"Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher."
This has to be one of the dumbest quotes I've come across lately. I understand the general sentiment; Don't surround yourself with idiots lest you become one. That's just plain common sense and also biblically supported.* Oprah takes it to a whole nother level. She wrapped her words up in a pretty package, but the heart of her statement is unnerving. Another way to phrase this gem could be "Only befriend people who can benefit you, and forget about the people who need you but have nothing to offer in return." It's not quite as notable, and it won't easily fit on a bumper sticker, but isn't that essentially what has been suggested?
May I flip this quote on it's tail? Love those who have nothing to offer you, and your true character will shine through.
It's risky. It most assuredly can get messy and ugly.
In a beautiful kind of way.
All day I am surrounded by little urchins who bless me, yes, but cannot give much back to me. I am called to give of myself unreservedly, just as God gives of Himself to His children. Consider the orphan, redeemed into a family from a ghostly existence in a soiled crib. Consider the parents who embrace their special needs son/daughter, and face the stares and whispered comments with each outing. Consider the church with a homeless ministry on Saturdays, watching the same alcoholics take food and shampoo week after week. Consider grown children taking care of their aging parents, attempting to offer dignity till the end. Consider the volunteers in a counseling center or those who mentor foster kids, or lead a prison ministry. According to this quote, we shouldn't consider any of them. I certainly don't see Jesus modeling this self-absorbed formula for success. May I suggest that Jesus wants us to surround ourselves with the so-called loathsome mire of this world? How else can we possibly reach them unless we enter their ugliness? Their pain? I stand to lose myself and gain nothing, which is exactly where God begins to roll up His sleeves and use me in a tangible, life-changing way.
My beef is with four letters in the above quote: O-N-L-Y. There is a balance. Yes, we need people who sharpen us, challenge us, mentor us (which I'm assuming is what's meant by "lift you higher").** Those people, by hanging out with me, are befriending someone who may not be able to offer something in return. I am bettered, but not they. In turn, I need to be that person in the lives of others. This, by the way, is also biblical. ***
I'm sorely out of balance. I confess that and am asking God to pour me out to His people for the sake of His gospel.
Whether they can offer diddly-squat to me or not.
P.S. Oprah didn't return my calls to verify her as the source of this quote, neither did she thank me for her Cornball Quote Award. Oprah, if you didn't say this, I apologize and please return the Cornball Trophy. Regardless, someone said it, and whether it was Oprah or Joe the Plumber, my opinion remains unchanged.
* The book of Proverbs is a classic example.
**In other words, offer a general slapping upside the head as needed.
***That whole Titus-2-older-women-teach-the-younger-women thing. Of which I'm no longer certain if I'm the younger woman or the older. Rats.