The other day, I was trying to describe the kind of people I want to be close friends with. I rarely struggle to find words, but I was stumped. Then the following words came out of my mouth . . . “I want to do life with people who are ‘like-hearted.’” Even though I said it, I had to stop and think about what that really means.
Most of my friends are like-minded. So are yours. There’s truth to the saying “birds of a feather flock together.” It’s much easier to live as a Christian in the presence of other Christians, just like it’s easier to have conversations with groups of people of the same sex or race or political persuasion. ‘Like-mindedness’ says we think alike, believe alike, watch a lot of the same shows, are appalled by the same evils, etc. It’s about what’s in our heads.
But like-heartedness is different. The Scriptures often interchange the word “desire” and the word “heart.” Like-hearted people desire the same things. In creating characters, screenwriters always start with “Who is he and what does he want?” In the real world, what we want flows from who we are . . . from our character. Like-minded people usually believe the same things are wrong or bad, but may want very different things as a result. Like-hearted people want the same things, have similar hopes and dreams and are active about it. I can choose to spend my life sitting around talking about stuff with like-minded people, or I can go do something with people who are like-hearted.
Here’s a picture . . . one that’s stuck with me for years. I’m sitting in the Land of a Thousand Hills coffee shop (which I highly recommend) with my friends Charlie, Rusty and John. We’re talking about the things we’re doing to influence people toward going all-in with Jesus. In a flash of mindfulness, it hit me . . . “All four of us go to different churches, live in different communities, and work in different places. But we’re all after the same thing . . . helping people find and live amazing lives by putting Christ at the center. And we’re doing it as ‘free agents’ . . . not as a part of a church-led initiative or a parachurch program. We’re just guys who want the same thing. We’re connected by our desires. That’s the stuff of life-long friendship.”
Sure, what you desire doesn’t have to be spiritual in nature. People want to climb a mountain on every continent, dive the greatest reefs, run the top marathons, or see the seven wonders of the world. These desires are fine and they can connect you with people who want to see and experience the same kind of things. But there is nothing like being ‘on mission’ for Jesus with people who have a heart for God that’s similar to yours! When fathers connect with other fathers who are like-hearted in how they want to raise their kids, a different kind of connection happens. When business people ‘go public’ with their faith and connect with others who also want to glorify God in their businesses, friendships get birthed . . . friendships that are just different.
In Journey of Desire, John Eldredge speaks of Brent, his now-deceased friend with whom he started his ministry. He says, “I lost the truest friend I have ever known. Brent was more than my partner, he was for me the rarest of gifts – his heart saw what mine saw. Our friendship was a shared journey, a mutual quest, for the secret of our souls.”
That’s like-hearted. That’s who I want to journey with.
Scripture: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Mentor Tip: Let your mentees in on your relationship with Jesus. Share your journal entries, tell them about your answered prayers. If you have a like-hearted friend, share your journey together. By the time my mentoring year is up, my guys feel like they know my friend John even though they’ve never met him. Model this kind of friendship and you’ll cast a vision for what can be for them.