Each week I have a meeting with a group of men I’m in business with for the fitness brand I’ve been building. During one of our conversations, a question arose as to whether I knew a guy that could do some work for free simply because “we were friends.” I was a little troubled by just asking a friend for free stuff just because he was my friend. I didn’t want him to feel taken advantage of so I suggested instead that we pay him. I wanted it to be an investment into the company and even our friendship as opposed to a favor.
Looking back on that conversation I began thinking about a lot of things people invest in. On HeartSupport, they can invest in our Restore Program to help break free from the past and heal. But if it were free would people take it as seriously or even do it? What about the free shirt someone simply hands you versus the expensive button down you bought at Banana Republic? The same is true when it comes to our relationships with our friends. You can either invest (walk the walk) or simply have friends for what they can bring to the table (talk the talk).
Friendships Require Investment
My 12 Step sponsor, Josh, knows me inside and out. We’ve become extremely close and I truly love and care about him. One of the biggest reasons why we have grown so close is because he knows my deepest, darkest secrets that very few people know. As we invested in each others lives, I made a choice to give him a certain amount of authority and trust in my life. He, in return, was willing to listen to me for over a year and a half – helping me process my past pains, understanding who I was, where I was, what I struggled with, what my deepest desires are, and sharing my lowest lows. Even though Josh and I have known each other a few years, our friendship grew rapidly this past year because of the time invested in each other’s lives, and now I trust him more than many people I’ve known for decades.
Whether we’re in relationships old or new, in order for them to achieve that certain level of richness and depth, we have to think hard about whether or not we’re going to just talk a big game or if we are willing to live it out. Surface level friendships all involve skin deep opinions and perceptions and we all have those. We surround ourselves with like-minded people we feel comfortable saying things others may disagree with. Sometimes that’s to pass judgment, give our opinions on politics and religion, or share what we’ve accomplished/desire to accomplish.
But are we willing to walk the walk even when it’s hard? Are we willing to confront a friend when we believe they’re doing something wrong? Do we really want to help them out in crisis? What if they hit rock bottom and end up in destructive patterns that leave them depressed, alone, hurting, self-harming, or abusing substances? Are we willing to help them then? Where is the line in the sand for our friendships on how far we’re willing to go for someone and invest in their life?
Some of us may be reading this and think we have solid relationships because we might be popular at school or work, or even successful and have our friends look up to us. But just how many of those people in our lives and newsfeeds do you really think would help us and be at our side if we lost our job? Had a drinking problem? Consistently stuck in a state of depression? I’m willing to bet it’s under 10 people if that.
There are two responsibilities in relationships if we really want deep and meaningful relationships.
One is to serve your friends with love, grace, and genuine care. You’ve got to be willing to give in relationships. That may look like late night talks with a friend when they are in need, watching their house if they leave town, keeping their confidence when they’re struggling, or even calling them daily to check up on them. My friend Isaac was that guy for me. When I was going through my divorce, he and I would talk every single day. He made sure to call each day just to make sure I was alright. It’s that servant minded mentality that drives our friendships deeper. It can’t simply be all about us.
The second responsibility we have in a friendship is making sure you are receiving the same from your friend. Everywhere in society and our lives it’s easy to get taken advantage of. We enjoy other people’s company, but why? Is there an ulterior motive behind wanting to spend time with someone? Is it because they make us feel cool? Is it because they have a lot of money? Maybe it’s because they like to flatter us in order to get something in return.
Or is it because we truly care about them? That we love them just because of who they are and not what they have? Is it because we’ve had really rich experiences with them, or have walked through dark points together? Do they invest time encouraging us or point us in a positive direction? Are they not afraid of conflict so that the relationship grows? People can talk all day about how they care for you, but who in your life is legitimately taking steps to build you up?[clickToTweet tweet=”People can talk all day about how they care for you, but who is actually building you up?” quote=”People can talk all day about how they care for you, but who is actually building you up?”]
So when I think of people who I can trust, it isn’t what I’ve done that makes me trust them, it’s what they’ve done that proves they’re worthy of my trust. Take, for instance, my friend Ben Sledge. That guy has seen me at my highest and my lowest, and yet he has always treated me the exact same no matter what position in life I’m at. The guy literally tells me he loves me every time we get on the phone and how he misses me. He then tries really hard for me to come visit him and his wife after every tour! Ha!
In my life, I know a lot of people, but I have very few friends, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If we want people to be committed to us, we have to be willing to give to them during the times that count the most. If we aren’t seeing a genuine care from our friends, perhaps it’s best to pull back and invest more time into those who want to give back as much as you put in. Find that person willing to be the Josh, Isaac, or Ben in your life and then give back to them the same way they’ve done for you.
Don’t just make it lip service. Walk the walk.