What men need: Friends

“After David had finished talking with Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” 1 Samuel 18:1

Often we have misunderstood that men need to be tough on their own, and fail to see that men need to have other types of men in their lives: Mentors & Brothers. I was driving around last week and was struck by the fact that over the past year I have been more intentional about forging friendships with men.

Back when I was leaving youth ministry, one of the mothers mentioned to me that it meant a lot to her and her son that I would end my voicemails with the refrain, “Talk to you later buddy.” Because it helped her son identify that another man in his life considered him a friend.

For many of us, after high school and the intentional friendship forming environments of college, our friendships have fallen off as a priority.

As one man articulated to me recently, if he were to have died a year ago he wasn’t quite sure who would surround his wife and children. Now, however, he realizes they will be well cared for by a community of men. Another shared how he now has 2 or 3 men who he could call anytime of the night should something happen.

This is the type of friendship men seek to build. Not club-acquaintances; not sports-buddies; not office-mates; but a “brotherhood.” A bond that will be proven through difficult times.

Echoing my recent conversations, Lindsay sent me this article this week. I believe that the observation by Lisa Wade is accurate and overall it is the right call for men to man-up and make friends. However, the prognosis lacks an adequate understanding of masculinity, because her claim that men desire the same level and type of intimacy in their friendships as women, is both wrong and right. It is right in the sense that men desire a similar level, but it is a very different type of bond.

For men, real friendships are forged not through eye-to-eye chats over a coffee table, but by walking shoulder-by-shoulder into challenges. It is not a friendship of nurture, listening, and acceptance, but it is a friendship of assessment, advice and action. Larry Crabb says, “every man questions whether he has what it takes to survive the challenges of life honestly.” And a brother steps into say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.”  They say that together we will dig into those challenges and take a terrifying look into our secret lives.

This is what happened in Jonathan and David’s life. After David had killed Goliath, and reported to King Saul, a bond was formed between these two men. Jonathan transferred his loyalty from his father to this contemporary David, because he discovered a buddy in the battlefield of life to walk alongside.

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