The old Beatles song, “I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends,” rang in my head as I watched our friend Dan, supported on both sides with his arms around the neck of my husband and Dan’s 20-year-old son. We were mid-way through a day’s hike in the mountains. Dan, the leader of dozens of expeditions and a knowledgeable woodsman, was weaving back and forth on the trail, answering our worried questions with slow, dreamy responses. He had begun to walk into trees and stumble and fall.
As our concerns for his health and safety grew, we made the decision to abort our hike and, over the course of several hours, picked our way painfully slowly back to the parking area, with Dan’s arms draped around the necks of his friend and son.
With their help, Dan made it safely down the mountain.
This image reminds me of another man whose leadership was dependent upon his friends.
In Exodus 17:10-13, the warriors of Amalek have come to fight against the people of Israel. As long as Moses holds up the “rod of God,” Joshua and his troops are winning the battle. But when Moses lowers his tired arms to rest them, the soldiers of Amalek begin to win.
“Moses’ arms finally became too tired to hold up the rod any longer; so Aaron and Hur rolled a stone for him to sit on, and they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset.”
As a result, Israel crushes the army of Amalek.
At crucial times in our work, our friends can literally hold us up by our arms, enabling us to finish what we have been called to start. Theologian Greg Jones calls these trusted relationships “holy friendships.” He writes, “Holy friends challenge the sins we have come to love, affirm the gifts we are afraid to claim and help us dream dreams we otherwise would not dream.”
These friends are not mere acquaintances, but people with whom we spend quality time; share our deepest thoughts, fears and hopes; and whom we trust to support us in our callings.
God does not intend for leaders to be lone rangers as we accomplish our callings. Nor should we be embarrassed to admit we need the help of others.
Jones writes, “Holy friends help us envision and articulate the significance of Ephesians 3:20: ‘Now to [God] who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine ….’ How often do we believe that God’s power is at work within us, not only to accomplish all we can ask or imagine -- which itself would be beyond what most of us dream of -- but to accomplish ‘abundantly far more’ than all we can ask or imagine?”
Had Moses or our friend Dan not had helpers while they were in the wilderness, they might have encountered serious trouble. God meets us in our wilderness and helps us accomplish our work, sometimes with a little help from our friends.