In my introductory post for the series on Traits of a GB Relationship, I stated men have a hard time making and keeping friendships in part due to the masks we hide behind. It also included a list of some barriers that keep us from sharing our emotions, feelings, and fears.
I then provided some of the characteristics that I believe are unique to being a God Buddy that will help us become better men. The first of the traits –and one I did not include but do need to add is Finding Commonality.
The definition of Commonality is “possession of common features or attributes“. For instance, one commonality between the two very different women is their passion for charity work. Two men may share their love for a particular baseball team. Finding a shared passion or pursuit is a great starting point for a friendship.
Why is Commonality Important?
A recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology upends the idea that “opposites attract” and instead suggests that we’re drawn to people who are like-minded. According to an article about the study, the earliest moments of a relationship reveal that future friends are already similar at the very outset of their social connection.
Well, I believe there is a spiritual bonding that also comes early on by having a common goal or pursuit that connects God Buddies. That unique bond often gets discovered as soon as you realize you have something in common with another man.
C.S. Lewis is famously quoted as saying, “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”
But there is often not a single, simple common interest that builds a deep friendship.
The Bonding Power of Commonality
A post on the website SocialSelf suggests that when we meet someone, we often never discover commonalities because we don’t know how to look for them. It also suggests the more unique the commonality between two people, the more it can help you bond. This graphic from the website shows the stages of bonding power finding some type of commonality which helps it feel very natural to keep in touch.
But it takes some work.
Today, so many of us work an insane amount of hours or spend too much time in front of the TV or playing video games. Finding something in common with another man starts by getting out of your man cave and attending functions with other guys.
Men do relationships side-by-side. We need to be around other guys watching our favorite sports teams together, doing hobbies together, or joining in volunteer work together. YES, TOGETHER!
A Commonality Formula
One article called How to Meet New People and Make Friends from LifeHack.org says a critical piece to kick-starting a friendship is to find not just one commonality but by finding two things in common. Their formula goes like this:
- First Commonality + Second Commonality = Potential Friendship
Having a second thing in common will, in fact, add more depth to your friendship. But it can also become frustrating to find multiple things in common with a brand-new friend. So keep your antennae up for other common interests and pursuits.
You should also pray for God to place someone in your life with GodBuddy potential (but that is the topic of a future post!)
The Important Third Commonality for GBs
More importantly, I believe there is a third commonality that adds the most relational depth and takes a friendship to God Buddy level. It’s a common pursuit of living to God’s standards.
So my version of the formula looks like this:
- First Commonality + Second Commonality + Third Commonality (Living according to God’s standards) = God Buddy Relationship
Now, adding a third commonality may seem daunting but it simply comes from helping each other become better men by pursuing a life according to God’s design and standards.
Let me give some biblical support for this trait.
The book of Acts highlights the unity and growth of the early Christian churches, which was marked by a commitment to teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. This “koinonia“ (the Greek word for “fellowship”) is a term that expresses the mutuality and commonality from both shared activities and shared possessions that were needed by the early believers.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.— Acts 2: 44-47 New International Version (NIV)
The believers lived together, loved, and supported each other.
The Apostle Paul also writes in Romans that we should be “like-minded” in our pursuit of living like Christ, being one in spirit and of one mind.
“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.”— Romans 15:5
The Commonality of GBs is to Pursue Jesus
The believers shared the common goal of learning to be like Christ.
You’ve heard the saying, “It’s hard to fly like an eagle when you run with a bunch of turkeys”. It means finding guys who will make you better.
Try pursuing a friendship with someone you admire. It may require taking a bit of risk to reach out to someone you want to learn from; someone who has been down the road a bit before you.
Read this post where I explain how I took a risk and reached out to find my original God Buddy, Bill Johnson. We both enjoy golf and baseball. We also study and serve together. Bill and I talk frequently. We have a lot in common. We make each other better men.
Finding commonality is just one of the important traits for your new friendship. Stay tuned to upcoming posts as I unpack several more of the unique characteristics needed to take it your friendship to a God Buddy depth.
In the meantime, how do you find commonality with your friends?