“A man/woman of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother/sister.”
This is such an important passage for me, and I’m coming to realize it’s critical for everyone (Proverbs 18:24). When we truly take stock of the people we count as friends, it’s healthy to narrow in on a few that you’re willing to stick close to and really be a friend to. I say it this way because it’s easy to take stock of those who stick close to you, but have you taken stock of who you will stick close to and attend to and care for?
A friend back in Virginia, when we lived there for about 10 years, once challenged me to remember that everyone is replaceable. This is true in friendships too. We have people who attend to us and encourage us, but many quickly move on or slowly move on from doing so. Only a few really want to be there for you for the decades ahead and won’t judge you as you make mistakes or sin or let them down. A huge part of friendship is being there for those you count as your close friends. Instead of just riding on a wave of those who seem to enjoy you and support you, it’s important to look at friendships for what you can do for people, how you’re sticking close and caring for others.
When we prioritize sticking close to people and looking out for their interests, we find in the mix of our companions is not necessarily where some of our closest friendships are found. As we look out for the needs of others and care for others around us, we become less about who wants to be our companion and more about who are we sticking close to and caring for. I’ve begun honing in on a few guys to encourage and be encouraged by and I’ve found rich fruit from this practice. Honestly, I’ve not been the best friend for my guy friends in years past. They may feel I have been, but I feel I’ve been more of a companion for them, sticking pretty close, but often too willing to move on and stick close to anyone else God may give me to encourage however possible.
Encouraging each other and those we encounter is a wonderful expected plan for our interactions, but at some point we need a few close friends who we will stick closer to than even brothers and who will stick closer to us than even brothers. My brothers know me very well, and by moving to my home town, I’ve been able to have more interactions with them than ever before. I still have a lot of growing to do in being a good brother to them, sticking close to and attending to them, listening and encouraging them however possible, confiding in them and sharing my burdens too and seeking their encouragement when available. I love my brothers so much. Yesterday I got a chance to check in with my sister, Shanna, and I’ve been heavy-hearted by the fact that Carrie and I live 3,000 miles from two of her sisters and their families and my sister and her husband, Danny. Talk about not sticking close! God brought us back to California though, so we are committed to taking trips back to the East Coast to see our family so far from here about two times a year. As close as we are relationally to our family, I have been amazed by the fruit of developing a few close friends who know me even better than my family. They stick close. They seek me out, calling me, voxing me (new app I’m liking on the iPhone called Voxer), texting me, grabbing me for meals or late night conversations, praying with me, challenging me, and receiving challenges and encouragements from me. Are we initiating such healthy friendships, friends? We will all have companions, many or few, but let’s make a practice of taking stock of our close friendships. Let’s practice sticking close relationally and maybe even geographically with a few real close friends who we won’t let go of easily, who we will support and challenge and especially encourage in Christ often.
Grateful for you, brothers, and you know who you are!
Grateful for my bride, Carrie, who is by far my closest friend and family.
Grateful for my family whom I am continually indebted to for teaching me what kindness feels like, and I’m seeking to return the favors and show you friendship laying deeper and more and more healthy. Ultimately I do believe close friends and one’s family can in Christ ever deepen and strengthen as forgiveness and grace are applied and enjoyed under the shadow of the cross of Christ.
Amazed by the friendship Christ has show us in dying for us and bringing us into eternal sibling relationship with Himself!
P.S. Photo by one of these close friends, Thomas Atkins. Grateful for you, buddy! Taken in the Grand Canyon.