Think about your friends. Who has your back? Who pulls you up when you’re feeling down? Who are you ready to encourage? The truth is that the good life isn’t about possessions but people. And your relationships are some of your most valuable treasures.
In 11 INDISPENSABLE RELATIONSHIPS YOU CAN’T BE WITHOUT! Leonard Sweet examines a series of types of people you need in your life. He even goes so far as to say that without these individuals, you’ll miss out on the person you could have been --- and there’s a good chance he’s right!
In each chapter, Sweet examines a man or woman from the Bible who represents someone we need in our lives. So who do you need in your life? You need a “Nathan.” You need a person who, like an editor, will encourage your best work but redline your unbecoming behavior and attitude. You need a person who can help you become the best possible version of you and love you for the journey. You need a “Jonathan,” a true friend who will stick by you closer than a brother. Then you need a “Jethro,” a person Sweet calls a “butt-kicker.” You can probably think of a few of these already. They are the people who aren’t afraid to challenge you and encourage you to try new things and take risks. You also need a “Timothy.” Just as Timothy was a protégé of Paul, you need someone who you’re mentoring and pouring your life into. Who are you investing in? Who are you raising up? Who are you passing the baton of faith onto in your life? These and other individuals are essential to your development and growth, not just as a person but as a follower of Christ.
Tightly written, focused and well-organized, the book is loaded with profound quotes and anecdotes. But the best stories tend to be Sweet’s own. In one chapter, he tells of an odd-smelling woman who hugged him each day while at church. Before she died, she wanted to leave everything she had to Sweet, but he refused. He explained that the infusion of money would hurt his ministry and that she would be far better off giving to the local church. When she passed away, she gave large sums to various people --- including those she barely knew --- because she could not bring herself to give to an institution. Sweet says he did not recognize the “Lydia” God has placed in his life.
Overall, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Loaded with wonderful turns of phrase, puns and wit, the chapters are both insightful and thought-provoking. The Biblical stories and references are well-timed and well-placed, and illuminate fresh angles on familiar scriptures.
In an age when people have far more friends on Facebook and MySpace than in real life, 11 INDISPENSABLE RELATIONSHIPS YOU CAN’T BE WITHOUT! is a book that needs to be read and reread.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on April 1, 2008