What’s Your P.I.P. — Your Personal Improvement Plan?

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Do you currently have anyone in your life sharpening you? Do you have people on your Personal Development Team? Are there those who are willing to call you out in order to call you up? The Bible teaches that if you are going to win at life, if you are going to grow into Christ-like character, and if you are going to be a person of impact, it will not take place apart from the help of others—close friends that God will use to sharpen you.

Going Deep // Focus: 1 Chronicles 27:32-34

Jonathan, David’s uncle, was a wise counselor to the king, a man of great insight, and a scribe. Jehiel the Hacmonite was responsible for teaching the king’s sons. Ahithophel was the royal adviser. Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend. Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada son of Benaiah and by Abiathar. Joab was commander of the king’s army.

Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball. And he paid a heavy price for breaking the color barrier. He faced hatred everywhere he played; fastballs at his head; runners sliding into second base with their spikes up; racial slurs would be hurled from the opposing dugouts as well as the crowds.

One day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. The fans began to abuse him and Jackie just stood there at second base, humiliated. Then something dramatic happened. A southern white man who played shortstop, Pee Wee Reese, came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that one act of friendship, that arm around his shoulder saved his career. That’s a true friend!

That reminds me of the definition Henry Durbanville gave of a true friend. He said, “A friend is the first person who comes in when the whole world goes out.”

Friendship is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. You and I were not meant to do life alone. God has woven into the very fabric of who we are the need for community, to belong to a family. He has designed us so that we would thrive in relationship with others. That is why Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 famously says,

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The Bible definitely calls us to choose friends who will in turn call out the best in us and challenge us to be all that God wants us to be—who will serve, if you will, on our Personal Development Team. We are told in one of the most famous verses on friendship, Proverbs 27:17 (Message),

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.”

King David surrounded himself with people like that—Jonathan counseled him, Jehiel helped him with his family, Hushai was his close friend, Ahithophel (before he messed up) was his political advisor, Jehoiada provided a priestly influence and Joab protected him. These men helped David become and stay great!

Do you have anyone in your life sharpening you right now? Do you have people on your Personal Development Team? The Bible says you need people like that. If you are gong to win at life, if you are going to grow into the character of Christ, it will not take place apart from people—close friends that God will use to sharpen you.

I hope you have someone like that, or will get someone like that, because there’s not a one of us who should go through life without that kind of friend.

Going Deeper With God: Perhaps you would say, “But I can’t seem to find friends like you’ve described, so where do I begin?” First, you are not alone in your experience. Many people would say the same, so don’t feel that you are not worthy of close friends. Second, ask God. He made you for friendships, so he can provide them. Seriously, just ask and keep asking, because I just happen to believe that God still answers prayer. And third, make sure you are the kind of friend to others that you would want to have. As someone has humorously but correctly said, “the best vitamin for friendships is B-1.”

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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