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What Might Be In the Way of Your Friendships: Drew Hunter

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
September 1, 2023 5:15 am

What Might Be In the Way of Your Friendships: Drew Hunter

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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September 1, 2023 5:15 am

Friendship hasn't always been this hard. Author Drew Hunter looks at historical friendships, and some of the ways we get it wrong.

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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Just thinking about the marks of friendship and what real friendship is.

Just apply that directly to marriage. And so think, have I been expressing affection? Do I let Christina know that I love her? And do I show that with my words, my actions, how I care for her?

Does she know in her bones that I love her? 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 or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So you remember Paul Early?

Yes. A guy I met playing pickup basketball. Long story, didn't really have a great home life. So he came in and ended up living with a single guy and now he's married with kids.

It's awesome. Unbelievable story. But he became a really close friend, probably 30 years younger than me, 20 years younger than me.

Maybe 20. So he's almost like a son. But one day we're in our kitchen and Paul comes over and gives me this really tight hug. And his, you know, his beard is right by my cheek. I watched this and you were so uncomfortable.

Yeah. And I remember he hugged me really tight. He said, Dave Wilson, I just, I love you.

Thank you for impacting my life. And then he won't let go. And so he says, he goes, hey, this is making you uncomfortable, isn't it? And I'm like, well, yeah, a little. And so then he squeezes harder and he won't let go. He goes, you gotta, you gotta embrace this. This is just, you know, me saying you've been an important man in my life.

And I'm like, ah. And I remember thinking that really felt uncomfortable and I shouldn't be uncomfortable with it. Why do you think it was uncomfortable?

I think obviously, you know, my background is I never had a dad. My family never hugged. Your family never hugged.

Your mom kissed you on the lips all the time. I thought it was, I always hated that. You know, I liked it, but I didn't like it, especially when friends would come over and she kissed them. I just, it was uncomfortable. But I thought it shouldn't be uncomfortable. And Paul, a young man, was mentoring me, teaching me this shouldn't be that bad, you know, an uncomfortable thing.

And I've, as a man and even as a father of sons, I've tried to be better. We walked into the studio this morning and Rick grabbed you and he hugged you real tight. He said, let me give you an uncomfortable hug. And I'm like, do you know what we're talking about today? He's going to be editing this program later. But we've got Drew Hunter in the studio for day two.

Drew, you know, he wrote a book about friendship, that we are actually created by God for friendship. You hear me talk about this. How does that hit you as a man? Is that something that's uncomfortable for you? The story you just shared? Yeah, or some friend hugging you? Yeah, it's not anymore.

I think it would have been at one time. So you're more mature than me at a young age. Well, I think I've just recognized how important encouragement, affirmation, honesty, expressed affection is for human relationships and for friendship and for men.

So that's actually, I think, probably a lack of those things is a reason, one of the reasons contributing to why friendships can stay so tepid and superficial, because we don't have that kind of open honesty and transparency about how we actually feel about one another and care about each other. Yeah, which is actually, it's a beautiful thing. Yeah. Drew, you're a dad of four boys, and you're a pastor in Zionsville, Indiana.

Your oldest son is 12. So are you still hugging him a lot? And will there ever be a day that you won't?

Oh, I hope not. No, I want to have them filled with love and affection. So tell them I love them often. Of course, I want to express that in all of life.

And yeah, plenty of big hugs. You know, we had your friend Dane Ortlund on. We've had him on several times on Family Life Today. And we're going to play a clip because he, I don't remember what we were interviewing him about that day, but he makes a comment about this thing that's pretty beautiful.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. You know, Dane, you know, one of my closest friends. Yeah.

So it'd be fun for you to hear this clip. I'm 43. My dad is 72. To this day, when I walk into my parents' home in Franklin, Tennessee, he gives me a big hug. Maybe it lasts a few seconds too long. I'm kidding. It's a real hug. Like most of the men at my church, when I give them a hug, we're both kind of like, OK, let's let's release really fast here before this gets awkward.

Give a good hug. And like you're communicating. I have sincere affection for you. Yeah, that's I mean, I resonate with that. And I've hugged Dane many times. And he's a man actually who models encouragement, expressed affection better than most people I know. And he's modeled that for me really well also. I like the legacy of his dad doing that. And then he's just carried it on.

Yeah. And it's a picture, too, that as I think about my boys, I'm their father. But ideally, what father-son relationships can turn into and mother-daughter, mother-children, father-children is into friendship, right? As they grow older.

Obviously, nothing's ever going to change about the parent dynamic, nor should it. But a layer added to that is friendship. And so that's what Dane's expressing with his dad as well.

So I look forward to my boys growing into my closest friends as well over time. I led a Bible study with the Detroit Lions wives about 35 years. And there was this one woman, Yvonne, that she would host this Bible study.

And the Bible study for the women kept growing and growing. And I was watching Yvonne, and every time someone would come in the door and mind you, these women are from all over the country. They don't know each other. They've just followed their husbands to Detroit of all places to live. But they would walk through the door, and Yvonne would have this huge smile. She'd see them, and she's from Hawaii. And so every time she'd kiss them on the cheek, she would hug them. And everyone felt like, oh, this is the best place in the world. And they wanted to be her friend because of her open affection and love for them. Yeah, it's interesting.

I was thinking the same thing. During that sort of season of our ministry with the Detroit Lions, we had a quarterback come into our locker room. And honestly, an NFL locker room is not a place of a lot of hugs unless you're winning. After a game, there's a lot of hugs.

Not so much in Detroit. But there was this one quarterback, Josh McCown, who's now a coach in the NFL. And he was such a lover of people. He was a joy-bringer. He reminds me a little bit of Dane, actually.

Yeah, he does. He's a man of God, a man of the word. And he came in. He was in Detroit one season, then was traded to another team, played in the NFL like 15 years. And another quarterback came in the same year, John Kitna. And that was our starter and our backup. And those two men of God had this unique ability in our locker room.

I used to comment about that year. It's like the whole locker room tilted toward their lockers because John was this strong man of the word. He had a Bible as big as his table in his locker. And Josh was a man of the word as well. And yet he had this tender, loving, affectionate love for the men.

We baptized 27 players that season. And they were really good friends. They were great friends. But as I think about that season, I think a lot of it was John's strong, courageous commitment, but Josh's tender love for the locker room.

When I say the locker room was leaning toward their lockers, they were drawn over there like a magnet. And it was this friendship thing you're talking about, that we're made for friendship. And even NFL macho men who you think don't want friendship, they are little boys inside that are longing for another man to see them and acknowledge them and want to have a relationship with them. Is that what God designed us for?

Is that what you've seen? Yeah, absolutely. And even your story reminds me that this isn't for certain personality types. It's not like, oh, well, that guy's good at friendship.

That's for him. Or, oh, he's really good at encouraging people. Well, sure, some people can be way out in the lead doing it well. But Romans 12 says, outdo one another in showing honor. That's expressing esteem for one another. That's what it means to show honor. Every Christian is called to—I mean, in any room we're ever in, we'll walk out and someone will have won.

They will have outdone everyone else in showing honor. Every Christian is called to pursue being that person who—not like we need to feel like we're better than people, right? But there is a godly sense of competition in the sense that in every gathering, someone's going to have shown the most honor to others, and we should all be striving to do that. And so some people are better than others, but we shouldn't see that as, well, that's just their thing.

That's not comfortable for me. We all can grow into— That's good. And we should all—and I just think there's so many cultural influences that keep people and men from being able to look another man in the eye and say, I love you, and I respect you. And, you know, let me tell you something that I appreciate about you that you did for me.

I don't know if you noticed I even knew that, but that really meant a lot to me. That kind of sharing, it's been very rare in our culture, and I think we shouldn't take that as just reflective of the way the world should be. This is the way it is right now, but how it should be is expressing honor, affirmation, encouragement. In fact, I read a book called The Overflowing of Friendship by a historian who was just studying letters between men in the early founding era of America. And he says he reads the letters to his students now, and their jaws drop because they can't imagine what it would be like to have this kind of affection and encouragement expressed to one another. Because in our world, we've so sexualized relationships that we just assume if you're saying really kind, affectionate things to one another, there must be something else going on.

And he just says, not at all. There is not a hint of that in these letters and in these relationships. This is just men expressing love and affection and care for one another. And we see that in David and Jonathan, we see that in the Apostle Paul. They kiss each other probably on the cheek with a cultural greeting.

They're crying when they leave each other. So the Bible calls us, all Christians, to encourage one another. What's the culture, Dave? We were somewhere where the men, wherever they go, they hold hands. Yeah, there's places like that. Yeah, I mean, it's true when I've been in the bush in Africa, they do that. And it's just their community.

It's nothing sexualized about at all. It's exactly what you just said. I know that in the last few years, the guys that I have friendships around the country, some of them former NFL Detroit Lion guys, when we hang up, it's always, hey, love you. And, you know, 20 years ago, it didn't say that, but it's like, that's a good thing to say to a friend. Yes. You know, and obviously as a dad to your children, but it's a good thing.

And I want to hear you talk about your subtitle, How a Friend Doubles Our Joy and Halves Our Sorrow. Yeah. Talk about that. Yeah, so that line is somewhat modified from J.C. Ryle, who put it similarly. And he was kind of picking up a phrase that through history was kind of rolling through the ages. And the way that he put it is he says, this world is a dark place. It's a lonely place.

It's a disappointing place. So he's just recognizing the reality of sin and sadness in our life. But then he says the brightest sunbeam in it is a friend. Friendship halves our troubles and doubles our joys.

And so what I love about that is both its realism. Life is hard. We all know this. Lonely, disappointing. But then God shines the light and the brightest beam is friendship. Which is, if that's true, and I think it is, both friendship with the Lord Jesus and one another, then I want in on that. And then the benefits of that is this halving our troubles and sorrows.

So cutting those in half and then doubling our joys. That's been my experience. Any burden I'm going through, if I'm going through it with someone who knows me and loves me. Just even them caring about me through this lifts the load off my shoulders, cuts it. I mean, I've been through stuff in my life where I think if I didn't have those close friends with me, I don't know how that would have turned out or what I would have done.

There's no way I could have gotten through that. And then doubling the joys, everything is better in life with friends. I mean, there's so many experiences in life that I've had where if you remove friends from those experiences and you can say, well, that was great.

You went to this place, you saw those mountains, you experienced that. Yeah, but if you take my friends out of that experience, I wouldn't be talking about it as an amazing memory. It's friendship that doubles those joys and just makes life better. So when you ask me what's best in life, I'm going to start naming people for you because that's what's best in life.

That's really good. I'm thinking about Michelle, and I have some really pretty amazing friends, and Michelle happens to have a shepherding gift too. But when my sister died, I walked into my house after the funeral, and my house was full of flowers everywhere and scripture everywhere. And I think of how just she was there. She was there sitting, listening, being there, sending me scripture. And then when I turned 40, this is pretty remarkable.

Do you remember this, Dave? She contacted 40 friends, and now if there's 40, you know, they're not super, super close, but 40 friends of mine. And so for 40 days before my birthday, she had someone give me a gift for 40 days.

It was the most amazing birthday ever. But a friend is thinking about you, and that's what I thought. Like she's thinking about me the day before each one of our sons got married.

It's gonna be me, Terry. She would always give me this long letter of how she saw me parent that son and how she was inspired by it. And I think back on some of the greatest moments of my life, it was Michelle creating these incredible times. I don't think, as you said, like my life has been so much richer with her.

And Dave, like he's my best friend, but I also need other women beside me. Yeah, when her sister died, I did the funeral in a different state. She was in Georgia. And I mean, obviously, she was 44. She had four boys. It was a quick cancer thing.

So it was a horrible day. And, you know, I'm the pastor in the family, so I'm standing up in front of her four boys and her husband and Ann's dad. I mean, it's just, you know, you're looking at all these people in your family. And all of a sudden, the back door of the church, we're some church in Atlanta area, actually Tennessee area.

Dalton. And the back door of the church opens and what, five or six of our closest friends from Michigan walk in. I mean, right before the funeral, I'm like, what are you doing here? One of our friends who has a private jet flew him down. He contacted them and said, you need to be there with Dave and Ann because you're their closest friends. And what you said, there was sorrow, but somehow that halved it.

You know, it was just so good to have community in the middle of a valley. That's what you're talking about. Yeah. You know, your story about your friend having those 40 notes reminds me, too, Christina, who to your question earlier, if I have a best friend, it's actually her. Your wife. Yeah, not the only friend, but best friend. And I just turned 40 a few weeks ago and she contacted a number of my friends and had them just write a note to me.

Yes. Just expressing some memory or some appreciation. Then she compiled into a little book and I was actually having kind of a rough day. You know, turning 40 hit me in ways I wasn't prepared for. It's a hard one.

It is. And I usually do a pretty good job, like anticipating things, watching other people go through things. I'm not kind of caught off guard, but it did hit me and it was hard. And then I opened that book and started reading and I was in tears. It took a while to get through it, but it was so meaningful and actually just gave me so much hope for the next 10 years to think. So many of these rich relationships I have and the memories they shared were from the past 10 or 15 years. And the next 10 or 15, Lord willing, can be just as rich. So it's really meaningful and then it's added so much.

That's the joy in life, what God gives us through the people. Well, I would say if 40 is a hard birthday, wait till you get 50. I'll tell you a quick story. When I was turning 50, Ann did a surprise at my 40th and it was epic. And I told her months before my 50th, no surprise. I'm hating this.

I feel so old, blah, blah, blah. I don't, I just want to sneak through, you know, and nobody will know. She's like, I promise no party on your birthday. Nobody's going to know. And so we go, I go through it and it's just not eventful.

It's perfect. And I'm like, OK, nobody even a few friends, but nothing. And I don't know, a month, six weeks later, I get this call one night from a Detroit Lion player and he's in crisis. It's like 7 p.m. Hey, you know, Rebecca and I, we are really struggling. And I've called you and Ann and you, you can't get over here. I don't know if we're going to make it.

We are in the, we are not going to make it. They had six kids. We need you now. Can you get over here right now?

I'm like, they had 12 kids. And so I'm like, yes, I can get there. Hang up. Ann, we got to go to Luther's house. I guess they're, I mean, he'd been trying to get us there.

They're struggling. OK, we get in the car and drive over there. He's got this big mansion and we walk in. No, wait, you know, Luther, where are you? Down in the basement.

OK, I go walk down the basement. Surprise! I'm so mad. There were like 10 or 12 of my best friends. Only men. All guys waiting for me in the basement. And then Ann comes down and goes, OK, I told these guys to bring a gag gift. And a tribute. Oh, that's sweet.

OK, I'm out of here. And it was just us. And I'm not kidding. They just went one by one.

And they ripped me at first. Like John brought in, he said, I brought a money clip because opening your wallet is like opening the jaws of life. So here you go. Here's a clip.

So that was the funny part. And then they gave a tribute. And I'm telling you, Drew, by the end of the night, I was weeping.

Because it was like, this is what life is about. These friendships. Our boys couldn't be there. They were older. They weren't in town. But they wrote letters to Dave. And he sobbed. She came down and read a letter from CJ, a letter from Austin. They're in college. And Cody. And Drew, I'm not kidding.

I'm wiping snot. It was that powerful. And I felt like in that moment, and this is what you're writing about, I felt like I can die.

Yeah. I felt like this is what life, this is meaningful. Thank you for reminding me that what really matters is this kind of community. What would life be like if we filled our everyday relationships with those kinds of tributes? It seems like the norm are the ribbing and joking and sarcasm. And we do that because we're uncomfortable.

But what if the norm was really intentional, look you in the eyes, sending notes, and just drawing attention to how God's blessed me through you and things that I see encouraging in your life. Now do you do that? Do you do that with Christina?

Yep. And other friends. And other friends do that with me. It's been something we've had to grow in. I mean, I used to be a pretty sarcastic person. I do.

Yeah. And actually someone kindly let me know that I had hurt some people's feelings or they felt a little uneasy around me. And I had this weird way of, I don't know, maybe some people can relate, but it's got to be rare, where I was like, almost the way that I let people know they were close to me is if I made fun of them. So it's like my way of saying, you're actually my friend.

And they didn't know that and feel that. And then so I just decided I've got to kill this. And over time I've been able to intentionally grow in encouraging and for me, I have a long way to go. And a lot of my friends definitely outdo me in that, but it's something I want to grow in and try to grow in. And yeah, it's just, it's life-giving.

It just feels like this is the way it should be. I remember talking to someone who started going to a church that had this culture of encouragement, affirmation, and among the men. And I was talking to him because he was maybe a month or two into being part of that church. And he said that at first it felt super uncomfortable. He's like, I don't know what to do with a guy looking in the eyes, sharing that encouragement with me about me and affirmation. And then he said, he's kind of been rewired and realized that he's adjusted to realizing this is actually what should be normal. Like this shouldn't be awkward and it's not anymore.

So you can change the tone of your relationships and there's people that do that with me and send me texts or leave a voicemail or just give a call. And in person, just able to say encouragement and affirmation. That's good. That's a good application. And I like that you talk about like marks of a friendship because I don't think we think about that often.

We think it just should be natural. And how do you become a good friend? We've already talked about the one is just being affectionate. But talk about being a consumer friend, that consumer friendship. What's that mean?

Yeah. So if you kind of contrast consumer friendship with we could call committed or covenantal friendships. So David and Jonathan make a covenant of friendship.

I don't think that we all need to make covenants of friendship, but it gets at something that's a contrast with how friendship is normally experienced by some people. So consumer friendship is the idea that your friendship is there to be used by you. Right. When you want something from them, you can go to them. And so people networking is huge today.

Right. But people can turn friendship and making networking and friendship the same thing in their life. They just see everyone as a potential for something else, using for a good time. And when things get hard in that person's life, then they don't show up.

They aren't going to call them because they're not they're not deep and connected and they haven't had a relationship that would be comfortable stepping in in hard times or suffering. So that's consumer friendship. It's like consuming goods. When they're useful, you have them.

When they're not, you discard them and you move on. And then Proverbs talks about that, talking about how often people treat people with money. The rich have many friends. The poor have their friends even leave them.

Right. That's consumer friendship. Covenant or committed friendship means, like Proverbs 17 says, a friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity. So even in the hardship, you don't forsake your friend. In fact, Proverbs says do not forsake your friend or your father's friend. In the context of that proverb is calamity coming into someone's life. So your friend loses his job, gets diagnosed with cancer, sinks into depression.

What do you do? Well, Proverbs says the one thing you can't do is forsake them. You move close.

You express solidarity with them in that. I remember I was going through a really hard time at one point. And in fact, Dane, he knew I was going through this hard time. And he just showed up one day at your door, actually, at my church. He just said it was Sunday, drove, drove by and just stood next to me or stood behind me, gave me a hug. And then we had lunch and then he went back because he knew I was having a hard time in life.

And so he just showed up. I'll never forget that. Deeply meaningful. So that's a covenantal friend. That's a committed friend in the good times and the bad times, expressing love and solidarity and staying with that person. So Job's friends are a bad example in so many ways, but they had a decent start, it looks right. They showed up, they sat with them, you know, they wept with them. And then they said things.

And then maybe don't say things if you don't know what to say. As I'm thinking of a husband and wife, because you and Christina are great friends, Ian and I are great friends. How do you build a great friendship in your marriage? Because not a lot of marriages have that. Right.

Yeah. So maybe a first step is if you recognize you don't have it, just acknowledge that together and just speak openly about what you wish it could be and own your own shortcomings in that. So I think just thinking about the marks of friendship and what real friendship is, just apply that directly to marriage. And so think, have I been expressing affection? Do I let Christina know that I love her? And do I show that with my words, my actions, how I care for her? Does she know in her bones that I love her?

And it's obvious that I do not. Well, you know, sometimes you're like, I know he loves me, but you know, it's like, well, that's that's you need to feel it needs to be obvious communication. Transparency is a mark of friendship. So just speaking openly and honestly about our own weaknesses and shortcomings. First John 1.7 calls us to walk in the light, right? Walk in the light as he is in the light. So that's not walking in perfection. The context of that is actually just walking in honesty.

It's coming out of hiding. So is there some sin in your life or collection of sins or struggles that you have that you don't bring to your spouse? Walking in the light is coming out of hiding, out in the light, and what First John 1.7 says is out there is real forgiveness, felt forgiveness. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteous and real friendship, fellowship with one another. So felt forgiveness, real friendship in marriage happens through walking in the light together, confessing sin, being open, knowing each other, not treating each other as a consumer either, but a committed covenantal friend, caring for each other and serving in those ways. I mean, Jesus is the perfect friend. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. So love is affectionate, committed, self-sacrificial. So serve in love, confess and apologize when you don't, be quick to apologize, quick to repent, quick to forgive. I mean, go on and on, but all these things that friendship needs need to be in there as well.

And so taking the first step is owning your own part of that and seeing that you're the problem. I like thinking about that conversation with a husband or wife of saying, I'd love us to be even better friends. What do you think that could look like or what could we do to become better friends?

And I would add one more, have fun together. Totally. You and Christina are about to have a few days together of just having fun.

Right. And that is another thing that kind of, that it's a magnet. It draws you close to one another. That's fun. This has been great. And I would just end with this, listening to what you just said, Drew, and reading your book. I am such a blessed man because my best friend is sitting right here. You're my best friend too. No, you are such a great friend. You are too. You love me. You speak truth to me. I am so thankful.

And I'm sure you feel the same way about Christina. Not all men or spouses get that. Right. But you can get it. It's a lot of work. Everybody can.

You got to work. You can get it. You can get a habit, but it's on us to pursue it and do the marks of friendship that you talked about. Pursue it with your spouse, because if he or she is not already, your best friend could be living right under your roof, wearing the ring you put on their finger when you got married. I am so blessed to call my wife, Rachel, my best friend, and live with all the eye rolls from my kids when I say that. She is my best friend, and I love it. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Drew Hunter on Family Life Today. Drew has written a book called Made for Friendship, the relationship that halves our sorrows and doubles our joys. You can find a copy at, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329.

That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And you know, I wanted to take a moment here and say thank you to everyone who participated in the August match. And I wanted to let you know that all of our new monthly partners will shortly be receiving a welcome letter and a free gift card to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway event. Thank you so much for being part of the solution, and we are so grateful for your donations. Now coming up next week, Dave and Anne Wilson are joined by Ted Lowe, as he talks about the five intentional thoughts that can change your marriage. That's coming up next week. 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 / 2023-09-01 06:45:23 / 2023-09-01 06:59:15 / 14

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