By, I sam Itson III
John 15:15 – No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
Proverbs 18:24 – A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Most people make their best friends while they are in school or serving in the military. While thrown together in pursuit of common goals they also spend quality time with each other while off duty or outside of the classroom. They observe each other’s likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses while relaxing, playing, and fighting together. They share their hopes, dreams, fears, and regrets with each other. Time, commitment, and perseverance builds friendships as well as character.
Over the three to three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry on earth, his disciples became his friends. He taught them how to help each other, help people, help other people in his name and to the glory of God. As they travelled they ate, laughed, and argued. They grew closer and learned to trust Jesus and each other. Out tho the twelve, three were Jesus’ best friends. While hanging on the cross, Jesus even entrusted the care of his mother to one of them rather than one of his brothers.
We all need friends who are like family. We need people we can turn to in a crisis. For single people and married couples, making new friends is hard because it takes so much quality time. We have to designate time for people outside of work and school to become friends. It takes time around each other to learn to trust each other. This is our modern dilemma.
When I speak with young adults fresh out of high school, university, or military service, one of their greatest complaints is their lack of close friendships. A few years ago I came across some research numbers that still seem to bear out under more current studies. According to Jeffrey Hall’s article in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, “How many hours does it take to make a friend?” vol. 36, issue 4. In North America,
It takes adults 50-90 hours to turn acquaintances into casual friends.Adults need, on average, 164 hours to transition from casual friends to friends.Adults need an additional 100 hours for friends to become good or best friends.
Mathematically, at best, we will never have more that two to four good friends.
In the modern North American church setting, these numbers are brutal. Church is a great place to meet people, but it is the time spent with people outside of worshipping and serving together that really builds relationships. Most people are slow to reach out to people they do not already know. And a new church is full of strangers. People passing each other in and out of the main doors as they go about their busy lives. So much activity and so little meaningful human connection. On a good Sunday at church a person spends 10-20 minutes after service in conversation with people outside of their immediate or extended family before rushing out the door.
At 10 or 20 minutes a week how long will it take to make those 90 hours to build a casual friendship? The total 160 hours to build a friendship? The 260 hours to build a deep friendship? I am not so great at math but all of a sudden the task seems overwhelming. For most of us, single or married, the demands of work, home, and family leave us exhausted. Living day to day and week to week leaves us worn out.
Some people refresh themselves through social contact. Others, like me, need time alone to restore their energy. They need time away from people in order to have the energy to meaningfully engage with others. Yet, all of us need to prioritize making time and spending our energy making friends.
To love our neighbor as ourselves in obedience to God, we have to have other people in our lives. Love demands that we have the opportunity to give and receive in meaningful relationships with each other. Love does not exist in isolation. So we come back to the fundamental challenge of how we spend our time.
I encourage everyone I counsel to make a log of how they spend their time for a period of 2- 4 weeks. This is the only way I know to clearly see how a person is spending their time. We can’t make any responsible and reasonable steps forward until we know where we are starting from.
Once we take this inventory of how we are spending our time, then we can start evaluating what we need to keep doing and what we need to stop doing. We have to make time for the activities that help us fulfill our personal responsibilities at home and work. This includes diet, exercise, sleep, rest, and family time. As followers of Jesus Christ we have additional responsibilities in relationship to God and our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. All of a sudden we do not have much free time.
Exactly. Our lives are meant to be full and meaningful. Our lives are not for us. God has a plan for each of us in relationship to one another. The fulfillment of God’s plan for our lives in relationship to one another grows out of our personal relationship with him. Time spent with God, enriches our time spent with each other. The friendships that we develop with each other as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ help us work together in relationship to our neighbors and among those in need in our local communities. Even our enemies.
Consideration, dedication, and perseverance in our relationships with God and each other will produce meaningful and enduring friendships. Over time. We have to consistently submit ourselves to God and share our hearts, lives, and resources with one another, if we are going to build friendships that enrich our lives and honor the grace and love of God in the lives of others.
It takes time to build a relationship with God. It takes time to make friends with each other. We can’t afford to waste our God given time. Our lives and the lives of others hang in the balance.
1. How are you spending your time?
2. If you do not know the answer, when will you start making your time log?
3. Who will you work with to review and evaluate the use of your time?