Random Notes on Friendship and other Relationships

Have you ever had friends with whom you thought you would never part? Perhaps you were seat mates in the secondary school for several years and shared many things together, time and resources. Are you still in touch? Friendship is a crucial part of our lives and like the popular saying goes, “No man is an Island.” This is because loners don’t last. They soon disappear.

In I Samuel 18:1-2, we witness the beginning a classical story, one that spans decades. David and Jonathan, the son of King Saul strike a life-long relationship.  It is more like friendship made in heaven. Have you ever had such an experience: someone you never knew from Adam, but you suddenly connect at the moment you set eyes on each other? David has just returned from the battle against the Philistines, where he has just miraculously brought down Goliath, the highly revered giant. This shepherd boy exudes confidence and carries an aura that Jonathan, the king’s son cannot not afford to ignore. They soon become covenant friends. In chapter 19, we see how Jonathan continually endeavours to douse the tension between David and King Saul, who has grown envious of David and now hates him.

The king continues to plot his death, but in Chapter 31, Jonathan and his father breathe their last on the battle field. Several years down the line, in II Samuel 9:13, Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan wines and dines at King David’s table, him physical disability notwithstanding. David remembers the house of Saul and honours the lame one from Lodebar, the only surviving son of Jonathan. He restored Saul’s estate and Mephibosheth was in charge.  This way, David kept his covenant with Jonathan, even in death. (Prov. 17:17; 18:24) Not all friendship stories end up this way. There are very few life-long experiences like the one above.

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Some people come into our lives at some point in time and naturally transit after they have made their impact. We discover that when we try to force such associations to linger beyond their welcome, frustration sets in and we lose our peace. Also, there are times when God brings us in close contact with some people for specific assignments. It could be as simple as listening to them, praying for them, counselling them or keeping them company. In due season, when they have received enough courage and inner strength to stand alone, we need to be sensitive to know when to allow them grow into independence and stand on their own, helping others as they have been helped. There are times that such friendships blossom into deeper relationships, but we must be careful not to seek to possess such people as our own. We should not use people and take advantage of them. Help them get a life, but do not stifle their growth. No one owes you anything because you have done them any good. God in heaven sees your heart and the motives behind your kind actions. He will reward you accordingly. (Col. 3:23-25)

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Leaders, especially in the house of God, are entrusted with the lives of people. We look up to them and they help young believers grow. Usually, a leader places a high priority on his/her relationship with his/her followers. S/he prays for them, listens to them, counsels and carries burdens in their hearts for people in their care. Sometimes s/he feels exhausted, other times s/he feels rejuvenated to continue to sow seeds of growth and happiness. In the course of service, s/he is privy to varying details of the lives of different people. The many fellowship meetings and activities help to knit people’s hearts together in unity and they begin to see themselves as blood relations. A family is birthed. But when a leader leaves an office, there is the certainty that not all relationships and connections to everybody remain the same. A few relationships remain and even wax stronger, but others gradually fade due to several reasons that will not be discussed here.

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Wherever we find ourselves, let us endeavour to make the best of associations. Value people; seek ways in which you can give and not necessarily receive. Always remember the place of God in relationships with people. When people hurt you, forgive and forget. Granted, many times scars from broken trust linger, but God is a master at dealing with scars. He can truly heal your wounds and clear the scars. Always check and ensure your character is intact. When an individual’s character is sound, even when circumstances take us apart from other people for decades, when we meet again we find it convenient to reconnect with them. This is why old time friends reconnect after several years, and in a matter of weeks or months they begin to talk about doing business together. In all our associations with people, we should endeavour to be selfless (not selfish and self-seeking), genuinely interested in people, recognise when to part and give them a break, and never neglect God’s guidance and prodding through the Holy Spirit in us. Above all, we should develop good character, live by it and be trustworthy.

(c) August 2010