Last week I shared the story of a community that I’m extremely grateful to be part of and how God uses our annual gathering to breathe life into me. I also challenged readers to pay attention to their own need for rest and begin to dream of convening a group of fellow pilgrims.
This week I thought I would take it a step further and offer some suggestions of what types of trailmates we need on our faith and leadership journey. Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list and different seasons present unique challenges requiring topical focus, but I suggest you have these five roles represented on your team of trusted friends.
The first three may not be a surprise:
A Sage – This is someone who is a little further along on their vocational journey. They are wise and accessible and can help you with skill development and personal growth. But I have one important caution. Make sure they also offer the gift of mutuality. They must possess the awareness that they are not the only dispensers of understanding. We need someone walking with us who is as willing to receive insight and inspiration as they are to give it.
A Prophet – I’m not talking about fortune tellers or future predictors. I’m talking about people who speak truthfully and hopefully about how things ought to be. They challenge the priorities of people and organizations, reveal God’s good intentions, and cast a compelling vision for the future. They love you enough to step on your toes when necessary.
Voracious Readers – You’ve all heard it but I’m going to say it again, “Leaders are readers.” We need a few people in our lives who love books. People who consistently point us toward a balanced diet of fiction, biographies, scripture, leadership, spiritual formation, and business. They encourage us to simmer and stew in others’ good thinking which flavors our understanding and spices up our communication.
The last two, in my opinion, are the easiest to overlook but critical to have.
A Skeptic is defined as, “a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of accepted beliefs.” (World English Dictionary) We need someone walking with us who refuses to swallow catchy phrases as truth and knows the difference between mission and motto. Someone that is an artist at pushing back on stated positions and asking questions that help us clarify what we think and believe. Doubt has an important role in faith for without doubt there would be no faith.
A Mystic – Now before you unsubscribe or cue up your email to Workmatters, I’m talking about a “mystic” in the traditional Christian sense. This is someone with a big God and acknowledges the mystery that the Creator of the universe put on human flesh and seeks union with us. They are familiar with saying, “I don’t know.” They live with a delight and freedom that comes from a faith that is not pragmatic. This type of mystic reminds us that Jesus isn’t a resource to leverage, content to master, and He didn’t come to start a new religion. Rather with playfulness and glee our mystical trailmate points us to Jesus who, “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,” and “is the image of the invisible God, who is before all things, and in him all things hold together…and through him reconciles to himself all things. (Heb 1:4, Col 1:15, 17, 20) That is truly a mystery!
Reflecting on last week’s blog and looking at the people around you on your walk, I encourage you to reflect this week on each of the roles those people play in your walk and how you can leverage their personalities, experiences, knowledge, interests, and faith.
And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!