Friendship: What it Is and Isn’t!

“Good Friends help You move, Great Friends help You move a body” – Anonymous.   A ridiculous example of Friendship and Loyalty, but I does bring up a point.   Namely “Friends” do not sit in judgment of or speak ill of each other and fiercely defend the character of the other.   Why do friends defend each other? – They know each other’s hearts, their intentions and the purposes to which they are dedicated.

Grace and patiencs are other great attributes of Friendship.   Seriously, are we someone’s friend if we take offense to them being busy, short or just plain living life?   One of my “Best” Friends in the world, he and I have know each other since the “Play Pen”, have wondered in and out of each other lives for decades now.   Yet each time we talk or do something, even if it’s been years, it was as if we saw each other yesterday.   This is a guy I trust with my kids, house, cars, money and to give me honest feedback.

I have watched some of my heroes, Danaé Mattis (my wife), Steve Mattis  (my Dad) and Tim Marks (my Mentor), befriend those that judge them, use them and malign them.   Yet they keep aiding them in the pursuit of their goals and loving them in their mistakes.   This is so uncommon in our world.

A common confusion in our current media driven society is that an acquaintance (someone you are around or hang around) is a friend.   Friendship has nothing to do with hanging out, sharing non-creating experiences, making “you’re not doing what I think you should be doing” judgments or thinking “what can I get from you”.   I hear a lot of “I want you to be my friend” whining in our world.   “Serve me”, “take care of me”, “make me feel special”, guilt inducing actions and words followed by “but I’m not interested in serving you!” self-centeredness.   When did popularity replace significance?

This reminds me of  a situation that a very close friend of mine went through.   One of his college buddies was giving him grief because his new family was getting in the way of “Guy Time” (Drinking & Hanging Out).   Then the “frat brother” started to pick at him for starting a side business he didn’t believe in.   Finally after attacking my soft hearted friend with critical emails asking, “what happened to my friend, my hang buddy?”, he shot back, “I have a family to take care of, debt to pay, a wife to provide for and a future to build!   I grew up!   I recommend you do the same!”

Two great measuring sticks of who is my friend (not who likes me):   1 – Who would pick you up at 3am two hours from home?   2 – Who encourages you and believes in you, regardless of whether or not they understand the dream you are chasing?   A friend will either join you or encourage you in pursuing your God-given dreams!

Clearly by these definitions I have eliminated most people, even my family, from the “True Friend” list.   This was epitomized in a conversation I had a few years ago with an older relative.   It occurred at a family event where I was asked what I had been doing the last several years.   I responded by giving the general details and the hoped-for outcome of my efforts.   In response this family member began to verbally vomit warnings, fears and doubts on me.   I placed my hand in front of his face and said, “STOP!   We are only limited by our own thinking and I cannot afford to be limited by yours.”   He pointed out that he had wisdom (none, of course in the areas in which I work).   Then he tried to justify his actions by saying that he was playing “Devil’s advocate” (I have plenty of devils in my life and I don’t need to be related to one!).   Then he sarcastically asked if he should be a “cheerleader”, to which I pointed out I could ALWAYS use another encourager!

We have to decide to BE someone’s friend.   This would mean serving and ministering to them.   I remember the day I chose to be Tim Marks’ friend.   This was not required to get his counsel (acting on that counsel would be key), to have him help me through struggles (if I worked at fixing them) or being around him in business.   I have seen Tim serve many people who don’t like him, take him for granted or even don’t respect him.   My wife Danaé listens and counsels ladies every month that don’t respect her time and ofter her wisdom. Yet people get upset when they can’t interrupt their lives for them at will.   Or worse, they whine and make excuses because they didn’t want to grow up in an area, so it must someone else’s fault.   Let’s blame “Mommy and Daddy” or the closest likeness.   Danaé, Dad and Tim are Impressive examples of Friends.

Two-way friendships are a matter of Heart, not Time.   Sadly most friendships are not two-way.   this is not a big deal if, you believe that “it is better to Give than to Receive.”   So we need to check our motives, serve without expectation of return, forgive false friends and thank God for the real ones.

I hope this finds You well – Chris Mattis

Friendship what is it?

When I was younger I though everyone was my friend.   In reality ,”hoped” would be a more accurate word.   As I grew and wanted people to like me, I had many disillusionments around friendship.   Many times thinking, if only I were a better friend others would treat me well.

It is strange to me now how blind I was to the differences between being liked and being trusted.   As well as being someones friend vs being friends with someone.   Why I say blind is that I was trained for and worked in psychiatric nursing, I was a follower of Christ and I had been studying leadership, all for many years and still I could not see the differences.

It wasn’t until I got around  Tim Marks that I became aware of the principals and qualities that make up a “Friend”, “Friendship” and “Being a Friend” to others.   I watched him serve leaders, stand by people as they struggled through something, let people hold him accountable, give others grace, and love enough to give correction, not criticize, tear down or destroy.   It was great evidence of what true Leaders are, and made me painfully aware the world was sorely lacking men that really Lead.

The more I was around men like Tim and their amazing wives, through their writings, books and articles, through talks and videos, watching them seminars and online and finally getting to know and work with men of this caliber, the more I became clear they are different.   In reality “better” would be a more accurate word.

I believe today we are called to be a friend to others regardless of it being returned.   Serving others in times of need, helping people back up, encouraging people to do and become their very best, seeing the best in them and pointing it out, holding their feet to the fire around actions, words and choices – these are just a few of the facets of real friendship.   “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17 ESV, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” – Proverbs 27:6 ESV.

If you find yourself taking care of others more than is returned to you, take heart and be glad YOU are a Friend.   And if you find others asking for you to “be their Friend” rejoice but do not be fooled thinking they want to take care of you as well.   And if you find yourself being cared for by another be Grateful for You have found a True Friend and You are Blessed indeed!

– Chris Mattis