Friendship Among Men

I’m an observer of human behavior, and one thing I’ve observed is that women, generally speaking, are much better at social relationships and have closer friendships than men do. Women seem to have a closer social connection with their friends. It’s as though their brains and emotions are connected.

I have over 4,000 Facebook friends. But that’s very misleading since I have never met a good number of them. I imagine that many of the men I know would say that I’m their friend, and I would do the same. With other guys relationships usually connect over an event, such as work, an activity, and the biggie for me: the local church.

As a pastor, I’ve had times when I felt isolated even as I was constantly around other people. Some pastors have given advice to other ministers that they shouldn’t have relationships in the congregation. I have been burned by congregants who have turned on me, but those times have been few. I have had many good relationships within the congregations I’ve served, and it has made it easier to accomplish goals. With good relationships is easier to have people on your team to accomplish those goals.

I have had the blessing of having some close friendships, mostly with other pastors. One example was Harlan White. He’s now with the Lord. I had just started a pastorate and wrote a column for a local paper. After this Saturday afternoon edition had hit the streets and was delivered, a man I hadn’t met called me. It was Harlan. He had read the article and complemented me on it. We probably talked 30 minutes. It was an instant connection. We made plans to have lunch the next week, and we probably dined together every week during the years I served in that city. We talked by phone a majority of the days.

We talked “shop”–about our respective congregations we served–but a majority of our conversations were more personal. We discussed family, mutual acquaintances, food (we were eating.), politics, current events, and even personal stuff. He was a friend I could discuss anything with. Harlan would even call me occasionally. after I left that area. With most of my “friendships” I’ve been the one who would have to call or initiate doing lunch or whatever the particular get-together would be. (I say “call” because this was well before texting and email.) Relationships like this only came along occasionally for me. But each one was well worth the time and investment in the relationship.

Now some guys may not desire having relationships like this. But for me, I crave such friendships. I reflect on the relationship between King David and King Saul’s son Jonathan. Second Samuel 1:26 says that their love surpassed the love of women.

I write this to men, if you have any inclination at all for relationships with other guys, initiate them and build on them. For those of us who are believers in Jesus, we have a foundation for true fellowship with one another.

Ashton C. Smith

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