I was impressed, I received a response back from my pastor within 24 hours. (When I email Pastor B, it sometimes takes several days–what a nice surprise!)
Here is his response, which I think I still have a few issues with but we’ll see after I process it . . . .
You are never bothering me with what God is doing in your life. I think it is the coolest thing ever to have someone interacting with a truth that God put on my heart to share.
You brought up some awesome points about how difficult it is to live this truth out in our lives. And I have to say how impressed I am with your note taking … color coded even!
I can totally relate to where you are coming from in relationships that are you giving and the other taking. I think it is a natural part of living for others that there will always be a majority that are glad to oblige us and take what we’re offering without thinking of giving back. I wonder if that is how Jesus felt most of the time in His life, always giving and everyone always taking. I have struggled with this in my own family and with close friends, but I promise there will be people that come into your life that want to give back. They will be few and far between, but when you find them don’t let go, and as a matter of fact you will be inspired to give and give some more.
Unfortunately there is no time frame on this reaping and sowing principle of relationships, but it is a promise that if you keep planting the right kind of seeds eventually you will reap the benefits. That said, God needs to stay in charge of what we are giving and how much it cost. As you mentioned, you can easily burn out on all relationships that never give back. Ask God about how much you should give to any one person and what you can afford in time, emotion, money, etc so you don’t get burned out. Pray about finding relationships with people who are givers like you. It won’t happen quickly, but it WILL happen. I can’t tell you how many times I have helped people out at their own house projects just to show them love, but I am 41 years old and this is the first project [two guys tore down and rebuilt his deck over the weekend out of the blue] of any significance that has been gifted to me. I find huge satisfaction from that but it didn’t happen over night or even over a few years. I have not done this perfectly nor have I done it without breaks of personal satisfaction, but I really try to make it a life-style of living in relationships that I give without thinking of getting something back. Over the years God has blessed me with great friendships but not without those occasional heartaches and disappointments.
Some clarification –
Just because you have bad friends doesn’t make you a bad person – Jesus had lots of bad friends! My point there was that if you want friends who serve you, be a servant and eventually you will find them. You may even find them while serving, two friends of mine who are now married met on their first missions trip together.
Heartbreak doesn’t just come from serving, but also from serving bad people – You need to be careful how you give to them in some sense. In other words if someone is abusive to me while I am giving to them, I am not going to enable that behavior by continuing to give to them. I am going to confront them with their issue in hopes to win them and if we stay in relationship I will find a way to love them without subjecting myself to their abuse. God does not want me to be a punching bag. There is a difference between serving someone and being their sparing partner. I can’t help someone who doesn’t want my help.
Building great friendships is more involved than just serving people – My greatest friends are a few people who God has brought and is bringing into my life that want to serve me as much as I want to serve them. This has been a process my entire adult life and one that continues on forever. There are many great relational building things that needed to happen along the way to build great relationships, serving was the foundation for them, but still there were more; like time spent, commonality, personality, etc.
I hope this helps a little to further the discussion in your heart with this awesome truth, but please know that I would be more than happy to sit down or talk some more about relationships and get more specific to answer your questions better. Let me know if you ever want to get together or talk on the phone and I’m in.