Summary: Your friends will influence and possibly determine the direction and the quality of your life.
We’re in the second part of this series Guardrails, and if you were here last week, or if
you joined us online last week, we talked about physical guardrails. Guardrails are things we
don’t pay much attention to and we don’t really think about them until we hit one. When we hit
one, it’s probably because we needed one. Now, you’ve seen guardrails your whole life and
you’ve avoided guardrails your whole life, but you probably didn’t know the definition, so I
want to give you the official definition of a guardrail because it sets us up for this entire series. A
guardrail is a system designed—system is a key word—it’s a system designed to keep vehicles
from straying (big word there), from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas. That’s what a
guardrail does. A guardrail is designed to take the impact, and in taking the impact, damage your
car, and in some cases damage your body. But the idea of a guardrail is to keep the damage from being as bad as it could have been and should have been. Because guardrails are placed on
dangerous parts of the road, bridges, intersections, curves, and oftentimes medians when we’re
close to oncoming traffic. The whole idea of a guardrail is to create a small accident to protect
you from a worse accident.
Now, the other interesting thing about guardrails (we talked about this last week) is that
guardrails are never placed in the danger zone. Guardrails are always placed two or three feet or
two or three yards away from the danger zone. In other words, if you were to rip up all the
guardrails in this city, it would give you extra space to drive, but unfortunately would put you
too close to what somebody considered a danger zone. You always find guardrails actually
within the realm of safety. So we began to ask the question last week, what would it look like to
have guardrails in other areas of our lives? What if there were guardrails in our relationships?
What if we had financial guardrails? What if we had guardrails in terms of our dating, our
morality, how we did business, our ethics, our reputation? What if we began to establish some
mental guardrails that, again, kept us a safe distance back from disaster relationally, disaster
financially, disaster in our business, disaster in our ethics or our morality? What would that look
So we came up with our own definition of a guardrail as it relates to this particular
discussion. Here’s the new definition: A guardrail, in our discussion, is going to be a standard of
behavior, or you could even say a personal standard of behavior, that becomes a matter of
conscience—a personal standard of behavior that becomes a matter of conscience. So here’s my
goal for you in this series. I want you to personally begin to develop some behaviors, some
personal behaviors, which function as guardrails. By guardrail in our discussion I mean that
become a matter of conscience, that instead of doing things that you know are wrong and
tripping your conscience, to step back, establish some personal behaviors that trip your
conscience in the same way, and in doing so, keep us out of the danger zone in any area of life.
The truth is, as we said last week—your greatest regret—your greatest regret financially,
relationally, in terms of your health, any other thing—your greatest regret would probably have
been avoided if you had had guardrails in your life. So we’re going to talk about guardrails.
Now the thing to keep in mind is this: this is not something our culture is going to help
you with, because we live in a culture, as we said last week, that baits us to the edge of disaster
and then chastises us when we step over the line. It’s really crazy. We live in a culture that
morally baits us into things we have no business doing morally, and then once we do it, the
culture turns right around and chastises us. Our culture baits us into doing things we shouldn’t do
financially and then as soon as we do those things financially, our culture chastises us for being
irresponsible. So the only way to deal with that, we’re never going to change culture probably,
but the only way to handle that personally is decide, you know what, I’m going to resist the bait.
I’m going to resist moving myself to the edge of disaster, or to use “Christian Bible terms,” I’m
going to resist asking this question: How close can I get to sin without actually sinning?
Now, in my world, I get asked that question all the time. The question in my world
sounds like this: Andy, is it a sin to . . . (fill in the blank). And that’s always the wrong question.