“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow” – William Shakespeare
In parts 1 and 2 we explored the importance of meaningful friendships for men. Every man needs a band of brothers around him to laugh and cut up with, and to challenge each other to become the best version of our self.
Many of you may agree that there is a chink in our armor which could be strengthened with the right set of brothers to do life with. The question I would like to answer in this part of the series is how in the heck do we find a group of friends like this with heavy demands on our time and energy like our jobs and a marriage and family to lead. It’s a matter of priorities…if you truly believe that a meaningful friendship like described here will profit your career and family life then you will sacrifice some of your time in order to make it happen.
Friendships…just like our more intimate relationships require time to develop. This doesn’t fit the agenda of a world that is fed by instant gratification and its gravitational pull seems to be anchored by constant and instantaneous feedback. Building true relationships doesn’t follow these rules…it meanders, takes its time and can be arduous.
You know that you have found a meaningful friendship if it is based on the hunger for truth. They point us towards discovering who we are, where we are going and how to get there. It is not sappy or crowned by some emotional experience. Instead, true meaningful friendships should include diversion and entertainment, but they are always bent towards sharpening the other and discovering more and more of who we are meant to be.
Here is a quick guide to making friends:
Where to look?
To find friendships like these you must look in the right places. You aren’t likely to find them from old school friends, co bros or casual bros and you definitely won’t find them if you have a case of Jack Reacher Syndrome. I recommend looking for these friendships in groups of men who are already getting together to seek God, or put another way…the Truth. Seek these groups out, whether it is a men’s fellowship group, a father/son outdoors movement like the Troops of St. George, or any other place where men regularly gather to seek God…and in doing so they try and find out who they are, where they are going and how to get there.
Several years ago, I started up a men’s fellowship group when I saw that there was a need in the area where I live. I wanted the group to be a place where men could relax after a long week of work and enjoy good company as well as bond through cool stuff like skeet shooting or a day at the gun range.
The other part that I felt was important in a group like this was that we pray out loud together (the Rosary) in order to foster spiritual leadership skills that most of us were lacking. I also felt it was important to be exposed to the truth of the Gospel through powerful speakers like Fr. John Riccardo. The caveat to this system that I developed was that there would be no forced sharing. Men just don’t thrive in environments like this in my opinion. So, the group, which I have called Guns N’ Rosaries, was born and it has been a place to find meaningful friendships.
Now once you have found a group to join or started one on your own, it doesn’t guarantee that these meaningful relationships will just spring up. You must first understand how men think and communicate, and then take action.
Men communicate through a code of honor. Our language, if you wish to communicate effectively, must be laden with inflections of respect. When we feel disrespected the hair on our neck stands up and we are ready to fight, but when we are honored we will draw closer to that person.
The way to begin a relationship which can change the trajectory of your life must begin by looking for men that express something that you respect and then honor them for it. This happened to me when Ron came and honored me by pointing out that I was in shape and asked if I could help him get in shape. We instantly became friends and I shared with him everything I knew about getting fit and he shared what was important in his life with me.
When we see something in someone else that we lack or want to get better at, point it out to them and ask if they will show you how to get it. The man who you honored in this way will feel compelled to share his success with you in order help you improve and the relationship is born.
Beginning a friendship through an exchange of respect is a critical piece of the puzzle which is crucial and often overlooked. We will conclude this series next time with ways to foster these budding friendships and develop them into the band of brothers we all need.
“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)