Keys to Friendship

By Paul Monahan

Did you know that having friendships could help you live longer?

“Having no friends could be as deadly as smoking, researchers at Harvard University have suggested, after discovering a link between loneliness and the levels of a blood-clotting protein which can cause heart attacks and stroke.”   Daily Telegraph 2016

This brings having good friends to a whole new level. We must have known that this was going to be an important topic when we put the Livestream breakfast, “Real Mates You Can Count On” on the calendar 12 months ago.

Interestingly, we nearly didn’t have it at all. One month out we had no speaker and no technical crew as both became unavailable for various reasons. What resulted was logistically the most challenging Livestream breakfast yet. But from the feedback it was one of the most well received men’s breakfasts we have ever had! We tried a new format, with a new technical crew, changed venues and even changed cities.

It certainly paid off! If you haven’t seen it, check out our website [here]

Below we are going to look at the five types of friendship that our speaker Aaron Ironside talked about, plus three other friendship types that he didn’t specifically cover. These can help you examine your friendships and learn how to intentionally improve them - and maybe develop some more.

Just think… it could save your life!

  • Download the Friendship Types worksheet [here]
  • Watch the video with Aaron "Real Mates You Can Count On" [here]
  • Find out more about Men's Groups [here]
The Builder

If you are a millennial, or the parent or grandparent of a millennial, you will probably be familiar with the catch-phrase Can we fix it? Yes we can!”  Yes, you are right, it is indeed the favourite saying of Bob the Builder and Friends - an animated children’s television show dating back to the 1990s.

When it comes to friendships this is an apt catch-phrase for the type of friend we are going to highlight today, “The Builder”. So let’s look at “The Builder”, who is happy to invest in your development and who genuinely wants you to succeed.  No task seems too big or insurmountable to our builder friend. They are motivators, helping you to get across the finish line. They are generous with their time as they support and invest in you and your strengths. As with Bob the cartoon character, they help you plan, execute and succeed in your tasks. A bit like a coach, these are people who help you achieve more in your life each day.

If you are not sure about who is a builder in your life, start asking for advice and see who responds. Was the advice sound? Did they come back to follow up? If they do, be prepared to share a little more and learn to encourage and appreciate them. If it works, give them permission to speak into your life even more, even nag you if you need it!

I know I need encouragement. There is enough in life that can begin to drag us down, so we need to treasure the builders in our lives. Which makes me wonder, could you be a builder for someone else?

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

The Champion

Now I am probably showing my age but I was looking at YouTube and I stumbled across something that triggered a lot of memories from my early Christian days in the early 1990s. I found a very grainy video of Carman singing The Champion! I remembered how excited we were, how our imaginations were fired up, at this epic portrayal of the battle between good and evil. Which of course we win with true late-1980s flair. Now I am not suggesting you find the video clip because by 2018 standards it is pretty corny, but back in the day… wow!

It started me thinking that beyond Jesus who are we called to emulate? We all still need champions in our lives who believe in us. Champions who stand up for us and what we believe in. People who meet us at an emotional level, who have confidence in us, in who we are, in who we can be and the importance of our destiny. These people are totally committed to us even when they face resistance and it may even cost them personally.

Our champions are not judgemental even when others may be. They are like the ideal grandfather - always proud when you succeed and can’t help getting out their brag book about their grandson when they meet others. Your champion thrives on your accomplishment, success and happiness!

If you need a champion in your life, have a look around for those who are always praising others, and consider if you can form a friendship with them. If you work out you have a friend who is a champion already, keep them up to date with how you are doing and what you are aiming to do! Remember we all need appreciation and thanks, so show your appreciation to them often.

There is a common saying around at the minute about “paying it forward,” so who in your life can you be a champion for?

The Collaborator

This week is a huge week in V8 Supercars. After 15 rounds there are only 14 points between the first two drivers. With 300 points on offer for this next round in the Newcastle 500, the tensions are high. The Supercar circus arrived in Auckland two weeks ago and left with the unlikely result of no change in points between the first two drivers, who incidentally are both New Zealanders. So it all hangs on the next two races, which are the last two races of the season - as it was in 2017. It was a real nail-biter last year, right down to the wire.

So I know where I will be on the afternoons of 24 and 25 November. There is a good chance I will have some mates with me who are just as excited about the process as I am.

These kinds of mates are called collaborators as they share a similar passion or interest. It doesn’t have to be a sport, it can be a hobby, religion, politics, books, movies or food. When you are with a collaborator mate there is a certain familiarity, safety and sometimes even a common language. This can be a very solid foundation to a long-lasting friendship and a straightforward one to develop.

So if you have a passion, make it known and hopefully you can find a co-conspirator who shares your passion and interest. Invite them for coffee or to watch something with you or maybe you could send them articles and information through social media or email. Be creative in ways where you can share time, enthusiasm and information.

Make it your mission to be a zealot for your cause.

This is probably one of the more common types of friendship and in some ways among the easiest to cultivate. So go strengthen your base and develop your friend network with fellow enthusiasts!

The Energiser

I don’t know if you are into personality types but there are quite a number of them around. One of the ones I am most familiar with is the Lion, the Beaver, the Golden Retriever and the Otter - which can also be called Powerful, Perfect, Peaceful and Playful.

Each has a different personality trait and the one I want to focus on today is “the Otter” or “Playful.” This is the fun one, the one that is the life of the party, the extrovert. They make a good day great and pick you up when you’re down. You could call them “energisers”. Like the batteries, they give you energy!

These friends have a remarkable ability to know what spins your wheels and take you there, usually with a whole lot of other folks on the way. You are more likely to smile and laugh with these guys. Then you will find your natural endorphins are released. Endorphins are pleasure chemicals released in the brain. These chemicals interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine, so it’s a desirable result.

So if you don’t have this natural energy source in your friendship group, find the life of the party and introduce yourself. Then you can begin to share the energy! See if you can join in the positivity and make sure you tell them and show them how much you appreciate them.

Now if you just so happen to be that “Playful/Otter” type, then look for those who are feeling down and work your energising magic!  You could be such a blessing and make a friend for life.

The Companion

Companion planting - now there’s a strange thing for me to be thinking about, seeing as I am not much of a gardener. However one of the definitions of this concept is which plants grow best together. Fittingly, this explains the next type of friendship because these are friends who grow best together. Our companion type of friend encourages us to grow and go deeper in our relationship, for the benefit of our everyday life not just the highs and lows. They are there for the long haul.

This is the guy you choose to ring first when things go well or when things don’t go quite as you hoped. This guy knows you best; he has a sense of where you are at because you are so connected. He understands you, your thoughts, feelings and actions, even before you do on occasions.

This is a relationship that you and he both gain a great deal of satisfaction from and are quite proud of. This is one friendship beyond marriage that you hope will last a lifetime, because there is an element of sacrifice in the process.

These people sound quite rare, which may be true but they are out there. I have one; his name is Colin. There may be some guy you know that you simply think, I would like to know you better. If you want a deeper relationship, sometimes you just have to reach out to become open and vulnerable. Taking a risk is the name of the game. Cut the small talk and discuss the stuff that matters - your fears, your dreams, your future. You will soon get an idea from how your friend responds if he is prepared to go deeper.

From your side, create a safe place for your friend to share. Sometimes when things are going really well this is an ideal time to share. It is more challenging when times get difficult. Be the first to reach out and don’t wait for them to reach out to you. It is a case where actions speak louder than words.

You may be amazed at the results and wonder why it took you so long!