Great Friendships Require Trust and Confidentiality

This quote from Scottish author, poet, minister, and pioneer of modern fantasy literature, George MacDonald (1824-1905) reminds us about an important aspect of all relationships: trust. In many ways, trust is key to any meaningful or serious relationship — whether it’s in marriage, a close friendship, or even a professional connection. Trust binds people together and strengthens relationships. I’ve written that Developing Trust is one of the most important Traits of a GodBuddy Relationship. You can build it quickly and lose it even quicker without confidentiality, which is one of the main reasons Why Friendships End

Tom Eisenman, author of The Accountable Man: Pursuing Integrity Through Trust and Friendship writes that male friendships need absolute confidentiality. His rule is that you will share nothing outside the relationship unless you have permission. Even the smallest things that seem of no consequence, are held in strict confidence. Once someone violates this rule, they prove they are untrustworthy. Their friends become more guarded and no longer open themselves up.

IMPORTANT QUALIFIER: Absolute confidentiality is needed except if you believe the safety of your friend, his family, or anyone else is in jeopardy. Go to your pastor, or even the police, if there is any concern whatsoever about the threat of your friend harming themselves or others. Of course, this requires discretion so it’s important to distinguish between information that should be kept private and what should be shared if it is harmful. 

Another important aspect that makes trust tricky is the need to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Many people believe this enables them to share difficult truths no matter their relationship or the circumstances. Sure, hearing a hard truth is best in a gentle, kind, inoffensive manner in a non-threatening environment. However, speaking a hard truth in love means doing it with grace and understanding. 

Sadly, too many guys today need to hear the hard truth to stop acting like immature little boys and begin acting like mature men. For many, hearing a hard truth will be a jolt. Most will take it seriously, especially when they trust their friend who can maintain confidentiality.

Scripture reminds us “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Godly men learn to extend grace and love to their friends because Jesus “came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He laid down His own life for His friends in the most remarkable display of love when He died on the cross for our sins. Earning the trust of a friend is a great compliment. But the trusting in the selfless love of Christ is even greater!

Wisdom for Men is my opinion on topics that help men become better. The sources used are not fact-checked but support my theory that men are better with deeper, more authentic friendships. This GodBuddy theory is based on biblical principles but applies to all men, regardless of their beliefs. Better friendships can help solve the crisis of male friendship…and the world needs better men. It needs more men who desire to be more like Jesus, our ultimate role model.

[Feature Image from a Facebook post by Heart Souls]


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