In our current culture, people who speak the truth to us are hard to find. When you have an opportunity to deepen a relationship with a truth-teller in your life, take it!
What we say to participants in One Another Project is, choose those relationships in your life that are important to you and we will show you how to drive them deeper. But then there is this question: how do we know which relationships to choose? In some cases, the decision is made for us. Family relationships are important. “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.” But there must be other relationships in our life which are likewise worthy of our investment of time and energy. Which ones are those? How do we know?
My first and best answer is simple: start with the ones you know will speak truth into your life. Truth, after all, is a rare and valuable commodity in today’s culture. We all need truth, no matter how hard it may be for us to hear. Truth, whether affirming or critical, helps build us up. It nurtures us. It helps us thrive, even in a chaotic and broken world.
I honestly cannot think of a time in my lifetime when it was more difficult to find genuine truth-tellers in our culture. In the chaos of ideologies and political agendas that has become our mainstream social discourse, finding thought leaders (or even friends, for that matter) who we can count on to speak truth has become a huge challenge. Again, unbiased, unadulterated, spin-free truth has become a rare a valuable thing. So, when there is an opportunity to be in a friendship with someone who will speak truth to us, even when it hurts us, we should jump into that relationship with both feet.
Isn’t that what love looks like? Isn’t it necessarily true that, without a foundation of truth, there can be no genuine love. How can I claim to really care about you (really love you) but not speak the truth to you? So, if I am looking for a friendship in which to invest, I cannot stop my search with merely the “friend” who makes me feel good about all my choices, whether they are actually good or not. I need a friend who will speak the truth in love. Always.
In the Bible there is a story (an entire book, actually) about a horribly flawed man named Saul who became the king of Israel. His biggest flaw was his gross insecurity. Though he was anointed as the king of the chosen people of God, he was always more concerned about what people thought of him than what God thought of him. This flaw never changed. It would be his undoing, eventually. But Saul had a friend in his life who he knew would speak the truth to him. His name was Samuel. He was a prophet, or, a “seer” who was gifted with the ability to see the truth and to speak it. Saul did not seek the truth nearly often enough (again, he was more concerned with how he was perceived than with actual truth most of the time). But, when he got backed into corners, he would seek out Samuel, because he knew Samuel would always only speak truth to him.
Saul’s story begins to come to an end after Samuel had already died. Saul again found himself in an impossible place and went to some extraordinary lengths to get one more word from his truth-teller friend. Saul sought the services of a medium, to inquire of Samuel from the world of the dead. It’s a creepy story, to be sure. But, again, even from the dead Samuel spoke truth to Saul. It was a painful truth, foretelling of Saul’s imminent death.
Alright, I know, it’s a pretty dark story. But it does make the point: we all desperately need friends in our lives who will speak truth to us, even when those truths are hard. Those are the relationships we should be growing and deepening.
Do you know who that is in your own life? Have you identified the truth-tellers around you? Cling to those friendships! Grow them. Deepen them.