Associations can Make or Break Your Success
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 1:11PM
Larry Kutzler

Proverbs 14:7

Leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.

Most of my early life I hung out with the wrong crowd. It was a crowd that was determined to destroy, steal, and use drugs/alcohol. That crowd taught me the great lesson of not hanging out with people like them. It has been over four decades since I have hung around with this wrong crowd, and today I want to look at the associations we are currently keeping and whether or not they are healthy.

What I have learned over the years as a pastor and Christian leader is that you have to protect yourself against the attacks of the following:

Time Wasters: These are people or situations that will not add value to your life. They will only drain whatever resources you have, and if allowed to be in your life, you will be emotionally bankrupt. These are the situations that will keep you from accomplishing your goals in life.

The Influence of Negativity: There are always two sides of life, the negative and the positive, and you can never avoid the negative. It is a part of life and it gives you a perspective on what is wrong and what needs to change. Don’t ignore the negative, but instead use it to find solutions to make the changes that need to be made.  Negative people, however, will ruin a good day. I think the best thing to do in countering a negative person or a toxic environment is to ask the question, “where is our hope?”
The negative things/people will always be with us, but as we learn from what is wrong from the negative, we can focus on the hope that everything can change if you place your hope in God.

Dishonesty is a Cultural Norm: There are so many areas of living in our culture that you cannot trust. Advertisers lie to sell a product, politicians lie to garner support, religions lie to persuade a following, and culture lies to deceive a crowd.  Sounds defeating doesn’t it?  The truth of the matter is we cannot trust what humankind does, as motives, ambitions, and narcissism all play a big part in how we are influenced by others. To be sure that we are ‘getting what we are being told’ is to test it. Who or what benefits from what is being said?  Is there a hidden agenda that needs to be discovered and exposed? What has been the track record and the side effects of the issue at hand?  So many things to be aware of, and you must start your inquiry by becoming self-aware. If you are easily influenced, conned, or persuaded, then that is your first line of defense, so know your limitations. Don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry, your appetite will deceive you into buying things you don’t need. Being self-aware is the first step to stay free from becoming gullible to a cultural influence.

Opportunists: These are people who want a relationship because you can offer them something they don’t have or they need.  I have relationships in my life that only call me when they need something, yet disguise it as friendship. The only reason I am tolerated or considered a friend is because I provide something they need. These are the people or friendships that you probably need to apply some relational distance. Toxic people are everywhere, and toxic people will always find a vulnerable person to plague. Ministry often is filled with toxic people, but these are the people you provide a professional setting for - never invite them to your home or into your inner circle. You will be sorry.

The Unteachables: These are the people that no matter what you say or do they will never be satisfied with you as a person. You always come up short in their eyes. People who are never wrong and have an opinion about everything are shortsighted people who feel inferior in their environment. They compensate their feelings of inadequacy with information and knowledge, overwhelming all others in the group. Churches are full of know-it-all people who are not willing to learn from others, they always want to teach others from their vast wealth of knowledge. These people can be the worst enemy to a project because they always want their way. Why? Because they know better, and are smarter than anyone else in the room, of course. 

If you choose to engage with any of these five people types, prepare yourself to live with frustration, anxiety, and defeat. Remember, you are not God, and you are not all-knowing, all-powerful, nor always present, because that is what is required to deal with these five. It is safe to say you will encounter them every day, but how you linger with them will become the real story. Living life is often like a triage worker - you do what you can at the moment of contact and pass them on to God and others who may be more equipped to handle their intrusion.

Associations are important because they will make or break how you excel at living a life of excellence for Him.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K



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