His pastor, while giving the charge to the candidate and the church, made a statement that went something like this...."I have many acquaintances but very few close friends." He went on to describe a close friend as someone who would go the extra mile for his friend. He even quoted Jesus at this point...."greater love has no man than he who would lay down his life for his friends."
In his Nicomachean Ethics, an old Greek dude has plenty of interesting insights, and makes a number of well-reasoned value judgments. This old Greek dude devotes a lot of time and thought to the question of friendship...about one tenth of this long treatise, in fact. One old Greek dude, Aristotle, figured there were three types of friendship. I have had a tendency to adopt some, if not all, of Aristotle's thinking on this subject.
First, he defines what he calls a Friendship of Utility. This friendship exists between you and someone who is useful to you in some way. It is the friendship you might have with a neighbor who waters your plants while you are on vacation and you take care of their dog from time to time when they are away. I often characterize this friendship as the "you scratch my back and I'll degrade myself by picking up your pooch's poop with a plastic baggie" type of friendship.
Second, Aristotle identifies Friendships of Pleasure. Friendships of pleasure exists between you and those whose company you enjoy. These are my softball buddies, my pastor friends at the local coffee shop, or maybe the people I share a mission experience with. It is pleasurable to be around them.
But then, Aristotle, gets to deeper thought when he identifies Friendships of the Good. These friendships are based upon mutual respect and admiration. These friendships take longer to build than the other two--but they are more powerful and enduring. These friendships often develop when two people realize that they have similar values and goals. They often have a similar vision of how the world (or at least their lives) should be. These are those friendships that are established early and then last forever. I have several friends that would fall into this category...but let me take a moment to reflect on two (or four if you include their wives).
I was the Pastor, Scott was the Minister of Music, and Bud was the Minister of Education. We were not just a church staff we were Friends of the Good. We laughed a lot, enjoyed time together, and served together. Only death can end this type of relationship--and several years ago Bud went on to be with the Lord. I miss Bud's wit, dry sense of humor, and homespun philosophies. I love Scott and his wife, Nancy, and cherish their friendship. We now have an agreement--He will do my funeral if I will do his! Somebody is sure to get the short end of that deal.
Here is the point--cherish all of your friendships, especially those Friendships of the Good. Life can be a pretty difficult journey without friends.
This is my story...