I heard Howard Hendrick’s speak about friendship and a few things stayed with me:
Howard lead with, “Our goal in not to enlarge our circle of friends, but to deepen it.” At first glance that seems opposite to Jesus’ commandment, “Go and make disciples.” As Howard began to unpack his advice, I realized that Jesus spent much more time investing in a few friendships than he did seeking to become friends with as many people as possible. Jesus spent the majority of his time with his 12 disciples, and even more concentrated time with Peter, James and John. Jesus seldom passed up an opportunity to care for another person, but his time was primarily spent growing in friendship with a few.
Howard’s other statement that continues to ring in my ears, “A friend is someone who loves you enough to hurt you, in order to help you.” You don’t see that on a Hallmark card! My wife and I have tried very hard to adopt this definition of friendship over the years. We first invite others to do this with us, and do our best not to get defensive when we are called out. We also seek to speak truth into our friends’ lives in hopes to keep them moving further down their road with Jesus. This is not an easy thing to receive or to “dish out” to others, but we have found that it is vital for authentic friendship.