Getting real about who your friends are …
In the church — especially among church planters — and in business, there’s a well-known phrase that provides good guidance, which simply says: “Go with the go-ers.”
That phrase contains some sound wisdom. There are many people who “talk the talk” in church and in business, but fail to ever get up and “walk the walk.”
Let me suggest this phrase should have some value in our personal relationships as well.
On many occasions, I have watched people sit on the sidelines socially, recreationally, and interpersonally in general as they wait on people who call themselves friends to actually connect with them. But they don’t. They call themselves friends, and talk about doing together the things friends do, but they’re always too busy, and they always have an excuse.
For example, the friendly guy at church who is always saying he’s going to have to you and the “missus” over for dinner sometime … but never actually extends the invitation. Or the business acquaintance you know who always talks about doing a big deal with you … but never does.
Go with the go-ers!
I’m not talking about forgetting about these people, but I am saying if you wait on these people to have a life rich with friendships, you’ll be a lonely, unsatisfied person. If the people who call themselves your friends don’t actually demonstrate friendship, and don’t respond to your attempts to move forward into a real friendship, then go with the go-ers — move on to those who are willing to actually be active friends, and if the talkers eventually want to engage, then they can catch up with you. To wait for talkers who never become walkers is to allow them to become distractions from the real opportunities God has for you.
Let me make something very clear, though. I routinely speak and write about the need for us to be more Christlike in our relationships by putting the needs and interests of others ahead of ourselves, and that would include being patient with people as we build the bonds of friendship. So I’m NOT suggesting a selfish motivation or behavior here. But I am saying it benefits no one for you to shelve your personal life because you’re waiting on someone who is only talking but will never act. All that does is rob of you of the opportunities and blessings God has for you with people who are willing to engage, at least to some degree.
Let’s look at this another way, from a biblical perspective …
Proverbs 18:24 states, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” The talker who calls him or herself a friend, but doesn’t actively live out a friendship with you while they continue to do what is important to them, can rob you of real friendships if you sit and wait for them to become a walker instead of a talker. You destroy each other … the talker through his or her selfishness, and you by sitting and letting the real opportunities go by.
Go with the go-ers!
Instead of sitting on the sidelines, engage those who are sincerely interested in building the bonds of friendship with you, all the while leaving the invitation to friendship open to the talkers should they happen to decide to become walkers.
Let me add one more important observation. To love as Jesus loves, all of us will likely have some one-sided friendships in our lives. There are some people who are very shy, socially awkward, wounded by the world or afraid of it, who need us to be persistent in our demonstration of love, care, and friendship. Those are friendships where we will serve and support more than receive, but they can be some of the richest relationships we will have. It’s in these type of relationships where the words of Jesus ring very true in our lives .
“And I have been a
constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You
should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35.
So to summarize, don’t miss out on what God has for you (in both receiving and giving) by waiting on talkers who will never become walkers; instead, go with the go-ers while leaving the invitation to friendship open to the talkers. And never hesitate to maintain relationships where you are privileged to serve and give much more than you will receive. Finally, as much as you are able, be the friend you would like others to be and you might be surprised how many will respond in like manner.