The Safety Pyramid – Part 3 of 4


As Randy Jackson would say, “So, Yo dog, check it out… check it out.”
Yesterday, I kid you not, a call on the radio that violated all of rules of the safety pyramid (, radio archives, 5/20/09).

Caller: “I’m really in a tough situation.  My husband wants to live in Florida near his aging parents and grown children and not with me in Pennsylvania.  What should I do?”

Hosts:  “How long have you been married, how did you meet?”

Caller: “We’ve been married two years…  met on the internet in a chat room… we were engaged in 3-4 months… he moved to Pennsylvania into my town home… we dated for a while trying not to have sex… we ended up having sex… we got married and now he wants out.”

Hosts:  “Who did your pre-marital counseling and who performed the ceremony?”

Caller:  We did one session with a couple in our church.  They really liked him.  Then we had one meeting with our pastor who performed the ceremony.”

Caller:  “My husband hid from me that he was recovering from substance abuse.”  “My church family feels bad for me as well.  What should I do?”

I’m really angry with the naivety of pastors and church folk.  Most everybody is nice when they are about to get what they want.

The pastor’s response?  “Well I’m not a marriage counselor!”

My response?  “Gag me.”


How do you know if a person is safe?   You need to understand the “safety pyramid” and always apply the rules of the pyramid in order to protect yourself (and others) from getting too close, too fast.

Imagine a pyramid, just like the ones in Egypt or on the back of a dollar bill minus the eye.   Divide it horizontally into thirds.  The bottom third is entitled “acquaintances”, the middle third is entitled “friends” and the top of the pyramid is entitled “safe people.”

Here are three of the rules of the pyramid just to get us started.

  • All people (and I mean ALL) enter at the bottom of the pyramid as “acquaintances.”
  • It takes at least 1.5 – 2 years for a person to “earn” their way to the safe person category.
  • Only marry or become closest friends with a safe person.

When we marry or become closest friends with only safe people, we have the highest chances of success in that relationship.  And that’s what we all want. 

Last week we learned what an acquaintance is.  Kay and I do not promote someone to a “friend” status for quite some time.  By the way, we have many friends and some family members who we’ve known for a long time who are still acquaintances and will probably remain so.  There just isn’t enough time to get to know everyone well.

So what is a “friend?”  Jesus had three very close friends that were distinct from the rest of the disciples.  They were Peter, James and John and Jesus allowed them to be with him in some very intimate moments:

  • The mount of Transfiguration where Jesus showed Himself in all of His glory,  introduced them to them to Moses and Elijah and they heard the voice of the Father (Mark 9:1-13).
  • The raising from the dead of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43).
  • The closest position to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33-35).

Were these men perfect?  No.  But they were responsive to the person and work of Christ and Jesus rewarded them with a relationship of closeness.

Who is responsive to you and your passions, interests and beliefs?  Who believes in you?  Begin to share with them some more intimate things about yourself and see what they do with that information.  Their faithful, loyal and loving response will tell you if they are a good friend and whether or not they are potentially people who may become your safe people.

Thanks for listening!

Thanks and blessings,


Milan & Kay

Next week:More rules of the pyramid and how much should we trust a “friend?”