Life is hard. There’s no denying that. As a result, we try to control our circumstances to avoid the “hard”— like if we eat right or get on a budget, then it will all be rainbows and unicorns. By sheer willpower and effectiveness we try to push through our struggles with a fix-it-myself attitude. But curiously, that mentality isolates us. Before we know it, we’re alone, buried by our circumstances.
Rather than relying on efficient practices and willpower, is there another way?
As a father to four kids, I will be the first to admit that it has taken a village to raise them well. But as an adult, I’ve often attempted life on my own. Instead of surrounding ourselves with a village, we’ve become masters of avoiding real community. I’m learning that life’s hard moments are best navigated in community. When the going gets tough, the tough find strength from those around them.
If you want to get unstuck or if you’re ready to grow, here are three types of people that you need in your life.
Legendary coach, Jim Valvano said, “The greatest and most powerful gift I ever received was from my father. The gift my father gave me, every day of my life, was that he believed in me.”
We live in an incredibly connected society, but despite our connectedness, we’re starving for real encouragement. Facebook like’s, retweets, and Instagram hearts have become a cheap substitute for what we truly long for. But as Coach Valvano said, encouragement is something we cannot live without. That’s why all of us need a cheerleader. Our cheerleaders are the ones who believe in us—they’re the vocal backbone when we’re down and out.
So how do we find our cheerleaders?
As I look back on my own life, my greatest cheerleaders are the ones I’ve cheered for. Encouragement abides by the principle of reciprocity—the more you give, the more it returns to you. Too often, we withhold our encouragement and our praise for others because we’re scared that if we let it go, it’ll never come back. That’s why the old, empty miser who sits on his pile of money is actually the poorest guy in town. Those who are truly rich in life have learned the power of generosity. Generosity always wins.
If you find yourself lacking in encouragement, chances are, you’ve failed to be an encouragement to others. To find your cheerleaders, become a cheerleader to someone, today.
Mentors are the ones who keep us humble. These are the people who are wiser and further down the path than we are. And it’s not necessarily about age—it’s about experience. Mentors have the capacity to speak truth into our lives because they bear the stripes earned by experience.
When looking for a mentor, think about the people you’d hope to emulate. And there are different mentors for different areas of life. You can have business mentors, spiritual mentors, parenting mentors, and so on. But there will be the rare few who live life with such wholeness that you’ll want to model them in every respect. Surround yourself with those people and become a sponge.
By the same token, you must limit your relationships that don’t help you mature. This isn’t to say that you quit people, but you certainly have to control the amount of energy you give away to people that drain you. I call these people Vacuums because they have a way of sucking the life out of you. Mentors build you up, Vacuums weigh you down. Learn the difference. Become intentional about cultivating mentoring relationships while avoiding the vacuums.
The last thing I’ll say on Mentors is that you have to be humble. Only humility can be taught. Cultivate a heart that’s willing to admit that it needs to grow, that it needs to mature, and you’ll attract exactly what you need.
When I was thinking about how to name this third character, I struggled with a word powerful enough to describe them. All that came to mind was the word, staple.
Staple has a double meaning. On one hand, it’s a small piece of metal that binds things together. On the other hand, it’s something consistent—a pillar. Staples are the consistent people in your life that hold everything together, they’re the glue.
One of my Staples was my grandfather. But when I was nineteen, my grandfather committed suicide during an awful battle with lung cancer. That was one of the most difficult moments of my life, a moment when my foundation seemed to crumble. But that moment taught me that no matter how much we look up to and find our strength in people, they will fail us.
The curious thing about Christianity is that in Jesus we see all three personas fulfilled. He was a cheerleader who encouraged people deeply, He was a mentor whose wisdom transcended generations, and in His death, He became the staple that binds us to Himself in eternity. He’s our example and a beautiful picture of the hope that we can share with others. We still need to cultivate relationships in our physical life, but as believers in Christ, we have supreme confidence when those relationships fail us.
Find Your Village
Where do you stand? Are you building and nurturing these relationships in your life?
Grab a sheet of paper and list these characters in your own life. Where are you lacking? What can you do to cultivate these relationships?
A few years ago, I was desperately hungry for these in my own life and I began actively seeking them out. And that led to building a company around this concept to help people uncover their why, thrive in their gifts and live the life of impact they were created for.
At YouPrint, we believe that everyone was created with purpose. Yet all of us need a supporting cast whose inspiration, encouragement, and wisdom will help that purpose come alive.
If you want to grow beyond where you are and truly thrive, you must engage in real community. With Christ at the head, you need to surround yourself with Cheerleaders, Mentors, and Staples. If you’re looking for a place to begin, we can help.
Learn more about our one-to-one mentoring and schedule a discovery call at www.youprint.life/mentoring