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5 People You Should Surround Yourself With

©2010, Kate Ter Haar

©2010, Kate Ter Haar

Life’s too short and important to surround yourself with emotional vampires, complainers, and spectators.

As much as it’s up to you, surround yourself with as many of the following people as possible:

1. Idealists

A friend of mine alluded to my ‘critical spirit’ regarding one of my blog posts. I get that a lot—along with monikers like pessimist, cynic, etc.

The truth is: I am a dyed-in-the-wool idealist. I am driven by my conviction that, with the right kinds of dialog and challenge, we can be so much more effective.

We need to be surrounded by people who eschew the status quo and look at the big picture. My life has been greatly improved by people who question whether the church is being driven by principles or pragmatism.

Believe it or not, it’s blind, melancholic optimism that drives the idealistic prophet. If they were cynical or pessimistic, they wouldn’t bother. We need them. They help us see the things we’ve become blind to.

2. Doers

It’s so easy for us to assume that, because we’re talking about spiritual things, we’re doing them. We’re often not. James warns us of this folly:

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”James 1:22

We desperately need to avoid the delusion that orthodoxy (right belief) is more important than orthopraxy (right action). If your theology isn’t blossoming into activity, it’s worthless—however right it may be.

Surround yourself with people who are moving and shaking things up. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is more inspirational than belief getting its hands dirty.

3. Givers

Nothing’s more godlike than being a giver. Isn’t that the whole point of John 3:16? God loved the world, so he gave . . .

Some would say selfishness is innate—part of our total depravity. We are at once both greedy and altruistic. And the characteristic we feed devours the attribute we starve.

Find unselfish people and follow them. Emulate them.

4. Dreamers

“My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results . . . but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it. Win or lose, I admire those who fight the good fight.”― George R. R. Martin

I love dreamers. As an idealist, I tend to see the things that are broken and desperately wish they were fixed. The weight of the world’s brokenness can get awfully heavy. Dreamers look beyond all that and see an infinite number of  majestic possibilities. I spent a good deal of the summer with a dreamer and I loved it, and envied him.

The unbridled optimism and expectation of the dreamer is contagious. If you don’t have someone who is able to coax goodness you never knew existed out of places you never thought to look, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Word of warning: dreamers often look like simpletons—it’s easy to miss them.

5. Lovers

I love the way the NIV translates the second half of Galatians 5:6:

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

I don’t know of a more challenging or beautiful sentiment. Left to my own devices, I’m not much of a lover. I can be a pretty exacting critic of others. I need the unsullied influence of people who can love others despite their foibles and faults.

I can promise you this: regular and unchecked proximity to hard-hearted people will make you callous. And nothing is so sweetly convicting as being with people who treat others well, speak of people in kind and generous ways, and generally attribute value to them.

You can’t completely avoid poisonous people, but you can make a concerted effort to create a community out of the best individuals. The trick to becoming the person you wish you were is to seek out those attributes in others.

©2010, Kate Ter Haar

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jayson – love this post. Simple, practical and plain truth. We just quoted your 2nd to last sentence on Twitter @IntegressS – good stuff!

    October 9, 2013
  2. I continue to be blessed by reading your articles. I appreciate how to-the-point they are. You don’t try to sound super-spiritual or academic; you say what you believe and you say it in ways that are clear and easy to follow. And the 5 types of people you discuss are absolutely life giving and convicting.

    October 11, 2013
  3. juliasarahelizabeth #

    So what if you are supposed to win the person to Christ who is an emotional drain or the opposite of your five points? What if you purposely avoid someone in your life to whom you are supposed to minister? How do you know when a person needs your influence? From my experience, those who need the most help and those to whom I should be spending the most time are not the top 5 in this category.

    October 20, 2013
    • That’s an intriguing question. Thanks for asking it.

      First of all, I’m not sure what to do with your first question. I don’t know anyone that I am supposed to “win to Christ.” Is that something that God confides in you about? I’m not being facetious; I’m curious to understand what “supposed to” means.

      I do know that I am to be an influence and share my testimony with those around me. I do know that my testimony has much more of an impact when I have developed a relationship with individuals.

      I also know that community means that I am going to have relationships with many outside of this list.

      This makes it all the more important to me that, as much as it’s up to me, I seek out and build close relationships with the people in this list. The more of these relationships I have in my life, the greater capacity I have for the others.

      Hope that helps! Thanks again for the comment.

      October 20, 2013
      • juliasarahelizabeth #

        So I used a trite phrase when I said, “win to Christ.” Moving on . . . My point is this, most of the time we are unaware of the ppl who need us the most. We often fail to even pay attention. If we shy away from those who have difficult personalities, maybe we are missing a chance to minister. I have seen and experienced pastors and ministry staff surround themselves with a group of ppl who are like themselves. There might be this cranky person who comes every Sunday, but doesn’t have a good word to say. You know the one. They sit on the left section about half way back. What if they need someone to befriend them (in a close friendship) to help them in some way we have no idea that problem is there? I have found the most impactful moments have been when I have taken individual time with a person when I really did not want to do so. I later found out that sharing my testimony was a basis, but it was in the forgotten moments of friendship which impacted them the most. But what generally happens in a church? The crank is avoided and we make excuses for our lack of attention. I don’t know you from Job’s goat, obviuosly, except what is on your website. I am speaking in generalities, but generalities that happen all too often.

        October 20, 2013
        • I am sorry you took this post the way you have. And I am not sure that we disagree. For me to say, “Don’t surround yourself with these people.” Is not intended to mean, “Never be in a relationship with some of these people, never friend some of these people, or never invest in these people.”

          To be honest this post came out of a personal revelation that sometimes I tend to spend time with complainers because they validate my need to commiserate in areas that bother me. It isn’t healthy and I don’t intend to do it any more.

          It’s almost impossible to write a post that someone isn’t going to misinterpret, and I am sorry that this was the case for you.

          The issue you raise is a blog post that I have had on my mind to write. We don’t disagree . . . I am sorry that you have taken it the way you have.

          Also, I never meant to intimate that your phrasing was “trite.”

          October 20, 2013
          • juliasarahelizabeth #

            I am not offended in anyway actually. When you can have a discourse with someone, it’s all good. I have been in ministries where these character lists were pronounced from the pulpit as being the rule by which a person should live their life. After such messages were preached, there was a shift away from certain people. Those who did not meet the mark were nearly ignored. My intention was to point out the flip side of this. That’s all. I really was not offended. Sorry if I cam across that way. It probably just made me think about a few situations.

            October 20, 2013
  4. cindykeating #

    I absolutely love this article. It’s as if you plucked the thoughts right out of my brain. Thanks!

    November 6, 2013

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  1. The 5 People You Spend the Most Time With | Ember Seminars

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