Right relationships is the next thing on our list. I've been discussing how you can reach your full potential in Christ, and I am loving some of the feedback. When you share a series like this, you wonder if people are just going to sit there content with wherever their life is at. But I've found many of you want to become significant and even hugely significant in your life for Christ. You want to make a difference. You want to become the best you can possibly be!

I've been discussing how you can reach your full potential in Christ, and I am loving some of the feedback. When you share a series like this, you wonder if people are just going to sit there content with wherever their life is at. But I've found many of you want to become significant and even hugely significant in your life for Christ. You want to make a difference. You want to become the best you can possibly be!

I encourage all of you, don't shoot for average. Listen to this old rhyme…

“Only one life, twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.”

We've seen the steps to reaching your full potential so far are to have a clean heart, a clear mind and to recognise and dedicate to the Lord the gifts He has given you. Today is going to impact some of you very profoundly, because the next step according to Dr Charles Stanley is having right relationships.

Some relationships drain you, others build into you. If you want to minister to people you need both, but your closest allies must be those that build into your life, not drain you. Right relationships matter!

YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE

 

Never underestimate the power of influence. What people say and do around you influences you, unless you live in a bubble.

All through your journey in life you have people surrounding you, even if you're an introvert! You'll never walk alone, and you can't walk through life alone. So pause for a moment and consider those closest to you. Do they add to your life, or drag you down? Do they draw you closer to God, or encourage you to take up an old sin again? Are they fun, or do they suck the fun out of the air around them? Do both sides of the relationship contribute, or do you give and they take? Do they make you a better person?

Henry Ford said, “My best friend is the one who brings the best out in me.” One famous marketer I read said, “You are the product of the 5 people closest to you.” So who are the five closest to you, and what influence do they bring to your life?

The problem with people is that they're people. How many of you know that every relationship at some point has the good, the bad and the ugly. You'll never walk alone, but boy, sometimes you wish you could!

And even in church we don't do relationships right. Plenty of conflict, always has been!

Acts 15:39-40

And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

In the church, you don't have to see eye to eye, but you need to walk hand in hand, arm in arm, into the future God has for each of us.

People in your life bring influence. As a pastor I can tell you that I'm influenced every week by people around me. Most are encouraging, many speak into my life and build me up, but hardly a week goes by that someone, somehow tries to shoot me down. Apparently the official uniform for a pastor is a target right over the heart! Don't underestimate influence.

 

WELCOME TO THE PEOPLE ROLLERCOASTER

 

Even People you love and cherish have their moments! Even right relationships are a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs. They don't flow smoothly from day to day, year to year, and that's how God designed them. Relationships involve giving and receiving, and sometimes the balance is out of whack. In any relationship, sometimes people hurt people, and what's more hurt people hurt other people more!

Like it or not, life is a team sport. Good times and bad, ups and downs, living life takes a team, and you're in it. This church has relationships that many times are awesome, them sometimes are very strained. People… can't live with em, can't live without em!

Even in Marriage, the closest of all human relationships, I have to tell you sometimes we don't so much enjoy marriage as endure it. We have ups and downs, sometimes more of one than the other. It's the old joke, that marriage is a 3 ring circus… first the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, then the suffering, and it's true. Some aspects of marriage are tough. Fiona says in marriage we are perfectly designed to grind, and she's right!

 

PLUS OR MINUS FRIENDS

 

Every relationship has either a positive or negative effect on your life. Obviously, we want to have more of the positive than the negative people around us, but here's the tricky bit… we can't always choose people we interact with.

Think about it… you didn't choose your parents or siblings, you didn't choose your school or church when you were young, because your parents did! As a child you had no opportunity to choose who became a major influencer in your life. You were a kid, they were there!

As an adult, you have the opportunity to make clear and definite choices about who you want in your life.  You can choose who you marry, but you can't choose your children, you kind of get what you get! You can choose who influences your life to a greater degree, but not exclusively. You cannot restrict people you don't like from your work or school, or even church. You can choose your church, but not who else is in your church.  I'm the pastor, and I can't choose just the good ones… part of church is accepting and loving even negative people!

But what you can choose is who you will listen to, who you will allow close to you and who you invest your time in. Years ago, Fiona and I were being pulled every which way by the people in our life, and we sat down and categorised them into positive or negative. Too many negative people and they drag us down, burn us out and stop us helping others in genuine need.

Some people build you up, some drag you down. Some challenge you, others drain you. If you have a desire to minister, you will want both types of people in your life, but too many of the negative influences will lead to burn out and drain your life and energies. You will not reach your full potential surrounding yourself with negative people. Right relationships matter.

1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

So poor choices of friends can ruin your walk with God and your life. We go like the company we keep, so keep the right company. And sometimes we are so ignorant, we ban our children from other kids because we think they're bad influences, yet we tolerate bad influences in our own lives!

So what characterises the right, positive, godly friend that you want in your life?

 

RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS TO ACQUIRE- TOP 10 BEST FRIEND CHARACTERISTICS

 

So who is the type of person you want influencing your life in Right relationships? They should…

 

1.      BUILD YOUR FAITH

 

Right relationships build your faith in God, and also in yourself. They help you believe for greater things and pursue higher goals, and keep you looking up…

Colossians 3:2

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

2.      COMFORT YOU AND PICK YOU UP

 

We all face pain in life, and sometimes we just need a friend to comfort us. A friend in need is a friend indeed, so sometimes a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or a hug when you need it can make all the difference.

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Right relationships build you up when you are feeling down. We all face troubles in life, and having someone to encourage you can make such a difference…

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

 

3.      STIMULATE  YOU TO GREATER CREATIVITY

 

Right relationships cause an exchange of new ideas and insight which can stir up your creative juices. I know in my life I have friends that stir up my music, preaching and even work creativity, and this is an awesome thing!

 

4.      ENERGISE YOU

 

Friends should, at least most of the time, cause joy in your life. Laughter and joyful conversation produces endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. So the Bible is right…

Nehemiah 8:10

the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 

5.      DEFEND YOU

 

A real friend will defend you when you are criticised or persecuted. This is a key point, because if they gossip about you and promote criticism, they are not the positive friend that you want.

Proverbs 16:28

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.

 

6.      FORGIVE YOU

 

I know it's a shock, but believe it or not you are I have faults and flaws. Sometimes I think I have more flaws that the Empire State Building, but certainly we make mistakes. A good friend is quick to forgive and then move forward.

Friends that keep bringing up sins that should be forgiven and throwing them at you are not ideal. That being said, if you've betrayed their trust, it takes time for them to trust you again. That's not lack of forgiveness, it is wariness and pain in their part (such as in marital affairs, etc.).

Luke 17:4

and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

 

7.      LOVE YOU AT YOUR WORST

 

A real friend loves you when you are at your worst, maybe tired, irritable or even without your makeup on! They recognise that you may lash out at them when you're not on top of things, and they cut you some slack. Doesn't  make it right, just makes them worthy friends.

 

8.      ACCEPT YOU AS YOU ARE

 

While change and improvement is always possible, the right friend doesn't see you as their fix-it-up project. A relationship based on one party always trying to change the other is not healthy, and many marriages are like this. They walk down the aisle, to the altar, while they're playing and hymn, and she thinks that's how their marriage will be… I’ll alter him!

Ephesians 4:2-3

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Maintaining unity in the church, accepting one another warts and all is more important than being right! Right relationships matter.

 

9.      CONFRONT YOU WHEN YOU ARE WRONG

 

Real friends accept your personality, but are not afraid to confront you when you're wrong, even if it is hard to hear. Helpful insights and challenges characterise a great friend. The difference here is that they're trying to improve you, not altering what God made you to be.

Luke 17:3

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,

 

10.   SERVE YOU

 

Right relationships are there to help you become who you should be in your life. They will actually put time and effort into helping you achieve what God has destined for you. Mark10:45

They put you first, before their own interests and comfort. That's what love does!

So these are the relationships to acquire, but what about…

 

RELATIONSHIPS TO AVOID

 

People build into your life, either positively or negatively. Get around positive people, but avoid the minus people. I'm not saying necessarily to cut them off, but avoid allowing them to become the influencers in your life.

1.                DIM YOUR VISION

 

Avoid someone who questions everything you try to do and become in Christ.

 

2. DISCOURAGE YOU FROM REACHING YOUR POTENTIAL

 

People who are jealous of your time or abilities should be avoided. Someone who always wants you to do it their way is not going to help you reach your potential.

 

3. MAKE DEMANDS OF YOU

 

Some people are demanding all the time. In particular, they feel they can demand your time, perhaps more than you are prepared to commit to the relationship.

 

4. DRAG YOU DOWN

 

Avoid pessimistic, defeatist people like the plague, because they will always see the negative and find reasons why you can't or won't succeed.

I'm not saying don't minister to them , I'm saying don't let them become influencers.

 

5. DERAIL YOU

 

People who constantly tempt you to do evil, and stop you doing what you know you should are an influence you cannot afford. If you've come from a particular background, you may have a heart to reach your old friends and that's great, but not if you are not strong enough to withstand their efforts to derail your walk with the Lord. Drug culture, pubs, promiscuity.

 

6. DEFEAT YOU

 

Some friends try and defeat you all the time, by frustrating or discouraging you or being constantly in competition with you. You don't need these guys in your life! I once had a friend who was a great dancer, until his wife told him he looked like a pansy. No more dancing ever, her negative destroyed his dream!

 

7. DESTROY YOUR TESTIMONY

 

So called friends who seek to ruin your career, ministry or witness for Jesus are not friends at all. You might want to witness to them, but don't let them too close!

 

CAUGHT IN A TRAP!

 

Some of you are sitting here thinking,”Oh no, I'm trapped in that negative relationship already.”

When you first meet people they tend to be on their best behaviour. They want you to like them, and you want them to like you. So you like them, and you let them close, but what happens if over time the real personality comes out and they're a big fat minus?

This happens a lot in marriage, so girls especially, don't rush in! Even in relationships at church, take your time and choose your close friends carefully. Recognise that even in a Christian marriage your partner cannot meet all your needs. In any relationship, even if you feel trapped, only God can truly meet your needs, not any person.

But what if you're trapped there right now, caught in a relationship that is destined to destroy you. What can you do? 4 possible ways to deal with it…

 

1.      PRAY FOR CHANGE

 

Pray for people. This is especially effective in marriage (Movie- The War Room). In relationships you want to pursue and are committed to, like a marriage, then pray don't say.

 

It's tempting to constantly try and make them change, but this is usually perceived as nagging. You need to believe that God can change them, because He can, so save your fighting for the prayer closet, not the dinner table and not just before church starts!

 

2.      FORSAKE YOUR DREAMS

 

Sadly many people do this. You can give in to their negativity and give up your dreams. You have one life, and if you want to throw it away, you can, but you will regret it for eternity. Don't do this!

 

3.      CUT THEM OFF

 

If someone is constantly bringing you down, criticising, destroying, tempting, hurting or discouraging you, you can choose to sever the relationship, or at least cool it off. If you have friends like this, distance yourself from them. If you have relatives who upset you every time you see them, avoid them… keep them at arms length. Don't let them become influential in your destiny!

Don't send them a resignation letter, don't make a public service announcement, just distance yourself from them if their negative influence is controlling your destiny.

Let me clarify, I am not advocating your destroying your family or divorcing your partner. The decision to separate is complex, and has many far reaching effects, but this particularly applies to friendships. You cannot just cut people off who offend you, especially if you're married to them. But if they are friends, bringing evil influences into your life, you may need to cut them off.

 

4.      QUARANTINE THEIR INFLUENCE

 

In a relationship you must persist with, for example a marriage, if the other party isn't behaving well, pray by all means but quarantine their influence on your life. If you let them stop you from reaching your destiny, they win, and you lose. You lose your destiny.

So if you have negative influencers in your life close to you, you'd love for them to change, but maybe they won't. If they do not or will not change, you can stick with them, love them, care for them, but you have to stop them negatively influencing you.

It's important to have healthy boundaries.

Ultimately you will stand before the Lord, alone. Salvation is free, but the Judgement Seat of Christ is for believers, all of us saved, but many destined to have vastly different rewards…

2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Saying, “My friend or husband told me not to” is never going to cut it.

Listen love them, pray for them, but don't let their sin, their hangup or their standards influence you. Draw a line in the sand and say “Enough!” Tell them that you are going to obey Christ, and they can come or not, their decision, but you are doing it!  You need to follow Christ and reach your full potential, whether they come with you or not. So if they don't want to go to church, you can't make them, but don't let them stop you from coming.

Please don't become a casualty of someone else's bad influence!

 

VALUE RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS

 

So we've looked at what right relationships look like, and what bad look like. We've also talked about what you can do if you're caught in a bad relationship.

But the central message is this… seek out positive friends and relationships, especially in church, then pursue them, value them and let them bring influence to your life.

 

Proverbs 12:26

The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

 

Through His body the Church, the Lord weaves our lives together and interconnects us so as the body of Christ, so we become mighty testimonies about God's love and transforming power. Every relationship in some way contributes to God’s transformative work in you and through you. Your relationships will change you, either more like Christ, or less… to reach your potential you need to be wise and strong enough to choose the Right relationships.

The true measure of a relationship is the fruit

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Even in church, with godly people and loads of positivity, there will be times of conflict… and what matters most is how you respond to those times.

In Matthew 18 Jesus lays out a clear pattern of how you should respond to those who upset you in church. Jesus spoke these words in the context of forgiveness and caring for the integrity of fellowship. I've seen churches blown apart because of disagreements between 2 individuals. He makes it clear that we will have disappointments and conflict within the fellowship of believers. Yet Jesus was concerned with our response to these conflicts. If we refuse to face the problem, it will not go away; it will simply go underground and fester, giving the evil one a foothold to bring disharmony within the body of Christ (see Ephesians 4:25–27).

We are called to live in the light of God’s presence, which includes bringing our conflicts into the open so that we can properly deal with them. Some people call this practice “keeping short accounts.” This means that we address an offence or problem (committed by us or against us) as soon as possible. We don’t let a “debt” accumulate the interest of bitterness by waiting to see whether the other person will change.

Bottom line, we are not perfect friends in church, but we can be positive influencers of those around us. We can show love instead of hurt, and forgiveness instead of bitterness.

 

Your relationships determine the ways in which you pursue your potential and accomplish God’s plan your life. Have godly, right relationships that God honours, blesses, and uses for His purposes, or get sucked into the wrong relationships, the choice is now yours!

Coast Church is a great place to find positive influencers and friends. Ask God to help you with choosing and developing your relationships. Pray for Him to send the right people into your life, and around you at church. Ask the Lord to help you discern whether a certain relationship is right for you. Trust God to be an active participant for good in every relationship.. And if it's not right, bale out sooner rather than later.

Today, look at those 5 influencers in your life. I want to pray specifically for people who feel trapped in the wrong relationship. To response correctly you are going to need prayer and support. This church is a loving, caring church, full of people who are dedicated to bringing positive, long term blessing and influence to your life.

Secondly, if you feel alone, and disconnected, I want you to come to the front also, and just let our team love you in prayer.

About Darin

Pastor Darin Browne is the Senior Pastor of Coast Church in Woombye, Queensland. He is an international speaker and worship leader and has toured all over the world, produced 8 albums and authored several books.