This is a tough week for me and many others as a piece of us was taken away too early. On April 1, 2014 one of my earliest God Buddies, Christopher J. Davolos died unexpectedly after exercising during his lunch break at work. Chris was such a great influence on me and embodied the God Buddy concept that this entire website is dedicated to Chris.

In Three Relationships Every Man Needs, I suggested every man needs a Paul (mentor), a Barnabas (peer), and a Timothy (protege) in their life. As I wrote in that post, Barnabas and Paul were peers who became close friends as they traveled together on the first of Paul’s three missionary journeys. Barnabas, whose name means “Son of Encouragement” and “Son of Exhortation” (see Acts 4:36) was at Paul’s side during his best times and also his worst times. Barnabas’ support helped Paul become more confident in his new-found faith and propelled his life to bigger things. .

Chris was my Barnabas

Chris Davolos was also there for me during my best times and my worst times. He congratulated me during my successes and encouraged me after my failures. Likewise, I did the same for Chris.

Both of us grew up in Catholic so we each carried around the burden of trying to live according to the “rules and regulations” of that tradition. We helped each other learn to let go of the guilt from our pasts and reminded each other often about the amazing gift of grace given to us by Jesus Christ, who paid the price on the cross to redeem us from our past, present, and future sins. Chris and I knew we were both far from perfect. But we challenged and held each other accountable to become better men by learning how to let go of the past.

We really enjoyed hanging out together…

Chris and I would run or bike together on many weekends and talked through many of these issues. We would golf on occasion or get together just to watch a ball game on TV. We sat on committees at church, studied the Bible together, and participated in small groups. Chris and I genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

…but we also disagreed like Paul and Barnabas.

Like Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36-41), Chris and I had some sharp disagreements throughout our journey together as God Buddies. We often did not see “eye to eye” and fiercely debated many topics. However, we always spoke the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), especially whenever it was something not up to our agreed-upon standards for living as Christ followers.

One disagreement in particular was in the company of Bill Johnson, my original GB. The three of us (plus some else I do not remember) attended a White Sox baseball game. I suggested we play the “Cup Game” in which you bet on the outcome of each particular batter. Chris was known to be very frugal and did not want to play but we goaded him into participating (probably because the tickets were given to us for free).

To understand our disagreement though, you need to understand the Cup Game.

Cup Game Rules

An empty beer cup (ideally rinsed out!) would pass between each person in your group after each batter. The person holding the cup puts a dollar into the cup and takes out an amount depending on the results of the hitter. For example, $1 for a single, $2 for a double, or $3 for a triple. If your hitter hit a home run, the cup holder would empty the cup of all the money. A grand slam home run required everyone else to pay the cup holder an extra $5.

Conversely, if the hitter made an out when you held the cup, you left the dollar in and passed the cup on. If your batter hit into a double-play, you put in an extra $1. A base on balls (walk) allowed you to take your dollar out since it resulted in no official at-bat for the player. For a Fielder’s Choice (where the runner already on base is forced out by the hitter’s ball in play), the cup-holder passes the cup but did not get their dollar back since the at-bat was considered a recorded out, even though the hitter was still on base.

The dispute over a dollar

The rift came when Chris was holding the cup and the batter caused a “strike em out, throw em out” double play (where the batter strikes out and the runner is caught trying to steal a base). Chris became very upset since he felt his batter only caused one of the outs. The rest of us said it was a double play and required Chris to put an extra $1 in the cup (the rules stated as such, by the way. In fact, we even called a mutual friend who confirmed our position!)

Chris stubbornly opted out of the cup game in protest and continued to debate his case for the rest of the ball game. He stewed the entire ride home and insisted he was right. As guys will do, we continued to poke fun at him and kept the playful banter going.

This story has became a long-running chuckle among us (of course, it was not funny at the time to Chris!). I still smile whenever I think of the story.

We “Sharpened” Each Other

Chris and I had many really good times together that far overshadowed our disagreements. He encouraged me when I needed it most and challenged me to think more deeply on many topics. Proverbs 27:17 states “As iron sharpens iron, so one man shall sharpen another.” Chris and I sharpened each other into better husbands, fathers, and Christians. I miss him greatly but know that I’m a better man by having Chris as one of my God Buddies.

My prayer is that everyone who reads this page will also find themselves a Barnabas to help them become a better person… just like Chris did for me!

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