Converge Northeast Regional VP & Associate Director
Discipleship & spiritual formation
I faced a reckoning nearly two decades into ministry. My phone was full of contacts and my social media network was robust. In the small pond of New England, I had even made a name for myself, whatever that means. But you know what I did not have? A small circle of brothers who knew the real me. They are called friends, it turns out, and they are one of the most critical pillars of fruitfulness and faithfulness in pursuit of Christ.
An abundance of relationships is an easy facade for a tragic lack of authentic friendship.
In his classic work "Ordering Your Private World," Gordon MacDonald calls them "capital F" friends. As we grow in leadership, most women and men find friendships harder to find and keep. Spiritual guides and organizational leaders find relationships complex. Fans admire you from afar. Followers move in the direction of your influence. Friends walk in the front door of your life without needing to knock first.
Consider Jesus: in the inner circle of the disciples, Peter, James, and John had uncommon access. They witnessed the most private moments of Jesus and experienced high points like the transfiguration. John called himself "the one that Jesus loved."
Who are your real friends?
A mark of maturity is when those closest to you most clearly see the outflowing of the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Maybe the reason we avoid the work of friendship is we fear the cost of vulnerability? If so, we miss one of the most sacred resources for growth.
Faced with this sobering void I did something equally drastic and awkward: I asked two people I knew to be my friends. It was about as natural and comfortable as sliding a piece of paper across the school lunch table: Will you be my friend? Yes or No.
Chris and Dan said yes. They are my Friends. They call me and text me consistently. We have hiked together and biked together. We have gone away to retreats and talked about hard things. They know things about me you will never know. They challenge me and show me incredible graciousness.
If you have capital F friends, you are rich! Lean in and go deep.
If this is your moment of reckoning: your response is clear. Pursue friendship. You may experience fits and spurts, sidesteps and missteps, but an investment in friendship yields eternal dividends.
Andy Needham, Converge Northeast Regional VP & Associate Director
Andy Needham is a New England native who has spent the past two decades serving in ministry roles from church leadership, to nationally touring worship artist, to launching and leading conferences. He is the Associate Director for Converge Northeast, working to start and strengthen churches throughout the Northeast and beyond.