I spent the past several days with the Stinklings. The Stinklings are three of my closest friends. We’re all about the same age. We all lead churches of about the same size. And we all want to “stay in the game” for the long haul.

Unfortunately, only about 25% of Senior Pastors of large churches finish well. The vast majority mess up morally, get involved in financial improprieties . . . you’ve seen the wreckage on the news. So how do we increase our odds of finishing well?

For me it means building some very solid relationships with guys I trust. We get together about every three months. Sometimes we work and sometimes we play. Always we ask each other hard questions: How are you doing in life and ministry? Are you maintaining a healthy Spiritual life? How’s your marriage? Are you spending time with your kids? The list of questions goes on and on.

The Stinklings all live in different geographical areas but that doesn’t stop us from getting together. We make it a point to have dinner at a particular conference we’re all attending. This past winter we met in Wisconsin and went snowmobiling together. Our most recent gathering was right here in Northern Ohio. Three days of beautiful golf. Steak at Baker’s. Barberton chicken. I shared all of my favorite things.

The best night was the night we had a bonfire at my house. We sat around it for several hours and simply talked about life and God and how everything was going. It was the most important time of our gathering in Ohio.

Proverbs 27:17 says, As iron sharpens iron, so one friend helps another stay sharp. Who do you have in your life that is helping you “stay sharp?” Who do you have in your life that is helping you “stay in the game?” Who is willing, in a very loving way, to ask you the “hard questions?”

Life is hard. With the current divorce rate hovering around 50%. With the lives of our children being assaulted by media, peer pressure . . . you name it. With financial pressures on the rise. Who do you have that is walking alongside of you? Who will pick you up if you fall down?

That’s why I have the Stinklings. Oh, and the name the Stinklings, comes from a group that author C. S. Lewis used to meet with. Only his group was called the Inklings. We didn’t consider ourselves worthy of the Inklings so we stuck with the Stinklings.