Venue small groups: where I get free friends!
I love everyone in the group that meets in my home Wednesday nights. We like to do life with each other whether praying for a marriage in trouble, celebrating a win, figuring out parenting, or just being there for each other.
One of my new friends has a gift.
His family recently started coming to Venue and we took an instant liking to him (not that we take an instant dislike to people:), and invited them to come over for a meal.
People are like presents, they take a little time to unwrap and get to know. One week he mentioned casually around the kitchen island that he was up for another promotion but I could tell he didn’t really know how to think about it yet because of being passed over before. It was an opportunity for me to share a bit of my story and how I’ve always been able to look back in my career and see the obstacles as blessings in disguise.
Fast forward a week and he got the job! We were going around the room sharing some of our stories and his was an extremely honest look back at his life, even some of the disappointments. I admire honesty like nothing else and told him so afterwards, and somewhere along the way he heard that I was having trouble with the air compressor in my truck, which is great because I’m not a car guy.
Just recently I took a holiday Monday afternoon to change oil in both of our new/old vehicles and was doing really well until I tried removing the filter from Erin’s SUV. Now I don’t know much about cars, but my dad taught me “Son, the oil filter only needs to be tightened a little harder than hand-tight.”
Whoever installed the last one on Erin’s truck decided to do it with some sort of impact driver just in case of the Zombie Apocalypse. Everyone knows that the last thing you need to be dealing with when being chased by zombies is a loose oil filter! So crank that thing tight!
My daughter Arwen is always up for strange adventures with dad so this was perfect for her. What normally takes about fifteen minutes ended with (A) A slightly panicked dad with blood running down his arms, (B) Angry verbal noises erupting under the vehicle from time to time and (C) having to make multiple trips to Canadian Tire to find the right tool to get the job done. I think the saga lasted about two hours.
Now if you’re a car guy you have three of the right things hanging neatly on the wall of your garage.
My new buddy probably does, but I always super enjoy learning things the hard way first.
He heard that my compressor was going and said “just get the part and I’ll help you put it in”. Meaning “I’ll put it in for you while you hold my flashlight”.
So what was going to cost me $800 to get installed ended up costing $135 USD for the parts and less than an hour in his garage after group last night.
I was admiring how he knew what bolts needed to be removed and how to get at the compressor itself and he laughed and told me some of the major mechanical jobs he’s done before, his way of saying “Relax Pastor, this isn’t hard for me”.
Then he said something I’ll not just remember, but live my life trying to do…
He said “I have a gift to do this”.
I like the way that he knows what his gift is and isn’t wasting his life trying to be someone else.
You could watch his calm competency for less than a minute and the sure way he moves about his expertise, and I realized I’m glad to have a friend like him and not because he can fix my car.
Give me a minute to unpack this because I missed this truth up until about a month ago and am scrambling to right the wrong.
I’m about as loyal a person as you’ll find and I also learned to share my gifts from an early age and be generous with my time to people, just not fixing their cars.
But I missed something along the way. I thought that my being loyal and generous would inspire that in others but it didn’t. If I’m honest in looking back, it only inspired it in people who were already loyal and generous. In others it actually enabled them to be more selfish than they already were.
This shocked me as I recall how many meals I’ve bought and how many hard phone calls I’ve had trying to help, and then some of the same people leave my life without even a conversation? What went wrong? I was so busy helping them that I forgot to teach them to help me. My gift made me loyal to them, but not them loyal to me.
I needed my buddy’s gift this week, not just because my car needed a fix but because I need more loyal friends. You know who’s the most invested person in a family? The one giving the most to it, not the one receiving the most.
So if you’ve struggled with loyalty in your past or have left commitments you’ve made, maybe it’s time to learn a lesson from my new friend….
You’re only loyal to people you give to, not receive from.