Recently my friend and former colleague at Mars Hill Church, Mike Wilkerson, recommended the book “Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power” by Andy Crouch.

I am just a bit into it, but I can already tell that it’s a very comprehensive and creative treatment of both the good and bad uses of power. Andy deals with the theological, historical, psychological and sociological aspects of the stewardship of power we have been given by God. I am confident this book will impact my understanding of God-given power, as well as guide me in the appropriate use of this power in my life and ministry.

As I was thinking about some of things I already read in this book, the idea was birthed in my heart about “The Power of Association” in the lives of leaders.

This actually happened yesterday morning as I was on a recumbent bike at LA Fitness. I quickly grabbed my iPhone and dictated a few ideas that came to mind and now I’m here to unpack those ideas.

The person you and I are becoming will largely be a result of the people we associate with and what we fill our brains with via TV, movies, music, books, and anything else we choose to read. Relational and mental associations make us or break us.

I experience this in my own life and observe it in the lives of others I know. What’s the old saying, “Garbage in garbage out.” Oh, the immense power of association! 

I addressed this issue a number of months ago when I posted some ideas I called, The cumulative effect of small things over an extended period of time. Check it out!

What a leader is becoming is a result of the power inherent in who and what he/she associates with on a regular/consistent basis.

This morning in my Bible reading I came across this: “Bad company corrupts good character.” I Corinthians 15:33 (NLT) Association(s) impact our character!

Be prayerfully selective regarding the people you closely and intimately associate with. Be wise in what you allow your mind and heart to feed on (junk food or nutritious meals) as this will determine what you are becoming as a person and as a leader.

Regarding people, you will, of course, want to help, encourage and disciple all kinds of people; but the question here is who are your very best friends? Those whom you let into your inner circle, these will impact you in one direction or the other.  Get to know lots of people, befriend lots of people and minister to lots of different kinds of people; but be careful whom you allow to get closest to you and your heart. Choose carefully!

Many years ago, I memorized Proverbs 6:27,28. Here it is in the NLT: “Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?”  The answer is emphatically, NO! We are significantly affected by fire and hot coals. Likewise, we are significantly affected by anything we choose to closely associate with over an extended period of time.  

There is incredible power for good when our associations are good and there is incredible power for bad when are associations are bad.  

I don’t know about you, but this concept is highly motivating for me in making good choices and stewarding well who and what I allow to find a lasting and somewhat permanent home in my relational network and in my mental library.  I have only so much time and energy and want to invest well for the long haul. I need lots of grace and wisdom in this.

Here are a few questions to ponder:

  1. Are your really close friends (those whom you spend a lot of time with) pulling you upward or dragging you downward?
  2. What have you been feeding your mind and soul on lately?  What kinds of movies, music, TV shows and literature are you mostly occupied with?
  3. What do you need to stop doing or start doing to benefit from the power of good associations?

I would love to hear from you on your experience with this and your thoughts on it.