TOXIC Relationships


I must have heard it over a hundred times in the past year, “You need to get rid of the toxic people in your life.” There are numerous sermons and YouTube videos about separating yourself from people, finding new friends, cutting the cord, etc. A lot of different ways to say, “eliminate people that discourage or drain you.” I get it. One thing as a pastor I understand is that people can be incredibly draining, and yes, Jesus often removed himself from others….to pray.(Lk 5:16) Quiet possibly to pray that He would have the strength to love the object of his assignment: People.

You know what I cannot find Jesus doing? Writing people off because they were doubting, discouraging, draining, disappointing, deceiving, and denouncing. Jesus loved till the end. He is the model. I understand we live in an age where the goal is self-preservation, but following Christ is about being light, bringing hope, and loving like He loves. A love that lays itself down.(Jn 15:13) If it’s always comfortable and always easy, then what has it cost us to love? I mean, how effective is a candle in a well lit room?

Remember Judas? Jesus knew he was a back-stabbing sell out, but He loved him till the end. Remember, Thomas? How about Peter, one of Jesus’ core group of guys. Jesus continued to invest in him, knowing he made a fool of himself time after time. Jesus even knew he would deny Him? So what did Jesus do with Peter? He invested in him, and in return Peter lead a movement for Christ that turned the known world upside down(Acts 17:6). Peter eventually got it together because he was invested in and believed in.

So how do we handle the difficult people in our life?
Here are a few ways we follow Jesus when there are difficult people in our lives.

  1. #1. Pray for them.

One of the ways that God gives us a heart for people and turns our heart towards people is in the place of prayer. Don't pray “about them” pray for them, and watch God transform your heart. Maybe the “toxic people” are not the problem, maybe it’s your attitude towards them.

  1. #2. Invest in them.

The fact is that we all have “toxic” traits. We all have hang ups, we all have things that rub people the wrong way, traits that make navigating a relationship difficult. So what makes us so important that we need to eliminate the people that we struggle to love because it's uncomfortable? May I suggest that God actually wants us to be in those peoples lives to teach us something about Him, something about love. May I suggest that God put YOU in the “toxic” people’s lives to be an instrument to help them. Maybe you are the antidote?

  1. #3. Manage the relationship.

This is one thing that I have difficulty with. I feel a God given responsibility to love people well, but at the end of the day I have a lot of love to give out. If I am completely wasted then I have nothing to give my family and the other people that I need to give myself too. The hard to love folks need love so I don't eliminate them, however, I don't give them all of my love. For some people it’s just never enough. That is not to say I don't give them some part of myself. We don’t need to eliminate our relationship with them, we need to manage it. You don’t have to be besties with everybody, but you do have to have a healthy heart towards them. If a little bit of time with a person that drains you is more than you can handle, then the problem is not that person. You may be looking for the resources of your heart and the fuel for your life in the wrong place.

Beloved, let’s love like Jesus loves and watch the potential of others unfold before our eyes.


The Feeling of Christmas

Note: I wrote this in 2011 on a cold day while living in Amarillo, TX. Since I am blogging frequently now I wanted to share.

Normally, my personality bends a little more to being untraditional and I aim to be progressive in my thinking. Yet Christmas time has way of making me feel nostalgic, contemplative and traditionally old-school. Christmas time awakens so many vivid things inside of me. The cool of the air, the warmth of the music, holiday scents, glowing lights in the cool misty air, and years of grateful memories…(did I mention Starbucks Christmas blend?) It awakens in me the Christmas feeling.

For me, there is a comforting yet just a small lonely feeling about Christmas. It is not a dark feeling but it has a dim hint of loneliness to me. I have been trying to figure out “whats with this lonely thing?” It’s not a depressed or cold feeling its actually kind of warm. It feels very full….but just a little bit empty. Today I was thinking, “why do I feel this way at Christmas time,” wondering if I am the only one that feels this way.

I believe it’s the seasons of my life and those who I have had the honor of knowing through my journey that brings this feeling. I have had so many amazing people in my life surrounded by an empire of joyful memories. I think the “little bit empty” feeling is simply those I have experienced life with. My heart is overjoyed to have shared moments with these people, yet my heart is just a little sad that we have all moved on from the stage that these memories were built on. There are so many rich, beautiful, and cherished moments like pictures in my mind through the seasons of my life.

I remember as a kid getting gifts; an atari, a remote controlled car, or a stereo that I knew my mom couldn't afford. Yet, the greatest gifts I have received are laughs, tears, and conversations. At this time of the year what I remember most are the people that I revisit through the time machine of my heart.

When I get that Christmas feeling I think about the greatest gift, the hope of the world, being born in a cattle trough. I also think about the gifts of friends and family that Jesus has blessed me to know. To those whom this is written, you know who you are, thank you, I love you & I miss you. My life will never be the same. Beyond the cold air, the warm music, and all that surrounds the Christmas season, there are faces and places in my heart and you are there.

“Christmas time is all about receiving, the gift that god has sent from up above” -Ray Charles


The Cost To Lead

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One of the loudest cries of our culture is comfort. The need for convenience is expressed by trying to get what we want while costing us the least amount of energy, time, or money. I get it, I love my wifi fast and my amazon packages at my door within two days. We hate discomfort, wether it be the discomfort of waiting or the grind of working, process is just plain painful.

A lot of modern leaders would blame millennials, but this is no trend. It’s become a part of our rapid moving world over the recent decades. This proposes a huge problem for those pursuing leadership, because influence is costly. It will cost us our comfort, it's a roller coaster of emotions, and it's physically draining. Only the resilient will lead for a significant amount of time. Sadly, I have seen many with a leadership position that couldn't handle the cost, so they bailed on leading. Many very talented people have given up on leading because it was just too taxing. 

Here are 3 ways to build resiliency in the economy of leading:

Consider Christ
Jesus dealt with the problem of people wanting to be the recipient of what He offered, but they didn't really want to be like him. The ones that did, transformed the world. Believing in Jesus is free, but following Him will cost you. When we truly follow Him, we get under His waterfall of influence and it pours onto us and those we run with. We will never have to pay what Jesus paid. Jesus showed us how costly leadership is. He didn't just sacrifice His life, He lived a life of sacrifice. 

Consider the Cost
When we apply for a job, when we buy a pair of jeans, or when we volunteer our time, we want to know: what is the cost? If you are frugal like me, you want to know what is the minimum you have to pay.

When leading, our first question isn't, “what is it going to cost me?” we should ask, “what is it going to take?” Then we figure out a way to come up with the resources to make it happen. It is not easy, but it is worth it. For us as leaders, it's not about meeting the minimum requirements, it's about bringing the most impact. Those that are content with following will always be limited by the cost of leading, while leaders will figure out a way to make it happen despite the cost. 

Consider the Value of People

Leadership is costly because it's valuable to people, it’s expensive and requires sacrifice. If you are going to venture to lead, you must ask yourself, “am I willing to pay the price?”  Even when the price goes up, because the expense of leadership inflates. As your influence grows so does the price to continue leading.

May the costs of leadership never overshadow the honor of leading. God has given us the honor and the call to lead others. There is great joy in this divine privilege!