Friday, June 15, 2007

Best Friends

Grant, George & Karen Grant. Best Friends: The Ordinary Relationships of Extraordinary People. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 1998.

I have previously commented on another Grant book, Shelf Life: How Books Have Changed the Destinies and Desires of Men and Nations. This book is a companion volume written in the same format- vignettes and compiled quotes. It is an easy read, encouraging and challenging. One of the most common challenges for pastors is developing close friendships, dealing with isolation. This book rightly holds up the value of friendship as a gift from God. It is not aimed at pastors, but in reading I did think of the difficulty of so many pastors who feel isolated and alone. This book might encourage you to seek out real friendships in your labor. What a blessing it is when you can have true friends laboring as pastors right alongside you! This is a joy I am blessed to know.

Here are a few quotes:

“All kinds of things rejoiced my soul in the company of my friends – to talk and laugh and do other kindnesses; read pleasant books together, pass form lightest jesting to talk of the deepest things and back again; differ without rancour, as a man might differ with himself, and when most rarely dissension arose find our normal agreement all the sweeter for it; teach each other or learn from each other; be impatient for the return of the absent, and welcome them with joy on their homecoming; these and such like things, proceeding from our hearts as we gave affection and received it back, and shown by face, by voice, by the eyes, and a thousand other pleasing ways, kindled a flame which infused our very souls and of many made us one. This is what men value in friends.” – St. Augustine

“A friend hears the song of the heart and sings it when memory fails.” – Martin Luther

“Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” – George Washington

“We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.” – John Buchan

“…it is seeing ourselves in the context of community, of relationships, and of friendships that ultimately give meaning to our search for meaning and purpose in life. Indeed, no man is an island.” – Andrew Nelson Lytle


Joel Maners said...

I read not long ago that one of the most important things to understand about men in this country is that we are essentially friendless. Most men couldn't name 6 guys that would serve as pall bearers at their funeral. That's a sad reality.

But he problem is even more pronounced in the church in some ways. Men make friendships by essentially hanging out together and doing things like fishing or playing golf. Unfortunately most women see that activity as wasting time at best, and taking time away from your family at worst. If we want to restore male friendships, we need to rehabilitate their habitat. I am convind that men need time for friendships. But they also need to be able to have friends without being led to believe that they are sacrificing their families to have them.

Jeff Lash said...

Sounds like a good book. I'll have to add it to my long book wish list. I think part of the issue with the isolation problem is the fact that people have a vaulted view of the pastor. In some cases pastors may promote this view. My feeling is that in a lot of cases it is a product of our celebrity driven culture. The pastor is a celebrity to his congregation and possibly within the community no matter how large or small it may be. In some instances it may be unavoidable depending on the context of the ministry, but I think the way a pastor/preacher carries out his faith in humility will go a long way in breaking down this idea of him as a "celebrity." In any case, you are so right. A pastor needs close friends like everyone else. He needs people whom he can lean on and confide in during good and bad times.

Ray Van Neste said...

I agree with both of you. We need to look for natural settings for men to get together.
And, Jeff, yes, the celebrity culture kills us here. Pastors need to see themselves first as members of this particular church and secondly as pastor of that church.