As I have been reading, four qualities of friendship came up. There are many qualities faithful, life-long friends have. Not all enduring friendships are the same. Here are four qualities which are important for me.
- Shows Genuine Concern
Two friends dance on the spot and squeal, “It is so good to see you!” They trade phone numbers and ask, with eyes locked, about each other’s families. However, no subsequent phone calls and no subsequent meetings follow. It becomes easy to spot this meaningless ritual at parties, churches, and even on the street in a crowded city. This is something overblown and insincere and I am sad when I see it.
I want something more in a friend. I want someone who, regardless of creed or color will be there when the going gets tough. I have a few friends who know I am a Christian, who know I think like an Englishman and who know I have annoying quirks, but they see past that and keep showing up. One friend is Neil Smith, best man at my wedding. Another is Ken Gates, a relatively recent friend in America. I think if I was sick, Neil would travel across the world to try and do something. Ken gives me his full attention when we talk. He is an uncommonly good listener and he shows that he has paid attention by asking good questions.
- Serves Others
My friend, Jonathan Panek, once called me to say he had seen my car door left open at night. I think he even closed it. A small gesture like this meant a lot. It showed he cared enough to serve me in the little things.
Recently Kelli and I spoke at a family camp called Unplugged. I told an African American family there that I had no idea how to care for my black son’s chalky skin. They told me to use Eucerin. At the end of the week they bought us some Eucerin. I am thankful to them, but more than that, my heart reaches out to them. I want to see them again. I want to serve them in return.
- Takes Risks
Becoming friends is like making bids in a poker game. Each person puts a little more into the friendship. The pinnacle is when both friends decide to be ‘all in.’ This rarely happens simultaneously. One friend will go out on a limb and reveal their heart. The love and commitment they have might not be returned. However, a sure way to make sure a relationship languishes in the shallows is to risk nothing.
Some relationships require physical risks. Caring for someone who is sick might result in contracting the sickness oneself. Traveling a great distance to be at a wedding or a graduation might require finances and time. Friends don’t always return the kindness they receive. It is good to remember, though, we do well to love unconditionally. A good thing is a good thing to do whether there is ever any reciprocation.
- Promotes Jesus
Because of my faith, Jesus is at the center of many of my friendships. God is the foundation and the goal of my existence. Strong friendships share some sort of common goal. Aristotle promoted the common pursuit of the good. Two businessmen might connect well over a mutual business concept. I believe the highest calling is to friendships of common faith. I enjoy watching friends like Ryan Jenkins flourish in their faith and make it central to their life.
Paul saw the qualities listed above in his friends Timothy and Epaphroditus. You can read about them below:
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.