Radical: (adjective) Relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
There are many definitions for the word radical, but how often do we associate it with relationships? For years, I have heard many people say they want to have a love that is radical, but I have always wondered if most people understand what that looks like. This definition of radical says that it has to be something that affects the fundamental nature of something or for our purposes we would have to say someone. Does that mean you do something that so blows the mind of someone else that they have to change how they live? If so what does that look like?
Most people would point to the examples of people who have physically laid down their lives for someone else as the definition of radical, but I would say that isn't the only way radical love is displayed. Radical love can simply be the willingness to go beyond what most would be willing to do to show how much they care. Mentoring is a radical love. The very nature of mentoring is the willingness to give more of yourself than what most others would in order to affect lasting change in the life of another person.
I recently had a conversation with one of my athlete friends ;Michael, before we hit the gym and asked him who was it in his life that led him on the path of lasting change. Here is what he had to say;
The first meaningful interaction I had with the Lord came my junior year of high
school. I assist in the coaching of the boys 7th grade A team with my former middle school teacher and basketball coach, Mr. Low. After we finished practice on a Friday, he said they were short handed for the middle school FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) huddle and I agreed to stick around to help out. During the downtime we were chatting and he asked me what I thought about God. I had never been asked this question before, or considered where I stood in my faith.
Fast forward close to three years later to September 17th, 2017 and I am being baptized by the same man who planted that initial seed. God knew what he was doing when He chose Mr. Low to speak through. Mr. Low had always truly taught, coached, and interacted in a way that seemed radical to me. I never quite understood why he cared so much for every single one of his students and players. We were more than test scores, numbers on a stat line, or an opportunity to receive accolades from, we were family. I respected him in a way I respected few and God used that to reach me. Had Mr. Low not intentionally taught, coached, and conducted his life in an intentionally “radical” manner, my life would be much different today than it is. I routinely see Mr. Low at least once a week as he mentors me to be a loving man of God. I strive to live my life in a manner similar to Mr. Low’s that reflects 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”. This lifestyle, which seems radical by earthly standards, is my goal.
What Mr. Low did for Michael wasn't out of the ordinary for him, but to Michael and others, it was a radical way to live life. We are always looking for the spectacular thing, the big bold move that just blows our collective minds, but being radical doesn't have to take all that. It can be as simple as being who you are. The desire to affect change is all you need to start your journey towards radical living. There are a few qualities that you need to have in order to live a R.A.D.I.C.A.L life:
Realistic - Live up to what you already have accomplished. No need to make grand gestures to prove how "Radical" you are. "Be who you are, not who you ain't"
Altruistic - Have an unselfish concern for others around you and their welfare.
Dedicated - Committed to be there for the long haul. Life change doesn't happen overnight, it can get rough at times but that's when you have to see the bigger picture.
Intentional - It doesn't just happen, You have to purpose to invest in others. What you do has to lead somewhere.
Consistent - Stick to the script! You actions and behaviors have to follow the same pattern. No matter the situation, genuine people always follow the same good behavior patterns.
Assertive - You have to go after it! Rarely do they chase you down. You have to be ready as soon as you recognize their potential (we'll talk about that in a later post)
Loving - This goes without saying. there has to be a love for people. The old saying goes, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
As I look back on my own life, I can see where the R.A.D.I.C.A.L. people I have allowed into my life have gone out of their way to walk beside me. I think of my friend Casey from college who be all means didn't have to befriend this tall musician/basketball player who was in the band with him. For Casey it wasn’t out of the norm for him to reach beyond himself and befriend someone who most wouldn’t expect him to. After all, what would a trombone playing, basketball loving white upperclassmen from a small farm community have to do with an African-american freshman, basketball obsessed, musician from the suburbs. Our common bond was music and basketball. Those two things served as the foundation for a relationship that would majorly impact my spiritual and personal development to this day
He completely invested in me as a person. He was in it for the long haul, he was genuinely interested in me and my well being! I had never met anyone like him before and what he did for me fundamentally changed me forever. I had always known that I wanted to help others but I didn't know how I was going to do it. I thought it was by majoring in psychology and becoming some sort of counselor that had people come into an office and talking through their issues. He demonstrated that it was about genuinely caring for someone else's long term well being.
People can spot a "fake" a mile away. You can't see people as a means to an end, but you have to first love them as they are and then you will be able to love them towards who they are supposed to be! It has to be about the relationship first. If you are just seeing that person as a goal then you have missed the whole point. I was challenged once with a simple question: "If you were about to approach an new person and an audible voice told you that they would never accept your message, would you still approach them?" If your answer is no, then you need to walk away but if your answer is yes, then you are in it for the right reasons
When you come alongside them, you are simply embarking on a journey of discovery that will hopefully result in them becoming all they were intended to be. You are not trying to turn them into another version of yourself. They were created to have their own unique qualities that make them who they are. Now along the way if they pick up a few of your qualities, habits or whatever then it simply means that you are having an influence on them, hopefully a positive one!
R.A.D.I.C.A.L. people understand that they have to lay aside their own lives/agendas for the sake of others. It's the greatest form of love there is. Jesus Christ himself said it, he commanded it;
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)
Although he was speaking about what he was about to do, He also is calling us to demonstrate the same kind of love in how we relate to one another. It's a love that goes beyond yourself and puts that other person ahead of you. A love that can lead to a fundamental change in that person. That is the ultimate definition of radical! It's supposed to be the norm, not the exception. Mentors, Ironsharpeners, true leaders not only embrace and understand this, they live it and share it with others who will pass on the same thing.
In our next post, we will talk about how to recognize those people who we should invest ourselves in and how we go about becoming "Better Together"!
Stay Forever Strong!!!