“Ey up, Boss man”

These were the words I used to enjoy hearing from the lady I called “the deaf gobby one”. I first met Chris in 2004 when I was considering an invitation to the circuit that her Church was in. We hit it off immediately and whilst she called me “boss man” I always knew who was really in charge. Chris passed away this week and although I haven’t been her Minister for 10 years + we retained a friendship after I left. Chris was my ‘go to’ person for support, for advice and both were honestly (and often loudly) given.

Sometimes in life we just want folk to see things our way; to give us the answers that suit us but life doesn’t work out that way. I always knew where I stood with Chris because her views were always given but never with a desire to have her own way and certainly not with an intention to hurt. And that is friendship.

Some folk associate friendship with simple agreement and the moment a friend disagrees there is fallout. I believe that true friendship is where there can be disagreements but not a falling out; where there is an honest exchange of views but not hurtful; where opposing concepts, ideas, and visions can be developed between people. I had that with Chris, as I have had with others throughout my Ministry and sometimes that support and sharing can come from surprising sources. If I only sought out those who were ‘yes-people’ I would never grow, develop and journey in my faith for its when others have presented alternative ideas to me that I’ve been able to see things differently.

Whats your vision for your direction in life ? Currently for me its exploring the notion of an arts based Church and already I have folk in my current circuit who are challenging my ideas with the detail I’m not good at and what have I found ? The idea has expanded to include the possibility of an online, streaming studio, a performance area, an exhibition gallery and so much more. At the heart of it will be a cafe Church to explore faith. The important thing is not to surround yourself not simply with people who are going to agree with you endlessly, but to have the quality of friends who will question, challenge and point out difficulties but who will remain with you should the vision now work out.

Who are you surrounding yourself with ? Is it people who care enough for you to stop you going down the wrong road, but who will still walk with you when you return with your tail between your legs ? Growth is alongside those who will encourage you to flourish not those who would put you down and discourage.

What are you doing for others ? In life there are those who simply take and seek to squeeze everything from you that benefits them, and there are those who seek the best for you and enhance your life. the famous book by Charles Kingsley “the water babies” has a character called Mrs-do-as-you-would-be done by and it challenges us into treating others as we would hope they would treat us. I believe that in order to reap the benefits of good friendships we need to be people who are good friends in the first place. People are attracted to others who not only speak of respect, tolerance, loyalty, patience, and who look for the best in others and in the world. In other words if we treat others in the way we hope they would treat us, then like-minded folk are attracted to us.

Chris was such a person; I will miss her but Im pretty sure that when I arrive at the pearly gates there’ll be a voice shouting loudly “Ey up Boss Man” and I’ll reply “how do, my deaf, gobby one, my friend

Value your friends, choose them wisely and ensure that you treat them well