One of my pastors in college did a series of topical sermons on the life of David which were filled with practical yet subtly deep counsel. One of the messages he did was called “Spiritual Friendships: The value of finding your David or Jonathan (I Sam. 18-20).” It was a simple message but its been producing fruit in my life up to this very day as I continue to make new friends in ministry and let them into the messiness of my life.
When we lived in Atlanta as I did ministry there, there were four such people in my life. Pastors like myself who were serving in other churches in the surrounding area. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture with the first two I wanted to mention, Matt Brinkley and Andy Nelson. The other two (Matt Armstrong in the first picture, and Bill Riechart in the second) were also great friends and partners in the gospel. When people ask what I miss most about my previous calling of course I think first about the people in the church and the journey we shared, as well as the leadership team, but right after them I think about these guys. The countless meals and coffee convo’s we shared together.
When things were hard in ministry these guys encouraged. When things were soaring these guys celebrated with me. They went beyond the daily business type of surface relationships and got right at the heart of my life and I reciprocated the quality of their friendship. Everyone needs a Jonathan or a David in their life. Someone they can go out to war with, and someone who can be that friend and brother (or sister) when every thing has been said and done. Someone who carries similar vocational burdens as you, knows the flow of them, and the intensity of joy and trial.
There were several other friends in my life, and in my wife and I’s life as a couple that meant the world to us. More than would appropriately fit into a blog post. And this spiritual discipline (I think that’s a fitting way to think about pursuing friendships) continues on today as I had lunch with the pastor I interned with throughout college who’s more like a brother than any physical brother I could ever have. Or new friendships like my connection yesterday with the pastor at Watermark in Tampa in Ybor, Tommy.
I want to leave you with these questions: Do you have a David or a Jonathan in your life? If not, do you know why you don’t? I challenge you to begin praying for them, they make all the difference in the world…