In a recent conversation with my wife regarding our outside friendships, she made the comment, “Of course, with what you do, you have a lot of friends.” Her perception surprised me, because I don’t feel like I have “a lot of friends.” I do see how she could have that view, but it made me evaluate the word “friend.” What does that mean in this current culture? What does it even mean in Christian circles? I challenge you to join me in thinking this through for your own life.
As men, so many of our “friendships” are based on business and most business boils down to one thing—money. The need for it and ways to get more of it. I would bet that the majority of the guys you consider friends are in your same income bracket. So, to be blunt, many of our “friendships” are driven by money and the desire for it through the relationship. The friend becomes a path to money. We become a path for someone else. There may be some cool stops along the way, but the road ends at money.
Think through all your concentric circles and the men you would call friends. How many of them would stick around if you lost your job? How many would stay connected if you changed your vocation and location? That guy you have lunch with every couple months. . . you talk about sports, business, maybe even faith, but what is the interaction really about? Look past the surface talk.
This sounds really cynical and negative so far, doesn’t it? Well, the point is not to get paranoid, but to be real about your relationships. Where are you wasting time and energy on someone who really doesn’t care about you, but is just great at using you, getting something for free, or trying to get to an occasional sale or connection? What if that same time and energy were traded in for someone who either poured something eternal into you or you poured something eternal into them?
Let me turn the tables a bit with this story. I had a salesman, a vendor rep, that called on me once or twice a year and I knew I was one of his biggest accounts. I only bought his product once a year, but I bought big, so it was highly beneficial to his bottom line to keep me happy all year for the one sale. He called me one day and told me he had an offer to move to a company that sold concrete fountains (yeah, like the huge ones you see at parks) and wanted to thank me for my business over the years. I wished him well (pun fully intended) and thanked him for letting me know. When I hung up, I thought to myself that I would never hear or see from that guy again. Imagine my surprise when about six months later, he called and said he was in town and wanted to drop by. He came in my office, sat down, and we small-talked a bit. Then I said, “Hey man, I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m really surprised you would want to come by. I mean I’m not going to buy a giant fountain!” He laughed and said, “I just always enjoyed the time talking with you and got a lot out of it, so I wanted to just come see you.” . . . So, what I thought was just a “money friendship” wasn’t at all, and this guy proved it.
As Christian men, we are stewards of our relationships. God has a definite plan each day of whom He’d like for us to spend time with. He has a plan mapped out of who we should be reaching, serving, both ministering and being ministered to.
Take a few minutes very soon and inventory your friendships with other men—in all circles. Business, neighbors, church, sports, hobbies, everywhere. Next, evaluate each one. Then when you have a list of the ones you should value or not, you might be surprised and maybe even relieved to see you need to let go of some. They’re time wasters. They’re drainers. Not bad people, just not good for you.
Then there are gainers. Guys you put high value into because they either feed your spirit or you feed theirs or, the best and most rare kind, the ones that are two-way streets.
So, think you got a lot of buddies? You’re probably right. But how many friends do you have?
Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man’s friend deserts him. —Proverbs 19:4
A righteous man is cautious in friendship,but the way of the wicked leads them astray. —Proverbs 12:26
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24