I recently began thinking about people in my life with which I spend quality time. As a pastor, I am always with lots of different people, but there are a few that I have noticed I am around more consistently. As I reflected on those people and relationships, it made me look at why I enjoy being around them so much. You would think it is because we are of the same age bracket, life stage, personality, and have common interests, but that is not the case with all of them. Yes, there are a few that I am very much alike, but there are some that are very different than me.
As I began to evaluate my “inner circle” of friends, I realized that what made me close to these individuals was not common interests or personality, or even age or life stage. What makes me want to be around these people is their character. In light of that, I discovered three qualities that my closest friends possess that make we want to have deeper and more meaningful friendships with them:
First, my closest friends enjoy talking about deeper things. Yes, we chit chat about life and have fun together, but there is a bond that causes us to talk more deeply. Everyone needs people in their life like this, but men especially need these kinds of deeper relationships with other men. For many guys, the extent of their friendships generally revolves around surface issues, and therefore they never experience the joy of true Christian brotherhood. Deeper friendships are formed when you open yourself up and learn how to talk about the more important things of life. My core friends make me want to be a better Christian, husband, father, and all-around person, and for that, I am immensely grateful!
Second, my closest friends have an eternal perspective. This might be the single most important quality I look for in people with which I want to develop a deeper friendship. Now, throughout my life, there have been people I have spent time with that often have petty issues they want to address from a temporal perspective. Approaching life like this tends to make people negative and spending time with such people is draining. Interestingly, I discuss both major and minor issues with my closest friends all the time, but we discuss them with an eternal perspective. My best friends are positive, hopeful, joyful encouragers. Do not get me wrong, we differ at times and sometimes differ greatly, but what keeps us close is the foundation of our friendship, which is a real relationship with Jesus Christ, causing us to think eternally. I love spending time with these men, because I know they are seeing things with the bigger picture in mind. This is a true blessing.
There are other things I could mention, but the final thing is that my closest friends live in a world of reality, not theory. Who would you rather go to battle with: Someone who has read about war, or someone who has actually been to war? I want to be with the guy who has been to war. There is nothing more frustrating to me than people who love to diagnose problems, but offer no solution to fix them. Anyone can identify an issue, but very few are willing to do whatever is necessary to fix it. I love being around problem-solvers. I love being around people who think outside the box and work creatively to accomplish a task. I often say that my favorite people in the world are those who are self-motivated, people who take initiative. My closest friends do not need me to motivate them. When we get together, we motivate each other just by being together. Every time I leave, I am refreshed and encouraged. Those kinds of friendships are absolutely irreplaceable.
Why did I share all this with you? Because we always need to be thinking about the kind of friend we are and the deeper friendships we want to develop. If you struggle to have meaningful friendships, take some time and do a little self-evaluation. Make sure you are willing to be the kind of friend you are looking for in others. Often times, the problem is not with others, it is with us. Ask the Lord to help you see your blind spots and weaknesses, and then work to be the kind of person that is helpful to others. I believe that healthy people attract healthy friends. Look back at the things I have mentioned above and ask: Am I just a surface person, or do I enjoy thinking and talking about meaningful things; do I approach this temporary life with an eternal perspective; and do I live in a real world, where I seek to be a part of the solution instead of the problem? This week, seek to be a good friend and choose your closest friends wisely.