Bible Verse: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 17:1-28

How many friendships you have is completely up to you, but as an example, for most of my adult life I’ve maintained two weekly meetings with individual friends and one men’s group meeting that has met weekly, biweekly, and sometimes monthly.

If you’re married, start with your wife—even though you both know there are “men things” and “women things” about which you’ll each get more help from someone of the same gender. Next, develop friendships with your adult children if possible. Beyond family, any friendships of the “sharing what’s really going on” kind must be same gender only.

How do you know if someone is really a 2:00 a.m. friend? Let’s explore some of the things that would differentiate a 2:00 a.m. friend from your circle of friends. For starters, there’s a huge difference between an acquaintance and a friend, and we all know what that is. There’s also a profound difference between a close friend and a circle of friends. Most of us have a circle of friends that may include as many as fifty or more people. But there’s no way you can remember much about fifty friends.

A 2:00 a.m. friend, on the other hand, knows the names of your children. You share meals together. Your families have met. You’ve been in each other’s home. You meet or speak on a regular basis. Social media is a great way to keep up with your larger circle of friends and acquaintances, but your real friends want to look you in the eye and hang out.

Most friendships are situational and found “along the way.” Male friendship leaves a unique heat signature, as most men organize getting together around tasks, not relationships. Unlike women, men need a “reason” to get together.
In practice, most of our relationships are situational. We tend to organize around a shared interest, such as children’s activities, a Bible study at church, the gym, sports, or a hobby. Often, a man’s closest friendships are with coworkers. Then one or two or three of those will extend beyond that into a long-term friendship.

The other way to make some 2:00 a.m. friends is to be in a men’s small group. Life can be brutal. Every day, men must manage their lives against the Fall. Because life is so hard, men need to be encouraged. They need a hug from God. They need the human touch. And this while wearing the skin of a loner.

The mega-answer? Care. Caring creates the value, that captures the momentum, that sustains the change. Men will come if they sense you really care about them. If not, they will soon drift away—but almost never tell you why.

You will know you have succeeded when you hear men saying things like, “I really feel like my group cares about me personally,” “The leader makes sure I get a chance to air my thoughts,” and “I cannot believe how my life is changing.”

I pray you have or will find one, two, or three 2:00 a.m. friends. Because our big idea really is true: What’s really going to help you long-term is to find a friend or two, or join a small group, and live life together with a few brothers with whom you can process what comes your way.

— Patrick Morley in The Christian Man

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