Finding Your Tribe

It is so rare to find that person that you click with. That one you find intriguing and have a desire to get to know better. But when you come across one, you know it, there is a spark. I can meet one hundred new people, be friendly and kind to them all, but at the end of the day I know when I’ve bumped into someone “special”.

Today I guess we would say those special people make up our “tribe”. The only reason I even started thinking along these lines is because, to my surprise, the other day I looked at a picture of a group of people I’ve known for years. We’ve hung out, we have some similar interests, I like them all…but when I looked at the photo, I instinctively said inside myself, “This is not my tribe.” That reaction surprised me and I thought about it all day.

On the other hand, I’ve got a few people in my life that I feel exactly the opposite about. I have friends who live halfway around the world, or several states away, and I might go a long time without seeing them, yet I feel more near to them than those who I see on a regular basis.

With the ability to meet people online, it is the same. You can connect with a large number of people: friends of friends, friends of no one, distant acquaintances and even long lost relatives…yet when you come across that one person, that special individual, the one who you become curious about and you think about them on a whole different level…then you know you’ve found a potential tribe member. The best way I can describe it is that you get a small glimpse into their heart and you desire a better view. There is a spark! Don’t ignore the spark! 

So what is a tribe anyway? A tribe is defined as a social group of persons having the same character, occupation or interest. It’s a circle you feel welcome in, you lose the round-peg-in-a-square-hole feeling. Even Jesus had a tribe–his twelve disciples and the women who followed and ministered to him. And not all members may stay in your tribe for life. Some might be in your tribe for awhile, even a long while. Then, for whatever reason, you grow apart. But that’s okay, because it makes room for a new member to join the tribe.

And, listen, a tribe is not made up of clones. Far from it. Yes, there is probably something similar that bonds you all together, but you can be a tribe and have differences–lots of them. God told Jeremiah in chapter 1, verse 5, “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you. (The Message Bible) God had a specific mold that we each came out of. And although some have similar callings, anointings, personalities–we are all different in some way. That is what makes the tribe so beautiful. Your tribe may all march to the same drumbeat, yet some skip, some hop, some twirl, some walk faster than others, but you are traveling the same road.

Look at Jesus’ tribe. Tax collector, fishermen, a woman previously full of devils! Imagine the dynamic and conversation in that group. They all brought something different to the table, yet they all followed Jesus…closely.

One of the best pictures of a tribe I’ve seen was in the movie, “Under The Tuscan Sun”. After a devastating divorce, an American woman goes on a tour of Italy and impulsively buys a villa there to escape her pain. Her Asian friend from America later joins her. The tribe grows as their lives become intertwined with their Italian neighbors and a group of Polish construction workers who restore her villa. There are multiple languages being spoken–in the beginning of the relationships they barely understand one another–but after time they grow into a beautiful tribe. They share meals and holidays together, find ways to communicate, laugh, cry and most of all they grow together, each one learning something valuable from another member of the tribe. The dynamic is like a beautiful flower blooming.

So how do you detect when someone is not part of your tribe? Well, do you feel like a square peg in a round hole? When you are with those you spend time with, do you really want to be there? Do you laugh at things that aren’t funny? Do you feel welcome? If you knew the world was going to end next week, would you want to spend your final days with the people you currently hang around?

I once had a boss who was quite greedy, yet I had to spend many hours each week with him. Because of the greed, he was a harsh taskmaster to work for. He knew no boundaries. There were days when his demands were so over-the-top I could feel my heart pounding in my chest and head. When he would call me to his office I would pray, “God, please do not let me have a heart attack or stroke from this stress.” One day I realized that he was sapping the very life out of my spirit and soul. I went on an eight-day trip to France and savored every second of it. My life was changed. I knew I could no longer go back and simply exist to put more money in one man’s pocket. He was not my tribe. Sometimes you get closer to your real tribe when you move away from those who are not in your tribe. I left that job two months later and my life dramatically changed for the better–so did my health!

And when you do find a tribe member, be sure to appreciate them. I know someone who loves to play online video games and told me the other day that he would not know what he would do without his gaming friends. They have played together for many years. Even though they live in different states, they even send one another Christmas presents. He said, “When I’m going through a tough time at work, I know I can come home and relax online with my friends. I’m so glad they are in my life.” Wow! He found a tribe.

I know another person who moved 2000 miles away from his best friend almost ten years ago. Yet the two have spent their vacations together throughout the years. They are now getting ready for an Alaskan cruise. They belong to the same tribe and distance makes no difference.

Do you have a tribe? When you come across one of those “special people”, one that makes your heart go pitter-patter, don’t just dismiss it. Find out why they have that effect on you. Get to know them better. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Ask questions. Show interest. They could be part of your tribe.

Life is short and is meant to be enjoyed. Stop filling your life with Pharaohs and half-hearted relationships. The Bible says if you want to have friends, you must show yourself friendly. The next time you come across one of those “one in a hundred people,” get to know them. Don’t just let them slip by. They may be the exact person you need in your tribe! It may be the very one who will enrich your life and fill a void no one else can.

God is the God of a second chance. If you have lost a tribe member or it’s time for some new ones, trust God to bring them into your life. When the spark happens, don’t let it just fizzle out. Fan the flame, keep it alive, step out and find out if this person is a new member of your tribe!