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Placing a priority on your friends

Karen and I are back from Orlando. Over the last 20 years, we’ve watched Daniel Watson go from toddler, to little boy, to adolescent, to grown man.  So it was wonderful to watch just one more stage – Daniel becoming a husband. His new wife Sally matches him well – it was great to be at their…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Karen and I are back from Orlando. Over the last 20 years, we’ve watched Daniel Watson go from toddler, to little boy, to adolescent, to grown man.  So it was wonderful to watch just one more stage – Daniel becoming a husband. His new wife Sally matches him well – it was great to be at their wedding.
One of the blessings of our lives is to have old friends.  Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, a bunch of us were in a small group together at a church in Wellington, FL.  We all had little children and we were scrambling to keep up with them. 
The Watsons, Hitchcocks, Van Lentens, Simons, Finneys and Lorenzes grew to be special friends during that era.  We met weekly for praise and worship in homes. Rosie regularly made us jerk chicken when we got together at their place. They helped Karen and I maintain sanity as I was starting AIM and regularly working crazy hours. When I needed to do a mail out, all the kids pitched in and stuffed envelopes. And when late August came, we’d vacation together in the north Georgia mountains.
Aristotle said, “Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” People make a lot of tradeoffs in life. They live in places they don’t like to boost their career. They hang out with people they don’t enjoy.  But one of the saddest compromises I watch people make is the decision to not invest themselves deeply in lasting friendships.  We need people who get us – who know us at our worst, but love us anyway. We need lifelong friends who, when the chips are down, know how to help us find our way to blue sky again.
The body of Christ manifests itself in many ways, but the way I’ve seen church in its truest form is in my lifelong friends.

Comments (10)

  • Thank you thank you thank you.

    An hour ago, Im in mid sentence commiting thoughts to writing about our big church questions when: “You’ve got mail” calls me from my processing and there you are- on time and on point.

    The gap between our yearning for Spirit-filled, God-centered, life-giving Christian community and our experience of Church isn’t narrowing. But, in just the last 2+ weeks, so much has and is at this moment being stripped away. It is exactly that clutch of lifelong friends you speak about- that is lifting us out of the mire and will be the pathway to whatever ‘next’ looks like. Your beautiful words and the timing of them are just further affirmation.

    (Seth- Each time I attempt to write to you about our ‘BreakThru” weekend, it promptly takes on a “To Sir With Love” quality and then God commandeers that time and Im left again with Thank You! There is so much more to say. Right now, we’re just swimming in it and prasing God for you and AIM. )


  • You guys are one amazing bunch! It’s lovely to read this stuff really happens. It has such a wholesome feel of goodness to it without the saccharine!

    My dearest, oldest friends are very far flung now and we rarely see each other, but when we do, we pick up where we left off as if it was only yesterday. It’s a treasure when it’s possible. One of the sadder things I find now is that people keep themselves so incredibly busy and overcommitted, there is no time to invest in deeper friendship. Used to think it was just a thing of London and the South East of England where I live – certainly worse down here than further north in the country – but I guess it is endemic in most western cultures. As your title says, it’s a question of priority.

    Continued blessings on your family and friendships there – a special thing.

  • Wow. Seth that really ministers to me. Just yesterday I literally helped bury a pledge brother by shoveling dirt on his ashes. I once again broke and wondered at the missed oppertunities/possibilities. He was a great friend at a time neither of us was living up to our AG background (i.e. prodigal sons).

    I loved him like a brother and used his name, Zane, as my son’s middle name. However, through the years we fell out of touch going our seperate ways. Until just recently, when I found him on facebook and that he was living just 30 minutes away. We exchanged a few facebook messages. I called him a few times but he never called back. I just figured he went back to Boston.

    Well on Thursday I found out from his ex-fiance that he was hit by a car and instantly killed. Since then I learned he has been all over the states and even studied abroad. He was planning on going back to Harvard and finishing a Masters in History. I also found out he had a drinking problem and caused some havok as he moved accross the country.

    We made contact just 3 months before he died! It just makes me sick that I did not call him more often until he finally called me back. My hope is that he is with Christ but the uncertainty is killing me.

    There are other fraternity brothers out there that I plan on renewing ties with. Two of them I have already contacted are active in their respective churches, and while we were reminiscing about crazy times, I was happy to tell them I am not the same man and then we got on a short discussion on grace which was cool. So my hope is to maybe find that one “whose chips are down and point them to blue sky.” He is doing it in me and I want to share that testimony with them.

    But this reminder to keep ties through the years came at such a steep cost for me. I’m still heartsick over it.

  • Steve, what an extraordinarily moving story. So glad you did make contact before he died. As for the uncertainty, I know how painful and excruciating that feeling is. I got through that one when a friend said to me “how much did you love your friend? And how much more does Jesus love your friend and would do anything for him? So be sure that the safest place you could leave your friend is in the hands of Jesus.”

    Can’t answer your question any more than I could answer mine, but He is merciful and He is sovereign. You can trust Him with your friend and let Him handle that and give you peace. I cried a lot of tears, did a lot of sobbing for mercy for my friend, but in the end I let him go to God and the heartsickness lifted. Try not to let the guilt drive you but let the poignancy you feel inspire you for the living. Bless you, Steve. God has His hand so much on your life. xx

  • Man daddy, that’s so great. I’m so glad you let me be a part of your life long friends by keeping in touch so well with them and making them part of our family 🙂 I love everyone!

  • Boy I do love a good friend. The World Race has become a catalyst for finding those people who get you and love you in your best and worst. Oh blessed community.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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