Fans vs. Friends

Jul 29, 2022

I wasn’t popular in junior high…I take that back…I was popular. It was the popular thing to make fun of me, to pick on me, to beat me up. I saw basketball as my way out…as my way to have friends. If I could make the basketball team, people would like me. If I could be good at basketball, people would cheer for me. If I could excel at basketball, then people would want to date me, to invite me to parties, to hang out with me on weekends. Looking back, I realize that all of my relationships in high school and college revolved around basketball…not shared values; not shared authenticity or really knowing someone. I became very good at attracting fans, but not at being friends.

After a lot of counseling, introspection and time with God, I realized my first 10 years in ministry replaced basketball in my life. I had a desire to be known, a desire to be accepted, a desire to be loved and valued. I shared parts of my heart with my friends that was risky but not too risky, vulnerable but not too vulnerable, intimate but not too intimate. I felt more comfortable talking to 100 people for 20 seconds on a Sunday morning, than I did 2 people for 20 minutes. Here is what I’ve realized the past few years…Ministry is a great place to have a lot of fans, and pretend like I have a lot of friends.

When EVERYTHING imploded in 2005, I realized the huge difference between fans and friends. I had a ton of fans, but very few friends. Almost immediately the fans faded away, and my true friends rose to the occasion. The friends I did have, saved my life, my marriage, my family, and my ministry.

Proverbs 27:8 says this: Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy.

As Trisha and I have gone back into ministry, the lure to have fans and not friends is real, and its easier. But what I have found is that the richest life, the most abundant life, the life lived at the deepest levels is the life that won’t settle for superficial, casual and surface level relationships. Fans are a dime a dozen…friends are priceless a gift from God.

Question: Are you better at cultivating fans or are you determined to dig deep and build true friendships?