As this article is being published, I am traveling back to the Evergreen State (Washington, of course) after spending the last three days at the 2012 Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference. It dawned on me that I have been a yearly attender at these conferences for eight years. There are many draws to this conference. The conference center in Southern California is beautiful. There is teaching and worship. They give you free books and resources.
But more than anything, the greatest blessing of this conference is the friendships that have developed over the years. I am continually amazed at the number of pastors that I have been blessed to get to know. Some of those relationships are slowly evolving. Other of those relationships are fully formed. But either way, it is the friendships that draw me to the conference year in and year out. Out of those relationships, there are Paul, Barnabas and Timothy types. I am grateful for the Pauls in my life. There are men who have made significant investments in my life as mentors. I had many conversations this week with men who challenge me, teach me, encourage me and sometimes just let me process out loud. I am also grateful for the Barnabas’ in my life. These are the men who are my brothers and co-labors. Like Paul and Barnabas, these relationships are those amongst people who walk through life together. I always enjoy the Timothy type of relationships. These are guys that I can pour into. Realistically, I get to function as a Paul to men who are Timothys to me.
No matter what the relationship is, he reality is that spiritual friendships are essential to our growth. Sanctification does not happen in a vacuum. Instead growth happens in community and relationship. I have many conversations to process through. Many new ideas and thoughts to pray and think through. I just find myself extremely grateful for the spiritual friendships that God has blessed me with.
I also realized that 8 years of continued attendance has greatly fostered these relationships. A good relationship needs to be invested in. True interpersonal intimacy is fostered by communication over time. We are not entitled to deep relationships but we need to make an investment in them with intentionality. I am absolutely blessed by the investment people make in me. I am so thankful to have peers who I walk through life with. I am humbled to get to poor into people’s lives. Overall, I am eternally grateful for the intentionality of all involved to fill my life with spiritual friendships.