I don’t have a nice yard. I’ve never been good at keeping the grass thick and green. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure it’s tied to some character flaw. I’m reminded of this every time I mow the lawn, and I use the term loosely. It’s more like patches of lawn interspersed with patches of dirt. As much dust and dirt fly out of my mower as grass clippings. But this mowing season there’s been an interesting development.


My neighbors have a nice lawn, and an even nicer lawn this year. This spring they rooted up all their grass and had a sprinkler system installed. Then they had all new grass brought in and, with the sprinkler system working its magic, their lawn was better than ever. Each day, evidence of an early morning watering left their glittering, green lawn mocking me as I walked through my dry and drooping yard.


As spring moved into summer my neighbor’s lawn continued to flourish while mine continued to wilt under the hot Texas sun. Then one day while mowing, I noticed something. I got to a section of my lawn and the mower, which normally glides over my balding yard and met some resistance. The grass was thick. The grass was green. What was going on? I hadn’t treated this part of the lawn any differently. Almost magically a small section of my lawn was a landscaper’s dream. It didn’t take long to solve the mystery.


The section of my newly flourishing lawn was on the property line that borders the neighbor with the recently installed sprinkler system. Apparently, there’s an east wind that blows just enough to coax some of the life-giving water from their sprinklers onto my lawn. It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t anything that I had done. It was simply being in proximity to someone who cares.


Life is like my lawn.


We are affected by those we are close to. Surround yourself with negative, pessimistic, foolish people and you’ll soon find that attitude infecting you. Surround yourself with positive, optimistic, wise people and you’ll soon find those attitudes infecting you. There’s a wind in our lives that causes the beliefs and habits of others to blow into our lives affecting us either negatively or positively. That’s why it is so important to choose your neighbors wisely.


Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, said, “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people…or find a different room. In professional circles it’s called networking. In organizations it’s called team building. And in life it’s called family, friends, and community. We are all gifts to each other, and my own growth as a leader has shown me again and again that the most rewarding experiences come from my relationships.”


Scripture confirms it: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Proverbs 22:24–25)


If you want a healthy and flourishing life it is essential for you to be part of a wise, life-giving community. It’s mandatory to be in proximity to people who speak life-giving truth into your life. There are many ways to accomplish that but let me remind you that that’s one of the functions of church. One of the benefits of worship, Bible study, preaching, and fellowship is the creation of positive borders in our lives. In church we place ourselves in a position to be nourished by the insight of others and, more importantly, to let the wind of God’s wisdom blow into our lives.


Todd Catteau is the preaching minister for the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison. He and his wife, Henriann, have four children and two grandsons. He is a native of Massachusetts and loves his Boston sports teams. His writings and links to sermons can be found at catteau.net. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.