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Made for Friendship: Drew Hunter

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
August 31, 2023 5:15 am

Made for Friendship: Drew Hunter

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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August 31, 2023 5:15 am

Isn't friendship kind of…optional? Author Drew Hunter proposes a solution to the nationwide epidemic of loneliness. He digs into the scriptural plea for authentic friendship, and how, exactly, to make friendships you can't live without.

Show Notes and Resources

Connect with Drew Hunter and read his article "7 Tips on being a good friend" and listen to the "4 steps on cultivating true friendship".

And grab his book, "Made for Friendship" in our shop.

Intrigued by today's episode? Think deeper about friendship in these episodes with Kelly Needham.

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We are in some ways the most connected generation ever. Social media and the internet and ways of connecting over text messages and phones calls, I mean, never have people been able to connect this quickly with this many people.

And yet, we are the most disconnected generation as well. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. Did you have a best friend growing up?

I knew you were going to ask me that, and I literally thought the first name came to my mind, Marty Jordan. You've had so many friends. You always have a friend. You didn't have a best friend?

Well, I mean, you know, I was in New Jersey, and then mom and dad divorced and ended up in Ohio. And Marty Jordan was one of my best friends all the way through college, and then he passed. You don't even know Marty. I met him. And I know that his mom listens.

Yeah, I've gotten, like, direct messages every once in a while from his mom. I feel like you're unusual in that you've always had really good friends. My dad and my brothers, I have two brothers, and my dad, they were really good friends with one another, but they really didn't have many friends. And so I thought you were really unique because you had so many male friends. I do remember when Jim, your brother's son, came up for a while, like a week, and stayed with us in Michigan. Remember what he said? Yeah. He goes, you have guys coming over, like, every other day. I've never seen anything quite like that.

Yeah, people are walking in the door all the time. What's going on? And I love that. So today we're talking about friendship.

Obviously, we've got Drew Hunter in the studio. I guess you're the expert on friendship. I don't know if I'd call myself an expert, but I've thought about it a lot and care about it a lot and want to help other people think and care about it. Well, I mean, you've done a lot of thinking on a topic a lot of people don't do a lot of thinking on. Your book is called Made for Friendship, the relationship that halves our sorrows and doubles our joys.

So I'll ask you what Anne just asked me. Do you have a best friend growing up? I did, although I think as you were talking, I was thinking about two that were probably both my best friends. So Derek and Brett, I grew up in northern Illinois when I was younger and they were in my neighborhood and we had a lot of woods around us. So we just spent a lot of time growing up as friends. And there's some just goofy pictures of us. And so, yeah.

How about today? You know, I've kind of I think if I was to say one person was my best friend would be my brother, Trent, who's become my closest friend. But I have I kind of intentionally don't think about someone as a best friend. I have several that are close and just at least for me, I don't want to pick one over others. I have several that I'm really close to and we have unique relationships with.

And when you say that as a woman, you're afraid that it's going to hurt your other friends feelings. Really? Yeah. Well, Drew, you're married and you have four sons.

Yep. You're a pastor. Let me ask you. I think it's pretty quiet right here for you right now.

I'm guessing your house isn't quite like yours. Share the ages of your boys. Sure. Twelve, eleven, ten and six. Bam. Three in a row. Three years in a row you had a baby. Your wife. You guys should get some applause.

You need friends. In fact, I think my six year old just turned seven and I got the age wrong. Seriously? Yeah.

I do that all the time. Is she going to correct you? There's so many.

There's so many. But is that important? Do you want your sons to have friends? Yes.

Yeah. We talk about that a lot about choosing friends wisely. We talk about kids at school. We want them to have a mindset that they're friendly with everyone. So there's not going to be a sense of, well, you're not my friend, therefore I shouldn't care about you. But it takes a lot of wisdom to pick your friends well because you become like your friends. And we see that happening in their life already and so we want them to have good friends, to be good friends and to think about that growing up. Why did you write about this?

A few reasons. So when I first started thinking about the topic, it was about probably twelve or thirteen years ago now. And I was teaching through Proverbs and I sat down with the book of Proverbs and just would read through it and collect themes. I just wanted to say what are the most prominent themes in Proverbs and I'll collect what Proverbs says about it and teach on those themes. And I was not expecting friendship to be part of the list. I was expecting money, words, right, from reading through Proverbs over the years. But I had just not seen just how significant friendship was in particular.

So even relationships, I was thinking about loving people, loving your neighbor, marriage relationships, those kinds of things. But I was struck by how many very specific and striking things Proverbs said about friendship. So I started to study it and then as I was studying that week, it drew me to John 15 where Jesus calls his disciples friends. And I just realized, my goodness, I've read this who knows how many times, so I have a category for it at some level, but I have not really taken this as seriously and internalized this as I should.

So that week was really pivotal for me. And then after that, I just kept thinking about friendship. And so I had friends growing up and through my life, I valued friendships, but I realized I've not really thought about it or thought about it deeply or much at all.

I think that week, I realized like I've never spent five straight minutes thinking intentionally about this. I've read books about marriage and parenting now, but never read anything on friendship, never had conversations or heard lectures or sermons directly on friendship. So I started talking to people about this and realized their experience was the same and that we all really value friendship, but we realized after thinking about it, I had one friend who said to me, I was talking about this. And after we started talking for a few minutes, he said, I'm a really lousy friend. And that's common. And I disagreed with him because he's one of my friends.

He's a great friend. But we do realize that without intentionality, there are gaps in our lives here. So those are a few things. And then over time, why it ended up being a book is because just noticing that there really weren't at the time, many resources at all from a biblical Christian perspective on friendship. And so it seemed to be lacking. And then we were in and we continue to be in a steep decline in just experiencing friendship.

Plenty of studies show that. So all those things came together to create the need for this book. I've talked to so many wives and we'll talk about our friendship and we'll talk about our husband's friendship. And I can't tell you how many wives say, my husband says he doesn't need any friends and I'm his only friend and I'm the only friend that he needs. Have you heard that before, Dave?

Yeah. I mean, you know, we were talking earlier that 30 years of preaching, I bet I did a message or two a year on friendship or community and, you know, sort of made for friendship, made for community. And I remember a stat, I tried to find it. Years ago that there was a study done of American men. And if I'm remembering it right, it said nine out of 10 American men say they do not have one true friend.

Wow. They have a lot of acquaintances, work buddies. And it's interesting. The study went on to say when they were boys, they had friends. But as they grew into men and got involved in their lives and marriages and things, it's not something the average American guy.

I don't know it compares to other men around the world, but in America, we go but often don't have a real, what we call a real friendship. Did you find that as well? Yeah. In fact, I remember someone making a joke at one point when I was talking about friendship. He said, yeah, we have this newly found miracle of Jesus. He had 12 close friends in his 30s.

Wow. Because it's just so rare. We have it early in life. If you go to college, college can often be a pressure cooker for friendship because you have so many overlapping spheres of life where the people you go to church with or in ministry with or have class with or where you live, they overlap.

And then we get out of college and then we move around. And there's so many factors that lead to it, but we end up friendless. So a lot of studies are showing those kinds of statistics where they'll just interview a lot of people and find out that, you know, Cigna Health Insurance did a study a number of years ago. And they found that half of people would say that their relationships aren't really meaningful to them. And something like 40 percent said that no one really knows them at all, which is another way of saying they don't actually have a friend. Right. Or even a family member they consider that closely.

So 40 percent are saying candidly, no one really knows me. That's super sad. You know, it was crazy. I was thinking, you know, when I was reading your book and thinking about friendship, I thought there was a show on TV. Oh, here we go. Here we go, Drew. There was a show on TV, you tell me, 80s?

Oh, yeah. I never really watched it. Was it 80s or 90s?

Drew, you'd probably know better than we would. Well, I'm thinking 90s if I know what you're about to do. Yes, it's 90s, isn't it? Yeah. You know that?

That's a true story. Christina and I, my wife, were at a hotel last night, and we don't usually watch TV, so it was on flipping through. It was on. And Friends was on. Repeat the channel. It was like who knows how many hours. We didn't watch hours of this, but you could see it was on hour after hour after hour. Like a marathon of Friends.

Yeah, it's still on, yeah. You want to sing the chorus? I don't know if I can. I'll be there for you when the rain starts to pour. I'll be there for you like I've been there before.

I'll be there for you because you're there for me too. I mean, I know that song. I don't think I've ever watched an episode of Friends. Oh, I have. But I know that so many people would quote it. I know even now on YouTube, you can see it all the time. I feel like when our kids were in college, they would all get together to watch Friends.

And I feel like a lot of people, it's like those characters are their really good friends because they loved seeing the uniqueness of kind of living close together, being friends. Hey, I just thought of another one. Oh, no. This is too old for you, Drew. But think about this.

It went like this. One, one, one is the loneliest number you'll ever know. Two can be as bad as one. It's the loneliest number since the number one.

Impressive. That was an old Three Dog Night song. But it gets at, I mean, they're getting at what you already mentioned, God's plan for friendship and community, the Bible's design, what you studied in Proverbs. You tell me, because you just wrote about this, are we living in one of the loneliest times in history? I think so. I think others can point to that.

I think studies would show that. So what's really unique about this, though, is that we are in some ways the most connected generation ever. Yeah, with our devices.

Absolutely. Social media and the internet and ways of connecting over text messages and phones calls. I mean, never have people been able to connect this quickly with this many people. And yet we are the most disconnected generation as well. So we're the most disconnected, disconnected generation because studies are showing we don't actually have real life on life, face to face, heart on heart, soul on soul friendships. So we're in a really unique position right now. So why is it important? Like, teach us.

You've done all this study. And I think wives are like, this is important. And I want my husband to hear it.

Wait, wait, wait. Why are we talking just about my husband to hear it? You don't think women need to hear it as well? Yeah, I think we do, too. And I think women are lonelier than they have been in the past, too. And we all get so busy that, you know, we're taking care of, you guys know, we're taking care of our kids, we're going to church, we're in our jobs.

And we think, like, do we have enough time for friends? I'm just talking about the women that I know and talk to, they feel bad for their husbands. So I'm going to hit the husbands a little bit.

Okay, hit the husbands. Yeah, it certainly is an issue for both genders and in different ages and spheres of life. So there's a lot of angles that you can look at friendship to see our need for it. If you just start at the page one of the Bible, you see our need for it. So God creates this wonder world, and He fills, He creates these different realms of sky, land, sea, fills it with communal life, gets to the sixth day and creates humanity. And He makes humanity in His image, and then they're called to go fill the world with communal, fruitful life and joy.

That's the commission for Adam and Eve to do, to fill the world with human society and friendship. But what's interesting in those first pages of the Bible is that God says He makes humanity in His own image, and He speaks of Himself in the plural. Let us make man in our image. Now, we don't explicitly see the Trinity there, but we see that God is a plurality. It doesn't take long reading the Bible, we find out Father, Son, and Spirit have made humanity in the image then of a triune God. So before there was creation, or any men or women, there was God, Father, Son, and Spirit, as an eternal fellowship of love.

And so God, Richard Sibbes, Puritan, put it this way. He said that God has a spreading goodness. So He spreads His goodness, which means He didn't create anything because He had a lack or a need, but because He wanted to share the fullness of His life and blessing. And so He creates humanity in His image, the image of a communal God, not because He needed us, but because He wanted to bless us. And one of the blessings is to be made in the image of a God who loves fellowship and community, this triune God of love.

And so humanity is made with this need to experience the fullness of joy in community with God and with one another. So we see that just on page one. And then even in chapter two, chapter two rewinds into the sixth day of creation to talk about how that actually happened. So when you read the first story of creation in Genesis one, you see that God made humanity, Adam and Eve.

Everything's very good. And then Genesis two rewinds into that day and then shows the process. He started with Adam. So he started just with one and then he's not made yet. And so he says about Adam, it is not good that man should be alone.

One is the loneliest number. It's that kind of concept. And so what's so striking about that is that so far we've just heard everything's good, good, good, very good. And then now we rewind back into the sixth day and realize that there's a moment when something was not good. Which is amazing because Adam had God. That's right. So there's a relationship with the God of the universe, the creator, and he still says it's not good.

Yeah. Everything's perfect. Everything's in harmony, creation. He knows God. And apparently from God's own sense of things and his observation and statement, it's not good for a human being to be in isolation from other human beings. And so he makes Eve not just as a spouse, but as a friend and to create a world of friendship. And what's also interesting here is that Adam hasn't sinned yet. So here we have the first problem, if we can use that word. I mean, there's not something wrong with what God's done.

It's just not complete yet, right? But before sin entered the world. So the first problem in human history that God solves is that of companionship and friendship. Before sin's even here, it's not good that man should be alone. So that's a strong statement for why we need friendship. We're made in the image of a God of love.

We're made for friendship. God himself says it's not good to be alone. And then you can go from there and see all the problems that happen when we are alone. Proverbs says that the one who isolates himself breaks out against all understanding and reason. We see what happens when people are put in solitary confinement. That's just a little picture of what we're all experiencing when we are lonely and isolated in life. Even babies that aren't held, babies that are put in a crib and never picked up.

They wither and they digress instead of becoming healthy. The thing that I was thinking too, as you were talking, Drew, was just scripture. How God is, as he talks about his people, the Israelites, the Sabbath, the Shabbat is always together with people.

He has so many celebrations that people are together. Food, when we eat, there's this beauty of when we come together and we eat, it's good for our souls. And I think that that's demonstrated in the scriptures. Right.

Yeah, I agree. You know, one of the things I've done every year is fasts. I used to do a two-week fast before Easter. What are you laughing about? I think I know where you're going with this. I don't know if you know where I'm going. What made me think of it is when you said eating with people is something you enjoy.

Yes! One of the hardest things about fasting is that goes away. I mean, I can sit at a table with people who are eating, and I'm really mad at them because they're eating and I'm not. But most of the time you don't sit down with people during that fast, which is obviously a different, you're doing a spiritual discipline. But I never thought of that when I first said I'm going to fast, that I'm going to miss community. And God has hardwired every human being to long for and need community. That's why I was laughing because I thought, I love it when you fast, but I also hate it because like, oh, this is no fun.

We can't eat together. You know what's interesting about that is when you fast from food, you end up appreciating food more, right? Oh, yeah. And appreciating people. And I think God has made food partly for the sake of friendship and community.

They can make a big old case for that. But what's interesting, too, is I was reading a book the past couple of weeks on just the way that the digital world has influenced us and technology and social media and our addiction to our phones and all these things. And I was really surprised about one part of his book where he talked about solitude being really important. And it was actually important for friendship and community.

So it was surprising because we wouldn't think that. It's like, well, be around people. And he said, actually, we need solitude and we don't have solitude anymore because our minds and it's not just being alone. It's giving space for your minds to not be occupied doing something, even checking your phone, checking your mail, checking the news, checking social media. Our mind no longer has just an opportunity to just relax and do what it does when it doesn't have things going on like it has for human history. And he said, and there are studies that show this about even what's going on in the brain, when your mind doesn't have a task to do, it defaults into using a part of your brain that thinks socially. And it's even measured in infants.

So this is just hardwired. Our mind defaults to think about our relationships. And I thought that's so interesting because recently I'll go out on my deck and just sit there by myself on some evenings or make a fire. Wait, wait, wait. You get four boys and you get to sit on a deck by yourself? I'm like nine at night. It's already dark and I'm exhausted.

So I'll get up for a little bit and I'll make a fire. And I start thinking about friendships and actually valuing them more. And that's the point in this book, actually, is that it's our digital addictions are making friendships worse, not just because we're spending time away from friends, kind of connecting in superficial ways, but because we don't have time for solitude where we actually think about our relationships and value them more. So I inevitably find myself calling a friend or just thinking about my friends and valuing them when I am alone. So there is a balance we need and actually solitude can help us engage with friends, not just being alone with our phone, but actually reflecting on life. And so perhaps one of our lacking our lacks of friendship in life is partly because we don't even have this space anymore in this culture to think about what's valuable, what's important in life.

What do I want to spend my time doing? Yeah, it's interesting. You know, since I left the pastorate, you know, for 30 years and has heard me say this, I was like, wow, I'm lonelier now than I've ever been. And it's a sense that I don't go to a like we used to go to the office every day and there's all these staff and people around. And, you know, there's the other side is like, I don't want to be around any of these people.

They bugged me and I bugged them. But you're around people every day. And now we're in a world that's a little different that a lot of what Anne and I do is alone and we have each other, which is awesome. But I'm not around as many men as I used to be. So how do you like a guy like me or even I mean, you're in a different stage of life. So you're probably around people a lot.

And you're sort of like I was like, I want to get away for the solitude. But if you're if you're a person that doesn't have a lot of friendships, man or woman, how would you encourage them? How do you develop that?

Yeah, there's a lot of things that you can do. One of the things is just making sure you do value it properly and just recognize this is a non-negotiable in life. So seeing that, you know, work is important. Family's important if you have one.

Certainly marriage should be your best friend, best friendship, but not your only friendship. So just recognizing that you need to make it a non-negotiable and then building in space for it. So there's a lot of things you can do.

I think one of the things you can do is schedule it. Just think about the non-negotiables in life. Everyone has them. Eating, for some people exercising, reading the Bible in prayer, work, eating as a family. If those things are important, you build your life around them. You have predictable rhythms and times that you do them. And so friendship, I think, should be just put into our calendars like that, too.

So there's a lot of ways you can do it. My wife and I will often have seasons where we just reserve one evening a week, like a Wednesday or Thursday, where we just put hospitality on our calendar, and we're going to invite people over and spend time. And we just have that reserved for people to be in our home, either for dinner, although in our family life it's a bit crazier now, so we wait until a little bit later for dessert or drinks or something afterward. Or you can say, lunch during my work week, I'm going to have lunch with this person every week. Or you just have it open with someone, and you just know on Mondays I have lunch with a friend, and then you schedule it that way.

I have coffee every other week with a friend of mine at about 3.30 on Tuesdays right now, and that's where we spend time getting together throughout the weeks and have a lot of conversations in everyday life. But we've just made sure to reserve that time to make sure we're talking openly and honestly about struggles in life, challenges in life, things we're encouraged about, confessing sin to one another, all of those things. So scheduling it, I think, is a huge one. So there's a lot of steps, but those would be a couple that would be first ones to take. Yeah, even as you say that, I think how often does the typical guy, and I don't know if women feel the same way, I've said this, I've got to work out.

I've got to get three workouts, four workouts in a week. I don't think I've ever said, I've got to meet with a buddy. And like you said, we're made for friendship.

I've thought that, Dave, because I know for my emotional well-being and spiritual well-being, I need to be with my friends. I have to have somebody besides you that knows everything about me that I can be incredibly vulnerable with. I can tell them secrets. I can tell them things that I'm struggling with. I can tell them how I'm frustrated with Dave. I even told her one year, I said, go ahead, tell them how much of an idiot I am.

He said that. He's the pastor. You don't have to cover it up. I'm like, so you're saying you're the pastor of the church, and you're saying I can tell my friends anything? You go, yep, you can just go ahead and tell them.

I thought that was incredibly humble of you. What about married couples? Do you think they need other married couples as friends?

Yes, or just I think other married couples, yes. And even just the man having other friends that are men and the women having other friends that are women. I think both and is really important, so I know that some people get married, and I've heard plenty of stories where both people have friends who then get really hurt because they're just cut out of life because the couple gets married, and then they put all of their friendship into that marriage, and then other people are hurt by that. And then something happens down the road, and the marriage ends for all sorts of reasons, and eventually death as long, I mean, might be a sobering thought, but unless the couple both, the Lord takes them at the same time, one of them's going to be unmarried again. And that's devastating if you have no other friends.

It's not the way it was supposed to be. We're supposed to enjoy rich friendship. I think even having other friends, both couples and even just men having other men as friends and women having other women as friends, strengthens the marriage. Christina and I have a stronger marriage because we also have our friendships that we even free each other up for, because I'm a better man and a better husband and a better father because I have friends that help me become a better man and husband and father, and she grows from her friendships as well. And so we bring that to our marriage. And then we, of course, can enjoy other couples together as well if it fits. Hey Drew, I was thinking, end this conversation this way. There's a guy listening, husband, dad, and of course it could be a woman as well, but I'm thinking of the guy that's saying, I agree. In fact, Drew's convinced me today the theology of friendship is real.

It's scriptural. I need to have friends in my life. I really don't have any. What do I do?

What would you tell him to do? A couple things. One, ask God for friends. Pray. The Lord made you for friends.

He orders everyone's lives. He can bring friends into your life. So just pray and ask the Lord, would you bring me a friend?

You made me for this. I need this. Please help. And then I would say focus not so much on finding a friend, but on being a good friend. So as you're around people, just open up conversation, focus on them, ask questions, love people well, be interested, be an encourager rather than a critical person. That keeps people from even wanting to be your friends.

Don't be a gossip. I mean, all the things are basic, like follow Jesus, become like him, and be a good friend to people, and then pray that the Lord would use that to bring friends into your life. So it's different than, I'm going to do this on my own, and I'm going to get a good friend. I'm looking for people that are good friends for me.

That just won't work. I like that advice, because especially with women, I've talked to women, they're saying nobody will be my friend. But I like what you said, and even when I read that, of like, become a good friend. Become someone that's loving people, praying for them. How can I pray for you? Start there and pray. I mean, it's easy to be the victim. You know, even when I would preach on this, I would think there's some people thinking, well, nobody's ever reached out to me.

It's like, you know what? You reach out. You initiate, and God will answer that prayer.

Spend less time searching for the right people and more time on becoming the right person. I love that, because it draws your attention to deepening your relationship with God, and having other relationships flow directly out of your primary relationship with the Lord. So important and great perspective. Loved it.

I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to David Ann Wilson with Drew Hunter on Family Life Today. Drew has written a book called Made for Friendship, and it talks about and explores God's design for friendship, and what it really looks like in practice, giving us practical advice to cultivate the kinds of true friendships that lead to true and life-giving joy. If you'd like to pick up a copy, you can find one at familylifetoday.com. Okay, this is your last chance today to grab an incredible opportunity here in August, since it's the last day of August. When you give, we're going to send you Family Life's Art of Parenting online video course, accompanied by an exciting card game called Ferret Flush, where you can gather your family around, play this game, and get to know them a lot better.

So don't miss out on this last-day offer. You can act now to give and enjoy Family Life's Art of Parenting course, along with the card game called Ferret Flush. You can make your donation now at familylifetoday.com, or give us a call at 800-358-6329. And that number is 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word Today. Or you can feel free to drop your donation in the mail.

You can send it to Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. Now tomorrow, Dave and Anne Wilson are back again with Drew Hunter to talk about the evolution of parent-child relationships as they evolve into friendships. That's tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-31 08:27:41 / 2023-08-31 08:40:58 / 13

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