My last post, The Highest Type of Friendship is Spiritual states that the highest type of friendship includes a spiritual component that differentiates between good friends and GodBuddies. This next-to-last post of the series, New Year; New Types of Friends describes my formula for making GodBuddies, who become the deeper, more authentic friendships that every man needs in their life. This formula helps guys become better men who help influence and improve the world.
In today’s world of social isolation, “toxic” masculinity, and –quite frankly, improper behavior by many many men who still act like boys, we can greatly reduce the amount of sexual abuse and rape, mass shootings, dysfunctional families, misogynistic beliefs, and soaring crime rates. My belief is that men who understand proper manhood will help boys become better men.
How Men Make Friends
As my wife and I were having children, I read a lot about raising boys since we had three of them. This led me down the path of understanding how male friendships change throughout their lifetime and how the pressures and stress of adulthood cause men to isolate themselves to hide from their failures. This loneliness causes friendlessness in men which becomes a huge threat to our health. All this validated my position that men need better friends.
I also read about how so many men don’t know how to make or maintain friends. The Differences Between Male & Female Friendships also mean we do friendships differently so I wanted to help men learn to find and maintain better friendships.
Why Men Need Better Friendships
So let’s rewind a bit. Early in my career, I struggled with workaholism that teetered toward depression as I wrote in Why I Needed a God Buddy. To some extent, I was exactly what I was reading about throughout my research. With my wife’s prompting, I found the men’s group at our church and saw that other guys struggled with many aspects of life. But I also saw that these men supported each other in ways that were authentic, vulnerable, and non-judgmental. In that group, I learned about biblical manhood and priorities, which eventually reoriented my life.
During one session of the men’s group, we discussed Where Did All My Friends Go? and lamented how many of us had numerous acquaintances but not many really close friends. We previously had bowling or golfing or drinking buddies but felt that most of our pals remained stuck in their old ways and still acted like frat boys we see in the media today rather than responsible adults. We talked about how conversations between many men today were “surface-level” since guys secretly deal with their issues. At one point, I suggested it sounded like we needed “God Buddies” to help us become the men God designed us to be. Then, something clicked!
As our men’s group grew in our understanding of proper manhood, we developed better friendships that helped us through our struggles, cheered for our accomplishments, and learned what it meant to do life together. We desire to become better men who help other men influence and improve the world.
Now more than 20 years later, this “GodBuddies” concept became this blog, which lead to my book, Get Out of Your Man Cave: The Crisis of Male Friendship and How to Turn Good Friends into GodBuddies.
A Basic Friendship Formula
During my research for the book, I stumbled upon an article called How to Meet New People and Make Friends which gave this formula for starting a new relationship:
First Commonality + Second Commonality = Potential Friendship
Commonality means finding a similar interest such as enjoying a particular sport, following the same teams or enjoying the same hobby. It may come through a shared passion for charity work or physical fitness. Commonality may develop between two completely different personalities or two people who are similar. Generally, guys find commonality by doing side-by-side activities, whereas women make friendships face-to-face through conversation.
Good Friendship Needs Chemistry
In addition to finding commonality, friendships need to develop chemistry. Researchers define friendship chemistry as “an instant emotional and psychological connection between two friends that is easy and makes the relationship seem natural. This chemistry often comes through self-disclosure in which friends shares something a bit deeper and the other reciprocates. This spark helps develops chemistry so I’d amend the aforementioned formula to look like this:
Commonality + Chemistry = Good Friendship
C. S. Lewis, the Anglican theologian, British writer, and author of The Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity, once said,
“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.
This realization that another man shares your struggles often is the spark that leads to chemisty in a basic friendship. Its the common bond that takes two men into a deeper friendship.
The GodBuddy Friendship Formula
As I thought more about this friendship formulas and my GodBuddies concept, I realized there needed to be a spiritual aspect that brings good friends even closer. Based on personal discoveries in my own men’s group, I’ve come to believe that there is a “holy” part of the friendship equation that truns good friends into GodBuddies. Its the mutual goal of learning to live to God’s standards and following Jesus Christ as your role model.
This discovery leads to my version of the formula, which looks more like this:
Commonality + Chemistry + Higher Standards = GodBuddy Friendship
This holy part of the GodBuddy Formula adds the most relational depth to your friendship. It’s the part that enables you to become more vulnerable with each other and hold each other accountable. This part part guides your friendship to encourage and pray for each other. It that turns your relationship from just being good friends to being “friends for the good” that I wrote about in The Highest Type of Friendship is Spiritual. It creates a GodBuddy friendship that is deeper than most friendships.
Author Jonathon Holmes also validates my theory with this definition of a biblical friendship:
“Biblical friendship exists when two or more people, bound together by a common faith in Jesus Christ, pursue Him and His kingdom with intentionality and vulnerability. Rather than serving as an end in itself, biblical friendship serves primarily to bring glory to Christ, who brought us into friendship with the Father. It is indispensable to the work of the gospel on the earth, and an essential element of what God created us for.”—from The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship by Jonathan Holmes
This holy factor in the equation also leads to a lifestyle change. You leave your old, childish ways behind and learn how to live according to higher standards and how to be more like Jesus. There are different goals for your closest friendships. You look for deeper, more authentic friendships and keep those a priority.
Aside from the GB logo I use on my website, I haven’t found a great visual to represent this GodBuddy formula until today. In a post titled Friendship Equation, screenwriter, Jonathan W. Stokes created an equation that represents the value of friendship for him. I’ve enhanced that equation by including Jesus to create the visual for my GodBuddy formula in the featured image for this post.
Men need goals that help them find purpose and live their best life here on earth. My belief is that one of the highest goals anyone can pursue is to become more like Jesus since He is the ultimate role model for manhood.
Jesus showed us how to use our masculinity for good. He was tender yet tough when needed. He showed us how the ancient teachings in Scripture apply to our life. Jesus showed us how to love God and live by higher standards. He showed us how to avoid temptations that lead to sinful behaviors. He showed us how to love ourselves, and love others, especially our enemies. Jesus demonstrated humility over pride, how to care for others in need, and how to serve those in need. He showed us how to be responsible and live with an eternal mindset. He showed how to be a godly man.
That said, realizing we are sinful human beings who will are not perfect while we are here on earth, I believe men must seek out GodBuddies to do life together. These are your band of brothers. They become your inner circle of closest friends. GBs share the common pursuit of “the good” by following Jesus. They are your counsel on big decision and support for big failures. GodBuddies are men the way God designed men. Better men who help influence and improve the world.
My next post will summarize this entire series and give you a view of my plans for next year.