I don't hear much teaching on the topic of developing our inner circle. Perhaps because without heaven's understanding it can quickly develop into an exclusiveness that is not cool. Or perhaps because teaching on it means the teacher should actually do it. There is no "do as I say not as I do" teaching that has authority.
I believe heaven is so focused on the topic of our strategic relationships that I'm spending 3 of 7 days talking about them for 2019. If we note the examples of Jesus, the apostles, and Paul's writing (2 Tim 4), a pattern emerges. Not only does God want us to have strong relationships, He desires each of us to develop a closer knit community that forms a protective buffer from isolation, autonomy and extreme loneliness AND is reciprocal.
These closer bonds have an element of fluidity and the role of each of those within will be different.
In today's blog, I'd like to suggest an anatomy of our inner circle.
Pray. Jesus went off the the mountain alone and prayed all night. He then came down and immediately called forth His disciples (Luke 6:12-16). Our prayer could be something like "Father, who would you surround me with to develop a deeper relationship with". Then listen then act.
Forget the draft. I marvel that Jesus can say to someone "come follow me" whereby they drop everything and become part of His inner circle. Due the mission and eternal impact I believe the draft model is reserved for Jesus. I don't see it repeated. If you try it, let me know how it works.
Let it happen organically. Our relationships develop over time so give it time. Once heaven opens the door for more intimacy in a relationship, walk through the door. This will take lowering your defenses. Those who prove themselves faithful over time, are great candidates.
Trust is a main thing, it's just not the only thing. If you hold people to a standard that says "if you let me down you are off my team"; you will be alone. Trust will be broken. Are we mature enough to let it rebuild? Jesus was left alone at the garden, and Paul was abandon by everyone in 2 Tim 4:16. It happens.
Be aware that some will not remain on your team for a variety of reasons and some will be removed due to simple lack of commonality or wounds (2 Tim 4:14). As it takes time for folks to come into our inner circle, it should take a long time for folks to be removed. If someone on your inner circle is being a butt...walk them out of it. If they refuse, force them out of it to the best your relationship allows. Don't abandon them unless heaven tells you to.
Select people who don't have hidden agenda's. We don't have people on our inner circle who believe it's their job to fix us. Rather, leaving the fixing to the Holy Spirit, the only qualification is do they want the very best for us and our family regardless of our own personal purpose and position. We also don't want people who are using us for their own promotion nor do we want to do the same thing. BTW, every time I've tried that it fails miserably.
Allow freedom of speech. We should trust our circle enough to allow them to challenge us. Self righteousness is not a fruit of the Spirit. Autonomy is dangerous.
War against the popularity contest. We want some of the unlikeliest people imaginable in our inner circle. This is particularly challenging for platform leaders. I like having a cross-section of people in my inner circle with a cross section of experiences and maturity. Jesus and time are the biggest components.
Be totally vulnerable with a few who can handle it.
Understand the value of protected conversations. This is particularly important for personal and corporate kingdom strategy work.
If you are reading this and have struggled building a dependable inner circle, not only are you are not alone you are in the majority. If that's the case, you lead. Find someone who seems to be alone but is hungry for more. . If you want a particularly strong ally, choose someone who is the most unlikeliest. That is certainly the model Jesus chose.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!