Friendship is a mystery with a lot of definitions. The average Facebook user has 338 ‘friends.’ Studies show that a person’s social circle is usually between 100 and 200 people. Other research estimates our inner circle to number no more than 15-19 people (including friends and family) but only 2 to 3 confidants. Reality? Most men don’t have even one intimate friend to truly ‘do life’ with.
I’ve struggled trying to figure out who I want to spend my time and life with. Family, bosses and subordinates . . . well, they get a pass; we have to spend time with them. But beyond those people, we get to choose who we hang out with. Male friendships usually develop through activity or proximity. Activities like golf, tennis, coaching our kid’s sports teams, softball leagues, clubs and church activities bring guys with similar interests together regularly and some become friends. Proximity . . . where guys show up consistently in a place like the office, the neighborhood pool, the church or the clubhouse will lead men to become buds. A lot of guys become friends with the husbands of their wives’ friends. Since birds of a feather flock together, we end up with like-minded friends. Christians usually end up being friends with Christians because we believe the same things, appreciate the same values, read the same books and maybe go to the same church. I have a good many like-minded friends and I love them. I really do. But being like-minded is not the same as being like-hearted.
So what is like-hearted? The heart is the seat of our desires (Psalm 37:4). It’s where God gives us our ‘want to.’ Like-minded people think alike, but like-hearted people want alike. They want the same things. My sister and I are a great example. We are anything but like-minded. We severely disagree on politics, religion, parenting . . . just about everything. But we are like-hearted. We’re both passionate about loving and serving people in our own ways. In how we think, we’re almost totally different. But in our hearts . . . in what we want and what we do, we’re bonded by our like-heartedness.
If I want to ‘do life’ with like-hearted people, I’m forced to ask “What is the desire of my heart?” As I’ve done that, I’ve come back to this . . . my desire is to walk with God personally and to help others find and follow Jesus. I have this constant longing for like-hearted teammates . . . for brothers who don’t just believe in Jesus but who are in passionate pursuit of knowing Him, making Him known, and helping other guys make Him known.
I’m asking God to connect my heart with like-hearted men. I want to spend more time with them. And since we all have a limited amount of time and relational bandwidth, I’m asking God to give me the courage and discipline to spend less time with men who are more like-minded than like-hearted. I believe the most treasured friendships that can be had in this life involve guys who are like-hearted for Jesus.
Scripture: One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
Mentor Tip: In my mentoring group through North Point Community Church, our goal is for each mentee to end the season with at least one man he can trust with his ‘darkest corners.’ Make that a goal for your group. Encourage men to stop flying solo and finish their year with at least one like-hearted friend.