I’ve heard it said that a person is the average of the five people they spend the most time with.  While that may not be entirely true – if that were the case I’d be the average of my officemates (scary!) – I do wonder sometimes if God puts people in our lives in order to draw out or develop a latent personality trait.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about some things, but they have mostly been weather related.  The quickest way to buy my friendship is with pictures of clouds; I just can’t get enough.  However, in other important aspects of my life, such as my relationship with God, enthusiasm has been lacking.  Sure, I experience the spiritual high after a conference or retreat, but it never lasts once I get back to the real world.  Over the last year or so, I think that God has been putting people in my life who are incredibly enthusiastic about their faith and life in general.  As a result, I’ve become much more excited about my relationship with God and truly living it out in my mission field (i.e. grad school).

As an example, Tyler and I recently joined a small group at the church we attend.  When we introduced ourselves, I mentioned that I will be graduating sometime in the next year.  Afterward, one of the members of the group – whom I had just met that night – almost immediately approached me to tell me about a class for graduating students that he was teaching at the church.  Before I knew what was happening, he had my e-mail address and phone number and was planning to get me a copy of the book they were reading.  I went the next Sunday, and it turned out to be a great class in which I learned a lot.  This same small group member is now spearheading an effort to get the group (and group members’ children, where applicable) together to read the entire New Testament in eight weeks.  He is also just about to start building a new house.  Talk about enthusiasm!

The same could be said of many of the members of my Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) small group.  I could go on and on about the ways they have positively impacted my life over the last 16 months, but one thing all of them share (or at least seem to) is a genuine excitement about their faith.  Out of this comes a true compassion for the other members, such that it is not uncommon for one of them to ask me about something I mentioned as a prayer request weeks earlier.  Not that they are only concerned with those close to them; one of them came to our summer reading group last week absolutely livid about an article she had read about human trafficking in the U.S.  That was quite convicting to me, as I tend to read articles like that and just assume they have been overblown by the media rather than feeling the anger that God must feel at these situations.

Faced with such examples of excitement and enthusiasm, I realized that my own life was quite lacking in these qualities.  The last few months have been quite the journey as I have attempted to cultivate a passion for others, for justice, and for God.  The results shocked me – my relationships seem deeper, I hear God’s voice more clearly, and my attention is more God-centered and less me-centered.  In this case, God used people he had put in my life who all shared a common personality trait to develop that trait in me.   We all have friends who share common qualities; could it be that God is using those friends to develop us and make us more like Him?