Your Friendship: Is it Freely Offered, or Earned?

In the formative years when I wasn’t playing golf on Sunday, most of those afternoons were spent watching the finely covered major tournaments broadcast on CBS. Any sportsman will tell you the coverage of CBS’s Masters is among the classiest of television events.

best friends

October 17, 2009. They day I married my good friend.

From the play by play, to feature profiles, to the ceremonious passing of the green jacket, Jim Nantz, Verne Lundquist and Gary McCord captured viewers’ attention from tee to green.

Even the commercials were classy.

You need not be a died-in-the-wool fan to remember the 1970s Smith Barney commercial starring famous actor and producer John Houseman.  This line he delivered at the end of the commercial, is recalled three generations later, not only because of his brilliant delivery, but also because of the profound message it carried:

“Smith Barney. They make money the old-fashioned way…they earn it.”

Last night, Dana and I were discussing friends, friends of friends, and all the relational dynamics involved in what makes people “click.”

It started with the discussion about a friend of a friend who’d told his friend he knew I didn’t much care for him. Dana’s friend shared that news with her earlier this week, and she passed it on to me.

This is what Dana said she told her friend: “Steve’s not gonna just give his friendship away. It’s something he’ll (the friend of the friend) have to earn.”

Honestly, I’d never given that much thought to my life’s relationships, but I won’t deny its truth.

friends and sports relationships

This photo, taken in 1980, is my championship team that went 30-6. I love every one of these guys still today. The friendship among us was truly earned. I may never see some of them again, but I love every guy in the green and white … and coach Jim Ellis in the center.

I know a few friends who naturally lavish their love on others. I’ve always wished I could be more like those people. Perhaps it’s a personality flaw, or maybe it’s just a byproduct of life experiences, but after we had the conversation, I realized it’s true: I don’t just hand out free tickets to friendship. And you don’t change the way a 46-year-old man “is.”

fellowship bible church

This is Chuck Gschwend, a pastor at Fellowship Bible Church where I attend. He’s the single most loving man I know.

Most men I know don’t have a wide circle of friends. In fact, most are lucky if they truly have a good friend at all. And oftentimes, I think, we consciously choose to limit our circle of friends because of the value we place on the gift.

And for me, that’s precisely what friendship is – a gift. One to be thoughtfully given, and thankfully received.

The friend of the friend who told his friend I didn’t much care for him is a guy I’ve met twice. My recollection is that we talked about dogs, work and football. Chit-chat, it was for the most part. Nothing real.

The quality I admire most in any friendship is pure transparency. The freedom to share truth without fear of judgment. The freedom to fail without repercussion. The sanctity of knowing that even through the worst of times, a friend is a friend is a friend. It’s loyalty absent effort.

It’s precious and rare.

And it’s because of the precious value I place on true friendship that I write often about my best of friends. Dana is one. The other is a high school buddy and golfing parter who’s closer than a brother.

Brady and I have been friends for 34 years. We’ll be friends ’til we die.

relationships between men

My long-time buddy Brady Cornish – we talk almost every day, and shoot an occasional round of “extraordinary” golf.

Dana and I were acquaintances nine years before we married. In the first five years of our ‘relationship,”  she didn’t even like me that much. It took a long time for me to break down the barriers to see through to her heart, and she has the purest of hearts I know.

Sometimes I wish I loved people more. It’s what we’re called  to do, but it’s not easy is it?

Just wondering, how many “real” friends do you have, and what are the qualities you most admire in your best of friends?

Do you offer your friendship freely, or do others have to earn it?

In the spirit of John Houseman’s message, “Good friends don’t show up, bite you on the bottom and say, ‘Were here!'”

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2 thoughts on “Your Friendship: Is it Freely Offered, or Earned?

  1. I used to give friendship easily. Not anymore. I thought having a lot of friends meant something. It’s for show most of the time. I have 3 buddies I can really count on and thats fine with me. I’ve lived and learned the hard way. All three of my buddies just have genuine kind hearts and non-confrontational demeanors. Just really good people that I can call anytime and talk with. I used to work with some guys I thought were friends. They would be patting you on the back with one hand and stabbing you in the heart with the other. Sad really. I’m a good person. Caring and giving. They blew the friendship by taking advantage of my kindness. They saw it as weakness. Now I shy away from most people., or keep them at arms length until I see what there all about.

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