It’s been said it takes a village to raise a child. I have mixed feelings about that declaration, but over my years of following Jesus Christ, it’s become clear that it does take a “village” to raise a believer to spiritual maturity and fruitfulness.
So many people over the years have had a positive impact in my life spiritually, I’ve lost count. If I were to paraphrase the famous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I’d write, “How do they inspire (or challenge, or encourage) me? Let me count the ways.”
Some have helped me in reading and studying the Bible. Others have taught me how to apply what I’ve read, embracing the reality that it’s as much for the now-and-now as it is for the sweet by and by. At a time when I was struggling to “do” Christianity, God sent individuals into my life that showed who the Bible teaches we truly are in Christ, and that it’s about the Lord working in and through us. The pressure isn’t on me to “do,” because it’s already done, they taught me.
Pastors, speakers and writers have given me many deep and invaluable insights into principles from the Scriptures. But more than anything, it’s been “lay people” serving as models of what true followers of Jesus look like that have made the most profound impressions on my life.
This isn’t unique for me. Many times in both the Old and New testaments we find proof that a living, growing faith in the Lord can’t be achieved in isolation. Virtually all of the great people in the Scriptures had others come alongside to support them and, when necessary, prod them along.
The Bible affirms we desperately need others to become all God intends for us to be. For instance, Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Sometimes this amounts to constructive conflict, similar to the friction of one knife blade being used to sharpen another.
We tend to select friends who affirm us, who think similarly to the way we do. But good friends – true friends – also are those who care enough, and have the courage, to tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear. “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel,” we’re told in Proverbs 27:9. That’s the value of accountability groups, as well as peer advisory groups that many business and professional people find helpful. We need that for our journey of faith as well.
In the Bible, the human body serves as a metaphor for the Church, the body of Christ. It points to the roles and functions of different body parts, and how they work together. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, and though all its parts are many, they form one body…. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body…. But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…. Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
As followers of Christ grow in maturity and fruitfulness, we learn of our importance – and how much we need others – for effectively fulfilling God’s purposes. As Ephesians 4:12-13 states, “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Just as Jesus’ first disciples learned invaluable lessons by being “with Him” (Mark 3:14), the so-called “Christian life” isn’t a solo act. We need each other to grow, receive support, and complement one another’s gifts and talents in our quest to be used by God to advance His kingdom.
- - - -
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog,
. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.