Forty Days Revisited, Day 34–You Gotta Have Friends

One of the things I have been thinking about is the impact that Jesus had on the people around him. For the first 29 or so years of his life, Jesus worked at home, hanging out with his family, working as a carpenter or other such things. Then he got the call to begin his ministry. He left home and went about connecting with people and collecting followers as he moved from place to place preaching and teaching and healing and comforting the people around him.

In a sense, his disciples and other close companions worked with him and served him during the three years of his ministry. Some of them knew him better than just about anyone else, save, perhaps his mother and family. In that sense, they were as close to being friends as anyone in his life. It reminded me of a piece I posted last year about the important connections we make with the people with whom we work. I offer it for your consideration.

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Another Forty Days, Day 22–The Blessings of Work Friends
Posted on March 27, 2017

Today I spent a few hours with a dear friend and former work colleague who was visiting from out of town. I realized as I sat there talking with her what a blessing it is to have work colleagues who become friends. I’ve begun referring to them as “frolleagues,” those people with whom you work whom you genuinely come to appreciate as friends.  I have been blessed in my 30-plus year career to have developed enduring friendships with a number of coworkers, even long after I’ve moved on.

I think sometimes we do not know the impact we have on other people, especially those with whom we work. On one level, we can often tell when we “connect” with another person. Something clicks, conversations about work deepen into discussions about personal philosophies and beliefs, and we learn from one another. Colleagues become frolleagues, who sometimes become friends. Our lives inside and outside of work improve from the interactions we have with one another.

We spend at least as much time with our coworkers as we do with our family members, so our relationships with them often directly affect the quality of our lives. Having worked in at least two exceedingly toxic environments, it was sometimes my frolleagues who made my work life tolerable until such time as I could move on. I feel for people who have no such outlets in their workplaces, being surrounded by people who lack basic attributes such as care and compassion for others, and lack integrity, openness, and honesty.

My friend today was highly complimentary of the positive impact I had on her during our time working together. Even though I squirmed with embarrassment as she extolled my virtues to one of my current work colleagues, I realized two things: first, that treating people with “basic” care and compassion might be a no-brainer to me and I try to do my best in my interactions with people to demonstrate that. However, everyone doesn’t engage their coworkers in that way. People often respond well to being treated with love and compassion, and a side effect of this is that the quality of their work increases. And the second is that when you are blessed to work with good people, it makes it easy for you to seem wonderful–they are simply reflecting back onto me what I experience from them. There’s a kind of mutuality in operation in those circumstances that allows collaboration, cooperation, creativity, and positivity to flourish.

During these 40 days, I think a lot about Jesus. He was constantly surrounded by people. Some were there to get from him what he could do for them, some were moved and inspired by his words and could listen to him all day, still others were glad simply to be able to follow and serve him wherever he went. I wonder, though, how many true friends he had. Who did he talk to about what was worrying him? Who did he strategize or consult with about what he was thinking about doing or where he was going next? I have to believe he didn’t always simply check in with his heavenly father about everything. Do you suppose he said to his disciples, “So Peter, John, Mary, what do you all think?” Given some of the accounts in the gospels, I could imagine Peter saying, “whatever you think, Lord…” which certainly would not have been helpful.

Who did he turn to when he was troubled? Right near the end, not many of his peeps showed up for him. As he struggled with his own reluctance to go through what he knew he must, only one or two people remained with him to the end. I’ve had one or two rare occasions in my working life where people who I had befriended silently disappeared when I was struggling. I have also had those one or two who stood with me through the struggles and saw me to the other side and beyond. While the loss of the former was disappointing, the steadfastness of the latter more than made up for it.

These 40 days provide the opportunity not only to think about and relate to some of the sacrifice, suffering and loss Jesus experienced, but also the qualities of the relationships in your life and the connections you have with the people around you. They can be a great source of strength, joy, and love. And so it goes.

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