Most every culture in the world recognizes the value of friendship. Literature abounds with quotes on the subject.
“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life.”Thomas Jefferson
“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man, friendship.”William Blake
So why is it, in our modern culture, so many men shortchange themselves when it comes to developing deep friendships? Perhaps we fail to recognize just how we are enriched by truly connecting with men of faith that God brings into our lives? Here are six things we miss out on if we don’t nurture healthy friendships with other guys.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”Proverbs 27:17
Some of the sharpening processes are intentional. We might “apprentice” with a friend who teaches us a new skill, or meet regularly with a brother as a mentor or mentee, or learn from a more advanced one-on-one Bible study partner. Or we may be challenged by someone we respect to see an issue from a different point of view, or to step out of our comfort zone in some way. Sometimes the sharpening is the result of healthy, good-natured competition. We tend to step up our game when in the presence of a better opponent — or teammate. Sometimes the sharpening happens just by doing life with and observing another brother, watching the way he interacts with others and handles challenging situations. Sharpening can change us, help us grow. And we may see benefits on all levels: mentally, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”Proverbs 18:24
Clearly, it’s better to have at least one really good friend than to dabble here and there among lots of surface relationships. Even more important, though, is that we choose our friends well. You can either spend time with a companion whose influence makes you a better man, strengthening your faith, helping you along the way of life. Or you can hang out with guys who drag you down and get you in trouble having a detrimental impact on your character along the way.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”Proverbs 17:17
How good it is to enjoy friendship with another guy who is faithful no matter how badly we screw up; someone who appreciates us—flaws and all; someone who knows us well and loves us anyway. There’s nothing more healing than when a friend not only stands beside us but also helps us pick up the pieces and move on in the aftermath of disappointment or the consequences of poor choices. And we’re better men when we demonstrate that same consideration for other brothers in our lives.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”1 Corinthians 15:33
I admit that it sometimes hurts to be admonished by someone we love, admire, and from whom we crave approval. But of course, we do each other no favors by winking at a brother’s questionable decisions or letting his sins slide by as if there’s nothing wrong. What kind of love is that? I’m not saying we should be judgmental, continually pointing out another guy’s weaknesses. But at the same time, really good friends will nudge each other, give each other a poke, intervene in some way when a brother seems to be veering off-course. We want to encourage each other in loving ways to behave well and make good choices. And if you’re really serious about overcoming some recurring bad habit, enter into an accountability arrangement with another guy, agreeing to check up on each other and be honest when you’ve stumbled, praying for each other and cheering each other on along the right path.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”Proverbs 13:20
Again, so much rides on the company we keep. But when we walk with another man whose wisdom runs strong and deep — perhaps an older friend or mentor with a wealth of life experience and spiritual maturity — we can only benefit. We ask for wisdom, but we can’t expect God to make us wise suddenly. He often grants our request through our investment of time with a well-chosen brother.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”Hebrews 10:24
We need to be intentional about encouraging each other. It’s not something we should only expect from others. We need to look for ways to encourage the other guy, to perpetuate a mutual cycle of inspiration that motivates and generates enthusiasm for really loving and serving others with joyful hearts.
So find a friend. Be a friend. Let’s step further into becoming the men God designed us to be.
Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 16 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org