“Heavenly Father, help us see trouble coming long before it gets here. Then gives us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.”-Andy Stanley
Have you ever met someone that later you wish you never had?
Ok, don’t answer that. But-
Has your wife/husband/daughter/son ever met someone you wish they hadn’t?
That’s how our pastor Andy Stanley reeled us in Sunday for the second part in our current series, Guardrails.
*Note: Guardrails is a series by Andy Stanley, the pastor of the North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, GA. It can be purchased here.*
As Andy summarized it, in a catchy, phrase:
Folks We’ve Met, Greatest Regret
Our greatest regrets are tied to…
Our Greatest Regrets are Tired to Relationships
Andy stated that for a lot of us, our greatest regret? It’s tied to a relationship.
And it’s not our enemies tied to those regrets. It’s usually connected to people we once considered friends.
Which is why guardrails, or boundaries, are so very, very important.
Just as the guardrails on the roads are meant to keep vehicles safe, boundaries in relationships do the same. They’re meant to Direct and protect.
They’re still within the safe zone, to allow for a MARGIN OF ERROR. As in, they’re not right up on the edge.
That way, if you do hit a guardrail, there will be damage done to your vehicle, yes. But not as much as if you had gone off the road completely.
They are designed to MINIMIZE damage.
Same with the guardrails in life.
They’re meant to minimize damage, while still in the safe zone.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Guardrails are in essence boundaries. Or bumpers. They’re meant to keep us in the safe zone in our relationships.
What kind of relationship you may ask? Any and all.
Professional. Personal. Familiar. All of them.
Boundaries are healthy.
And while they’re extremely important, ironically our culture does NOT encourage the use of guardrails.
As Andy Stanley puts it, our culture is content with the painted lines.
Nothing concrete. Nothing too firm. And certainly nothing to prevent going over the edge into the danger zone, oh no.
And yet, this SAME CULTURE will be quick to mock and shame us WHEN we end up in a ditch.
There’s no winning.
We’re mocked for having guardrails, but shamed when we don’t.
Put THIS in the wisdom category.
Our quality of life is directly related to our relationships. So be careful who you associate with.
It’s all about exercising GOOD JUDGEMENT.
In Light of Your Future Hopes and Dreams
Good judgment is saying,
In light of my past experiences…
In light of my current circumstances…
In light of my future hopes and dreams…
What is the wise thing for ME to do?
How should I respond, in light of MY future hopes and dreams?
Andy gave us a great, “Get-Out-of-Jail Free Card” (my words, not his) to borrow in cases where we feel caught between a rock and a hard place.
“I’m not emotionally mature enough to….”
…. do business with you.
….. have a relationship with you.
….. work with you.
I’m not judging YOU, BUT….
in light of my past/present/current circumstances…
I’m not emotionally mature enough to do x y and z.
It’s about making wise decisions. What’s wise for me. What’s wise for you may be different.
We all have hindsight, and hindsight is said to be 20/20.
And none of us want to look in hindsight saying, I wish I had used better judgement.
The people I wish I had never met/gotten involved with were….
I wish I had used better judgement with …
I wish I had done things differently.
Our Friends Determine the Quality of Our Lives
When we were younger, our parents were PARANOID about our friends. Why? Because they knew, what we NOW KNOW, and that’s that your friends play a major role/influence in the direction you go.
As a parent, I CARE about the person GOD placed in my HOME!
My sons. My daughters. I care.
Our friends determine the quality of our lives.
Which is why when this series opened, we opened in talking about Grouplink (see https://vimeo.com/52947832 )
The Importance of Having True Friends
We all NEED a great group of friends that we can relax with. Drop our guard around.
And with certain groups, that’s safe. That’s the nature of friendships, relationships.
On the flip side though, the same is true. We can’t let our guard down around just anyone. And sometimes it’s hard to know the difference.
We are all acceptance magnets, whether we want to be or not.
We all seek acceptance. We’re drawn to environments where we feel safe, accepted, and loved. It’s an ongoing dynamic in our relationships. Which brings us full circle to why guardrails are so important.
Moran Cerf published an article on brainwaves and how people influence other people which you can read about here.
And the gist of it was that just sharing space, sitting with or next to someone? It causes our brainwaves to begin to align.
In studying engagement, we know that we encourage, or discourage, other people’s behaviors.
Scary, isn’t it?
To take advantage of this natural aligning of brainwaves, and over time begin to effortlessly begin picking up desirable traits, attitudes, and behaviors, simply surround yourself with people who embody the traits you prefer.
Simple enough, right? To maximize happiness, and minimize stress, build a life with people who embody the traits you yourself wish you had. Your FUTURE will be impacted by the people you do life with.
Brings back the importance of small group, community, and circles.
Walk as the Wise and You Will Become Wise
King Solomon, considered to be one of, if not THE, wisest person to ever live, said this in Proverbs 13:20:
“Walk with the Wise and You will become Wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Wisdom is contagious. A fool is someone who does not live carefully. Who fails to recognize that the past impacts today.
Be careful where and in whom you place your trust. A fool is not careful. For when their life goes bad, the closer you are to them, the more shrapnel you are likely to endure as a result of THEIR bad decisions.
Choose your friends wisely.
As parents, we’re afraid of the same thing our parents were afraid of. Again, we realize the influence our friends had on us, and the influence our children’s friends will have on them.
Behavior Matters More Than A Promise
Friends who are not careful with THEIR LIVES, will not be careful with yours.
If they aren’t careful with their finances…
If they aren’t careful with their faith…
And especially if they aren’t careful with their marriage, their future, their children….
They will NOT be careful with yours.
Use good judgement.
Friends require some guardrails.
The point of a guardrail is to light up your conscience BEFORE you veer into the danger zone. It’s IN the safe zone for a reason.
Some of you will say though, I don’t always have control over who I spend most of my time with.
I get that.
Our co-workers. Fellow students. Fellow church goers. Our family. We don’t always get to choose those.
Again. It’s why having that safety net, a good group of STRONG, like minded people in your life, is important. You may not get to choose with whom you spend your Monday through Friday. So take advantage of the choice you have when it comes to with whom you spend your Saturday and Sunday.
As far as suggestions that Andy gave for choosing friends. Choosing the people who will impact the direction of your life. Here are some red flags.
Red Flags in Relationships
- When it dawns on you that your core group isn’t moving in the DIRECTION you want to be moving? Red flag.
Relationships are not static, they’re growing, they’re moving.
If they aren’t moving in the direction you want to go, and make no mistake, they are LEADING us somewhere-
Let that be a red flag.
- When you catch yourself PRETENDING to be someone that you’re not-
Someone other than who you really are….
And if you’re OUTWARDLY agreeing when internally you’re screaming no, that’s a sign.
If you lie to yourself long enough… that lie will become truth. Don’t kid yourself. PRETENDING is never healthy.
As Andy Stanley stated in a prior series,
“If people don’t know what you’re really like, they don’t really like you.”
How can they?
- When you feel PRESSURE to compromise. And when something that has never been an option, suddenly becomes a live option? That’s a bad thing.
It’s never been a temptation before, but now you’re considering it.
You’ve always stood on this side of the divide, now you’re thinking it’s not so bad, when it used to really bother you.
Heed that guardrail so you don’t go over.
- When you catch yourself thinking, “I’ll go, but I won’t participate..”
Stop right there!
Think to yourself, would you buy that from your son/daughter/spouse?
“Yeah Dad, there’s going to be 12 boys there, I’ll be the only girl, but don’t worry, I’m not going to get into trouble..”
“Honey, I know it’s Valentine’s Day, and we had plans, but my female coworker invited me out for dinner and drinks, but don’t worry…”
We’d be like, “Heck NO You’re not going!”
If you wouldn’t buy it from your son, daughter, spouse or a teenage you, don’t buy it from you!
And lastly, and probably most importantly.
- If you catch yourself HOPING and PRAYING that the people YOU CARE ABOUT don’t know your WHEREABOUTS…
Don’t do it.
God allows U-Turns.
EVEN IF you don’t do anything wrong or illegal.
If you are TEMPTED to LIE.
If you hope they NEVER find out.
And if you ever find yourself thinking, “I don’t want my loved ones to know…”
Just stop right there. Don’t continue on the path you’re going. Just stop.
The Real Reason Boundaries Are So Important
And the reason this message is so important isn’t because I’m wanting to be judgmental. It’s not that I don’t want you to have any fun, or I’m wanting you to miss out.
It’s because I care about you.
And I know that tomorrow morning, hundreds, and thousands, and hundreds of thousands of people across OUR community are going to wake up.
And they’re going to look in the mirror and ask themselves:
“How did this happen?” And “Whose life is this?” Or “How did I get here?”
And they’ll be met with…. regret.
Our friends still determine the quality of our lives.
Wisdom will be proved right by the outcome.
It’s not about judging other people.
It’s about MY future. And about YOUR future.
It’s about distancing yourself so that you can one day HELP the very people you care about.
It’s not a LACK of LOVE, but an EXPRESSION of LOVE.
And it’s about establishing guardrails.
Establish some guardrails. Or you’ll WISH you had.
To see this message in its entirety (and to hear the words straight from the gifted Andy Stanley himself instead of being paraphrased and quoted from moi)
Forever and always at:
Or you can order your own here.