John Donne, in his Devotions (1624) is famous for saying, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
I have always taken that to mean that as humans, we were created to be in relationship with one another. We were made to live in the contexts of families and friendships. Luke 2:52 tells us four ways that Jesus developed, “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and favor with man.”
Jesus not only grew in favor with God, he also grew in favor with man. He earned the respect and admiration of people, but he did not live to please people. In fact, his willingness to speak truth, no matter if it pleased people or not, is what led him to the moment where the crowds turned on him and were crying out, “Crucify him!” Nonetheless, Jesus loved people, served people, and built strong relationships with people.
The Gospels tell us that he had at least a dozen disciples who traveled with him and learned all they could from him. Three of them – Peter, James, and John – were in his inner circle. They were his closest companions. The week of his death, Jesus spent time with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, his dear friends. Jesus was willing to reach out and connect with all kinds of people. As he walked by some fishermen, busy about their day’s labor, he invited them to come and get to know him. He invited himself into the homes of Zacchaeus and Matthew and Peter as well as the homes of people who had suffered loss and illness. He was also willing to serve, giving of his time, his gifts, and of himself. He was a companion to the hurting and touched those considered untouchable. He protected the defenseless, such as the woman accused (rightly but unfairly) of adultery. Ultimately, he gave his life for both his friends as well as his enemies.
Does any of this describe the way you live your life, or do you recognizing that you are behaving like an island, distant and unaffected by others? As a leader you cannot have any real kind of influence in this world while in isolation. You cannot develop healthy relationships and gain the trust of those in your organization without opening up to others. You need people. Growing socially and relationally can seem intimidating, especially for men. Many of us exhibit a peculiar combination of competitiveness (not a bad thing in and of itself) and insecurity. This may manifest itself in emotional defensiveness and fear of intimacy. We may be afraid we will[ke1] be judged and rejected, but healthy men and women take risks. People who grow personally reach out of their comfort zones. They text their friends, get coffee together, and talk about life, the universe and everything, even emotionally vulnerable things. God’s purpose for followers of his son Jesus Christ is that they grow as daughters and sons as Jesus did, in wisdom-intellectual development, in stature- physical and emotional development, in favor with God- spiritual development and in favor with others – social development.
Christians were created to live in community together. God wired all of us in such a way that we can only fulfill his purposes for our lives in the context of a community of believers.
“Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other and each of us needs all the others.” Romans 12:5