Real-Life Spotters - Part 2
Part 2: What it Should Look Like
In Part 1, we talked about the importance of community and “Real-Life Spotters”. We dove into the fruits of community (growth, strength, accountability, and security), showing how those fruits are both received and given. So after convincing you how important community is, we have to ask, “What does this community thing even look like??”
When you hear “Real-Life Spotters” you may think of “accountability partners.” For whatever reason, the term “accountability partner” just carries an odd taste in my mouth. It feels serious, awkward, difficult, and weirdly impersonal while being all up in your business. Yet, when you describe what an accountability partner is and what they should do, you realize that's what a true friend is. We do not need accountability partners, we need real friends!
"We do not need accountability partners, we need real friends!"
Sometimes the term “friend” is like the word “love”. We use “love” to describe how we feel about pizza and we use “friend” for the person we just met, as in, “Nice to meet you, friend.” But we also use “love” to describe how we would lay down our life every single day for our spouse and “friend” for a person we tell all our troubles and secrets to.
So what do these “real friends” look like?
- Live life together
- Fraternal correction
- Readiness to help/serve/lend strength
- Rooted in Christ (Acts 2:42)
Live life together
It’s as simple as that; be an active part of each other's lives for the sake of truly loving each other and being friends. Have meals together. Do dumb stuff together, like dress up in lederhosen and go to your local beer hall in April just because. Go to Mass together. Complain about your work days. Celebrate your victories. Come together to overcome obstacles. Hike up mountains just to run back down them. Build a new bar for your apartment together. Go camping. Literally live and share life together. It’s through these experiences that we build the trust and camaraderie necessary to be able to rely on each other in the tough moments. And when these friends come to you for help, you’re able to respond with love and understanding because you know them and their heart.
My best friend Ryan is a master of fraternal correction. When a wrong has been done, he processes it in order to assure his response isn’t just a kneejerk reaction. He then promptly takes the next opportunity for one-on-one time, and with genuineness and love, he presents the problem.
His presentation of the problem is never a personal attack; rather, it’s done in a manner of standing alongside you so that you can look at the problem together.
I struggle with being able to explain how he does this or what it looks like, and I don’t think I need to. What matters is having this mindset. You no longer approach your friend and his problem, but approach the problem alongside your friend. When you can do that, you’ve figured out proper fraternal correction.
When you live life together, you’ll inevitably hurt one another. What matters most is not how you hurt each other, but how you deal with that hurt. Fraternal correction does not dismiss the sin; it addresses the sin.
"the problem is never a personal attack; rather, it’s done in a manner of standing alongside you so that you can look at the problem together"
Readiness to Serve/Help/Lend Strength - Servitude
Relationships are not always 50/50, sometimes they have to be 80/20. Always be ready to pitch in the 80, or, if necessary, to accept the 80 when you can only give 20.
I think of another quote from my boy, Gilbert Chesterton:
“Christianity is like a huge and ragged and romantic rock, which, though it sways on its pedestal at a touch, yet, because it's exaggerated excrescences exactly balance each other, is enthroned there for a thousand years.”
He talks of this rock that is very abnormally shaped and how its shape continues to change, yet it still remains in balance. A solid community is able to do exactly that same balancing act. As one person begins to slip, others can step in to pick up that slack. Allowing others to teach us how to work through our weaknesses while we all offer our strengths will continue to balance and fortify that rock.
The point of service is to give yourself as a sincere gift to others. That means you don’t expect to get anything from them; it’s a gift. This is much harder said than done, of course. Especially when the person we choose to serve is difficult to handle at times.
This leads to a discussion on consistency. As you know, going to the gym is a habit, which, by definition, is being consistent. It’s disappointing when you think you can rely on someone to “spot you” and they fail you either by not showing up, or “ghosting”. This kind of failure is part of our brokenness, but it can be overcome through diligence and virtue. When I look for someone to be spotter, I take a look at their actions and see how consistent they are with follow-through, regardless of the situation. They may not do “big” things with you or for you, but consistency is an indicator of stability, perseverance, and loyalty.
Rooted in Christ (Acts 2:42)
“They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to breaking of the bread and to prayer.”
Friendship must be rooted in and remain in the context of Christ. I’m not saying you can’t have non-Christian friends; in fact, you should. In order for your friend group to properly support, encourage, challenge, and correct each other, though, they must have the right ideals to hold to which, of course, come from Christ. What better example of a life-changing Christian community than the early Church? They would gather to learn the Apostles’ teachings, to partake in fellowship, to break bread, and to pray. This gives us a beautiful model for how to live life with our modern companions. We ought to dive into the Word together in Bible studies (teaching), gather together for the mundane day-to-day and for the fun and crazy (fellowship), and break bread, both literally at meals and in the Mass through the Eucharist (prayer).
"Friendship must be rooted in and remain in the context of Christ"
Community is essential to the Christian life. It has to be lived out in the little parts of daily life where we interact with others. Life happens in the small, in-between moments where choices are made to love and not tear down. Pursuing community in this way is difficult. It requires patience and perseverance and it hurts sometimes. But it cuts to the heart of what it means to be Christ-like. We find community when we find Jesus in our neighbor and choose to love him well and are able to receive that same love from him.
In His strength,