Back when I was young, if you hung out with the wrong crowd and got in trouble, the old-timers would say, “You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” They were right. If you hang out with people who do things that could get you into trouble, eventually you will get into trouble. So don’t be all surprised about it and act like you’re an innocent victim. It’s kind of like “play with fire, you get burned.” Don’t take no rocket scientist to figure that one out!
The lie down with dogs principle is precisely why people in addiction recovery are encouraged to find new friends because if they spend all their time with people still in the throes of the addictive behavior, the odds exponentially increase that they will fall back into the negative behavioral patterns. Same is true of other issues as well. If you spend all your time with people who have a disdain for God, it is just a matter of time before you share in the disdain. This is why followers of Christ are told not to forsake or abandon the discipline of meeting together. Followers grow followers. Forsakers multiply forsakers. You become like the people you hang around with.
Just like getting fleas when you sleep with dogs, the opposite can also be true. If you want to learn a certain skill or discipline, you will have to invest time and energy in learning the skill. Learn from others that have traveled the path before. If you want to be a good leader, spend time with leaders you admire, immerse yourself in how they think and act, and practice the disciplines they practice. If you want to write, read about writing, take a class and by all means, write something (I put that in as a reminder and sermon for myself). If you want to be more godly, spend time with God and read the Bible. And again, read the writings of others and learn about the lives of those you would want to be like. How do/did these men and women live? How did they spend their time? Who did they learn from?
So what do you do if you want to be different than everyone around you? Start today and make changes. If you are bold, tell them you want to change. If they care about you and are really your friends, they will be your friends in, through, and after the change. If not, then they probably had fleas you didn’t want hopping all over you anyway , so you are better off. However, you may inspire change in them as well which would be a good thing. Whatever the case, begin the change.
So decide who you want to be and fill your life with people and activities that move you toward that end.
Get rid of those flea-infested dogs and start this day anew.