A great quote I once heard was: “You show me your friends, and I will show you your future.”
A simple fact of human nature is that we will begin to take on the attributes of the people we spend the most time with. Who we choose to follow will determine, to a large degree, the people we become.
The same truth applies to us as Christ followers:If we want to become a great Christian, then we need to spend time around great Christians.
What do great Christians look like? They’re people that are living out their faith and fulfilling God’s highest and best purposes for their life.They’re motivated to do whatever it takes to know God deeply and to be used by Him powerfully.
Great Christians are those who will believe the best in others, who will speak the truth in love, who will give others a picture of the kind of person God wants them to be, and will help them set and meet their goals.
So, what about you – are you ready to move to the next level of discipleship and fruitfulness to become a great Christian? Pursue great people who have already walked that path. They can lead you in the ways the Lord has taught them.
But the question is: How do you find these great people?
Sometimes great role models are right in front of us and easily accessible.Often they aren’t. Great people can be hard to follow, but persistence is almost always rewarded.
We see this often in Scripture: Solomon valued wisdom because his father,David, urged him to pursue understanding (Prov. 4:3-6). Timothy was encouraged and strengthened as a young pastor despite difficulties because he submitted himself to Paul’s example and advice (2 Tim. 3:10-11; 1 Cor.4:17; Phil 2:22). And most obviously, we see this in the twelve men who followed Jesus for three years, observing his works and listening to his words constantly.
But what do we do if pursuing great people sounds intimidating and even discouraging? How can we know which great people to pursue?
1. Look in the rearview mirror.
Think about the four or five people that have most positively impacted your life. They can be role models, mentors, teachers, big brothers, friends,Christians, non-Christians – whoever God has used to shape you.
As you stir up memories of the lessons they taught you, and you see how and why God used them to develop your character, you’ll begin to notice patterns. You’ll get a glimpse of your needs and start to understand the kind of new people you’ll need to have in your life in the future.
2. Look out the windshield.
Next, you’ll want to look out and see the people that God has placed on your horizon to shape and mold you.
Howard Hendricks, who was my mentor and college professor I had back when I attended Dallas Seminary, said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Chip, everyone needs a Paul, a Timothy, and a Barnabas in their life.”
We all need a Paul to learn from as a mentor and role model, a Timothy to sow seeds into the next generation, and a Barnabas we can be totally open with, an encouraging friend who will go through life with us in the good times and bad.
There are a few more things to remember as we pursue great people.
These relationships don’t necessarily have to be formal and you don’t have to meet with them all the time. Over the years, I’ve realized that God brings people in our life sometimes for a moment and sometimes for a season.
Great people don’t all have to be the same type of person either. Actually, great people won’t fit into a box; in fact, they’ll often stretch your expectations. And they don’t need to be famous or well educated. I have a Paul in my life that has a doctorate and one with a high school education.
The most important characteristic to look for is whether they have grown in an area of their life that you also want to grow in.
What kind of person do you need to pursue in this season of your life? I encourage you to pursue this person. Remember, whomever you hang out with, whoever’s teaching you come under, and whomever you choose to influence you will greatly determine the direction of your life.
For more information how to become great in God’s eyes, check out Chip’s book and 10-session group study, Good to Great in God’s Eyes: 10 Practices Great Christians Have in Common.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip