Male friendship has been greatly distorted in our culture. As a result, many men don’t know how to be or how to make good friends. Can you relate? Sure, you may have some buddies. But I’m talking about something much deeper–I’m talking about a friend who knows you–really knows you. A friend who struggles alongside you, battles for you, and encourages you.
Consider the friendship, for example, of David and Jonathan. David was anointed King, which meant Jonathan, who was heir to the throne, would never claim his title. It would be similar to this: If your dad was the president of a huge corporation and you were serving as vice-president. But instead of taking your rightful position as president, the CEO chooses your friend instead. How could a friendship under these circumstances survive?
One reason is because both David and Jonathan counted each other better than themselves. There are few more graphic pictures of this than Jonathan’s surrender of his robe, his armor, and his position to David (1 Samuel 18:1-4). ‘You are going to be king of Israel,’ Jonathan tells David, ‘and I will be next to you’ (1 Samuel 23:17).
And even after Jonathan was slain in battle, David continued to honor Jonathan by caring for Jonathan’s son.
Do you have at least one relationship that approaches this level of love and care? It’s a costly commitment. The only thing more costly is not having such a friend.
A motivational speaker noted in his talk that after age forty, men typically possess no close friends. What’s a man to do? We can learn from him. When he and his fianc’e were planning their wedding, he realized he didn’t have a single male friend whom he considered close enough to be his best man.
This shocking realization brought impetus for change. He identified two men he knew that shared his faith and values. Then he prayerfully approached them regarding the possibility of exploring and developing long-term friendships. They both responded positively, and they’ve continued a deep, trusting relationship for several decades. From those relationships came the insights for a book, The Company You Keep: The Transforming Power of Male Friendship, written by David Bentall It’s a great resource for men on the subject of friendship.
Every man without at least one close friend is missing three important things: (1) someone to walk with despite failures, (2) someone to explore a vision for life with, and (3) someone to face the darkness of our world with.
If you’re looking for reasons to seek and build friendships with other men, these are as good as any.
It begins the minute we’re born, well before we’re aware of it. ‘Little boys are made of snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.’ As young boys, we love guns, tanks, racecars, and airplanes. And by the time we reach adulthood we’re thoroughly indoctrinated and well practiced in our culture’s expectations of what a man’s supposed to be’achievement oriented, assertive, autonomous, dominant, confident, practical, unemotional, and strong.
But here’s the problem, this is a lose-lose situation. If we fall short of the ideal, we’re wimps and failures; if we attain the ideal we’ve become a so-called ‘man’ at the expense of being a human being. Dr. Frank Pittman says this:
‘As a guy develops and practices his masculinity, he is accompanied and critiqued by an invisible male chorus of all the other guys who hiss or cheer as he attempts to approximate the masculine ideal, who push him to sacrifice more and more of his humanity for the sake of his masculinity, and who ridicule him when he holds back. The chorus is made up of all the guy’s comrades and rivals, all his buddies and bosses, his male ancestors and his male cultural heroes, his models of masculinity’and above all, his father, who may have been a real person in the boy’s life, or may have existed for him only as the myth of the man who got away.’
Guys, perhaps its time we rethink what it means to truly be a man!