I have some amazing friends.
I’ve known it all along, but sometimes I am reminded in really valuable, really practical, really visible ways.
Yesterday I made it back to our home after a journey of more than 800 miles behind the wheel of a moving truck. My back and my shoulders were very unhappy from the journey and it would have taken hours to get that truck emptied by myself… and some of it I simply could not have done single-handedly.
Some of my friends showed up to lift and carry and shift and re-arrange. The work that could not have been done on my own was done in a pretty short amount of time. My friends came when I needed help.
Sitting and reflecting on the great treasure of these kinds of friends, I found Joe Cocker’s classic playing in my head… “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
(I know you probably want to, so click this link and let it play while you finish reading.)
When I think about the incredible gift of great friends, I think that Mr. Cocker’s gravelly-voiced rhetoric offers a key component—a willingness to need others, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say a willingness to acknowledge that we need others.
The wise King Solomon of Israel, in his reflections on the meaning and significance of this life and his search for what was truly important, offered these words about the importance of friendship:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”Ecclesiastes 4.9-12
Bear in mind that these words came from the pen of arguably the wealthiest man in the history of the world. He said we need each other.
SO… what is it that makes for a great friendship?
I think there are two crucial keys.
2 Crucial Keys to Great Friendships
There are obviously a lot of things that are needed for friendships to be rich an valuable, but these, I believe, are truly crucial.
1. Be the kind of friend that comes running when you’re needed.
Do people know that when they ask for help you will be there?
Do your friends know that you will answer when they call?
I have been richly blessed with some really great friendships through my life. There are people all over the place on this journey through life that I believe would drop what they were doing and come to my aid if I asked them to do so. And I’m pretty sure that they know I would do the same for them without hesitation.
I think that most people (surely most followers of Jesus) have no problem with this first crucial key. We want to be the people that come quickly to help a friend. But it’s the second one that chokes us.
2. Be the kind of friend that calls for help when you need it.
In our modern American culture many of us are often almost belligerently independent. We would rather go hungry than ask our friends for a meal. Even while we would be heartbroken to learn that someone we care about had been going without when we could have helped, many of us find it simply too humiliating to ask for help even from people that we know care genuinely about us.
But think about this with me. A friendship in which you always help but never need help is really lopsided and one-directional, isn’t it? And a friendship where you are always getting help but never have an opportunity to give back is also very lopsided.
(In classic pop/rock format, this would be the right place for a guitar or saxophone solo, don’t you think?)
In the wise king’s words of wisdom, we see the picture of friends on a journey together. Everybody stumbles now and then. We have been taught that we have to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps” and get back on our feet again. Do you realize how utterly stupid that sounds? How could anyone pull themselves up by something that is on the ground?
No. We need a friend. And we need to be a friend.
I have some amazing ones. And, like Mr. Cocker, I most certainly get by with a little help from my amazing friends.
Let’s have a conversation: what do YOU think is crucial to great friendships?