and the banners as usual were stunning. The following year we did another and the theme was Star Trek again I asked the craft group if they could do banners, they were busy but again they agreed and came up trumps. It was around this time that I had one of my weekly meetings with the church secretary and he mentioned that I was overloading the group with my requests. I took on board what was said and approached the group leader to apologise if I had asked to much of them. I was told that I hadn’t and felt relief. The following week at the meeting with my secretary again the issue was raised and I explained what I had done and that it was no problem. I don’t know how many weeks this went on for but those meetings drained me, I started to dread them and I found that my energy and passion was taking a knock. On one fateful day I came home totally down. My wife said I should check with the whole group so starting again with the group leader I spoke to every member of the group, again and again I got the same response, it wasn’t too much and that they were glad to have been involved. I felt much better. The following week I went to the meeting with a sense of power. But yes you guessed it, it was raised again. This time I was not taking this criticism and explained what I had done. The response was, now remember we are talking about a church here, “you don’t expect them to tell you the truth do you?” I think you can imagine my response to that. “I said yes I did and that I never wanted to hear of this issue again.” It was not raised again but there were subsequent issues raised that sought to similarly drain me. As I was new in ministry I had reviews with what was called a Senior Friend, this was another minister and he had reports from the secretary. He went through a lot of positives that were happening then mentioned that the biggest criticism was that I didn’t listen. I remember clearly replying back, “that was not the case, but just because I didn’t do what someone else wanted me to do, didn’t mean I didn’t listen”. I was actually very reflective even then, I didn’t make decisions without consideration. I can look back and truly say that while I made mistakes I wasn’t working on the principle of being stuck on the tracks and following my own agenda. So we all have to deal with people we don’t meet eye to eye with but we can do it. By the way I did go back to the secretary and tell him that just because I wasn’t always doing things his way didn’t mean I didn’t listen to him and consider his or others thoughts.
While we might have people in our lives we are thrown together with, we also have choices about who we have in our peer group. If you screw this up, you’ll be hanging out with the bunch of losers who will limit you. So choose your friends and peer group wisely.