I was asked a couple of days ago by the director of a retreat center how we keep workers healthy. Both of my answers were one thing in two directions. I think every one of us know of situations close to us of moral failure. We all sin. However, we have seen friends, leaders, or co-workers whose lives have exploded because of sin, sending shrapnel in all directions.

The autopsies of those situations are insightful. There are always temptations that were not resisted that nudged the person closer and closer to the edge, until he or she tumbled down the cliff. Resisting is essential. That is the saying “no” side of the equation. What I’m highlighting in this article is what we say “yes” to.

A couple of weeks ago I shared insights from Toyota’s approach to manufacturing as it applies to the Christian life. For Toyota, the greatest energy is not put into finding the defective parts at the end of the assembly line. Inspection isn’t as important as the process of making the components of each car in the first place. Are the machines that make the parts working right? Do the operators of those machines have the authority to stop the assembly line if things are not working right? It’s about improving the process, not improving inspection of the finished product. In your life, are you concerned with passing inspection or the process of becoming like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

The answer I gave to that director regarding how we keep workers healthy was very simple. I think these two things correspond with improving who we are becoming, not inspecting who we have become. My one answer was relationship. I know this is basic, but essential. There are two directions that relationship takes. I would submit we have to have a healthy relationship vertically with the Father and healthy relationships horizontally with friends.

1. Intimacy with the Father.

Are you deepening your vertical relationship with the Father? There is no substitute for a follower of Jesus than hearing the voice of God. When was the last time you read a verse or two of Scripture and simply asked, “What does this say about you, God?” He is as ready to speak as you are to listen. I post a short passage everyday that poses the two questions of what it says about God and me. You can check it out here.

2. Honest friendships.

Do you have any friends? Jack Deere has asked, “If Jesus thought it was important to have close friendships while he was on earth, how much more do we need friends in our lives?” You must have people in your life with whom you can be yourself. Do you have anyone (beside your spouse) that you can acknowledge discouragement, frustration, and failings to? I am honored that many of you have felt safe enough to call me during hard times. It is a lie of the evil one that you are alone.

God has us climbing a mountain in this high calling (Philippians 3:14), so there will always be conversations about falling off cliffs. May we be so absorbed in the ascent, though, that we stay strong all the way to the peak.

  1. The 3 Privileges and 3 Temptations of Leadership by Rick Warren
  2. Living A Transformed Life Adequate To Our Calling by Dallas Willard
  3. Alone with His Sin by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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