Your Inner Circle

Introduction:
We often misunderstand the influence that people have in our lives. The two words that most accurately describe influence are powerful and subtle. The influence of others can be powerful because we all desire to have people like us, therefore, we may start acting like others to gain their approval. Their influence is also subtle because we may think it has no effect on us. Often, we don’t know we’re being influenced until it is too late. People we spend the most time with will have a power and influence effect on the quality and direction of our lives. Show me your closest friends, and I’ll show you your future. Therefore, we need to choose those that are in our inner circle, those closest to us, wisely.

Something To Talk About:
When it comes to people who end up in our inner circle, it is wise to set up some boundaries to decide who is going to be coming into those boundary lines and who will be going out.

1. People who constantly look down at others: Criticism is often the way people elevate their own self-image. By putting others down, they are inwardly trying to feel more important or that “they know more.” They will tend to look down on anyone else. Those people should not be a member of our inner circle. Proverbs 16:20 says,”Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”

2. People who don’t value the truth: Your closest friends will usually tell you the truth, even when it hurts. As Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” It is better to hear it from a friend when needed because they truly care enough about you. The point is, the truth sometimes hurts, but dishonesty in the end, does more harm than good. “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” – Proverbs 12:22

3. People who have no control over their mouth: Inner circle members keep secrets to themselves, as Proverbs 17:9 says, “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Meaning a true friend doesn’t gossip.
Our culture tends to treat gossip lightly. We should not because it will eventually cause harm. Proverbs 11:13 says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”

4. People who encourage conflict: There are people that thrive in and even look for conflict. That conflict will often find its way into the inner circle. People who thrive in or generate conflict should not be members of the inner circle. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”

Questions:
1. Reflect on your “inner circle” of closest friends. What criteria do we use in choosing those in our inner circle? Who in your inner circle enriches your life? Why?
2. Within your inner circle, who are you listening to? Who do you need to quit listening to? Who should you be listening to?
3. How much do those in our inner circle influence us today? Is it too much, too little or the right amount in your opinion?
4. How much influence does God have in choosing your inner circle? God’s ultimate and highest aim for you is to transform and sanctify you. Can the same be said of your inner circle?
5. Pray and ask God to find and connect with the people in your inner circle that will cause you to grow deeper and become more like Christ.

Take One Thing Home With You:
There are not that many days that I completely have to myself. I’m not saying that I don’t have any margin, I’m just saying a day without the normal day-to-day activities is refreshing…even quiet. The sermon is done or close to done. It is on these days when I tend to call people in my inner circle, that I readily listen to and who have and continue to influence my life. Having people in that role is so important, but not as important as having the right people.

It is different than having friends, even good friends. People have told me they thought they had great friends because they had many friends, many people that they hung around with. But, when needed, they proved to be fair weather friends. No, it is a little deeper than that.

Most people, myself included, do not naturally choose friends who challenge you, who ask you the tough questions. Who openly and honesty disagree with you. Who have the guts to speak up and say that’s not a good idea, that you need to rethink what you are doing? If those people are not part of your inner circle, you need to change your inner circle, because we need people that will be speak truth to us.

Today, my inner circle is smaller, but many times more valuable to me as a work in progress. They challenge me in my vision, my goals and my desire to learn and grow as a pastor. To get to that point sometimes you need to first work on yourself. Get your life in order and then fill your inner circle with people that will help you improve your relationship with God.

I am blessed to be surrounded by a dynamic, honest, truthful and challenging inner circle. They make me a better person every day. That is my hope and prayer for you.