We men are generally not as good at cultivating good friendships with other men as women are with other women. We don’t usually have a problem with watching a football game together or doing some kind of sporting activity together. Those are fun and they have their place in the cultivation of friendships. But I’m talking the kind of friendship where spiritual conversations take place, where mutual encouragement happens, and even where faithful and loving rebuke occurs.
Yet this is the very kind of friendship modeled for us in the Bible by David and Jonathan. Reading the book of 1 Samuel reveals that their hearts were knit to one another because they had mutual goals and a heart to honor God. They had significant conversations with each other, often about life and death kinds of matters. Jonathan was especially used to encourage David’s heart in the Lord when David was on the run from King Saul. When Jonathan died, David’s heart melted in grief. This rich friendship is worthy of our consideration.
Perhaps one great example of this kind of male friendship in literature is the friendship between Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. These two spent months together on the epic journey to try to save Middle Earth, and throughout the story face many great difficulties. Yet through it all, they stick together, encourage one another, and help each other face the battles before them.
I am thankful to have had several godly male friendships in my saved life since high school. They have challenged me spiritually, prayed for me, encouraged me, and even confronted me in my error. I hope that I have done the same with them.
Men must work harder at this kind of relationship than women do. Women are more naturally relationship-oriented than men are. Even in marriage, this is the case. It is more difficult for us as men—generally speaking—to speak openly with our wives about our feelings, our weaknesses, our struggles, and spiritual things in general. We have to work at this kind of communication with our wives. But my contention is that we also need to cultivate this kind of friendship with other godly men such as we see between David and Jonathan or Frodo and Sam.
We cannot live life on our own. We need the encouragement of others. We need the friendship of a godly, faithful man who will pray for us, listen to our concerns and struggles, keep us accountable, and encourage us to pursue God even more. The man who believes he can survive without such kinds of friendships is not strong, but weak; not wise, but foolish; not humble, but proud.
David had his Jonathan; Frodo had his Samwise. To whom can you be this kind of friend, and have them strive to be this kind of friend to you? May God help us to humble ourselves and admit our need for strong, godly, faithful male friendships.